You couldn’t make this shit up.

I’m sitting here relaxed watching David Tennant in Des.

Absolutely best thing I’ve watched in ages.

Window is open

We here a loud splash.

Brian the cat has fallen in the canal chasing mice again.

Within a minute he’s out.

He comes bounding over the garden wall like a bloody racehorse.

Through window ginger cat dripping dirty canal water comes flying at me over back of the sofa..

Dripping wet…. He looks at me and drops a still live mouse on my boobs I’m wearing a sun dress.

Wet mouse crawls in-between my boobs .

I scream

Mavis the dog runs away.

I jump up mouse drops out of my dress onto sofa. It lies there stunned.

I’m swearing at knob head wet ginger cat.

I scoop the stunned mouse up.

With old towel.

He’s stopped moving.

Everywhere is soaking .

Brians so pleased with himself!

I’m reiking the mouse who it’s soon apparent is dead.

My hubby is laughing so much he’s crying..

Surreal moment of.

Is this really my bloody life!

Send Gin!

September 2020 year of change

What a year.

We are indeed living in very strange times.

Back in March when the U.K went into lockdown it was particularly difficult for us as we had just suffered a horrendous flood.

everywhere closed including builders supplies and we were left in a wet cottage with rats for guests and no way of getting any help to improve our living conditions.

My husband joked we were safe from the virus as no way would it survive in our street .

So as always we just got on with it.

My Mam used to say no good moaning about something you’ve no control over.

This was one of those times.

The weather was kind so we got on with things outside fixing fences painting the cancer retreat.

Most of residents in canalside had moved out. Until their houses were dried out and renovated.

Around six families stAyed mainly because we had no where else to go.

It was quite surreal, Eerie at times. The usual people passing everything had stopped.

But the sky’s grew bluer no chemetrails or clouds. I haven’t seen clear blue sky’s like that since I was a kid in the 70s.

No planes no pollution, then there were reports of sheep walking in Main Street in towns little things made me smile.

Dolphins in the canals in Venice.

Pubs were shut, kids play centres , cinemas.

People were allowed out for hour each day to walk exercise .

We began to see families walking together.

On social media photos were being posted of flowers , plants food.

I believe in every bad situation there is something positive.

Here were all these tiny things making a difference.

The market traders from Neath started delivering fresh fruit and veg.

Neighbours shopped for each other.

We reassured each other.

Spiritually I believed there was a mass awakening happening.

People realising that there is so much more to life than materialistic stuff.

People matter not things.

I missed my grandchildren terribly

Slowly things started to change I prayed that the world was changing into a better pace.

It seemed that way.

Now we are in September restrictions are tightening again.

I’m not surprised saddened but not surprised the u.k government predicted this back in March. It seems a little to planned .

Masks are now mandatory .

It’s all a mess

If as they originally said virus isn’t air born it’s a surface contaminant what is the point of a mask.

If they do work why didn’t they recommend back in March.

The sad part is all the good that came in the first wave seems to have been swallowed up now by hatefulness

The mask police ordinary people attacking others regarding masks.

Demanding to know if someone isn’t wearing one WHY.

Makes me ashamed to be human

Some people are exempt for many reasons.

None of which should be questioned or held accountable by Joe Blogs outside the Spar shop.

Rape victims , child abuse victims, people with extreme anxiety COPD asthma are exempt.

Should they have to wear a label a badge ….NO THEY SHOULDN’T please don’t be one of there jumped up mask police.

Mind your own buisness look after yourself and your own.

Who are any of us to judge anyone else..

Remember before all this started a lovely young woman Caroline Flack committed suicide because of the way she was treated in the media.

She was vulnerable but no one could see quite how much.

She took her own life because of the way she was treated by other who didn’t even know her,

After it happened the #BeKind campaign started, there were t shirts

#BeKind trended on Twitter , articles were wrote and people cried NEVER AGAIN.

Yet here we are…

these are indeed strange time.

But don’t let that have a negative effect on the way you treat people.

Think before you speak.

Sometimes it’s best if you can’t say something positive.

Say nothing.

Don’t get caught up with the bitching of the masses .

Because one day when all this is over.

Future generations ask about what you did during the pandemic

Let your stories be kind ones.

This months FREE hypnotherapy. Meet your spirit guide.

Featured

So in this month online Hypnotherapy column of the fabulous Emma Heaven magazine come with me to your inner temple and meet your spirit guide.

So pull up a chair or lie somewhere comfortable and relax.

Follow the link below

If there is a subject you’d like to see covered e mail me Joolz at

Soulmidwifewales@gmail.com

https://emmaheaven.com/2020/september-2020/840-joolz-raven-stewart

Crystals Etsy shop. twisted raven crystals

I make wire wrapped crystals .

To raise money to help us run our cancer retreat.

Ravens Retreat.

I’ve just got new stock.

I’m in heaven.

Only problem is I make things then want to keep them!

So if you’d like to buy yourself or a loved one something special.

Drop me a line.

I can custom make you a pendant

Or supply you with a favourite crystal.

You can e mail me at.

joolz@ravensretreat.wales

F.b Ravens Retreat

Missing cats and midnight train tracks.

Behind our cottage is a old disused collery train track.

The track is level with apex of the houses .

So pretty steep to climb up.

I’ve just climbed up there for the seventh time today.

Pitch dark up a steep bramble and ivy covered bank .

Cursing as I go .

I’m fifty bloody five I’m huffing and puffing talking to myself.

Falling over my long hippy dress as I heave myself up to the top.

I stand for a minute and let my eyes grow accustomed to the dark.

The crunchy stones either side of the track seem steeper than this afternoon as I climb over into the middle of the tracks .

The row of cottages now look tiny.

I’ve forgotten my phone.

Great I say to myself don’t bloody fall no bugger knows your up here.

It’s quite a warm night the sky is clear and I start to walk carefully along the track.

Walking beside me is my cat Lucifer balencing on the track like a feline gymnast .

On the other side of the line is a huge triangle of waste land densely covered with trees, brambles and bushes .

The slop down there is even steeper than the one down to our house.

But it’s the place where my youngest cat Brian hides out when my female black cat Luna chases him.

I usually go over there give him a shout and I hear him instantly he answers when I call him .

He is a year old and the most loving cat, vocal and funny.

Lucifer is the eldest he’s almost five beautiful but quite aloof Luna my black.cat is three .

She is a warrior she hates everyone and everything.

Apart from me.

Brian knows this.

It’s her fault I’m up here..

Brian I call and whistle but there is no sign of him.

I haven’t seen him for 24 hours .

Luna appears walks on opposite track to Lucifer.

Great if he’s about he definitely won’t come out now!.

You’d think by now she would accept him

I’m worrying my hubby however isn’t.

He’s a cat.

He will be back .

He says.

He’s sat in the cottage warm whilst I’m up here like some crazy cat lady .

Walking the line and stopping to watch the bats..

I make my way home and by luck more than judgement I slide back down the banking into our garden

No sign I tell Jeff .

You worry more about that cat he says ..

Yes I do ..

Fingers crossed he will be home .

If not I’ll be back up the tracks in the morning.

Photo my granddaughter

Emilia with Lucifer

Glastonbury town

So what a year 2020.has been.

Strange and surreal .

All of our usual adventures were sadly canceled due to lock down in u.k.

So Beltane and other events in Glastonbury were missed for the first time in many many years.

I have always had an affinity with this beautiful town it’s many temples the Tor, it’s eclectic high street filled with every esoteric item any witch, druid, pagan could ever need or desire .

But more than that it’s the chilled out atmosphere total relaxation, and the way that every visit I make a new friend or three.

So yesterday my hubby Jeff and I with two friends travelled down for the weekend.

As soon as the car was parked and I was in sight of the Tor that familiar wave of calm washed over me.

No work, no bills no stress about floods rivers and usual worry..

Complete and utter bliss.

Do you have somewhere that’s your chill out place?

I think we all have one.

So after a wonder around the chalice well gardens and a night I’m George and pilgrim hotel I’m feeling fab refreshed.

Tonight we plan to use the spirit board in the haunted room slept in by Henry eighth

I’ll let you know how that goes 🙏

Beginning to panic

So I have to admit I’m beginning to panic.

It’s never a good thing and considering I’m a glass half full kinda girl..

Well actually I’m more of a grateful I’ve got a bloody glass at all!

As you know we are fighting the powers that be council, natural resources Wales,about lack of flood prevention.

Michael sheen has been helping us.

We have registered as a c.i.c

Canalside residents.

And we are awaiting reports and modeling from the above.

Today we had a reply from natural resources which stopped me in my tracks ..

I felt physically sick.

To cut a long and scary story short.

If the wall on the river bank fails..

And it’s only a very bad storm away from doing so

Our beautiful little street becomes a branch of the river Neath .

Very quicky the water will rise to bedroom hight .

What the actual f@@k.

We have elderly residents, young families and cancer retreat here.

The retreat I run will be closed after next week.

It’s breaking my heart

But seriously someone will be hurt drowned or killed before these bloody heads of councils .

Natural resources Wales get their heads out of their arses and stop making excuses.

I’m raising money to try to relocate our cancer retreat.

Somewhere safe I found a old chapel up on the mountain today £100k but it would be perfect.

And enough space for a caravan for us to live.

I really didn’t want to leave but this news is just too much.

We need help.

Before national resource Wales are responsible for loss of life .

Rites of passage.

I’m a celebrant weddings hand fastings and funerals..

But I’m also a great believer of rites of passage.

Sadly they seem to have been lost to most folks.

Even sadder some don’t know what they are.

I mentioned to a friend this week that we were planning a croneing ritual for one of our coven members a mutual friend invited her to come along.

A what? She said.

Your celebrating getting old?

She looked somewhat puzzled.

Getting old..sigh ..

Well yes but that’s not quite how I’d describe it.

As pagans we acknowledge and worship the old gods and goddesses.

Particularly the three stages of the goddess.

Trinity if you like.

Maiden , Mother, Crone.

Each stage has a rite of passage for each stage marks a milestone.

But the Croneing well .

What can I say..

It’s amazing we have traveled through life, as the Maiden full of wonder new beginnings,

Then mother nurturing children, or careers, beliefs

Now we are entering crone stage comfortable in our skin, and beliefs, we are now filled with a lifetime of experience, love, loss, creativity. All of it within us.

We know what we like.

Who we are.

We are healers teacher wise woman elder of our coven our tribe our families.

What’s not to honour to celebrate?

So at the end of September in a field barefoot .

We will stand a circle of women.

Welcoming our sister Sam into her croneing years.

Empowering her

Welcoming her as an elder

Valuing her knowledge, wisdom her life.

Holding her in love and light as we dance around the fire.

Drumming and chanting

For we are not just sisters .

Maidens mother’s crones

We are one.

Just what I needed

Im never suprised at the magical way that strangers walk into our lives and become friends.

Friends that make a huge difference at just the right time.

Yesterday was one of those times.

So months ago i got a call from one of my best friends sharon she was away on holiday in France.

She was beside herself one of her beloved dogs cookie had become ill and sadly may not recover so she needed me to drop off some of the CBD oil I make to help with the pain over night until she could get home the day after.

Given the fact that i work as a soul midwife and im often there beside patients when they take their last breath.

Im completely different when it comes to dogs.

I asked myself why and I think its because working with people who are end of life they know whats happening and can express how they feel, what they need.

Tell me how bad the pain is.

If they need more medication ect.

So I rush over to my friends house where Cookie is being cared for by my friends daughter and Bethan who is a friend of hers I’ve heard of but havnt met.

Cookie is lying on her bed still manages to wag her tail as i sit down beside her.

Im convinced she knew exactly what was going on as those huge soul full eyes looked at me as if to say dont worry.

I sat with her has we chatted I whispered to her that her mam was on way home and Bethan put a little of the CBD oil onto a baby bell cookies favorite treat and it disapeared quickly.

It wasnt long before Cookie settled and I left leaving my number telling Bethan and Emily to add my on Facebook to ring if they needed me.

I stand at the door saying goodbye to the two girls sat on the floor beside cookie and feel the same room full of love as i do when im sat with a person.

Cookie was up on her legs that afternoon and was with us for a few more weeks before sadly she left us.

She had been my friends first dog rescued just before she has retiered fron the NHS

I think in reality they rescued each other.

Cookie had an amazing life, beach walks, lots of fuss and equally I know gave so much in return.

Now fast forward.

Over a year later.

Im friends with Bethan on social media but we havnt seen each other since that afternoon when we met.

We have commented on-line on each others statuses on social media

Photos, events ect.

Last week comments turned to chat as Bethan was having trouble sleeping.

Maybe the CBD oil may help I suggested.

So we arraned that she would call over at bank holiday to pick it up.

There has been alot happening since we saw each other last.

Storn callum ruined our street, ive nursed quite few end of life patients and officiated at their funerals.

Nursed my father in law.

Covid, lockdown.

Rebuilding our homes.

Life goes on.

I try not to worry about big things that are out of my control.

I trust in the universe, not just trust I completely believe that if we focus on a positive outcome for ourselves and our dreams then thats what we will get.

Like attracts like..

If we focus on negative then guess what..

You get the picture.

Despite this its still hard to cope with the current situation.

Possibility of a compulsory purchase order.

Loosing our homes

And our cancer retreat.

Our friends our community or tribe and life on the canal.

Still im careful with my words.

Whatever the universe holds for me im never given anything im not strong enough to handle.

So yesterday we finished painting the garden wall.

The crow cottage is now purple.

It looks amazing

The sun is shining its bank holiday Monday

Bethans first time on our canal.

Isnt it lovely when someone sees something for the first time.

‘Its not what i expected’ she says

I smile

Its that canalside magic.

She comes in we sit and chat over a cup of tea.

I give her the oil and she passes me a small gift bag.

Its a book she says,

I loved it so ive bought a few for friends.

Have you heard of it?

The boy the mole, the fox and the horse.

By clarlie mackesy.

Inside there is a lotto ticket

You may win she smiles.

Im so humbled by her kindness.

We walk from my house to the healing cabin i love peoples reaction the first time they enter.

She loves it and i have a feeling she will be back.

We hat and she tells me that from our first merting with cookie shes bern trying to work out where she knows me from.

Work? Where she lives with her mother, where i used to live, friends, family perhaps.

No none of the above.

Ill think where from i joke as she leaves probably at three in the morning.

And off she goes.

So here is the thing.

Today i get up feeling dreadful

Aching generally out of sorts.

I dont know what ails me i tell my daughter on tbe phone.

I run a hot bath fill it with Epsom salt and a hsnd full of herbs

Pick up the book gifted to me yesterday

The boy the mole, the fox and tbe horse.

Lie in tbe warm soothing water and read.

Its a beautiful book beautiful drawings and printed as if written by fountain pen.

Im reminded as i read of that cosmic divine connections.

We are all connected.

Like rain drops running down a window pane.

Merging into one.

I think of my friend sharon

I met her in work NHS mental health team

She sat on desk oposite.

Through her and Cookie i met Bethan.

All rain drops

All needed.

Im sitting in a warm bath holding a book.

I remember Bethans words hope it helps..

Warm tears run down my face into the bath water.

Thank you Bethan

It helped more than you can know.

Abandoned places where nature takes over.

I absolutely love abandoned buildings.

they have fascinated me since I was a child.

There is something quite magical, the energy the story I just love it.

The stepping back in time.

Today was quite unexpected visit to this beautiful old manor house in neath valley not far from where I live.

I’ve been past there before looked around the small chapel on the outside looked longingly through the huge cast iron gates up the over grown driveway to the ruins of the old house.

Old pig shelters in once pristine gardens signs that someone has used its grounds as a small holding in recent years.

Ancient deciduous trees and an enormous monkey puzzle tree to the left of where the manor house doors would have been.

Birds sing and a small brook runs along the fence .

It reminds me of the book ..the secret garden .

Young foxes play in the long grass.

But today as I stand at the gate they swing open and we drive slowly up the over grown driveway.

I mentioned this place to my husband Jeff.

Oh yes he says that’s my friend’s place. He owns the lease.

Kindly he has given us the keys and now as we drive up it’s as beautiful close up as it was from behind the gates.

I stand for a moment at the front of the house.

The long driveway before me.

The energy here is palpable.

The noise of the road has disappeared.

I hear children playing.

There’s a sadness here it’s 15th maybe 16th century?

The stories these walls have held are many.

Once pristine gardens overgrown but still the flowers push through and rows of apple trees guide us into what would have been a grand hall.

Out of the corner of my eye I catch sight of a young boy maybe 8 or 9.

Dressed not unlike little lord fontlroy. I catch my breath .

As two young foxes seem to follow him inside the house.

I’m wishing I’d brought a spirit board .

It really is all I’d imagined it to be.

All in all a pretty perfect Sunday afternoon.

We take the keys back and his wife asks ..

Did you see the little boy.

She describes him exactly as I saw him

She tells me they lived there for years in.a caravan .

Often heard ballroom.music .

I tell her I’d like to go back with a spirit board .

Your welcome she says..

Watch this space

.

Feeling defeated

I really don’t know what ails me this week.

I really can’t shake of this feeling of overwhelming sadness.

I can’t share it either.

So here I am writing.

Writing soothes my soul.

I’m never down, well not like this anyway.

I’ve lost my inner warrior.

I’ve got friends who know of our fight with council and other agencies to get flood defences put in place .

But it’s almost September nothings been done .

If I’m honest I’m scared that’s a big word for me to use.

I’ve now managed to get insurance.

But I really don’t think I can go through a third flood.

We are only now recovering from.storm Dennis in Feb immediately after it happened we were placed into lockdown.

We have fought organised ourselves we have a resident committee.

Michael sheen has been beyond amazing helping our story to be told.

But sadly still nothing has changed.

At the next winter storm, high tide, there will be no one there for us just like the previous two floods.

It was terrifying watching the water and sewage poor in.

Rising pouring over the garden wall through letter box.

Until the whole of our home and our cancer retreat at 28 and the healing cabin were 3ft deep in sewage.

I can’t explain the feeling or the fear.

The electricity goes off.

It’s pitch dark.

The smell is horrendous.

Out bathroom is down stairs

We are trapped upstairs.

My tiny chihuahua Mavis shaking in my arms cats trapped out the back I can see them on railway banking

My car my husband’s work van are floating .

There is an earie silence the odd shout from.neigbours check each other are okay.

We have a box with candles in and battery packs for phones.

We ring fire brigade to come with dinghys

I ring Vicky next door but one to ask if she’s okay she doesn’t answer

She has two little boys .

Mick is 83.

He’s seen a world war he shouldn’t have to keep doing this.

My hubby is leaning out of the front bedroom window.

As soon as it starts to go down I’ll start bailing he says ..

He says it..

Like.

It’s a normal thing to say.

He’s almost 60.

I hear the fire men shout up to him.

I still wake up at night now hearing them telling us we have to evacuate.

I’m not going I never go.

It’s a danger to life they say.

Don’t you think we know.

Our lives .

The harsh and sad reality is someone next time or the time after will be badly hurt or killed.

Will they change their tune then?

How many more times can I watch my man rebuild our home and the Retreat.?

Bailing sewage for hours ..

The smell of muck and jaeys fluid and bleach.

When will this heavy feeling of dread in my chest stop

When will I stop waking at 3.30am terrified

That little cottage Ravens Retreat

That has provided free breaks and Holistic therapies for cancer patients and mental health.

Is so much more than anyone could imagine.

It was my promise to my best friend.

To Donna .

She believed in me always.

She loved it .

I promised her everything I do there was for her.

In her memory.

So she would always be remembered.

That others suffering with cancer would have the Retreat

Now it’s just not possible to safely have anyone stay there from sept until march.

I can’t fix it.

I feel like I’m letting people I’m supposed to be helping down.

I’m still putting it out there ..

Still trying to raise funds .

But I feel lost.

Praying it doesn’t happen again .

Please share our story ..

Keep us in your thoughts

Here is link to our fundraising page

https://www.gofundme.com/f/2432hui6eo?utm_medium=more&utm_source=customer&utm_campaign=p_na+share-sheet&pc_code=null&rcid=52844622e7b443c584289e6b58cd19f6

Mountain top guided visualisation to step away from anxiety and stress

Here is the link to my latest podcast from the healing cabin.

We’ve certainly been living in surreal times.

Anxiety has become a real problem for many.

So relax and come and join me on a journey from the mountain top.to the lush green valleyAs we move on with our life manifesting positivity as we go

Listen to the most recent episode of my podcast: Mountain top visualisation. Anxiety release https://anchor.fm/joolz-raven-stewart6/episodes/Mountain-top-visualisation–Anxiety-release-ehmgia

Happiness is…

Nothing makes me happier than the lush green valleys of Wales.
Breathing in the cool fresh air.
Feeling that magical energy as I stand behind my favourite water fall.
Closing my eyes slightly staring through the rushing curtain of white irredecent sparkling water..
Whilst huge cold drips fall from the ceiling of the ancient cave rolling down my face like enormous earthy tasting tears.

This is holy water.
Swaying mountain fearns and spongey thick moss push up around slabs of fallen stone compeating for the brightest shade of green.
Swallows and swifts sing of its beauty.

Blue and red dragonflies hover majestically

Heaven couldnt not be more perfect than this place..
The roar of the river calls my name.
I stand alone and close my eyes pulling the energy of this place down above me.
Visualising it swirling and wrapping itself around me.
Irredecent sparkling beautiful refreashing energy.
I capture it from head to toe like a cloak of protection.

Feeling the pulsing of this place surging through my limbs.
My core my mind & body as it replenishs my spirit.
Im drawn to this magic
Listening to my body it pulls me here whenever i am low.
To recharge me fully
Restoring my strength

Ground me to this magical land
Reminding me of why I am here.
I leave thankful
Knowing I am blessed
Gratful every day for the magic of this land where I live.
A place of legends of the old ways
Cerridwen, Taliesin,
Of dragons and fae
Of dreams of love.
Wales.

Thank you I whisper into the breeze.

Childhood memories.

My grown up daughter just tagged me in a Facebook post of something I consider truly vile.

It is something that I hate so much the thought of it let alone mention causes me to physically heave..

I swear I’ve just been sick in my mouth..🤢

I’m a child of the 60s and 70s my mother’s cure all remedy not only tasted vile it smelled equally horrible

She would stand spoon in hand boiled sweet in the other.

Instructing me to open wide, stop being such a soft arse as I wreched and cried until eventually giving in..

Swallowing then often throwing up immediately afterwards.

Thinking back the whole thing was bloody pointless as I’m sure medicine is supposed to make you feel better.

Not cause a mini meltdown and vomiting..

The boiled sweet was never much comfort. Barley suger twists rammed into your mouth when your sobbing I’m sure are a bloody choking hazzard

I’m sure she has a supplier from out local beachams factory.

Because we honestly never ran out of it..

What was this devils brew.

Kaolyn and morphine.

Even writting it makes me shiver Ewwwww.

So whats your childhood memory of something that you hated..

Saving paradise

I wonder when Mr steve Phillips council big wig casually mentioned compulsory purchase order as a ‘possible option’ at our flood meeting yesterday plucking 80k a hypothetical possible offer out of his arse.

Did he think that would sway us as easily as he said it?

October 2018. Then Feb 2020 our beautiful canalside cottages were devistated by storm Callum then storm Dennis.

3ft of water and sewage filled our homes ruined everything we owned on ground floor.

Electricity cut off.

High winds,

Well you get the picture.

As a community, a tribe we cleaned supported each other and started again

Our house and our cancer retreat are both on the canal.

Both ruined twice.

My husband jeff almost 60 a hard man, a grafter picks up the pieces and puts them back together. Hes my rock.

Never for a min have we considered leaving the canal.

Through everything we have been through Inhaven’t cried once.

But sat there yesterday in the meeting hearing mr bloody Phillips casually mention compulsory purchace my heart broke.

I was all i could do to stop my tears.

We have spent weeks planning this meeting. Gathering evidence video pictures of the floods.

Lesley and paul putting together a power point presentation.

E mails to all relivent agencies.

Jon and lee all of us setting up a community intrest company to raise funds for the street maybe fix the road a community garden?

Everyday we message each other with progress

The agencies that have treated our community like a hot potato.

Blaming each other.

Making empty promises for preventative measures.

We tried shaming them ITV news filmed us a few weeks ago men, women, kids in the river moving rubble that natural resorces wales had promised to move but hadnt

Colin and mick in their 70s and 80s with wheel barrows.

There on camera for the world to see this is canalside this is our tribe help us.

They promised us they would clear the river bed around the aquaduct in the next few weeks.

Michael Sheen was there to support us. He has been beyond amazing using the platform he has to get our voices heard.

We tell the media he will be there and guaranteed we get air time.

I know that because of who he is.

But please lets not forget that although he is famous and he leads a busy life. We are still socially distancing.

He is also a new dad with a small baby.

But he is much more than that he genuinely cares, and without his support and presence I know that half of those agencies wouldnt have showed up yesterday.

Hes a honorary member of our tribe.

Not just us for so many other amazing causes he really is an amazing human being.

So yesterday getting all of those agencies together in one place we hoped that all the passing the buck would stop.

How hard could it be to get water board, neath council. Natural resorces wales, cadw, local councillors to listen to talk to each other then to come up with a plan.

Make your bloody models write your bloody reports but do it..

Do something do anything

But stop doing nothing

Help us.

I refuse to be negative I refuse to give up.

So i thought at the very least they will ‘see us’

Hear us.

I was quietly confident we all were

So to cut a long story short.

The aquaduct is a protected monument we knew this.

Fact one its original purpose is no longer possible its in ruins.

Fact two when there is a storm or heavy rain anything washed down the river gets stuck on this aquaduct so its new use is a huge river wide dam.

Causing river to rise in bad conditions like storm dennis two feet over the top of the aquaduct so that its now underwater

The River beaches the wall our street is flooded houses ruined cars ruined and as the fire brigade told us when they couldnt get the boats down the street its a danger to life.

I love ancient monuments castles standing stones ect..

But for the love of goddess if its an ruined aquaduct or someones life its a no brainer

As it is even in good weather its dangerous., kids will be kids and play in the river in summer. If a huge piece of stone falls it wont injur them it will kill.

Like wise another flood like Dennis and we could loose one of our tribe.

Why does money come before people before something as special as canalside?

Its the only place i have managed to put down roots.

To become part of the tapestry that makes or community.

It would cost less to pay us off than help us to build walls.

Remove a dangerous structure clear a river.

Mr phillips suggested we wouldnt be living in fear of another flood.

We wouldnt be living in fear now if you had set the wheels in motion in 2018 after storm Callum.

I came home yesterday sat out side feeding the geese the sun shone walkers passed by enjoying the canal.

I felt sureal going over what had been said at the meeting

My phone rings it a lady in england aware of my work at the retreat newly diagnosed with breast cancer. We chatted for a hour. I know thatvwhen I put down the phone that i had made a difference.

She reminded me of why im here why im doing what i do why the Retreat is so very important.

I thought of Mr Phillips and his family.

Had it entered his head to put himself in our position?

I doubt it.

Well a very long time ago a council house kid from a rough estate in the north of england with an alcoholic father dreamed of living in Wales . Dreamed of having a real family. Of being safe and loved.

I cant tell you how hard the journey was to get here.

Thats another story.

But every step has been worth it.

Its every bit as beautiful as i drempt it to be.

Family yes I have that too.

Its here in Canalside.

Its the beautiful people that need my Retreat.

So Mr steve Phillips from neath port tolbot council.

Natural resorces wales.

Cadw.

Welsh water.

Im going nowhere

Paradise is worth fighting for.

The gloves are off.

Black & Gold

Memories so vivid.
Every detail.
They often become dreams
Like slipping behind the veil .
To replay to remember.
To see you.
Lying on the deck of a boat.

A boat with a stick you’d call it.

One of your favourite places

Hot sun, cool wind.
Black and gold plays on the radio.
Turquoise blue of the Mediterranean surrounds us.
As we sail off the coast of Turkey to forgotten caves and deserted beaches.
There is a gust of wind and the hat that was covering my eyes is now floating beside the boat a tiny speck in the blue blue sea..
I hear you laugh, your long black hair unruly.
The smell of coconut sun oil
As you tilt your head and smile.
I know what your thinking.
This is perfect
I smile as you squeeze my hand.
I close my eyes and listen to you sing along.

And the stars fell out of the sky
And the tears rolled into the ocean
And now I’m looking for a reason why
You even set my world into motion

‘Cause if you’re not really here
Then the stars don’t even matter
Now I’m filled to the top with fear
That it’s all just a bunch of matter

‘Cause if you’re not really here
Then I don’t want to be either
I wanna be next to you
Black and gold, black and gold, black and gold

I go back there often ..
To lie on that boat
Next to you.

Black and gold, black and gold, black and gold.

Uncomfortably numb

Sitting in circle last week I had a reading .

Beautiful lady looked into my eyes and said..

I want to say you have lost half…. Of yourself.’

Can you take that?

She asked..

That is so accurate.

Yes I can take it I smiled.

My best poker face.

She has no idea, no one has, not really.

I miss you.

I miss the half of you that was me.

You always said we were meant to be together.

Well this is a shit way for you to prove your point Donna.

I miss opening the door to you moaning about the state of the tow path.

I miss you badgering me to straighten your hair..

You asking me for a cwch.

The top of your head fitting under my chin

Breathing in the smell of your hair.

Sitting together,

Making up some really stupid fact to tell you then laughing because you’d believe me.

Lying on the grass watching clouds finding pictures.

Your random facts and infectious giggle

I hear you saying you know I’m right boi!

You texting me , sending me songs ..glitter in the air…

Our granddaughter Emilia is looking more and more like you everyday

That’s such a comfort.

But I still miss us.

Me without you

How can that be?

I got into my little van packed lunch and a flask to go off with my dog and maybe camp.

Found myself just sat for a min.. lost in the silence

‘ your supposed to be there on that seat beside me I say out loud to you.

I feel your hand squeeze mine

I’m here you tell me .

The sun is shining.

But I’m sure it was brighter when you were here.

Cowboys and Indians.

As a kid I loved old western films.

They were escapism.

Not the cowboys I was always on the side of the Indians , I’d be devistated when tipi’s were burned Indians homes moved .

Equally id be thrilled when cowboys lost.

Spending much of my time as a kid outdoors avoiding my family it was the outdoor living that appealed to me.

When the fair came to the estate id be drawn like a moth to a flame.

Caravans outdoor living.

A tribe that lives differently on the outskirts of the norm. over the years I guess not much has changed .

I’d rather sleep under canvas then in a house I’m lucky to have found my hubby who is equally as in love with the outdoor life.

As you know I live on a canal in small cottage in Wales .

Tiny street twenty nine cottages and a converted chapel.

Behind each door is a different story.

It’s not a street of shiny cars and neighbors that don’t know who lives next door .

It’s my tribe very like an accidental commune .

Extended family I love this place and it’s people.

We range from Mick who’s 83, to Rachel and her babies at top of the street .

Mental health, vulnerable adults, kids, teenagers , self employed, unemployed, widows married couples and single mams.

You may know also have a second cottage Ravens Retreat at the back of it is my therapy cabin.we provide completely free breaks for cancer patients / mental health and counseling for veterans.

All in memory of my best friend Donna Drewson.

Who sadly left us on 11.09.2018

As a community we are quite a diverse lot but we fit.

Like a jigsaw.

Like those Indians in the westerns .

It’s feels particularly like that at the moment.

We are like the Indians that are desperately trying to protect and fight for their sacred land. .

The cowboys are national resource Wales,

Neath council ,

Cadew

Water board.

And leeders port tenant canal.

It’s a battle since or home were flooded by first storm Callum Oct 2018

Then Feb 2020 by Storm Dennis

Most of us lost everything on ground floors of our homes. Plus our cars .

Me and my hubby lost everything in our cottage, ravens Retreat. and our healing room .

Under 3 foot of sewage .

It’s funny that when something like this happens you have no time to be heart broken although of course I was. But from the min that water spewed up through the toilet bath and the letter box you go into some sort of surreal automatic pilot.

When the last deluge came I was standing under the under pass at 2.30am in morning with Jon my neighbor we were praying it wouldn’t breach the wall.

Suddenly a red van stopped on the bridge overhead and shouted at us to get back to RUN .

it was like a bad horror film a huge tree was blocking the bridge acting as a dam .

So we ran..

Rain pouring as we ran down the uneven toe path, stumbling in pot holes.

Through my front door over the two pathetic sand bags we had been given by the council.

Heart banging in my head as I shouted to Jeff who was taking things upstairs.

I looked out the window and the water came over the wall like a wave.

The canal became a river and poured over the garden wall I shouted again to Jeff and we preceded to try to stop the water.

It was pointless .

But we tried .

Towels at back of front door and in letterbox .

I ran to the back door the most foul smell as the raw sewage spewed like horror movie sewage chocolate fountains..

I slipped and fell onto the kitchen floor within minutes my tiny dog was swimming.

I shouted to Jeff we have to help the twins .

Erica and Joanna live next door and I could hear them crying.

Jeff looked at me wading in water I begged him to come upstairs.

We were soaking everything was floating.

Still I’m on auto pilot

I open back bedroom window shout to the girls next door to stay up stairs .

As I phone fire brigade.

I need the toilet but it’s downstairs. Jeff fetches a bucket .

The fire brigade are on their way and all lights go out. It’s pitch black I light tea lights the cat comes through the bedroom window.

I hear sirens .

They are coming to front of houses with dinghys

I shout down I’m not coming tell them to get the twins out.

They tell me I have to leave .. but I don’t ..

I shut the bedroom window

I can’t I don’t know why but I just can’t go.

Morning comes we haven’t slept I tried I keep hearing the man in the van shouting run! The girls crying the water is still high .

The smell is vile.

I worrying about Ravens retreat my cabin.

The patients that are relying on us for breaks for treatments.

Jeff holds me..

Don’t worry he says I’ll fix it.

Three words that ruin me.

He’s almost sixty he’s fit and good for his age a grafter he’s done it after the last flood .

Having to do it again

This was not the plan.

We have no insurance.

We did have after first flood then they wouldn’t cover us .

Don’t think about it he says it will be okay .

We start to bail.

My phone rings .

Colleges from NHS friends are all on their way .

My daughter who’s I’ll with auto immune collitus Wade’s through 3 foot of water to rescue my dog and kitten.

The clean up begins AGAIN.

as the water leaves the cottages. We are left with a layer of sewage coating everything.

We move from each others houses supporting each other .

Men lifting out furniture .

Carpets laminate floors.

Children’s toys .

People’s lives pile up Infront of there ruined homes .

Council wagons take it away then come back for more.

The media arrive they call us the forgotten street.

I’m at the front to be interviewed determined needing everyone to know we need help.

We need the promised preventative measures.

Telling them this is the second time .

Begging for help

A young couple stand outside their home newly weds.

The letting agent arrives tells them their tenency is ended.

They stand in wet sewage soaked clothes homeless.

I want to scream to cry.

The electricity comes back on I offer to make soup for everyone then realize the cooker is full of sewage.

I ring my boss explain.

Ask for emergency leave .

Carry on cleaning people bring food , strangers come to help,

Eventually both cottages are empty .

The boiler in retreat is 6 months old is ruined.

My cabin my books everything gone.

My daughter tweeted my story I was contacted about the Retreat by Michael Sheen .

Who wanted to help.

That was the point the tears came.

Tears of relief .

I don’t mind not having things fixed in our house but the thought of letting people down in Ravens Retreat who were end of life loosing free holidays killed me.

I felt helpless.

Michael offered to get our oil boiler repairs sorted which was my biggest expense and one I just couldn’t afford. Im honestly I’m beyond grateful.

I know he’s famous well know and lives part time in the States. but he’s a valleys Welsh man who knows his roots and cares, really cares about others about things that matter . I honestly can never thank him enough.

He then went on to raise money for flood victims all over Wales .donations came in from everywhere .

The Ravens Retreat benefited from that too replacing our ruined front door and windows .

We now don’t have a letterbox!

I’m so in awe of people’s kindness.

That was February the Corona virus came In march .

Every thing stopped.

Lockdown.

The forgotten street our canalside tribe was forgotten again.

By all those agencies who had previously promised us preventative measures.

Where were the people to dredge the river?

The people to higher the wall?

to clear the aqueduct?

The water board to fix the drains the surveyors to check the walls under the British legion.

Social distancing they said.

Higher up the valley there was work in the rivers.

Here in Canalside nothing.

It was locked down we were stuck we started a Facebook page a private page for our residents our tribe Canalside.

We sorted out shopping reassured everyone that needed help shared shopping had veg delivered cooked for others we went on to work on our houses.

We did what we could it was surreal the world has stopped but we had to carry on to rebuild our canal side paradise.

I had to think of something so I suggested that we clear the river ourselves.

There is tons and tons of debris. The bridge arches and the aqueduct had been smashed in the last storm they had promised us it would be removed it was now June if it wasn’t done before September we’ve been the same position again. Another flood.

Every time it rained the anxiety within me would rise.

So I organised a street clear up of the river bed.

I contacted Michael Sheen told him about plans and asked if he could help.

We rang ITV news. They told me they were still filming Corona virus news.

I told them Michael would be there.

That swung it.

That day was awesome.

Mick 83 and Colin 71 in charge of wheelbarrows.

Paul balenced on a a deralict aquaduct.

Lee , wynne, moereen

Everyone from the street who could be there was there all sporting orange buckets it rained but we didn’t care we were in the river socially distancing.

Paul and Jude are shielding we took photos to keep them in the loop.

Of us moving debris showing the UK how much we loved our street how we wouldn’t be forgotten we were tribe.

The twins were there, Rachel with the children ,

Vicky, Mave, Gemma and the kids Stuart, Steve, Jon and Anna .

Michael Sheen was amazing he told them our story that he had the platform to be heard and rightly said that without him our voices should still be heard.

National resoures Wales turned up and promised us that before the end of July there would be machinery in the river to clear 600 tons of stones of trees of debris it felt like a victory a small one but at last something was being done.

Last week they arrived I was so thrilled when I saw them in the river I sobbed I don’t think I’d realise how much the whole situation was affecting me at that moment I did.

News travels fast and before long we are all up looking over the wall all everyone smiling.

We have a meeting setup for the end of the month you asked everyone to attend all the agencies they have promised his help.

.

The day after they started to clear the river they stopped not because they’ve finished because they’d only just started maybe they’ll be back the day after we thought.

But they haven’t been back.

Another item to be discussed at the meeting.

I sat here today and suddenly the reality hit me it’s almost August we could be flooded in September .

We haven’t recovered from the last flood.

How hard can it be to put the preventative measures in place to save our homes to save us our tribe. If someone were badly hurt or killed but they do it then?

Will it cost a life?

I will be like the Indians will they move us from this sacred place the place that we love.

It isn’t just our cottages it’s each other who will help the twins?

Who will cook for Mick? Who will Jeff laugh and joke with if John and Steve are not there?.

Why are we forgotten?

It breaks my heart to think the everything I have dreamed of everything that Jeff has built for me this retreat ravens retreat could be gone everything here for cancer patients for for mental health for war veterans.

Cottage breaks counselling psychotherapy it’s all free.

Years ago when I tell people what I plan to do do most people said you can’t do that for free.

Why free?

Because I know no it’s a bit isn’t free there will always be someone who misses out someone who can’t afford it so it had to be free and it’s worked I’ve had the most amazing people stay with us they come as strangers and they leave as friends and to think that this could end now that really does break my heart.

Because in reality we have two houses on a flood plain that are worth nothing and a cancer retreat that is ireplaceable.

It’s a feeling of helplessness but we won’t stop fighting until the agencies involved listen to us for we are canalside we are tribe.

There by the grace of God go I

I live in a cottage on the side of a canal. I have a healing centre and I offer free breaks to cancer patients we have a counselling service and in my spare time I walk my dog in some of the most beautiful places on earth here in Wales.

I like reading tarot, crystals and crafting firepits, camping and laughing with the amazing friends that I have made while I’ve been here Wales.

Does my life sound? perfect I suppose it is.

Because this canal the work that I do is paradise it’s my paradise.

At 55 always been a bit of a rebel I suppose I still am sporting spiky hair shaved sides hippie clothes I’m bare foot most of the time I’m comfortable in my own skin I like who I am.

Believe me that’s taken a while.

So if you saw me if you met me and you knew all this.

What would be your opinion? Would you judge me what would you think as I’ve just said I have the ideal life.

My previous blog talks about the young man That we recently helped he was homeless and was wanted by the police.

Obviously we didn’t know this but it got me thinking about the different paths that we take in our life the choices we make. Because our story, our beginning ultimately paves the way to our destination. Wouldn’t you agree.

Rewind 45 years my story was different I didn’t have the best upbringing and that’s an understatement. I came from an incestuous family alcoholics, sexual physical and mental abuse.

That was my normal.

Yes that’s right normal. Because when you’re brought up being continually treated a certain way you believe that is the way life is.

Everyone must be the same behind closed doors inside all those houses.

It’s only when you get older you start to see the difference and then it’s too late.

Why too late? You’re different and it’s a secret and you can’t tell anyone.

Your the weird kid because their live is so much different than yours.

They could never understand and you don’t want to be different you want to fit.

It’s like a circle a rounder bout you just can’t get off.

I could go into more and horrendous details but that would just be like Scratching old wounds that I’ve worked so hard for a lifetime to nurse and to heal.

Occasionally there is something to remind me A flashback a nightmare a patient in work with a similar story that throws me right back there but my poker face is amazing.

I’m not that scared little girl That rebellious teenager, that fierce single mother anymore.

I’m not a victim.

So I guess the point I’m making is I’m one of the lucky ones.

Somewhere along the path there were signposts .

But despite everything I wouldn’t change a single day if I could go back have a different childhood I wouldn’t.

I know I can see you shaking your head.

What! you say?

the whole thing has been a journey my journey.

If I went back and change things I wouldn’t be sitting here right now in my cabin My sacred space by my cottage near the canal in Wales.

Yes I might have had an equally nice life but I want this one and everything that happened to me in the past has made me exactly who I am today.

I remember my father would call me gunner. Always gonna do this always gonna do that.

He’d tell me if aspire to be nothing but a whore.

For a long time I believed him .

Dispite all of this for as long as I can remember I wanted to live in Wales.

To escape my mother sister had a caravan in North Wales and she take me and my cousin

Once a year just a week but it was amazing there is a beach the chip shop and in Orchard where would climb up trees and I slept at night. I slept well.

So that was my wish I suppose it was cosmic ordering I just didn’t realise it at the time but no matter how bad things got or where my life took me And I can tell you there were some pretty dark places.

I dreamed of a magical place

I was going to live in Wales I was never sure how but I was going to do it.

I also wanted to go to University not sure why because I was never in school when I left home I was pregnant not for the first time.

18 years later I moved to South Wales. It wasn’t plain sailing I had countless disastrous relationships behind me but I was to determined to start new.

I went to University studied psychology human behaviour it fascinated me it still does Why people behave the way they do.

Nature versus nurture

I was hooked.

I carried on studied holistic therapies became a hypnotherapist reiki, reflexology counselling and psychotherapy i got a job working in community mental health I really felt like I was giving something back.

Making a positive difference.

You see one of the main things no matter how you try that sticks with you when you’re brought up in such a dysfunctional family is that needing that wanting to fit wanting a family.

I remember years ago after my mother died and a counsellor said to me there’s no such thing as the waltons every family has its problems and it took awhile to say that she was right.

In 2002 I met a guy whilst out for a drink with my friend he was quiet an unassuming Shy even. We became friends he was different than anyone else I’ve ever met we were opposites but then You know what they say about that so to cut a long Story short eventually we were married

We bought our cottage by the canal. By this time I was working in end of life care and it was a dream of mine to have somewhere anyone with an end of life diagnosis could come for a free break to get away from appointments and just to be themselves three years ago we bought small cottage in our street it was my dream.

That cosmic ordering finally is coming true.

My husband is amazing I dream it he builds it So now we have a beautiful cottage lots of people benefit from it.

A healing cabin And I can honestly say I couldn’t be happier. I finally found that place I fit.

One day I’m going to have a farm no animals but an open space and a bigger Retreat therapy cabin and celebrant services.

I’ve put it out there to the universe

Everything I do is there a reason I’m paying it forward I’m so unbelievably thankful for the journey I have been on.

I’m aware it could have been so very different.

And as I said in my previous blog about the young boy last week who was homeless I can’t ever turn anyone away.

Because truly there by the grace of God god go I .

🙏❤️

Someones son.

I’ve had a lot to think about this week and it’s made me reflect about the way we see people. Even though we don’t intend to judge I think sometimes most of us do.

2-weeks ago friend of mine was contacted through her website by a young man who was homeless and looking for a safe place to pitch his tent and somewhere to charge his phone.

Being in lockdown this proved more difficult than ussual.

My friend runs a country pub with rooms and so she decided to let him stay. He was a very polite young man excellent manners quietly spoken he didn’t ask for anything but was very very grateful for the roof of his head.

I arrange to go over to see him he needed a new rucksack his old one was tattered and in pieces. I bought him a rucksack it wasn’t too expensive but did the job and also asked about to friends of mine who had son’s his age and size and very kindly clothes were donated.

He was over the moon very humble and again very grateful. He told us a little bit about his life he said he’d lived Outdoors for a long time that he didn’t like to be thought of as homeless it was his choice he was a bit of a nomad and loved been out in the countryside.

Whilst staying with my friend he would be up early and out exploring the beautiful countryside around the pub waterfalls mountain walks he loved it.

He told us he worked casually and there is someone in Cardiff he had done some casual work for who owed him some money he was going to bring it to him that week and after that he’d be leaving Wales to stay with friends who had bought a farm just outside of Southport in the North West of England.

He came over to my house to have dinner with my family whilst in the kitchen he looked at me and said I can’t believe it’s only been three weeks and ‘I’ve met so many lovely people who have been nothing but kind to me.’ I knew these words we’re coming from his heart.

I gave him a crystal I have made into a pendant and wished him well I told him to keep in touch and if he ever need help to come back to Wales.

He hugged me me and thanks me again. He was a genuinely lovely young man there are a few things about his story I didn’t seem to fit but I guessed somewhere along the line he’s been trouble but he had been nothing but polite courteous and grateful to myself and my friend.

2 Days Later he left on a train to go to the north of England I messaged him on Facebook later that day to see if he has arrived safely.

He assured me he had and thanks to me again telling me he would stay in touch. He stayed in touch with my friend and my daughter who lives in Swansea she was as equally taken with him as we were.

Then a few days later my friend and her husband return to Wales from a short break in Brighton the following morning the police were knocking at her door asking if they had seen or been helping a young man the name given was not the name of the young man we had helped.

But a photograph confirmed it was indeed the same person. He was wanted by the police for breaking bail and not appearing in court and had been on the Run since January. We were told he was dangerous not 21 as we had thought but 27 and from the south of England.

Yes we were shocked but we were also concerned as I said earlier there is absolutely no clue then he could have been dangerous. The police asked where he had gone and my friend told them the north of England but we didn’t have an address.

We were notified later that he had been arrested still in South Wales in the area where he had stayed. My daughter feels that’s on all those walks he went on he was probably looking for somewhere remote and hidden to pitch his tent.

He must have known the police had an idea he was in Wales. The police couldn’t tell us what he was wanted for or anything about him although they did tell us his real name. So we looked on Facebook and the internet and it seems there’s not much that you can’t find out.

I worked most of my life if in mental health nursing so I’m aware of people who have committed crimes I work closely with them in forensic units and I know show some of the people who have committed most terrible crimes look the same as you and I.

They don’t look like Monsters they don’t wear a badge you could be standing next to them in a supermarket. I’m also aware that people who have got onto the wrong path often have horrendous life stories behind them and I’ve been treated terribly themselves.

Please don’t think but I’m excusing any crime I’m not but I’m saying there’s always a story.

So I believe this young boy let’s call him Harry found kindness when he came to Wales. And in that kindness I hope some healing occurred I take people as I find them for who they are with me.

And I hope the kindness he was shown here he remembers. I think we’ve got to remember that old saying there by the grace of God go I.

Harry was someone’s son, brother and I suppose in a different dimension he could have been my son.

Would it stop me helping someone again definitely not who am I to judge anyone it may have only been for a few weeks but I believe the kindness that he was given helped him to show the person that he really is.

I wish him well and continue to send him healing and love.

Multi faceted

We are all so multi faceted.
We are all many different things to many different people.
I don’t mean labels like, daughter, wife, mammy.
Although each of these alone carries different expectations.
Demands,
Rewards,
I mean the parts of us that we comfortably show to others .
Do you know what I mean?
I love the people that I can be real with.
Honest and comfortable.
The ones that just get you.
There is something so comforting about fitting.
Laughing with someone until you ache.
Watching the night sky.
But I wonder how often we find those sorts of friends ?
Is it rare?
The ones that we can genuinely “just be” with.
We have so many acquaintances hundreds , thousands .but sometimes there’s that one that you feel that connection with.
The one who you think you must have know before.
No matter how often you see them or how far away you are .
You still know that they are there .
That web.
Connection.
Those are your tribe

Strange times.. wonderful times

These last few months have been history in the making.

What ever you believe regarding the origin of the corvid 19 pandemic it has affected us all.

Never before has something touched us globally.

I live in a small terrace of canalside cottages.

2020 had been challenging before the pandemic we had to deal with the trauma of being hit by floods that ruined our homes destroyed our possessions twice in fifteen months.

But we are an amazing community and we had helped each other through it.

With love support cleaning each other flooded homes endless cups of tea and smiles.

Over half the families had to move out whilst their homes were rebuilt.

We stayed grafting my hubby jack of all trades repairing our cottage and the cancer retreat we run.

Then a month later Covid arrives bringing more disruption in a very different way.

So now we are in lockdown my hubby’s garage closes.

The tiny street is quiet

The building work stops. No one can get building supplies social distancing affects our community in a completely different way.

The street seems surreal only eight houses out of thirty are occupied.

We open at Canalside page on Facebook and we keep in touch through the page if one of us is going shopping with post to ask does anyone else in the street need anything picking up? Is everyone ok does anyone need any help

we arrange local businesses to deliver fresh fruit and veg.

we look after elderly residents check they have enough food and they’re feeling ok. Mental health is more important now than ever.

Thursday evenings we stand outside clapping for the key workers waving to each other smiling we are Canalside we are community we are family the floods strengthened our community the pandemic even more.

The more challenges this street has the closer our community becomes.

It really is a magical place to live

Thankfully the weather is good.

Newspapers and every day on TV they tell us the death toll rises they tell us to wash our hands to only go out to buy essential shopping not to visit close family or friends and to stay stay six feet apart.

when I was 16 very long time ago I spent my time chained to the fence at greenham common protesting about cruise missiles fearing for the future of my children I was 16 at the time and pregnant.

I had hitched a lift from my home just outside of Wigan to greenham common I’ve been befriended by a group of Welsh women who would sit and chat about the fear the nuclear weapons.

Each of them had been taken there by the fear they felt for their families future we would join hands singing blocking the path of these huge lorries transporting these huge cruise missiles.

Women trying to make a difference to change the world

Women of all ages from so many different backgrounds but with one common belief life is indeed precious

it seems strange now that this pandemic has created the same wave the fear but this time it is a fear of something none of us can actually see.

That experience as a young teenage pregnant girl instilled something within me I always believed that people are inherently good. This gift this realisation was given to me by those women at greenham common.

And I’ve lived by that positive thought ever since I’m not saying that life is a bed of roses but I am saying that life is sometimes hard but it is always beautiful.

I always remember their unshakable belief in a better world when I need hope and reassurance.

That when something threatens the thing that we love the most our families our communities then so many of us stand up to protect those things.

We’ve pulled together and we try your best to make a positive difference.

So it’s been 8 weeks now since this pandemic and lockdown began “pandemic “it’s global and we’ve I’ll have to slow down we’ve all had more time on our hands we’ve had time to think what matters most to us to reflect we have witnessed so many things that have happened in this world and those things have often been positive.

And I thought of that circle of strong Welsh women.

Here in the UK we have the national health service it’s .

Don’t get me wrong I think it’s always been appreciated but it’s always been struggled under financed I work for the NHS and I’ve seen so many changes over the years we haven’t got enough staff we haven’t got enough beds, psychiatrists supplies, the list is endless I could go on but you get the picture.

When something goes wrong within the community or crime happens and it’s a mental health patient it’s mental health services that are blamed but often it’s a deeper problem that we really just can’t cope. Huge caseloads closure of wards .

Patients are sent home from hospital far too early in my opinion there are so many unsafe discharges but that’s because we haven’t got the beds and patients are accused of bed blocking this is all down to the government.

My daughter-in-law works in general nursing and it’s a very similar story there too waiting list for operations are years if you would like a counselling appointment if you are suicidal 12-months 18 months how can that be?

but that’s the way is a wonderful NHS has been slowly run into the ground the staff are on their knees but now in 2020 during this pandemic we have seen people out on the streets clapping for the NHS politicians who have deprived us of money who haven’t supported us a clapping for the NHS I wonder and I hope if after the pandemic they will realise just how amazing the staff and the service is.

it has broken my heart to see friends of mine going into work dealing with this virus with no PPE armed with only a an apron and an inadequate mask.

This is true care they don’t go into work for the money obviously they need their pay packets but the pittance they are paid is nothing compared to the service that they give willingly everyday.

And I think is a nation we have been reminded of this throughout these difficult times.

as I said earlier the weather has been amazing and that in itself has been a blessing I can’t imagine coping with lockdown if it been raining or terrible weather and we are all stuck inside.

What a difference no aeroplanes and no traffic has made. Everyone has commented look up how blue are the skies how quiet are the roads less pollution less chemtrails

We’ve had reports of wildlife roaming in city centres of dolphins swimming in the canals of of Venice clearer water in lakes less pollution breathed in surely all of this is positive.

Families are getting to know each other interacting more walking together.

How many people walked before the pandemic I know the footfall past our cottage on the canal has probably quadrupled.

Just these few things we can reflect on and maybe keep some of the changes we’ve had to make.

I don’t think we can ever get back to “normal” because in reality the way we were living wasn’t at all normal.

Isn’t it sad that it’s taken a pandemic for most of us to notice this?

So before this ends maybe we could take that time of reflection to go inside ourselves and to ask what are the changes we would like to keep.

Because this really is history in the making so when our grandchildren ask us about the pandemic of 2020 what will be the story we tell them? What will the world be like that they are living in and how will we have helped to create that.

This is our planet our world our country our community and it’s up to us to take personal responsibility so will you be that change you want to see?

Remember life is often hard but always beautiful

Fog of Grief

In my lonley and self imposed fortress of darkness.

Wrapped in a foggy cocoon, playing inner cine films of you.

In a large empty theatre for one.

Talking to you of how lost that I feel

Listening and knowing all your replies. making new deals as I stare up at the night sky.

Wishing for just one more day spent with you.

To just watch the clouds maybe share a drink or two.

Dancing to pink and taking you home

Then waking and knowing I’m still here

Alone.

Without the madness of my random best friend

Knowing I must go on get a grip and not spend.

Days fretting without you I have no choice but to be strong

Knowing your still.beside me

Knowing what you would say

You’d give me a row

For loosing my way

And so now I have

found the courage to lite a candle within myself.

Embracing the shadows asking for enlightenment.

In the darkness of grief I found my true self.

I was not completly lost.

Just waiting

For the flickering of the returning light.

Of hope

Before the madness

I found this note I had written at the end of 2019 before the madness of 2020.

It’s seems a life time ago .

When we could sit next to strangers and chat in a public place.

I wonder how the lovely gentleman is now.

I pray he is okay.

I’m sitting in foyer of the hospital. Just waiting.
It’s freezing,

I kid you not people are wearing hats and coats.

I think it’s warmer outside in the winter sun.
Is the heating broken?
I sit watching an array of people walk through the doors.

I work for the NHS encounter the affects of cutbacks everyday.

It’s affecting patients and staff.

It’s going to hell in a hand cart.

The staff are amazing we care but you can’t pour from.an empty vessel and believe me we are scraping the bottom.

Hailed as best heath provider in the world but for how long..

I feel so sad as I look around

An elderly couple sit beside me. Chat about lack of disabled parking.

He leans his head on his hands.

Milky eyes, papery skin and wrinkles tell a thousand stories.
He struggles for breath, she smiles. C.o.p.d.

Years down the pit she says.
I smile my heart aches. I come from a mining town I know the graft the blue scars and toil of pit men
All my life he says as if reading my mind.
My son’s too.

One still a miner now he’s says with pride in his rasping voice.

Our other boy is a teacher she says in Australia. I think that I hear relief in her proud words.
We are hoping to get a nebuliser to help him breath marvellous they are.

Expensive maybe we can get one now,
his chest is so much worse than the last appointment.

Maybe? I think?
Why oh why hasn’t he got one now?

This lovely proud hard working man.
Struggling to breath without complaining
Worked all his life
Asked for nothing.

Now retired.

Time that should be enjoyed.
Outdoors with his loving family.
He sits in a cold hospital corridor.

On a shabby uncomfortable chair.
Struggling for breath.
Where is his rewards
For a life hard worked.
Give him all that he needs.
Give it to him now.
No waiting
How can you be expected to wait to breathe?

He smiled as they call his name.
Nods
Goodbye he says with a wink.
Nice to meet you.
It’s a honour to meet you sir. I say as he shakes my hand
I forget about the cold.
As I concentrate on the wonder and blessing of my breath.

Raven.

Full moon, ivy, and a new friend.

Matthew Goodridge we met unexpectedly on Oct 30th Samhain eve 2015 when the veil between our two worlds was at it thinnest.
I had walked through the graveyard under a ink black sky.
Heading to my favourite cross roads to perform my ancestor ritual.
There is a beautiful avenue of ancient yew trees in this tiny 13c churchyard an ideal place to honour our ancestors.
The sky so clear I sat down beside the end of a ivy covered tombstone my son Matthew and I have been estranged for quite some time and today as most days he had been on my mind.
The atmosphere this night was heavy.

I sat looking at this old tombstone covered in ivy and moss. who are you I whispered.Opened my bag took out my candles and incense placed them beside the coffin shaped base.
Something told me this is where I needed to be.
I gave thanks to my ancestors who have walked before me.
Sat with my black mirror to scry then after ritual I sat watching the sun rise birds began to sing.
I was still sat on the grave stone I began to pull at the ivy. It had pushed its way into the stone but somehow it felt the right thing to do.
Who are you I asked again as slowly a name was revealed.
My samhain companion.
I chatted away until I had a full name..
Matthew Goodridge.
Aged 43.
Died.. I smiled..
Samhain.31 October 1888.

.

So Matthew it wasn’t a coincidence I was drawn from my usual path.

He had been hidden in in knot weed and brambles covered in ivy for years and years.
Forgotten .
I remember you Matthew Goodridge.
I said out loud touching the top of the stone.
Further down were the names of Matthews two daughters.
Sarah Anne 14
And Tirzah 9.

.

No mention of a wife or mother.
As I finished removing the rest of the brambles from the corner of my eye a tall man in a flat cap stood watching me his cigarette smoke blew across to where I stood .

Gardener maybe?

I smiled and nodded.

In the blink of an eye he was gone.
I looked over towards the yews and the big wrought iron gates
But there is no one about.

A crow caws above me.
Your welcome Matthew I say.
As I pick up my bag..
The sun light picks our the names on the stone.

I’ll be back soon to finish tidying .
That was two years ago.
Since Matthew and I met.
I go there often to keep the ivy at bay I have found the missing end piece of the tomb dug it up repaired and fixed it back into its original place.

He is my peaceful place

An ancestor of this land I call home.

Flowers and vase now show that someone cares and remembers them.

He won’t ever be forgotten whist I speak his name.
I will remember him.

One hundred and twenty seven years to the day.
Matthew Sarah and Tizah my samhain ancestors of this place that I love.

What’s it all about?

I’m not sure about the phrase “self isolation”

It conjours up thoughts of loneliness.

Especially for the elderly

If back in December someone close to us had suggested that a world wide pandemic would be with us in twelve months

Borders closed, normal people would turn into selfish beings panic buying food medicines and baby milk.

There would be an even bigger pandemic of mass fear inducing self isolation and social distancing

Would we have believed it could happen so quickly? As I write I feel I’m discribing a plot a of a Margret Atwood novel.

Yet here we are.

Everyday a new chapter unfolds. This week schools in Wales will close for the foreseeable.

People are working from.home if they can. Supermarket shelves are empty old people stand in the rain outside doctors surgeries waiting for their medication to be brought out by masked staff .

Social distancing forgotten as they huddle under umbrellas

I hear people saying the world has gone mad.

Everything has slowed down. Venice canals are now clear dolphins visit

There are no planes over head pumping chemitrails into the sky.

The usual bustle of shoppers riding by each other unoticing has calmed .

Although everyone is worried I’ve noticed more smiles.

Concern for family friends, strangers. The flip side of the panic buying.

Let’s try to focus on what we can do. Instead of what we can’t

Pick up your phone for a chat with family and friends.

Read the book you haven’t had time to pick up.

Discover the joy of podcasts and radio plays.

When weather allows it get out into the garden spring is coming .

If you don’t already try meditation.

The power of visualisation can take you anywhere. YouTube is a good place to start.

The world hadn’t stopped it’s just slowed down. Maybe she will take the time to breathe and to heal.

Maybe we can too.

When all this is over remember this is history in the making.

Our great grandchildren will learn about 2020 in school.

The year that everything stopped and changed..

Let the next line be ..

For the better..

Open letter to U.k government/ environment agency , prince Charles.

PLEASE SHARE
OPEN LETTER TO PRIME. MINISTER, GOVERNMENT, ENVIRONMENT AGENCY, PRINCE CHARLES PRESIDENT OF THE CANAL AND RIVER TRUST. NEATH COUNCIL .

I also run a non profit cancer retreat (soon to gain charity status)
I provide completly free breaks, a soul midwife service, celebrant service, counseling and therapies for patients with life limiting illnesses and their loved ones
Lots of people said I wouldn’t be able to do this completly free, but they don’t know about the magic and support of canalside.
We have been doing it for over two years. Provide lots of beautiful people with a safe happy space to forget about hospital appointments and just to be themselves
To walk on our beautiful canal explore local areas supported by us and our neighbors.
October 2018 were devistated by storm Callum all our hard work and love Ravens retreat was ruined.

To the powers that be.
Prime minister, government, environment agency, Neath council. Prince Charles president of canals & rivers trust.
It’s a almost a week since storm Dennis devistated our little street Canalside.
We are a terrace of 29 old but beautiful cottage as the name suggests we are nestled by the side of the Tenant Canal.
You hear older people talk of how it used to be when people look after each other, you could ask neighbors for help, leave your door open. When there was real communities.
I always smile feel proud and blessed because canalside is exactly that they are describing us. Canalside.
I know everyone in our street.
We are a tribe.
We look out for each other, we remember birthdays, pick up shopping, give lifts when needed, fix cars, we don’t live in each others pockets but we have always got each others backs you get the picture.

But we hadn’t had flooding here since early 90s so we pulled together as a community baled water/ sewage dried out the cottages hacked of plaster dug up floors, pulled out fitted kitchen, white goods sofas furniture clothing toys nothing was salvageable due to the sewage imagine a film.of human waste covering everything you own.
Strangers came to help, we had no electricity for days but canalside residents stuck together unbreakable bonds were made, strangers were now friends .
It took us from October 2018 of storm Callum to June 2019 to recover
The sun shone we welcomed home those who had moved out whilst builders re built their homes.
Ducks, geese , the dog walkers passed our cottage again our community breathed a sigh of relief we were home, together.
Life went on.
We welcomed families for cancer breaks from at Helens , Liverpool, North Wales, Swansea .
A word they often used to describe canalside was magical.

I vividly remember our first group of ladies after the flood Viv and Jule. Were friends from my hometown of St Helens.
Viv had just finished radiotherapy. A mural friend had rang to ask if she could join them with her best friend who was having chemotherapy for a terminal diagnosis.
Everything was arranged and they traveled down together

You see that’s what Ravens Retreat (wish cottage project) is all about.
Fulfilling wishes and dreams giving people hope
We are so much more than a little cottage in a little street.
When Bex Viv, Shaz and Julie drove away at the end of a perfect week the sun shone their car radio blared they sang at top of their voices .

They arrived from Liverpool after a long drive I introduced myself to Bex she smiled but looked quite and lost, she was wearing a back brace and they had wondered if the drive over would be too long but she had been determined to come.
As the four of them looked around our retreat slowly Bex began to smile.
That week was truly wonderful.
They sat by our fire pit, sunbathed on the decking, drank wine laughed lots discussed hopes and fears.
Bex confessed wanting to climb mountain.
Leave it with anything is possible in Canalside.
It was a sunny day when we drove into Swansea to mumbles pier.
We had lunch then
I sat on the beach beside Bex there’s your mountain I smiled pointing at the light house on the hill.
Her face lit up..
I sat in the dun watching her slowly but surely climb up the hill to mumbles lighthouse..
She stood at the top wind in her hair waving over to me..
That will always be Bex’s mountain.

My heart smiled.
The girl who arrived looking quite and tired left glowing happy and smiling.
I’m privalaged to call her my friend
And to have been part of her journey sadly Bex died a few months later.

Why am I telling you this? It’s because although you ‘see’ the floods on T.V and a few of you may walk down the street you don’t get to know our stories.
You come then leave to sit in warm houses without the real fear of ‘What if’ hanging over you when you go to bed, or if your in work and it starts to rain.
Behind each door of each cottage is a story.
A family just like yours .
I want and need you to know how loved and important this small street is.
So a week later after our second flood in sixteen months we have done the same again.
We pulled together bailed sewage,
cared for our vunerable less able neighbors.
New strangers have arrived we have lost all our possessions again..
Because the preventative measures promised were not honoured.
This time I have no insurance.
Not because I chose not to because I couldn’t get cover after storm Callum
A £6000 oil central heating boiler a beautiful sofa bed bought for patients who are too weak to get upstairs.
All our white goods, carpets, crockery all contaminated again by sewage .
Preventative measures that we were promised didn’t happen.
Why am I writing to you a week later..
Because as I clean up the mess in my bedroom that has been trodden upstairs all week
I have found a pile of thank you cards from people who have stayed with us . A letter from my best friend Donna Drewson who died September 11 2018 telling me how proud she was of me and the Retreat.
She always believed in me
Everything we have done is in memory of her.
Finally my strength left me.
I sat on my bed and sobbed.
I want to believe that you neath council, environment agency the water board, local government prince Charles and the prime minister have took on board our dilemma.
That this time you will do something preventative to help us.
My greatest fear is a few months down the line the reporters news crews will leave.
Council will be spending money on speed bumps and once again we will be forgotten.
So prime minister, local government.
Prince Charles.
Put your wellies on.
Knock on our doors hear our voices our stories.

Talk to us.
Remember Canalside.
We are worth saving
.
Do I want to move?
Of course not.
Where else could I find such a melting pot of amazing people
It may not be your idea of paradise but it’s ours .
Please help us preserve it.

Yours in hope
Joolz

Storm Dennis South Wales

So I’ve been I’ll all day V &D due to the 3 ft of raw sewage that spewed it’s way into my cottage early hours Sunday morning.

Beginging of storm Dennis.

We knew what to expect we endured exactly same 18 months ago storm Callum

I’ve been reading alot in praise of what council and environment services have done for canalside (our forgotten street) in this flood ..
Here are a few facts
I live at no 20 no one was there in the street when the flood came at 2.30 / 3 am
No one came apart from the guys dropping off 4 sand bags and placing one useless row at top of the street.
I moved here 14 years ago and a team of council employees came to do a dummy run of what would happen in a red alert
They came fitted new flood gates front and back.
Then they promptly took them off and put them back on the lorry?
Asked if we could keep them we were told no that on red alert they would be brought out and fitted along with advice and help to elderly and vunerable to lift furniture ect
So storm Callum…
WHERE WERE THEY
Storm Dennis WHERE WERE THEY?
No one knows where these flood gates are?
No one knocks doors helps the vunerable warns us
We look.after our own

There was a meeting in the legion after Callum
Promises made about prevention highering walls, finding elusive flood gates,
More storm drains
And money from Europe for flood victims … False confidence given to vunerable people.
I have been scrubbing what can only be described as liquidised s@@t from all surfaces in my cottage the sewage was 3ft deep spewing up from toilets bath sink.
Help advice on contaminated water would have been helpful
Also we have vunerable tenants in the street in rented property.
Land. Lords now have to have a licence (rent smart Wales)
One young couple have had their tenency ended by their landlord no where to go…
The twins having to stay with a friend as their land lord has failed to help and find them.alternative accommodation.
It’s easy for people who aren’t experiencing this devistation for second time in 18 months to sit in their warm dry uncontaminated homes
With their opinions
They aren’t living it.
Not only is my home ruined my car is too.
For the amazing people who have knocked on our doors and walked the walk with help and support… I truly am grateful.
But council and services could have done so much more BEFORE and after the event FACT

Mavis & Brian

So my little rescue dog Mavis who came to us at just over a year so very nervous.

She had lived in a flat never been outside at all.

The flat was covered in dog poo and she was fed on scraps .

She came to us in such a sorry state and after a yeAr with us she would still run under the sofa and hide if anyone called in.

I thought maybe this was the best she would ever get.

Then a few weeks ago I was asked if I’d like a little ginger rescue kitten.

We have two adult cats Lucifer and Luna who are both okay with Mavis but when they are not sleeping they are out so not much company so I said yes and we welcomed Brian into our cottage.

He is just what Mavis needed.

She adores him he is lively and lots of fun and has taught her how to play!

They really are best pals.

My little dog is changed she’s so confident and sleeps beside her new best friend.

Here they are ❤️

Suicide. mental health

So I rang the police for help.

A welfare check is what I need

The curtains were closed the doors and windows locked

I couldn’t see inside, an overdose or had you cut yourself to bleed

Behind the front door a little dog barked

1970s bubble glass distorted my view.

Vertical letter box I strain but can’t catch sight of you

Gut feeling .

A knowing

Something very wrong this I knew.

No answer on the house phone

No answer at the door.

You weren’t in a good place

Have you decided you can’t live life anymore.

I ring the police again

I ask

Are you on your way?

The car has been diverted.

There was an emergency on the way.

This is an emergency I tell them

My gut is never wrong.

There is nothing I can do until they get here

The but why are they taking so long?

Six hours later they arrive

Check with neighbors then break down the door.

A whimpering dog stands beside you.

Cold and lifeless

I guess you just couldn’t take anymore.

I’m left with a feeling of sadness

Feeling let down by a system that doesn’t care

When you needed protection and safe space

In the end there was nobody there

Just one more drink.

As a child I grew up with an alcoholic abusive father.

I grew up hating the way he treated us. Embarrassed that he would fall or fight in the street.

He constantly smelled of booze or vomit.

It was always just one more drink.

There was a tiny piece of him that I adored.

The sober piece .

The man that taught me to love animals, whispered to horses, taught me to write poetry.

But as I grew up that piece all but disappeared I’d pray for a miracle it never came.

My mother wouldn’t leave so eventually I ran away from home and never went back.

Last night made me think of the things that the universe gives us as part of our journey and learning.

I studied psychology as a mature student and eventually went into mental health a lot of the patients I’ve worked with over the years have drug and alcohol addiction.

Some addicted to class As or prescription drugs

Some to just alcohol.

Some to both.

All self medicating for one reason or another

I have tried not to take them onto my case load.

Let someone else take them

Not because I wouldn’t work well with them.

I would.

Just because some situations are so near the bone for me.

No one knows my past.

But somehow the challenging patients they always work their way to me.

I support them with medication.

Getting to appointments.

Self help groups and working towards counseling then detox it that’s what they want.

It’s emotionally challenging in many ways.

Many (not all) are following patterned behaviour.

Or are self medicating due to physical, sexual or emotional abuse in their lives.

I see them in different moods drunk, high, sober.

But always at some point I see that spark that is really them .

That tiny piece that’s visabl when their guard is down.

That’s the piece that I nurture and nurse.

When they move on and are discharged or more to another service it’s so good to know you’ve played a small part.

Sometimes nothing works and it’s just not the right time for them to make a change

That really can be tough.

So for a year or so i haven’t dealt with drug or alcohol issues .

Being Christmas my dad has popped into my head it was never a great time of year as a kid just a excuse to drink even more.

Anyway last night I went over to my son’s to babysit my grand daughter.

She’s eighteen months old a fabulous age filled with curiosity and wonder.

My son was working and my daughter in law had a Christmas night out so off I went and had an evening of spoiling Emilia.

I drove home at 11pm and as you know I look be on a canal tow path so the road town past the cottages is poorly lit and full of pit holes and it’s pouring with rain.

Visibility is poor.

My car is bumping along up and down the pit holes I’m half way along and I see a small flash of white in the road.

Im going real slow there it is again I stop.

Put my lights on main beam and gasp.

There lying face down in the road is Peter the man from no 14.

He’s around 69 an alcoholic he’s lying in a water filled pot hole the white had been a reflective strip on his trainers

Thank the goddess I stopped I’d have run him over.

I jump out the car it’s lashing down.

Peter I shake him

He opens his eyes.

He’s so cold.

“Freezing” he says.

Can you get up?

Are you hurt? He smells of brandy and vomit

I’m kneeling in the rain and I feel ten years old.

His face is bruised I’m okay he says .

I manage to sit him up lean him on the wire fence.

His sister lives six doors up I’ve passed her house .

I run and bang the door

No answer

I bang harder

For f@@ks sake I think we live in a tiny street and no one is about.

I’m running back and phoning my hubby Jeff.

He’s asleep but within minutes hes with me helping Peter to his feet.

Then banging in his sister door until her husband and her come our to see what all the fuss is about.

He’s freezing I say and hurt I think you should take him to the hospital or phone an ambulance.

Jesus says Colin he left the pub at 9.15 he’s been there hours .

They get him into his house.

Thank you says Colin and and Jeff and I leave.

I deal with all sorts of situations in work but this has shaken me.

Jeff makes me tea.

I’m shaking.

If you hadn’t have been home late he would have been there all night he says.

He would have died from cold.

I nod.

I know .

This morning he’s still on my mind I see Colin as I drive out of the street.

Is Peter okay I ask.

Yes he says shaking his head .

I can’t believe he lay there in the rain for more than two hours

I’m glad he’s okay I say and drive off.

Tonight Jeff got home from work.

I just seen Peter he says.

He’s limping face all bruised looks terrible.

I cringe .

He was on his way up to the pub.

Said he needed a brandy.

Universe give me a break I’m failing to see what it is that your trying to show me.

Age of Aquarius

I have some amazing women around me. This poem is for you. For us.

You are my circle.

Warriors,

My sister’s

Like moths to a flame we have found each other.

We are strong women
Independent women.
Wild women, funny. Clever sensitive. Passionate.
inspirational we are free.

We are poets, tellers of stories. Lovers. mothers, daughter’s, Sisters.

We have each others backs.
We are fortress like protectors.

Divine feminine energy
We are goddesses.

Star dust we are spirit.

I feel you for we are connected.

Strands of the same astral web.

We are sparks from the same bright flame

We are source.

Reach out know that I am always here for you

For I am you,

You are me

We are tribe.

Universe.

You are my sunshine..

No I don’t want a cup of tea.
There is an acrid taste of vomit in my mouth.
Questions asked and I hear them.
I hear them like I’m underwater or in a bubble?
It’s this real or is it a dream.

My head hurts if I move it.
The tea the police man has given me is stone cold.
My tears are warm as they run down my cheeks and splash into the tea cup.

I wonder how many tea cups of tears I will cry.

Enough to fill an ocean?
Rushing now that loud noise in my head.

Technicolour scenes I cannot pause or mute.
Play over and over.
Although my eyes are closed I still see it play.

I press my fingers hard into my temples as if they are stop buttons on a memory remote control
but batteries are dead nothing can stop it.

I’m not wearing any shoes.
My feet are dirty there is a scratch on my left ankle.

Dirt from my front garden I’d been out there all day pulling up privit hedges.

That’s where I was when my world changed standing barefoot grounded.in the April sunshine.
Surrounded by my children in the late afternoon I’ll just finish clearing up this mess then we will go down to pick up your Nan I told them.
A car pulled up in front of my house.
Suddenly I knew, that gut feeling. I felt it physical pain.
I caught my breath and I knew he had killed her.

My Mam. The only one I’d ever known my alcoholic father had finally done it.

The button was pressed the flashbacks began
The chaos was real.

I sorted out my children and got in the car stood in the door way of her flat.

I hear him singing in my head..

You are my sunshine my only sunshine…

Dark cloud of blood on her carpet marking where she had fallen hitting her head.

Her china cup, Mam inscribed in gold letters half full of cold tea on the window ledge.
Photos of my children on the walls I can smell olobis oil on a tissue she had used.
I hear a shrill scream then a gutteral howl. The cine film of memories in my head plays on.

The scream is mine. No I don’t want tea I want my Mam back.

In the beginning.

People ask where the name of my retreat here in Wales came from

Ravens Retreat.

Here is my story

Little black bird.

She was small tiny in fact.

Not one of them, not part of this tribe and so she didn’t belong.

Saul the king of the crows had said her mother had been a visitor a maverick laying her egg in a nest here in the woods then leaving it to be hatched by one of the king sauls female mates.

Little bird had emerged small scrawny and different she didn’t fit.

The only thing about her that was like the murder of crows she lived with was her colour. She was blacker than the night.

Every day she was reminded that she wasn’t like them smaller not good enough she lived there but she didn’t belong there.

Saul the king was big and mean she had learned not to upset him dodge the sharp elbow of his mighty wing his shrill caw and she had many scars from his sharp beak.

She would wait until everyone had eaten before she dared to look for what scraps were left she survived by living and blending into the shadows.

She lived roosted and nested on the edge of the woods in an old oak tree in a small hollow of a branch near to where she had been hatched.

She knew there was no room for weakness in the woods where she lived the fittest survived the weakest didn’t

The seasons changed the wheel of the year turned new eggs hatched young were born and raised their gathering grew but she was not to see her young born.
Saul would fly into a rage smash her eggs killing her young before her eyes they didn’t stand a chance.

She wondered what was beyond this place her oak tree these woods the stream she dreamed of another place where she could fly and be free.

Then one warm summers evening as she glided alone on a warm summer breeze she was startled by a whoosh of wind as a beautiful huge black bird flew past her.

She watched as he darted and glided this way and that his call was different louder deeper and his feathers though black like hers were darker she followed him as he landed stealthy on an old oak tree on the otherside of the woods.

‘Where do you come from?’ asked the little black bird across the ocean far from here he said preening himself

The sun shone as they spoke of other worlds green valleys and oceans and the little crows heart fluttered.
Could I go to this place she asked?

The beautiful Raven cawed ruffled his feathers and laughed. He tilted his head his eyes were brown and in them she saw a reflection looking back at her.

She let out a caw,

Yes he said seeing the surprise on her face.

You can go anywhere, you too are a Raven.

‘Me a Raven?’ ‘Yes you.’

Why are you nesting with the crows their king is not a good being. His heart is blacker than his feathers,

Fly from here fly south look for the purple topped mountains and green valley’s there are others like us.

Do not be afraid any longer you are brave and stronger than you think you are a warrior little Raven. You can live anywhere you choose.

She flew back to the woods cawing out thanks to the Black Raven.

The king crow was getting old now his eyes were failing and suddenly she realised he wasn’t bigger or stronger and the fear she had felt for all those years roosting in the woods began to leave her.

She puffed up her chest and cawed loudly as she flew down to the place by the river where her smashed eggs and young were buried.

Her heart banged in her Raven chest she was afraid to go but more afraid to stay.

Head tucked under her wing she slept knowing this was the last night in her oak tree in this small woodland that had been her home since she had hatched in the wrong nest.

Tomorrow she would fly

She wished only for good weather and then she slept.

The next morning the sun came up she drank from the stream and caught sight of her reflection again in the water a raven there was new determined look in her eye.

She was no longer the tiny bird the outcast who had taken so many beatings.

A proud strong Raven stared back at her.

She cawed loudly. ‘Goodbye woodland of my youth.’

Gentle winding stream and old oak tree thank you for my shelter and quenching my thirst.

She heard King Saul caw a cruel laugh behind her.

‘Little bird’ he jeered. ‘Who do you think you are?’ ‘Where do you think you are going?’

I am not little bird I am Raven Storm. I am mighty brave and strong a warrior that is who I truly am. Today I shall fly and find my own path far from here.

King sauls eyes flashed anger ‘you dare speak back to your king you defy my orders?’

‘You would choose solitude and loneliness this is your place.’

The other crows waited for her to answer no one ever left this gathering no one ever left this gathering.

Raven puffed out her chest and spread out her wings ‘I am not your little bird. I choose freedom’
Lonleyness and solitude are yours

There was a gasp from all who gathered as Raven circled for the last time above the small woodland that had been her roost.
As all the crows begin to caw loudly a last goodbye.

The warm winds carried her south. Warm sun shone on her feathers and hope beat a drum inside her brave Raven heart.

She was free.

http://www.ravensretreat.wales

Be the present you give.

It’s almost that time of year again.

I work in community nursing and I see families on low incomes struggling to buy kids the latest I phone, lap top, scooter or whatever the latest craze is.

I’ve always struggled this time of year.

As a child it was the time my alcoholic farther would get more drunk than normal.

Fight in street more.

Well you get the picture everything he did

He managed more.

The thing I found hardest to understand was he would wish anyone who would listen HAPPY CHRISTMAS.

ALL THE BEST.

I’d walk beside him cringing more than normal.

I hadn’t quite got understanding hypocrisy yet.

The people he fought with all year, or didn’t like for a week or two he would be civil too.

I remembered asking my mam she shook her head shrugged her shoulders what do you mean?

She asked puzzled.

It’s Christmas .

So I suppose even somewhere at the bottom of dads home brew bottle it said good will to all at Christmas.

I didn’t understand.

I’d go over to my nans Christmas day.

My cousin’s Gary and Phil would be there same age as me.

Whist dad mam auntie aggie and uncle Peter would go over to the labour club to “celebrate”

We would play cards with Nan, look at old photographs as I think back I realize everything about her was about spending time with us.

Not distracting us with something to do.

She would be doing “it”

With us.

Her house was sparse she had minimal furniture old vinal sofa table and chairs yet she had everything.

She gave everything.

She was although I didn’t realize it until much later in life my greatest teacher the best example on how to live.

Simply

Don’t get me wrong she said things as they were.

She would tell you streight if you were wrong.

But she was loving and she was fair.

When eventually dad would roll up falling drunk being sick in the garden laughing and smelling of nothing but beer and whiskey.

She would always smile at me with sadness in her eyes

“It will be alright ” she would say.

It was early 1970s

Women didn’t argue with men.

Kids did as they were told.

When I think back she must have been heart broken these were her son’s.

The only thing she could do was let us know she was always there .

That was her greatest gift.

One of the lesson I learned was don’t just be nice smile and wish good will to all at Christmas

Get up everyday and resolve to be kind.

If you can’t say something nice.

Say nothing.
So at this time of year my advice would be to anyone who asked.

Don’t spend money that you haven’t got on things that you don’t really need.

Spend time with those you love.

Spend time with a stranger a homeless person. Stop and chat ask if there is something you can do?

Ask the elderly in your community is there anything that they need?

Step away from your hypnotic phone.

Look into the eyes of real people.

Don’t buy expensive presents

Be present be here now.

Give your time. Yourself

How will you make a difference?

Who knew. Birthday & Christmas without you.

So today is the second birthday you’ve been gone.

I miss you Donna.

Everyday there is some thing new to miss.

Last night I drempt of you.

We were in your old house in bay street.

Decorating the Christmas tree.

Well you were it had to be perfect.

Symmetrical 😂🌲

You were dancing to Pink

Who knew.

Glass of vodka and lemonade in your hand laughing long black hair shining

Happy eyes.

We sat together on your huge sofa

Guess what I’ve bought you.

I sigh roll my eyes.

Shall I give you a clue?

Tell you what it begins with?

Nooooo I laugh I’ll wait.

You loved Christmas.

Everything about it.

I woke up I could still.smell your perfume.

The rain battered at the window.

I heard your voice “raining on my birthday!”

Happy birthday I whisper.

I miss you.

Im working but plan to go to the cemetery on way .

I’ve bought you a happy feet penguin it’s so heavy

Concrete it’s a garden ornament.

I know you’ll love it.

I ring your daughter tell her I’ll meet her by the cemetery gates at 11.30 after I pick up flowers

Drive over to supermarket to pick up sun flowers for you.

As I’m driving pink comes on the radio.

Who knew.

I smile your everywhere I know your by my side.

There are no sunflower left I stand there and something catches my eye.

A Christmas tree a potted one with roots.

I think of my dream

Pick up the tree and a pack of baubles

Ten mins later I meet Sarah and Chloe and after I decorate the tree as symmetrically I can whist sat in a car in the rain

I take it to you.

Happy birthday love I say as we all get out of the car .

Sarah puts the star on top

Chloe ties a balloon to the little fence we put up in summer .

The dancing penguin and tree are just you Donna.

The rain has stopped .

Hope you like the tree I say

She would love it Sarah says

I know you do.

If someone said three years from now
You’d be long gone
I’d stand up and punch them out
‘Cause they’re all wrong
I know better
‘Cause you said forever
And ever
Who knew

Happy birthday Donna ❤️

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The blue bird promise

This poem was inspired by a blogger friend here on word press you know who you are.

You have got this.

I’m waiting for you in the place of new beginnings.

Nan you were 4ft 5 made of dynamite.

Orange lipstick to match your orange head scarf.

Long grey hair I loved to brush.

I’d open your letter box and shout.

Nanny!!!

Jesus Mary and bloody Joseph you’d reply

As you hurried down the hall.

Pretending to be angry

Yet again I wasn’t at school.

Thick cut bread and thick pea soup

Old biscuit tins with buttons in one photos in another.

Stories told of my grandfather

You never loved another.

Giving me a big jug and sending me off to the ‘out door’

At the flying horse pub

Filling it with stout was the score.

Cover it with a tea towel

And slowly walking carefully back.

Little sips of stout and a bag of crisps

Before we hit the sack

Get up them apples and pears you’d shout

As the stone hot water bottle was carried up

Id snuggle into bed beside you

A torch to read my book

Shadows on bare plaster walls

Shining lamp post outside your house

Morning woken by the kettles whistle

Smell of hot buttered toast

Radio on kitchen window

Milk left at the door

Life so simple at your house Nan

There will be blue birds over the White cliffs of Dover you’d sing with Vera Lynne. Smiling at me.

I really hope so I’d think.

Sunday afternoon a loud rattle and clang as my dad fell drunkenly over the rubbish bin.

I was shook back into reality from my night away.

From the madness of my parents

Nan would hug me tell me it would be okay.

There were no blue birds over our house

Only monsters in shadows that would lurk about.

No hot water bottle or hugs in nans bed.

As dad lay on the floor and vomited or fought in the street

I’d run and hide in the old garden shed

Living in our house was existing in a night mare

Selfish drunken narcesists who are incapable of care

The only glimmer of hope would be a afternoon with nan

I’d run across town to see her as often as I can

Escaping drunken monsters was life’s childhood game

Planning my escape from this hell to find shelter from the rain

But living in a different world isn’t as easy as it may seem

You have learnt all you know from your disfunctional tag team.

Your family life is engrained into your very soul.

The journey to unwind all the abuse damage is a long long walk alone.

A pilgrimage a baptism of more learning to begin to make you whole.

There were so many parts missing from the jigsaw puzzle of life I couldn’t see.

I’d filled the missing pieces with sadness, fear and anger

A new journey of self descovery

Battle armour was the only thing to wear

I’d encounter memories and demons as I walked from here to there.

I had a choice to make a victim or survivor would I be?

Sounds a simple choice but what I didn’t see.

Was self care and self love weren’t something I knew how to do.

If you don’t love yourself how is anyone else expected to?

Like being a child there were times I’d still run away.

Like a moth flying hypnotically to a flame my self distruct would come into play.

Gradually learning to love the spark inside that was me..

Learning to trust

Finding my voice

Accepting I was now free.

For I am a warrior I am a mother I am a friend.

I have put down roots I see the beauty in life

So is this the end.

Of my journey it’s just the beginning a place of wonder of learning of love and magic this place was visualised by me.

If you are on the same journey know im patiently waiting here for you

If I can get here I promise that you can too.

I hear you nan in the distance the words of your song were part of my key.

There will be blue birds over the White cliffs of Dover

My darling just you wait and see.

The power of thoughts and words

So I’m not a sharer of memes

I am however a believer in the fact that thoughts and words are beyond powerful.

You attract what you project.

I live in Wales U.K.

A small village not some huge city but still I hear the barrage of negativity on the news and social media.

From being a child I wondered why news papers and T.V news talk so much about “the bad things” that are happening in the world.

Now I’m not for a minute suggesting that they shouldn’t be broadcasted.

But percentage wise there is in very few positive news stories giving the opinion that things are out of balance .

I believe it’s the opposite.

I know that people for the most part are inherently good.

Dispite low wages and unemployment I see such amazing acts of kindness daily here in Wales.

Community and people who want to make a difference.

All worthy of news coverage I’d love to be a local news reporter just for a week!

Here is this week’s example.

I attend a spiritual development and meditation group.

Last Tuesday a new guy turns up he’s quiet and unassuming new to the area.

We sit together and chat for awhile he’s ex military had fallen on hard times had time on streets homeless and eventually in a psychiatric hospital.

Breaks my heart how this can happen to.men and women who have given so much of there lives to services.

A few months ago the royal British legion give him a grant to use as a bond to get a private rented house.

He finally feels like he’s been given a break.

Hence the move here it’s a new place for him he tells me his story quietly .

He smiles as he tell of the little cottage with a garden with a view of the mountain.

It’s so good to have a roof over my head to feel safe.

He such a lovely man I work in mental health and know how tough it is leaving hospital with no support so ask how he’s coping .

He tells me he’s doing okay pleased to have found our group he loved the meditation and will definatly join us again.

When we leave it’s freezing and I offer him a lift as he’s walked the two miles to the hall.

On the way back we chat more and I learn the only possessions he has are a bed, chair , portable T.V and his tool box.

He tells me in such a matter of fact way.

It’s fine he says smiling .

Can I help I ask?

How he smiles at me as he gets out of the car .

I don’t know yet I laugh leave it with me .

We swap details and I drive home knowing I’ve just made a forever friend.

I tell my hubby about him.and his story when I get home sitting there on our sofa infront of a roaring fire.

Sometimes we forget just how lucky we are I say.

Now here is the power of social media.

There is a fabulous Facebook page called kindness matters Swansea

My beautiful friend Sam runs it.

I message her and ask her to post asking for a sofa, microwave, and anything else that could make a empty cottage into a home.

Within minutes my phone is beeping.

A young lass Sarah

Says I have a sofa he can have!

Rhi messages with a nest of tables and a bag of bath towels tea towels and flannels!

My daughter sofa cushions, and a few house plants and a bed side table.

Zoe a microwave.

A beautiful oil painting

Han and my work colleagues are bringing in food to make up a welcome to your new home hamper.

I’m so thrilled but I’m not surprised.

Put it out there expect kindness and you will see how wonderful people are.

The next day I folded down seats in my car collected the sofa and the rest of the donations then drove over to the cottage .

As I open the back of car the next door neighbor come out to help

The three of us unloaded the car I feel so thankful for the amazing kindness of strangers who are all now friends.

There it is that eternally expanding web of connection again.

To see the difference in the cottage

As he sits on his new sofa with a huge smile on his face I cant help but smile too.

We had met less than twenty four hours earlier .

Thank you Joolz he said giving me a huge hug.

Your welcome I say.

Trust the universe and ask.

He laughs

I’ve not been too good at asking he smiles.

Today I saw this which is everything I believe in.
In a meme.

Try it and see.

Don’t believe everything you see on the news .

There are some truly amazing people out there .

❤️🙏

The goal that waited for me.

So what if I haven’t reached the goal of what I was going to be when I grew up.
Does that mean I haven’t grown up yet?

I do hope so.

The problem is you see the destination.

The goal it hasn’t really changed. It was always right right there.

It paused and waited patiently.

Waited whilst I grew my wings and bravery left home.

Waited whilst I became a mother and raised my children alone.

Waited when I went to college, tapped its pen to remind me that it was still there.

Then when I was busy again opening a barbers shop.

Then onto different jobs changes of career going here and there moving houses sometimes towns.

That goal it never really lost sight of me and I thought of it often.

I waved from afar.

Mature university student, another packed van heading over the border to that magical place of green valleys and purple toped mountains Wales.

There it was following the removal van.

still waiting ‘the goal’ never a thought of leaving me.

Flying with me like a colourful kite in my catching my eye.

following me like I followed my dreams.

Falling in love, cottages, canals, dogs, cats, geese and ducks.

Secure job that I love.

Soul midwife.

My children gifting me with precious grandchildren to love.

Opening our beautiful cancer retreat.

Life had moved on the wheel continually turns.

That defiant rebel girl still dreams and the goal she had was a simple one.

To write.

To be a part of the story tellers who shaped her life with books of magic and poetry.

The books she found on dusty library shelves.

Terry Pratchett. J.M Barry John Steinbeck. Daisy Aldan. The stories that filled her with hope. That carried me to far away places to disc world to castles and places I could only dream of

So now I see why it waited so patiently.

Here I sit with a lifetime of memories, dreams loves and experiences that bring life and meaning into my poems and stories.
So the goal and I sit together often and when I now step

Into into my sacred space of magic poems and stories. I’m so glad it never left, waited like a faithful old friend.
When I’m not there in that space I know that it still pauses, waiting again patiently like a half blown dandelion, waiting for the next breath of life to blow gently and set the rest of the seeds free.

Each tiny seed a story a poem or dream.

Paused waiting to float gently land and grow pushing its tendrils and roots of ink onto the page. Words meandering like winding inky rivers collecting meadows of wild flower colours.

Gentle breeze blows the words into valleys of green healing and purple toped grounding mountains where warrior ravens fly.

Canalside cottages. Toilets and Christmas decorations 🙈🎅

So as most of you know any jobs improvements on our home “Crow cottage” has been on hold since the flood of 2018 as we have been getting our cancer retreat which is in same street back up and running.
We have lived in our little cottage for 12 years .

I fell in love with it the minute we turned out car onto the canal tow path I hadn’t even viewed the cottage on the inside and I knew we would live there.

Ducks geese canal mountain view from the window .

I loved it.
Now when we decided to look for a house to buy we couldn’t afford to live in the city

However just ten miles out in a small Welsh valley houses were quarter of the price.
That’s how I found our canal.
After never being able to settle in a house for more than a year I found my paradise.

Canalside.
Now I had a friend who was a builder .

Joolz he advised DONT buy a cottage .

The walls a 4 foot thick and they ALWAYS need money throwing at them..Good advice .

So I bought a cottage and twelve years down the line I can say.
He was absolutely right 🙈But it’s been an adventure.

We don’t have fabulous paid jobs Or credit cards

Thankfully we don’t have a liking for all things new.

I love second hand furniture.
In fact I love 1930 furniture and it’s in keeping with the cottage.

So I don’t mind car boot sales

Second hand shops , e bay

My living room cost under £500 to furnish probably furnish whole house for under £1.500
I guess I’m telling you this so you get the picture that I’m not a I want a new sofa kind of girl.
I buy when we need.So when we moved in I thought eventually we will get a new bathroom.

For now it’s fine.So few months ago

I find a beautiful bath tub on Facebook market place FOR FREE! so off we go to collect it.
It’s in the garden of a lovely ladies house who asks if I’m going to use it as a pond ?No I laugh I really like it and It’s going in out cottage ours has seen better days paint is chipping.
She’s thrilled it will be reused proceeds to give me a lovely set of telephone taps and a bath panel and off we go!

Two days later it’s a bit of a squeeze as it’s slightly bigger and has to come in through the window there’s lots of swearing and mentions of Vaseline and he’s going to buy me a bloody tape measure for Christmas as my long suffering husband fits this lovely deep bath.

I’m thrilled but I’m now on a mission to find a sink and toilet.
I don’t have to wait long

As a week later we are picking up some slate chippings to finish cancer retreat garden from builders merchants I spot a brand new toilet for £30.00 in the sale.
Jeff’s off looking at wood on his return I try to look casual as I push our trolly to the cashier.

“Er what’s that? ”

I ignore him

We aren’t buying a bloody toilet I proceed to tell him just how much we are saving it’s £60 off

He’s doing that look!

One raised eyebrow as I push the trolley into the car park and attempt to change subject.
So that was five weeks ago.

The toilet in its box is still standing in my bloody living room under the window with a view of the canal.

Apparently Jeff is too busy to fit it!

Now here is the Christmas link.
He’s sat eating breakfast this morning. 1st December

The Christmas tree and decorations convosation starts .

I don’t mind I say reluctantly.
Yes it will be nice for our grandchildren and I’m sure our cats Luna and Lucifer and tiny dog Mavis will have a wonderful time climbing up said tree 🙈

Now the tree goes in the living room window.Stands Infront of it were the new boxed toilet is currently living.
This is it .

It’s weekend he will have to fit it today or no Christmas tree!

I’m feeling smug as I say

Okay we can do it later after you’ve sorted toilet because you’ll have to fit it out of the way to put the tree up.

Cup of tea love before you start?

I wonder into the kitchen and click the kettle on
Well he says looking at the toilet.
I thought if we put a Xmas table cloth over it.
We could use it to put the tree on and I’ll fit it in the new year?

He’s really serious!

Can you guess what my answer was😈
The decorations and tree arent up yet.
Watch this space.
I’ve hidden the Christmas table cloth.

You really couldn’t make this up

I walked through the gate
there standing before me was a huge 1930s detached three story house.
I’d driven past here hundreds of times and never noticed it.
hiding behind tall fir trees.
it was drizzling rain a dull damp day.
angry clouds above this huge house
I stood beside my friend Chris he looked at me.
looks a bit run down I say choosing my words
old-fashioned rooshed net curtain that haven’t seen a washing machine in a long time adorn the huge windows
I hear my mother saying “they need steeping in some Sally white bleach ‘
your not wrong mam I think.
come on then I say to Chris as we walk past the huge cars on the drive shining and polished complete contrast to the grey and dismal house.
the Adams family comes to mind says Chris as we walk up the stone steps to the first floor front door.

Rocky horror I smile
I ring the bell and we wait.

nice view across the city I say as the door is opened by a well dressed man in a suit

he struggles to open the door pushing boxes to the side of the hallway and beckons us to come in.
I introduce Chris and we take a seat in the waiting room.

Dust in corners of ceiling cracked paint spiders webs and if the windows were cleaned there would be a fabulous view across the city.
the furniture is 1970s g plan in a faded green ancient Wilton carpets thread bare in places tell of better times and I wonder if families stuck within their grief fail to notice the neglect around them as they sit here being advised on their loved ones funeral.

Waiting to pick up ashes or to view a loved one before a funeral.

I’ve worked in many funeral.homes but this is, well run down. shabby and cold. It’s shocking
The man who runs things is lovely a little aloof but I didn’t see this coming.

He asks if there’s anything I need.
No I smile
Okay I’ll go and get her, I’ll put her in the chapel of rest then I’ll come to get you.
off he goes .
I look around.
is there a secret camera I say?
Chris laughs..
we are hear as part of my soul midwife work.
I’m doing the hair and make up of a lady I’ve worked with.
before her family come to view her.
Then next week I’ll do her funeral.
Chris has come to help
for the first time
probably the only time after this.
after few mins he comes back up stairs guides us down stairs to the chapel of rest.
I swear you couldn’t make this up.
It’s under the house next to a garage

Bang bang bang constant hammering of coffins being assembled.
he opens the door creak. musty damp smell
why didn’t I video this …
blare witch goes to funeral home
there before me is a huge room set out with old wooden folding chairs
very dusty chairs
I’m wishing I’d brought a feather duster and some polish it’s set out as a chapel
wow I say.

Chris nudges me
this “could” be fabulous obviously it’s not used now
no says funeral director.
not for years

He smiles shuts the door behind us it’s dark and dismal and I’m reminded of a Steven king film

Here is chapel of rest
a door to the side is opened into what can only described as a large cupboard with a gurney trolly in there body on it looking like it’s been dropped out of a plane and landed very akwardly.
head twisted mouth and eyes open not just cold but bordering frozen.

I look around almost sureal slow motion
now first and foremost I’ve seen alot of corpses in my job
I’m not afraid or shocked I care for the body
when I go to funeral directors they are usually lying with dignity eyes mouth have been closed head straight .
You know what I mean.

Everything okay says funeral director?

There is a arched window behind him covered in dust and spiders webs
it’s winter but the flies are alive one lands on the face of the body

I flick it off
are you going to put a stitch in the mouth I ask?
(usual practice)
Oh no he says I don’t like that..

would you like a tea or coffee?

I’m tempted to ask for a gin I bloody need one

I shake my head
he leaves closing the door and I wonder what the fook is going on.
Chris is standing in the corner with a is this a sick joke look on his face .

I take out my kit and get to work.
talking chatting to my lady as I work.
well I’say to her
ou chose this place I’m betting you”ve never been here before!

Chris come help me hold her mouth closed.
I work gently hair make up fix her body into an acceptable position and close her eyes and mouth.
there is still rope around her feet from when she was brought from the hospital morge

a sticker across her chest her name and date birth.

I flick away flies

There I say as we finish
goodbye my friend

I pray her family don’t come to view in this room
it’s just beyond unbelievable and I’m glad Chris is with me or no one would believe this
we go back up stairs he is sat at an old desk.
where the sink I ask?

sink? He looks puzzled.
Yes I’ve just been handling a body id like to wash my hands.

Chris laughs nervously.
We wash our hands say a polite goodbye tell him I’ll see him to do the funeral.
we get in the car
sit for awhile
seriously that place is beyond I say.
I wonder what I can do
vow to get funeral over with then go back to speak to him
he needs to sort that place out he needs help says Chris.
help…
he needs a mop and bucket and a complete renovation I say.
The funeral went well cars staff everything was good
but behind the scenes there was a completely different story .
I wouldn’t tell the family
what could it achieve?
but I plan to go back and have a chat to see just what the score is there has to be a reason such a beautiful place has fell into such disrepair.

what do you think?

Childhood in the 60s & 70s

.

No mobile phone.

Not even a house phone

Out of bed dressed and rushing out to play.

Leaving house early morning.

Playing around the estate all day.

Didn’t go home if it rained

Sat in bus stop or under the slide in the park.

Pinched turnips from the farmers field to eat.

Trapsing home rotten dirty in the dark.

Building dens, camps and climbing trees.

Riding on bikes giving backies and grazing our knees.

Staying at my mates house she had a massive cat that made me sneeze

Playing kerby in the street with a football we had found.

Hiding from my drunken Dad

In school always being the class clown

Jumping on the milk float

Hiding out in the church hall.

Sharing sherbet dips

And sweets from the half penny tray.

Camping out in crank cavern caves

Star gazing building dens in tall stacks of hay

Building dams in woodland streams at the Dam across the way

telling ghost stories and lighting fires

Sharing bags of chips

Making rope swings sitting in old car tyres

Wagging school and breaking rules

Just council estate scallywag we were never in the cool

Crowd just

Northern kids

Fresh air good fun

Good times we made we didn’t buy

Our childhood was free making memories the sun

Witching hour writer

So tired it’s 2.28am.

I’ve crawled into bed

That place where my brain rebels

Insomnia fairy and writing muse lurk in the shadows of my room.

Hello it shouts as my head greets the softness of my pillow.

It shouts don’t forget tomorrow you need to buy cat food.

Shhhhh! Stop im shattered

It’s like having a hyperactive child who has an obsessive need to tell me random things in the early hours of the morning.

Or discover a line of a poem I’ve been baking in my head.

Oh and you need to ring the g.p before 8am

So if you hurry you may just get five hours sleep.

It’s raining.

Have you locked the car?

You forgot to bake banana bread

Did you wrap the crystals up ready to post tomorrow?

Has the dog had her spot on flea treatment this month.

Shall we go out for Christmas lunch or stay home?

What time are trago mills open until on a week day.

Who played the detective in all that remains ?

What that on BBC or Channel 4 ?

I concentrate on my breathing

Mindfully imagining a beautiful beach and the sound of the waves on the shore.

Have you switched the washing machine off?

I open my eyes

The Pendle witch peers at me from her broom stick on the ceiling

I think I see her smirk.

She knows my nightly dilemma

I reach for my pad and pen

Put on the salt lamp and write.

The glow from my window

By the canal I wonder how many other witching hour writers are out there?

Out of bed pen in hand woken or kept from sleep

Scribing tales poems blogs.

Until the writing blurs ideas quieten

Sleep finds us.

I am enough

Sat chatting around my kitchen table
A throw away comment from a friend
she or I had commented on the amount of certificates and qualifications we both have.
in different therapies and healing modalities.
I’d been thinking of doing yet another course.
I do like to learn and be busy.
yes she smiled we do it to be good enough, to be worthwhile.
She said it in such an accepting way.
such a thoughtful look on her face.
I smiled
I did not answer
her simple comment
was a huge realisation I felt the truth of it spear me in my soul.

As I breathed in a simple truth
I have stepped away from the college brochure.

No man’s land

motorway services
melting pots
of busy people
stopping to pee or eat.
fast food at high prices
that pulsing sound of air con
fruit machines and cash machines
electric car chargers and shiny steel escalators
ever flushing toilets
expressionless attendants
mobile phone chargers
communal eating areas.
no one looks at anyone else.
staring at phones
eating alone.
back through the glass door
hurrying back home
from this always open oasis
this no man’s land
doors always open
each new day is the same as the one before .

Random girl.

My random girl you are everywhere.Reminders that you’ve left this earthly plane.The cranes on the marina I smile as I hear you sayI hate those cranes why are they pointing this way.I miss you random girl.I drive past Sainsbury’s memories flash like cine filmI hear you beside meI’ll be sitting by the window hurry up I’ve got you a cup of teaI smile to myselfSimple but still .I miss youSinging badly in the carStick throwing for honey never went farWind street the scene of many mad nights out.Transparent vodka as you danced aboutChickoland and queing for taxis in the cold night airOr summer nights sat on huge picnic tables with nutty Russians your favourite cocktail.Pink blaring you knew every word.If someone said three years from now you’d be long gone..I miss youRandom text messages.Can you guess what letter it begins with.Long black hair cheeky smile.Knob was a term of endearment.I miss youThe days of champers and the king’s on the high streetFoam party’s at H2OLong beach walks.Flip flop shoppingDog walkingPainted toe nailsI miss youRandom facts like you loved coffee in take away cups.Drawing in the sand.Walking barefoot on the bay.Writing out names watching the sea wash them away.I miss youSitting on the wall at Barry eating chips.Remos at sunset collecting shellsSand in my car.Pebbles in the glove boxBreakfast at vees cafe.I miss youWatching full moons riseWishing the world would go away.Holidays in the sunWalking on different beaches.Singing and having funDid I say I miss you?Memories of songsWind in our hair boat trips on open seas.Sam Smith sang black and goldYou lay with your head upon my kneeWarm sun kissed skinTime flew by days turned into yearsChildren grew families intertwinedWe were going to be nannies togetherHow could fate be so unkind.Although we knew that time together was running out fast.We packed in so many memories I replay them each day that goes past.I speak of you oftenI talk to you stillI loved you my random girl and know I always will ❤️I miss youI miss meI miss usIf someone said three years from now you’d be long gone..Who knew

Our Healing cabin.

It’s been a long year.

I’m a great believer of power of positive thought .

So at begining of the year I had enough money saved to have our therapy cabin built.

But that was it nothing left for extras like insulation decorating carpets ect.

I thought if it’s meant to be it will come.

So held out my hands to the universe and visualised it done.

That was February.

It’s been slow process but I’m thrilled to say we are almost there.

I’m so happy.

We just put gravel down outside I need a garden picnic bench and outside loo building then a tidy up along the back way out that leads to car park and we are done.

I’m sitting here on my own in my counseling corner feeling so very grateful.

Some curtains up and inside is done!

This time last year it was just a dream.

Trusting in the universe, visualising and alot of hard work and we are almost there.

Ravens Retreat Healing Hive.

Thank you universe ❤️

Going home

Earth, water, fire, we have walked through together.

I know we have only hours left as friends.

Air will be the last element to leave.

Like a cocoon of protection we are together on the final part of this path.

A journey I promised I would accompany you on

You told me you were scared.

What if there is nothing at the end of the road?

What if it’s simply a snuffing out of a candle, lights out.

Darkness then nothing?

How could I tell you what I knew to be true?

It is like the lighting of a candle the opening of a new door.

Walking out of the darkness.

I know because I’ve been here before.

The first time they said was a near death experience.

I had to disagree.

It was near life utter calmness floating watching quizzically at the panic below.

As they fought to bring me back maybe it wasn’t my time to go.

Many times I have had the privilege to vigil to hold hands as souls leave.

Chanting in whispers

Mirroring those last breathes

Catching sight of loved ones who come to greet you at your death.

Death of the body but not of your soul.

As you let go of my hand as your welcomed back home.

I stand in the calmness then trace my steps back alone.

Why do we all write?

I remember the day I learned to read.

You know that sudden click when the penny drops.

Books have always been by very best friend.

The magic of being in the story.

Knowing the characters.

The sadness of finishing a book.

Writing was much the same.

My father wasn’t the best.

But I’m thankful he taught me to write.

He gave me an old jotter.

A thick pencil.

Wrote my name at the top of the page .

I copied it and copied it.

Then my address

My dog’s name.

Then a sentence I’d ask him to write.

This was before I started school.

It was magic

I could write,and I did.

I have never stopped.

English was my favourite subject at junior school.

I remember the teacher giving us a subject in creative writing and within minutes I’d be lost in the story that had began to bake in my head.

I’d write about anything and everything.

I remember writing about the starlings.

I lived backing onto the woods on a huge council estate

There were always hundreds of starlings they would swarm all flying together in a squarking fluid like black cloud.

I’d stand on the shed roof to watch.

Hundreds of birds together.

Almost moving as one huge cloud.

How did they do it.

I imagined their leader calling out to his tribe their were ranks.

Everyone of them had a job.

A community.

All looking after each other.

They weren’t the prettiest of birds or the biggest but I loved them.

The teacher loved it she asked if she could keep it.

I was a shy eleven year old.

Blushed and nodded.

Mrs Moore I was so happy.

She was a wonderful teacher who inspired me throughout my school years.

Diary’s note pads, poems.

Lists I wrote everything down.

I wrote when I was happy, sad, mad, upset or lost.

I think it’s because writing gives me a way to work things out?

Does that make sense?

Words are easier for me when they fall out of a pen or a key board.

Although since loosing my best friend nursing her through cancer.

Ive written about my journey through bereavement hoping it will help others.

I’ve also discovered voice note.

I talk to her and record it.

I need to find a way to add it t o my blog.

So where and why did you start your blogging journey?

Could you live without writing.

I definitely couldn’t.

Pen paper and blogs are my friend, counselor and confidant.

Wrapped crystal

So as I’m grounded I thought I’d have a go at copper wrapping crystals.

My son Michael says you can learn anything on YouTube.

I reckon he’s right!

Two pairs of small pliers and some copper wire oh and a collection of crystals

This is the result!

I’m quite pleased.

I love crafting but never have the time.

It’s quite relaxing.

Watch this space 😊

The universe has spoken #Stop

I’ve admitted defeat I’m Ill.

I’m not a person who has coughs and colds.

I think it’s genuinely because I haven’t got time to be I’ll.

I work three jobs. My most important is my work as a soul midwife. (Cancer care)

Then I also work a full time job with the NHS mental health services

Thirdly I run our cottage retreat which provides breaks and free therapies for cancer patients.

As I’ve just written this down and read it back I’m like WTF?

Something has got to give.

I did the funeral last Monday of Karen the beautiful lady I’ve been working with.

I saw her everyday in the last four months .

She lived in the next village .

The visits were around a hour maybe two a reflexology treatment, out for coffee, chatting, paper work re wills and funeral .

Sometimes just sitting.

Whatever she needed.

Then as I say I work full time which is community work with mental health patients who have a servere long term diagnosis.

Home to sort out tidy clean restock our cottage retreat.

Help my hubby to finish building our new therapies cabin out the back of the retreat .

Then sort out own house out general cleaning cooking fall into bed get up and do it all again.

Oh and on a Tuesday evenings I go to our development circle in our spiritualist church .

Wednesday evening I do healing circle.

These two things I try to protect as they are my “me time”.

Every other Friday I have my grand daughter over night as her parents work and it’s so lovely to have her to myself.

So you get the picture I’m busy.

Anyway Karen died on 28th Oct.

So a huge chunk of what I was doing stopped.

I’m convinced my body went..

Yay she’s stopped shes got time to fight this virus or whatever the f&&k this is!

So I did what I normally do.

I ignored it.

Yesterday I couldn’t get my ass out of bed.

My poor hubby despairs.

‘you won’t be told’!

He says as though I’m a naughty child have you been to the doctor’s?

I’ve rang I say sheepishly.

I hate taking medication especially antibiotics unless it’s absolutely needed.

So I agreed to night nurse medication

And a day in bed.

Rest.

I’m sure it’s the universes way of getting me to rest.

Like those stingers the police throw infront of stolen cars.

The tyres go flat and the skid sideways.

Well that’s kinda how I feel.

I can’t help think there’s so much I should be doing.

But okay universe im listening.

I’ll have a lazy Sunday I’m bed and a week off work.

Keep me entertained guys tell me what your up to.

Have a fabulous weekend.

What is a pie?

So I’m originally from the north of England.

Five miles outside the town of Wigan.

And At Helens

Google Wigan and pies.

They are famous for them.

Wiganers are known as pie eaters

St Helens has Pimbletts pies.

Livsleys pies

Wigan pools pies

Greg’s ect the list is endless

This is relevent I promise.

So 16 years ago I move to Wales

South Wales it not the other side of the world around 150 miles from Wigan.

So here’s the thing.

Welsh have cheese and potatoes

pie.

You’ll see it on menu’s in cafes

Work canteen

Buy it chilled in local supermarket.

BUT IT ISN’T A PIE!

So dictionary says a pie is a filling encased in pastry.

Right?

Well it is in Wigan.

But not here in Wales.

It’s mash potatoes with cheese stired in more sprinkled on top. In a dish.

Then grilled.

No pastry to be seen so it’s not a pie!

My Welsh hubby thinks it’s so funny

So come on guys is it a pie or not?

And don’t get me started on rissoles!

Connections like rain drops

So today I went to a spoken word poetry event . One of my favourite venues chilled and friendly. Beautiful old church.

This is the story I told after I’d finished reading I was approached by a lovely lady who is possibly a relation of Matthew the man in the story.

As she spoke I was reminded of what I already know

Without doubt we are all connected. We are a circle within a circle with no beginning and never ending.

Read on tell me what you think?

Ancestor connection.

I worship the old gods of this land the isle of Albion.

I follow the wheel of the year. Tonight the wheel turns it is Samhain eve in a 13c churchyard.

Its 3am and almost a full moon. There is a avenue of yew trees and it’s without one of the most magical places I know.

It’s my favourite place for ritual. The place I come to give thanks, to show gratitude. To talk with spirit.

To think to read. To just to be.

I wonder from my usual path many of the tombstones are overgrown covered in ivy surrounded by knot weed.

Standing back from all the others is an old stone old coffin shaped base it is covered in ivy.

I’m always drawn to it but no details are visible.

I stand in the moonlight. I ask ‘who are you?’

Touching the base of the cold stone.
I start to pick at the ivy..

it has pushed its way into the grey stone clinging green fingers into the details of intricate carved words.

I chant and hum quietly to myself it becomes quite mediative

As I pull at the vines they come away in narly sharp lengths sometimes tiny pieces that cling with remarkable strength.

We are a circle within a circle with no begining and never ending. I sing to my yet unknown companion
Time slips by slowly and the winter sun begins to rise birds begin to sing.

The carved words become visible.
I read out loud. Matthew Goodridge. Age 43
Mellincreethin a shiver runs through me as I read the next line .

Died 31 Oct 1888 Samhain..

Further down I read the names of Matthews daughters .Sarah Anne 14. Tirzah 9.
I catch a glimpse of someone watching me from the avenue of yew trees a tall man he nods smiles politely lifts his cap as he walks slowly through the avenue of sacred yews.

Matthew I whisper.

The sun shines as Celtic new year is born.

I sit there beside Matthew his two young daughters .

I will remember you Matthew.

My samhain ancestor of this place I love.

We are a circle within a circle. With no beginning and never ending.

All of us connected. The stuff of stars.

That was four years ago Matthew.
Your stone stands straight and tall cleared cleaned and cared for.
I remember you often.
This poem is for you.

Your tombstone stands among the rest;
neglected and alone
The name and date are chiseled out
on centuries old welsh stone
It reaches out to all who care
It is too late to mourn
You did not know that I would exist
You died centuries before I was born.
Yet each of us are cells of you. stardust connected
in flesh, in blood, in bone.

Our blood contracts and beats a pulse
entirely not our own.

Dear Matthew goodridge , the place you filled
hundreds of years ago
Spreads out among the ones you left

who would have loved you so.
I wonder of your life you lived of those l loved,
I wonder if you knew
That someday I would find this spot,
and stand here to honour you.

Help.

I need help. There I said it!

I run a cottage retreat offer free breaks for cancer / end of life patients.

Im a soul midwife end of life companion and advocate for anyone who needs me.

No charge free.

Therapies visits support all free.

Im also a wedding and funeral celebrant this service is also free for patients

I also have to work full time to finance this bills have to be paid.

Car needs fuel.

Mortgage electricity oil ect.

What I need is someone to advise me and or help with funding or grants that I may be eligible for in the U.K.

My dream is to be able to devote all my time working as soul midwife but at the moment that’s not possible.

It’s so important that my services remain free.

I never want someone to think they can’t afford a soul midwife.

Donations are fine I’m good with that

There is a donate now button on my website.

http://www.ravensretreat.wales

But to enable me to let my paid job go I need some sort of funding

So do you or anyone you know have any experience of how to go about this?

I know there is the national lottery grants act but I’m hopeless at all this entails

We are a community interest company.

Completely non profit.

So I know we are eligible.

If you can help.in anyway or you’d like to fund raise for us.

I’d be eternally grateful.

Please share our website and this post.

Hopefully someone can point me in the right direction.

http://www.ravensretreat.wales

Home is where the heart is. Canals, lakes and waterfalls my town.

I am forever grateful for this small row of cottages and the bank of the tenant canal in South Wales where I live.

I settled here fourteen years ago.

We originally looked a bit further out from the city as houses were cheaper.

I’m so glad we did.

Don’t get me wrong readers of my blog will know we’ve had our fair share of problems massive flood thanks to storm Callum in Oct 2018

But in a way it made me fall in love with this magical place even more.

Family’s helped each other bonds and friendships were made and strengthened

It’s not a posh place to live.

Small two up two down cottages

But it’s paradise to me.

Our home is here.

Our cancer retreat and therapy cabin is here.

Our cats our dog geese swans and birds

Home is where the heart is.

My heart is right here.

For that I’m truly grateful.

http://www.ravensretreat.wales

Old photographs. Damp walls, singing kettles and coal fires

I came across this old photograph.
that’s my Nan and grand father the year is 1966.
that’s me sitting on my grand father’s knee, my niece Angela is the baby in the shawl.
I don’t remember my grandfather.
he died when I was three.
my Nan was amazing a huge influence on who I am today.

Strong northern woman.

You can see from the photo they didn’t have much.

She always worked he like all the men in our family drank never a few always too much.

This was taken in their home a very old run down terraced house facing a park in a collery town in the north of England.

I remember the smell of damp. frayed seat covers on the old two seater sofa I’d pick at the sponge foam through the thread bare covers as I fell asleep listening to the sound of my Nans old Jones treadle sewing machine
it was a magical rythem of my life.
The playground across the road was known as Nanny goat park.
it stood in the shadow of glass factories.

I remember cold fingers gripping the handle of the roundabout as nanny’s old staffie dog Bruce barked until I’d get off.

Cold morning air white spiders webs in privit hedges
Ice on the inside of the bedroom windows. Cold breath in the air.

Chopping stick in the mornings to lite the fire.

The smell of fire lighters and inky fingers from screwing up yesterday’s news paper to insure a flame.

Grand dad died when I was three and nanny moved to a council house with a garden
no park across the road but also no smell of damp.
the windows had lead that reflected onto the bare plaster walls from the light of the street lamp.
while I’d snuggle under sheets blankets and coats to keep us warm
complaining that they made me itch
She would shush me and given a stone hot water bottle wrapped in a tea towel.
sitting on the back doorstep waiting for the kettles whistle hot milky tea.
sterilised milk and a chipped China cup.

Perfect boiled eggs and thick buttered toast.
hearing her singing Vera Lynn White cliffs of Dover and shouting at my cousin’s to stop kicking the bloody football on the side of the house.

Jesus Mary and bloody Joseph she would shout followed by your make the bloody saints in heaven swear as my drunken dad would fall into the back door the smell of beer tobacco and vomit.

John players fags from the shop and jug of stout from the outdoor.
Rapping her door shouting through the letter box.

Naaaaaaaanny

laughing when she would tell me to bugger off home.

Stop bloody mitherin me!
Corned beef hot pot.
massive egg custard tarts.
bacon ribs and pea soup.

Lying with my head on her lap the smell of Sunday roast on her pinny.
her orange lip stick from the Avon woman with the blue bag.
boxes of old black and white photographs telling stories of her life. rhubarb onions, and spuds from her garden
pop soxs and polka dots.
string shopping bags and the football pools. silver hair
Always protecting me I loved being around this tiny woman .
I think this is the only photo that I have of her.
That’s all I need.
the rest I carry with me Nan.

http://www.ravensretreat.wales

Don’t look back

I’m never really unwell. Possibly because I don’t have time.

Some weeks I work 40 hours in my paid job n.h.s community mental health.

Then another 30+ hours at our retreat and working with my soul midwife patients.

When I see it written down its madness.

But it’s my life and I have no other option at the moment.

My paid job pays my mortgage on the retreat. Puts fuel in my car, food on my table.

Allows me to provide free breaks and free soul midwife service and therapies .

I’m trusting the universe and I know that eventually I will be in a position to give up my job and devote all my time to cancer patients.

Anyway I digress I’m I’ll.

Not part of the plan but hey ho

I swear it’s when I stop.

My body goes yay.. she’s still and I get a cold or virus.

I’m crap at nursing myself every one else just not myself.

Nurses make crap patients.

So good friend of mine offers me shamanic healing today

I lie on the couch surrounded by aroma of sage and without trying I’m totally relaxed.

I’m vaugly aware of Chris at the head of the table

I’m immediately taken to the beach.

My guide Richard is there waiting we fall into step.

Where are we going I ask.

You already know he says.

In that riddle sort of way I hate.

I sigh and walk. The wind blows gently the sun is warm

Then we step into the familiar cave with the carved seat in cold smooth stone I sit down and he sits beside me

I’m aware of my breathing

Then as we both stand up I feel detached .

I’m walking behind Richard and myself.

On my back I can see a huge moth

With purple wings. Wait aren’t they purple curtains?

There before me is the window I looked out of so may times as a child.

My bedroom window.

I look through it the view is the same

Old oak tree.

Green fence

Old shed.

My bike leaning on the gate.

The porch roof under my window covered in green

Lead pealing off.

I pick at the chipped paint on the window sill.

I glance around

Old record player one knob missing pile of 45 records from Woolworths.

Humpty Dumpty poster holding glass of beer on the wall.

Dressing gown on back of the door.

Old black wool coat with red lining on my bed no duvets here sheets and coats.

Purple curtains.

The house of death has me again

Moth wings

I’m now aware of a pain.

In my root chakra.

Ouch I bend my legs up.

Why are we back here I ask Richard?

You never really left he says.

The pain comes again stronger.

Like a contraction.

I’m back in my body beside Richard.

He holds my hand.

As I turn away from the window the moth wings go back to being purple curtains.

You don’t belong here says Richard.

I hesitate.

He smiles waiting .

I walk towards him and don’t look back.

The weight had left me

I hear chris chanting the pain lessens

I sit up.snd I’m back in the room .

The water is cool.and fresh

I’m home in our cottage

Where I belong.

Thoughtful.

Reflecting.

Thank you my friend.

For guiding me home. ❤️

http://www.ravensretreat.wales

Stop the clock, open the window cover the mirror

Today has been hard

The lady I have been nursing for almost a year as her soul midwife has possibly only a few days left.

She and I have over the last year become close friends and I know had we met under different circumstances we would have been good friends.

We have so much in common spiritual beliefs, sense of humour and we are both strong minded and stubborn.

Our grand daughters have been friends since baby school they are now 13

Tamika and Jayden both nannys girls.

It was through Jadens Mum I met Karen .

She had told her about my work as a soul midwife and our cancer retreat

I think you will get on she said and passed me her phone number.

She was right .

Karen was streight talking a good looking very proud women. Oh and did I mention stubborn in a very fabulous way.

She had lost her husband two years previously to cancer she had been his princess we sat and chatted about her journey.

At the mention of his name there was always a smile and a story.

He had been her Knight in shining armour

She was determined to stay as well as possible for as long as she could for her boys.

Before I knew it two hours had flown by.

So shall I come back next week? I asked .

Yes she smiled I’d like that and tell Lisa thanks for pointing you my direction.

Just before I got into my car she called me back.

The cancer she said.

Yes?

I told them I don’t want to know how long I have.

What would you do?

I don’t think I’d want to know either I said.

But it’s completely your choice

Someone giving you a time scale on life.

No one really knows.

I’d rather say I’ll die when its my time and I’m ready.

I like that she laughed.

See you next week.

So I’d call in we would chat about anything and everything.

I’d do some reflexology or massage.

We wrote funeral plans and lists.

We put everything in order.

That’s a massive part of my job

It gives back some control and reassures my patients that when the time comes

All their wishes will be honoured

I am a celebrant I trained so that I can confidently offer funeral and wedding services too.

So we plan everything nothing is left to chance

We write wills.

Then when all the serious stuff is sorted

We get on with living.

Quality of life.

Being comfortable.

Getting out and about

Shopping , for coffee.

I’ve even had one lady request we go on a roller coater

Twice! She loved it.

I didn’t

You get the picture.

I spent this evening making memory jewelry from karen’s finger print and her grand daughter jaydens.

It’s solid silver

So that Karen will always be with her.

Karen has been my friend even if only for a short time.

Her grand daughter has been amazing for a thirteen year old.

She has sat chatting with her in the hospice gone out with her on shopping trips.

It’s a joy to see Karen’s face light up when she sees jayden come in.

She told me she isn’t afraid of dying just afraid of not being around for Jayden.

Last Wednesday was her last good day we spent it together laughing drinking tea and watching T.V I put he in bed before I left and tucked her in.

As I kissed her head she caught hold of my hand.

You’ve been my nurse and my friend she said smiling at me I love you Joolz and I want to thank you.

No thanks needed I kissed he head again try to get some sleep and I’ll see you in the morning

Night mam she joked.

I walked out into cold October air and a tear ran down my cheek.

Let it be peaceful I asked the universe.

The next morning I walked into her room towel over my arm to wash her hair how did you sleep I asked.

She looked at me blankly.

Talking about painting the ceiling and how wiccans and dwarfs were playing rugby for Wales.

My heart sank.

Last stages of liver cancer often present a dementia like confusion

I sat by her holding her hand.

joolz it’s you! I’m sorry I can’t go shopping today.

I kissed her forehead.

That’s fine I reassured her the weather is awful let’s rest today we can go next week.

I called the doctor to her as I rang her family.

Things changed quickly.

36hrs later I received that call can you come back to the hospice Joolz it’s time.

My clothes are ready I’m dressed in minutes. Kiss my husband goodbye and step out into the cold night air.

As I’m walking to the car I’m ringing her son’s to tell the the news as I then drive to pick up her Jay grand daughter.

All of this has been planned.

Everyone knows it isn’t set in stone you have no idea how you will feel.

when ‘that’ phone call comes.

As I pull up outside the house jay comes out the image of her nan in younger years

As she gets in the car I ask ar you sure you want to come?

She’s stubborn just like her nan I know the answer

She nods and we head to the Hospice.

The roads are empty she looks at me and asks.

“Joolz what will it be like?”

How do you answer that

Shes 13 her nanny’s girl.

She’s sleeping I say, hoping I can find the right words.

She can still hear you. Talk to her tell her your there.

Hold her hand.

If at any point you need to leave the room that’s okay.

However you want to do this it’s okay.

She nods and we pull into the car park.

She is lying in bed much the same as when I left her last night

Breathing heavier I kiss her gently on her forehead

Ive brought your girl I tell her taking her hands from under the blanket

I sit her son’s beside her jay sits holding her hand gently like precious porcelain.

Im here nan she says.

I remember her as a cheeky four year old no teeth full of mischief slurping jelly at my granddaughters birthday party.

When did she bloom into this beautiful caring strong young.

My heart breaks for her.

I tell them all I’ll just be outside for ten mins to give them some time to say the things they need to.say.

Tell her anything you want I say. I’m right outside the door.

As I come back in I stand back and take in the picture before me.

Hands holding hands words softly spoken a room filled with love.

I sit beside Jay.

We silently watch her breathing slow her youngest son looks at me and asks is she going .

I nod

I love you mam he sobs .

It’s okay my friend You can go now, Leon is waiting.

At 5.45 she leaves us peacefully.

This passing was beautiful. A family holding vigil no pain as she quietly stepped from the earth plane to spirit plane .

I can’t help but feel my world will be a little less bright without her in it.

I kiss her gently and whisper safe journey home my beautiful friend.

As I picture her husbands joy at having her back in his arms.

His princess.

Goddess bless you Karen ❤️

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Gratitude, simple things, amazing inspiring people

I’m lying here in bed thinking about my day.Incase this is the first of my posts you have read I’m a soul midwife / therapist I run Ravens Retreat.I provide care, support, nursing and therapies for cancer patientsI have a little cottage that I offer free breaks in for cancer patients and their families.Yes you heard right FREE.No catch.It’s my service to the community and my goddess.How do I fund it?I work full time for the NHS community mental health team.It’s the only way to pay the bills and run the cottage.Not ideal I know but until I find someone who can help me apply for grants and fund raise (we are registered as a non profit company)I’ve no choice.This means I work a 70+ hour week.And I juggle between the two.So today .I go to see a lady I’m working with in the HospiceShe has stage 5 cancer stomach, lymphatic, liver.Final stages she’s 56 I took her into the Hospice four weeks ago they thought she may not last the night.She’s still here a true warrior over the past 14 months we have become good friends.Today as I go into her room she is sleeping I sit quietly besides her. He skin and eyes are yellow she has lost so much weight I pick up a book we have been reading.She opens her eyes and smiles at me “Joolz”Why didn’t you wake me?You looked so peaceful I say and I’m not in any rush.Within a min she is sitting upright giving me instructionsI smile as I get her a cup of tea, make sure it’s ….Strong and hot I laugh..You know me well she says.I put her in her wheel chair and we go down to the sunshine lounge.We sit and chat whilst I do a reflexology treatment on her feet.Rose oil surrounds usCan you do my shoulders she asks..Of course I rub oil into her back a tattoo of an all seeing eye looks back at me she loves all things Egyptian.She takes great pride in making me laugh at the fact she had visited Egypt many times but has never seen a prymidI’ve had a good life she says.But this now is no life is it?My hands are on her shoulders she places her hands on mine .Thank you she says.Your welcome I whisper.I push her back around to her room telling her I will be calling in on her grand daughter on way home to take a mould of her finger print.It’s to make a silver memory necklace I will place her finger print with her granddaughters and put it on a silver chain.Can you put nan on back of my print she asksOf course I say.Keep your eye on her when I’m gone she says.I catch my breath.My grand daughter and hers are friends.I squeeze her hand I will .I fix her bed and help her in.Pull the covers up around her neck as she likes them and tuck her in.I’m so tired she smiles at me closing her eyes.I kiss her gently on her head. See you tomorrow.If you need me in the night ring I say as I’ve said every dayShe smiles thank youNight night MammyShe laughs.As I walk away pull her door shutWalk out into cold December air I’m beyond thankful for my small part in her journey.It’s a privilege to walk with her to the end of this path.Such an amazing beautiful soul.Working with end of life patients changes your way of thinkingI am truly grateful every day for all that I have my health my familySometimes when I have colleagues or friends who are complaining about trivial problems I can help but ask them to role play with me.Okay I say. I’m the doctorI’m sorry to tell you that you have a terminal illness and have six to twelve months to live.The reaction bis almost always the same.WHAT…remember this is only role play.But very real for some people.Now think do the small things matter?What would you do if you only had six months?Would you be more great full ?Would you heal old wounds ?Hold grudges.See more of those you care about.You get the picture.I know life can sometimes be hard.But remember it is always beautiful.Look for the joy.Gratitude is the key to happiness.

❤️

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Eric.

I was almost nineteen when I met Eric he was forty seven.

I had a daughter who was sixteen months old and I was almost three months pregnant.

I had just come back to my hometown.

After running away from my abusive husband from the north of England Id gone to stay with friends in west Wales

I’d began to relax until he knocked on the door of the flat I was staying in.

I remember how loud my heart had sounded banging i my head as I heard him banging on the door.
He had found us.

It was no use fighting him

He dragged me down two flights of stairs by my hair.

My daughter in my arms

His eyes were wild

He spat at me beat me and made me feel worthless my life was a mess.

It was a five hour drive home. I nursed my baby girl stared out of the window

Soon the green mountains of wales became the red brick council houses of the estate where I grew up.

I was back as I got out of the car my father walked across from his house. Swaying smell of beer and cigarettes.The reason is left home was him but as my Nan said I’d jumped out of the frying pan into the fire.

“You’ve made your bloody bed lie in it.” He hissed I was numb. No one could save us.

After a week back home and another argument with my husband I’d wrapped up my daughter in her pram and gone out to walk around the estate where we lived to get her to sleep.

It was an old burgandy corduroy tansad pram heavy and sturdy it was a windy afternoon so I put the hood up and walked past the woods wind blowing my long hair.

I walked down to the bottom shops then back.up past the church

The vicar was mowing the grass of his big house next to st David’s he stopped and smiled.

Feeling arkward I put my head down carried on walking Cheryl was asleep tiny rosebud lips and long eyelashes she was perfect I hated the way we lived but I didn’t have anywhere else to go I’d tried women’s hostels, Wales but he always found me.

Where would it end I thought as I pulled the pram up the steps to the house.I pushed the tansad into the living room.

It was quiet quicky opened the pram scooped Cheryl into my arms and stealthily tip toed upstairs placing her into her cot gently covering her up shushing her as I shut the bed room door behind me .

Rushing back down stairsThere is a huge bang.

I jump as he begins to shout.I pathetically beg him to stop.Please don’t .

You’ll wake the baby .

The smell of whisky hits me first

Then his fist.

My head hits the post at bottom of the stairs

I struggle to my feet.

Taste of iron in my mouth

I’m still begging him thinking of my baby in her cot.

I have to keep him down stairs .He has me by the hair .

Snarling at me spit showering my face as he opens the front door to throw me out.

Im thrown out of the door onto the concrete path hands scraping scrambling to get up

To get back inside to my baby .

His back is to me he is walking into the living room where I have left the pram.

I watch in horror as he picks it up and launches it through the large living room window.

In slow motion it lands on its hood 20 minutes before my baby was in it.

He hadn’t know that I’d taken her out.He could have killed her.

I’m trying to stop him going upstairs.

I’m hitting him he’s laughing

Then suddenly there at the open front door is the man who has recently moved in across the road.

He looks calm as he tells me to come away.

Stand here he says by me.

It’s sureal.

Jeff looks startled.Who the fuck are you ?

Get out of my house .

Still the man from across the road stands firm.

I move towards himIs this how you treat your women up here?

He’s saying.My husband swings for the man.

Eric he says to me.

I’m Eric.

He hits my husband and throws him into the living room that’s covered in splintered glass.

The pram in the garden where is your baby?

Upstairs I sob.

He hits Jeff again

He is curled up in a ball.

Our dog is barking

Come on then Eric is saying or don’t you hit men?

He picks Jeff up and throws hm down the path

A police car pulls up and a familiar lady police officer gets out .

She looks at me I look at the floor.

Jeff is shouting about Eric atacking him.”The police officer puts her hand on my arm did he do this ?”

We’ve been here before she asks I say no because if I say yes Jeff has told me he will kill me.

Yes I stutter.

Yes he did and he attacked Eric.

Jeff runs at me .

Police man grabs him throws him against the car.

Bloody maniac Eric’s saying.

Can we take you to hospital she asks?

I’ll take her says Eric.

Is that okay she asks

Yes I say I’m going to be okay.

Because I know I will now.

That was the very beginning.He was 28 years older than me.

Just come back to his home town after a broken marriage and a break down.

He knew how afraid and vunerable I was

He helped me pick up glass board up windows

Change locks.Then he slept on my sofa

Supported me to get back on my feet.

He would wake me singing cliff Richard living doll.

You can’t have another baby he said to me gently after a week

You can’t look after yourself.

Your only a few months if you tell the hospital about the beatings they will help.I was horrified.

I’m keeping my baby I sobbed.

Then I’ll help you he smiled.

He took me to anti natal

Drove me to appointments.

Stayed in my house.Is he your Dad?

The midwife asked.No he’s Eric was all I could say.

I was still terrified of anything happening to my daughter.

I refused to have my baby in hospital.

It’s dangerous my doctor warned it’s a big baby.

I’ll be there said Eric I’ll.look after you.I moved to the other side of town new start

Eric had bought a van and had started a furniture removal business.

I had a lovely little house Eric was still poping in and out he put up fences layed a lawn created a beautiful garden.

Cheryl started nursery life was better.

When I woke early hours of morning 7th August 1986 I phoned Eric first then the midwife.

I’m scared I told him as I opened the door.

He kissed my forehead you can do this and again I knew I was going to be okay.

The midwifes and my doctor came Eric held me as I pushed my beautiful baby boy into the world he was 12lb 9oz’

Put the chip pan on for this lad he’s got a tooth!’

Laughed my doctor.Well done

I looked at Eric tear running down his cheek

Come here to your Dad he said as he held my baby.

In that second an unbreakable bond was madeEric had saved me when he had come back from stoke on Trent

He was a good man

My daughter held her new brother and named him Matthew.

Followed a few years later by Michael.

Eric idolised each of my children and they him

Who was it who said blood is thicker than water never met Eric.

Our children grew up we went our separate ways but aways remained friends

Matthew met and married a Belfast girl.

Eric by this time was 76

Michael would go to stay with Eric take him fishing help him around the house.

Cheryl would stay in the school holidays with her daughter. He was her dad from the minute he walked into our door as she slept in her cot upstairs.

He couldn’t have loved her and the boys any more than he did.

He started to shows signs of dementia.

Which over five years got worse.

He still lived in the family home he had come back to all those years before .He needed help now

It was decided Matthew would take him to Ireland.

To a purpose built dementia unit atound corner from his house erics own flat.

It broke Cheryl and mike’s heart to see him go but I know it was the best decision.

I went over last week to see them.

My six foot son helping his Dad walk slowly with his walking frame.

I remembered Eric proudly pushing Matthew in his pram.

That big man who saved us.

There with the baby he had held minutes after he was born

That’s what makes a dad.

Not blood but love.

Thank you Eric we saved each other x

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Belfast, titanic, making memories.

This is my second visit to Belfast. We are visiting my son and his family Natalie and my grand daughter Hattie.

It’s nine months since our last visit.

Too long .

So today Matthew has organised a trip to Titanic Museum it has been awesome.

Belfast is such a beautiful city with friendly beautiful people the weather has been kind and I’ve pinched myself a few times reminding myself how lucky I am.

My grand daughter Hattie such an easy going polite little girl an absolute joy to be with but oh how they grow up far too quickly

Lunch in the cathedral quarter at a beautiful little restaurant called Made in Belfast .

The vegan choices are stunning.

Then back to our hotel.

I’m lying here reflecting on a perfect day

I’m truly grateful for all that I have.

Family and health are everything.

Memories I shall treasure. ❤️

Posh things poem by Tony Walsh.

Im driving to work this morning listening to radio 4.

There is a poet on being interviewed he has a strong Manchester accent and he’s talking about his working class life in the 60s

I slow down as I listen lulled by his voice familiar northern tones of my childhood.

He’s talking about poetry nights that go on in most towns

How they are such a melting pot of people.

Friendly places

I smile to myself and promise I’ll make an effort to go back I love performance poetry but life has been manic and I can’t remember the last time I had a poetry night out.

I miss it.

He carries on and reads a poem called Posh things

I’m catapulted back to the council house of my childhood.

Posh things like paying for your school dinners

Posh things like fitted carpets

I’ve pulled over because I’m crying.

It’s such a powerful poem

I love it.

I start my car and continue to drive into work.

As I pull into the carpark I vow to make time next week to go out.

Thank you Tony Walsh

For reminding me of do many things

And reigniting my poetry passion

You can hear posh things follwing this link.

https://m.soundcloud.com/tony-walsh/posh-things

Cancer Retreat. Day dreams and storm Callum

I need a plan.

Or a twin.

As you know I work as a Soul midwife (end of life care)

I live on a canal bank in South Wales

A small row of 19 terraced cottages.

We have lived there 12 years

It’s always been a dream to buy another cottage on our row to run as a Retreat.

For Cancer patients & mental health patients.

You see I work full time too for the community mental health team.

Now you see why I need a twin.

Anyway I digress.

So I’m working full time then two years ago a cottage goes up for sale

Well I have been asking the universe.

Problem is it’s out of my price range 90k I was gutted. It was perfect needed work but nothing we couldn’t do ourselfs.

Never mind says my hubby Jeff.

It will happen and we carry on dreaming no one moves into the empty cottage and six months later I spot the estate agent coming out of there.

‘Excuse me’ is it back on the market? I ask.

He smiles yes the doors still open come in and have a look around.

I step inside out of the rain

Its very magnolia I say. It’s had a few coats of paint and cheap cord carpet but there’s no damp which is amazing for an old cottage and it’s bigger than our house.

I walk upstairs and I’m visualising the door sign

‘Ravens Retreat’

“How much”?

60k he says

“What?”

I know he says I’d offer 55k.

I’m stunned it was previously on for 90k

“Okay I say without thinking ill offer 55k”

He looks up from his clipboard.

“Its not advertised yet.

Do you want me to ring the vendor?”

“Yes please” I say assertively

Appearing confident whilst in my head I’m wondering if I can get a mortgage.

He walks into the kitchen chatting on his I phone.

I close my eyes and ask the universe.

“Please let it be” as I open them he comes striding back into the lounge

“Congratulations he accepted your offer, who is your solicitor?

He shakes my hand and I follow him outside onto the tow path.

Ill be in touch he smiles

Im thrilled, scared, and wondering what just happened?

Thank you I whisper to the universe.

As I dial my hubby Jeff.

“Hi love I say as he answers .

Guess what I just bought?”

“A cottage no 28”

There’s a pause. He laughs.

“I need a mortgage and a deposit I carry on. ”

I don’t doubt you’ll get one he laughs you always find a way,

I ring a mortgage advisor he comes out the next evening i can’t see a problem he says and everything is a little sureal.

I find a local solicitor and few weeks later end of Feb it snows my daughter is over to visit so we walk down to no 28 to look around.

“mam looks like there’s a leak in the kitchen from flat roof. ”

We call the estate agent and sure enough there’s a damp patch ceiling and wall.

Im wondering how much it’s going to cost.

Can you ring the vendor I ask?

He drops the price by 4k mor than fair and a month later on 30th march day before my birthday 2017 we complete.

Cosmic ordering at its best.

Im thrilled.

The hard work begins. Painting furnishing all on a shoe string. We divide the garden in half deck outside the back door and plan to use the other half to build a therapy cabin.

I think back to that kid that was me my father called me “gunner” because I was always gunner do something or other. Always day dreaming. Always going to live in Wales.

I smile he I am with my hubby still dreaming with a man who never doubts me and helps me build them and again I thank the universe.

I have a beautiful oak door sign made “Ravens Retreat”

Register as a C.I.C

(Community interest company) non profit.

And we provide our first free cancer breaks

People love the idea .

Now I’m still working full time and still working as a soul midwife.

Running the cottage and providing free therapies.

We had been open five months cue storm Callum.

The street is evacuated but we don’t leave as the flood waters rise praying that the rain will.stop.

It doesn’t.

Ravens Retreat is flooded.

The cottages are so old that the drains can’t deal with the flood waters the drains back flow through toilets sink baths and up through the floor.

Its heartbreaking all our hard work.

We throw out furniture carpets the whole kitchen and hack off plaster

Our beautiful Retreat is a building site.

We are doing all the work ourselves, from pay check to paycheck it takes us nine months we work all day and work on the retreat in the evening.

Fall into bed then do it all again the next day.

I have days when I wonder if theres an end to it.

Then in June 2019 we re open.

Im so happy .

So proud our first cancer break is a good friend of mine who has just finished radiotherapy and another friend who is still undergoing chemotherapy.

Four of them arrive and as they walk in look around the sun is shining and they love it.

Suddenly everything is worthwhile.

We have provided many more free holidays this year.

Our therapy cabin is almost finished.

I’m looking for funding to get things finished it will make such a difference.

Then hopefully one day soon can give up my full time job consentrate on my soul midwife work.and the Rtreat.

Dreams really do come true.

This one did. ❤️

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Ty Olwen Hospice Swansea.

As most of you know I have the privilege and honour of working as a soul midwife and run Ravens Retreat which is a cancer holiday cottage where we offer breaks and free therapies for cancer patients independently.

I find my self working mainly with cancer patients their families and hospice staff.
I witness on a daily basis the absolutely devastating effects cancer has on many.
I also witness incredible strength, love and support from all involved. Cancer doesn’t just affect one person it’s like ripples on a pond. It’s touches everyone they know in one way or another.
These last few months I’ve been supporting families in Ty olwyn hospice in Swansea .
It truly is an amazing place.
The building is bright and comfortable.
Stunning gardens.
Nursing staff and doctors you couldn’t pay for any better.

Volunteers in the coffee shop and a truly lovely man called Mal who serves dinner and constant drinks and can be heard singing and always has a smile and time to talk.
Everytime I arrive he’s there and also when I leave he’s there I’m beginning to think he doesn’t go home .
It’s a home from home a place of tranquility care and love.
I really can’t praise Ty Olwen and Mal enough.
So if ever you think your having a rough week or something is bothering you.
Drop into a hospice have a coffee and buy something from their little shop.
I assure you it will put all your problems into perspective.
#TyOlwynAngels

Please share our website

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Counseling. Balls of string and windowless cupboards and musty fish fingers

Yesterday was my last counseling session! I’m so proud of myself.

I remember on first appointment I almost didn’t attend.

Panic in the car and a list of very good reasons of why not to go.

I’m so glad I did.

What is it with mental health staff and counsellors not accepting help?

We have apaling self care.

Anyway it came at just the right time I was hanging on by my finger nails.

I also have to say that it helps if you get a counselor that you are comfortable with. You know someone that gets you.

I was extremely lucky.

So for a hour every few weeks I would turn up to one of two hospitals.

The first one has a very modern unit lovely seating area water tower and a large T.V

The second one has a cupboard no windows heating on warp 100° and a distinct smell of musty fish fingers.

My first appointment was in the windowless fish ginger room.

I had resolved to be totally honest about everything whilst sitting in the waiting room.

He would either recommended I need sectioning or be able to help me unravel the tight ball of elastic that was sitting in the pit of my stomach.

And so it began

I told him everything.

Everything that mattered.

Everything that hurt.

I told him about the flash backs

Everything all the things that Donna knew about me that no one else did.

I could feel her beside me willing me to talk.

I did.

And it was okay.

I knew I had a connection.

I’m sure Donna chose a person that would understand.

The second session then a third I no longer doubted I could fix this

It was like sitting with someone and letting them help untangle a huge knotted ball of string.

When you arrive you have no idea where the end is .

But gradually after putting it down

Resting then untangling a bit more you see easier ways of doing it.

Then yesterday as I sat in the fish finger room for the last time I reflected on how different I felt from the first time.

Im still working on a few things but I can see again. And I know I can do this

Im so very grateful for the man who sits and listens in the very hot window less room

I believe he was the right person to help at the exact right time.

And for that I thank the universe. 🙂

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http://www.ravensretreat.wales

Leaving the island

I consider myself to be quite layed back. I meditate daily I can’t imagine not doing. It’s my connection to the universe

After a difficult year following the loss of my best friend Donna. Jeff and I came on holiday to Isle of Lewis. It has always been a dream of mine to visit Callanish stones.

Much to my delight the weather was kind the sun shone and the island stole my heart. No light pollution. The northern lights and silence like I’ve never experienced.

The islanders were beautiful softly spoken people who took their time to stop tending gardens and chat to me about island life. No where opens on a Sunday it’s regarded as a family day.

There are no retail parks no traffic. No rushing.

It reminds me of my childhood in early 1970s.The old abandoned croft houses that stand looking out over lochs and peat moors fascinated me

The weavers of Harris Tweed known as the cloth of the land working from their red roofed sheds at the back of beautiful croft cottages sheep and goats roaming the gardens.

Rainbows crashing waves and light houses

The most breathtaking views

I woke this morning sad that it was time to leave

Planning my next visit and knowing this is a place I could happily retire to.

Who knows

Please share our website

http://www.ravensretreat.wales

The most amazing week.

So we all have places we would love to go ‘one day’ right?

Well I finally got to visit mine.

Is it as amazing as I imagined?

Oh yes and more.

Your wondering where it is?

It’s an island not carrabian or exotic

It’s a beautiful place of white sandy beaches the bluest sea.

Mountains and ancient magical places of the coast of Scotland.

The outer Hebrides.

Lewis.

My reason to come has always been the standing stones of Callanish I’ve traveled all around the U.k but it’s the stones of this island that call to me.

We arrived here on Saturday after the three hour ferry trip.

Did I mention I hate ferries?

Anyway I’ve fallen in love with this island and it’s people.

Rugged coastline mountains and ghost houses that lie abandoned as though one day people just left and didnt return?

Peat fires, Harris tweed oat cakes well you get the picture.

So here is some of the best bits of my very first visit.

I know I’ll be back

To this land of magic and rainbows.

Please share our website

http://www.ravensretreat.wales

Gratitude

The air feels cold this morning.

The light dimmer through the rowan trees.

I lie here in that liminal morning place

Under a cool cotton duvet.

Sleeping cat at my feet.

The alarm bleeps at me to get up.

Today will be a good day I promise

I concentrate on my breath

A blackbird sings reminding me of the beauty of my canal bank

I pull up the wooden blind

And whisper

Thank you

For this new day.

Meltdown in a layby

I hate you grief.

Your cruel and uncaring.

It’s almost a year.

Eight more days.

You’ve poked at me this week.

Reminded me constantly.

I know how long it is since I lost her.

Since I lay beside her.

I have had our grand daughter today.

I brush her hair and sing nursery rhymes

Telling her of her two nanny’s adventures.

She goes home with her dad and I get in my car and head out in the rain.

I’m meeting friends in the next village.

Your there waiting as I pass the old colliery

Hunched craftily waiting in the shadow of the derilict pit head.

Like one of those police sting traps thown infront of my car covered in nails

You make me stop my car and pull over.

I can’t breathe.

There is a screaming a howl from the depths of my soul.

A year

Almost 365 days

It’s raining .

Pouring the mist covers the mountain tops like grey cotton wool.

Like the storm on the bay the day you left my arms.

I miss you.

I sob into the air of this dimension knowing you hear me on the astral.

No one

Not one of my family has ever asked how I am.

Don’t they know that

I’m lonely without you

That I miss you every minute of every day.

For fucks sake I shout

Everyone always thought that I was the strong one

They were wrong

My strength was you Donna.

The rain runs down my windscreen cars wizz past the layby.

Get a grip I tell myself

Grief flows like the rain

As it turns to drizzle

I catch my breath.

Please stop for just awhile .

I dry my eyes as I breathe in i catch my breath as I smell your perfume

Beside me you are always thee at my side.

I take a deep breath and keep going.

It’s the only option I have.

Walk in the sunshine

Walking around the lake today with Mavis her last post op appointment at the vets.
Everything is fine.
Although she’s developed that dog planking thing they do when approaching the vets door and suddenly realizing where they are.
Accompanied with a hysterical bark far too loud for such a tiny dog.
To reassure her I she isn’t staying as we leave i fuss her then walk her across the lake to Jeff’s garage were I’ve left my car.

The lake has outdoor gym equipment surrounded by visiting Canadian geese basking in September sunshine
Middle aged men in office attire attempt to lift themselves pulling and pushing at lime green bars casually walking away after failed out of breath attempts.
I sit on a bench watching mams with kids chase balls dogs and toddlers on scooters dropping quavers and melting ice creams .
Get down, and be careful echos in the warm breeze.
As the mothers smile but silently count down the days to back to school.
Men sit fishing eyes closed multiple rods balenced on stands beside them. Plastic sandwich boxes and flasks of tea
Bright red Rowen berries sicamore seeds and blackberries whisper of autumn and the wheel of the year begining to turn.
I love this time of year.
So many shades of green
I feel so very blessed to live here in Wales
There is truly no where else so beautiful
I am grateful every day.
.

Pre loved magic

I write every day.

In my phone’s note pad.

My work diary on printer paper.

My head is like a theater stage sometimes as I’m driving I’ll have first few lines of a poem float onstage

I’ll pull over to note them down least I forget.

Storytelling and poetry is such an ancient way of learning. Passing on information.

The druids are a good example spoken word.

My other favorite thing is second hand I was going to say clothes but to be fair it’s every thing.

I have an old oak dining table I bartered for at a car boot sale it has four odd chairs.

It’s role has morphed into a desk a very untidy desk!

Paper note books, Books I’m reading there is always more than one.

There is something comforting to me anout old furniture, pre loved that have belonged to other families been a part of other stories now they are part of mine. I especially like it when things don’t match.

Cups and plates I have an old Welsh dresser with beautiful odd china plates and cups

I bought it for our cottage not thinking of how it would fit through the front door ! Everything here is second hand apart from the mattress.

Old cottage, old furniture. Im sure if I added up how much I’d spent it would be under £800 for the whole house.

We live in such a disposable society.

I think if I’ve got a bedroom chest of drawers that does the job why will I ever need to change it.

I love second hand shops, car boot sales charity shops.

All my clothes are pre loved

There is a Fab charity shop by my office

A little old lady runs it raising money for animal charities.

She has a few just a pound rails.

I never fail to find what I need in her shop.

It reminds me of a childrens program from the 70s called Mr Ben.

Mr Ben was an ordenary man he would go into a shop try on a costume then step through the mirror into another world to a new adventure.

That’s how I feel in Jeans shop.

I love it when girls in work comment on some thing Im wearing and I can say it was a £1.00 🤣

Anyway I’m off on a tangent I was asked to a rarther posh awards ceremony few weeks ago.

Our cancer retreat had been nominated.

Everyone going chatted about what they were going to wear.

How much they had paid where it was from.

Hair make up.

You get the picture.

I moaned to Jeff I’m not spending money on something I won’t wear again he laughed well you need something new go shopping he encouraged me.

I hate shopping.

I reluctantly got myself ready for a trip into Cardiff.

But thought I’d call into Jeans shop first.

Off went like Mr Ben looking for a new adventure

I tell her my dilemma as I look through rails of clothes.

nothing ..

I have to admit I was starting to panic.

What if we win an award?

What if I have to get up on stage?

I turn around to leave resigned to fact I have to go into town crowds of people and hassle of car parks

Thanks Jean I say turning to leave then

There behind me on a rail I’m sure I’ve already looked on is a dress.

Bright red.

Bell sleaves it’s stunning

How much is this Jean.

I say holding it against me its perfect.

£5.00 to you darling she says

Have a wonderful evening.

Thank you Jean you saved the day. She laughs

That night I dress put on my red and black boots Wow Jeff says that’s stunning.

Cardiff?

No don’t be silly.

Jeans shop.

We step through that magic mirror and two hours later I stand on stage accepted the beautiful award with my beautiful daughter in law Sarah,

I talk about Ravens retreat the work that we do and my beautiful brave friend Donna. (Sarah’s Mam) this award and everything I do is dedicated to her.

Im surrounded by beautiful women in designer dresses who had spent the day in the salon.

I don’t feel out of place.

I’d spent the day on the mountain and a hour with Jean in her magical shop.

I stood on stage to have a photo Lou whispered joolz I love the red dress.

£5.00 I smiled from jeans shop I just couldn’t resist and i know Donna would approve.

Sleep

Sleep where are you?

Why have you forsaken me?

We were never best friends

Aquantances at best.

The barn owl calls to me at 3.30am

To remind me of the beautiful nocturnal world I am now a affiliated member of.

Fox cubs play amongst the dying hollyhocks

Hedgehogs feast on fat slow slugs shimmering sliver ribbon trail their only trace.

Illumination… The Moon card of the tarot pack

Reminds me that the world looks completely different in her misty lamp light.

For those who have the joy of sleep.

Do not see the magic of this stary world.

A magical world of beauty .

Accidental dog.

Ive always had a dog.

Always

Until we lost Saffie last year i swore I couldn’t do it again.

She had been beside me for 15 years.

I had two cats Lucifer and Luna who had both been rescued from work.

You need to change your job Jeff had said or I’ll have to start work on a bloody Ark.

You had Honey and whilst you were having chemo I’d take Honey out.

She was like a small hysterical sheep a cockapoo.

WTF I’d joke she’s a mongrel.

What an ugly dog. You’d cover her ears and tell her to ignore me.

Anyway I’d gone almost a year with no dog.

Then one day around eight weeks ago I’d had a shit day in work gone back to the office to write up my notes and Emma my friend who sits beside me casually starts telling me about a dog that has been bought as a puppy kept in one room has never been outside and is now a year old

To top it off it’s a patient I’ve already rehomed two dogs for.

I look at Emma. It’s 4pm on a Friday.

Come on let’s go see her I say.

Are you sure.

Five mins later we are knocking on the door.

We go in I sit on the bed and ask what’s. Happening

The flat is full of dog mess and urine and she explains she needs.the dog rehoming.

She’s moving house and thought she may cope with a small dog but can’t cope.

Will you take her she asks?

Off course I will.

Where is she?

At that the smallest frightened dog appears from under the bed

Up onto my knee shaking ears back it’s half the size of my cat I think.

I’m not a fan of tiny toy dogs but it’s looking at me with soulful eyes and beffore I know it I’m offering to keep it myself.

Oh thank you she says and by 5.30 this tiny dog with bat like ears is sitting on my sofa.

Another random end to a day.

Jeff comes home from work looks at me and asks.

What’s that?

I tell him her story and he asks how the cats are.

They seem to like her ..maybe they think it’s a rat he laughs .

Let’s keep her.

Actuually I say I’d kind of promised her.

So being so very tiny I thought she should have a big name.

She looks a bit like a angry old lady.

Mavis Mavanwy Jones

I’m not carrying you I tell her.

Your a big dog!

A warrior.

That day was meant to happen Donna you would love her.

She didn’t know how to play. She had never stood on grass scared of the wind.

I’ve taken her everywhere

We walked up pen y fan

On the beach down the canal she’s a different dog now and I can’t believe how much I’ve missed walking with company

Lucifer loves her they chase each other around the house.

I take her to work she’s the office dog.

She’s always thrilled to see me.

So I guess Jeff had better get started on that Ark. ❤️

Ancient ways call of the Goddess

I’ve never been a brilliant sleeper. 3am is my Muse time. Half baked poems take centre stage begging for an ending.

Meditation, automatic writing. Channels from spirit.

That’s ok I quite like the world when it’s beautifully still. Moon light walks and star gazing at Trecastle

It amazes me how many people are too busy to just look up.

Take note of just how tiny we are.

Yet how amazing.

Connected

Last night was inky black and clear thankfully cool.

Trecastle called my little car carried me over the mountain.

I sat listening to the babble of the river over the rocks.

Ancient language crickets seemed to punctuate with the occasional chirp.

The outline of the mountain the shape of mother Earth.

The shiloette of the stone circle, energy pallpuble

There is only one tree on that beautiful Roman road. We are old friends.

She nodded her welcome in the breeze.

She is old and her dress a little tattered no longer a maiden or a mother but a wise old crone.

She holds secrets she hears the cry’s of the lost and lonley she shelters them from life’s storm.

She is bent over almost pointing the way to the stone circle that stands around 600 yards away

Unseen from the road clevely hidden .

Go she tells me bathe in the moonlight walk the circle and speak your truth.

The stones will absorb your pain. The circle will remind you how to dance.

Feel the wind on your skin the dew on your bare feet

Know that you are loved here.

For this place holds magic.

This is your home.

I smile at her a silent thanks

Cross the river and walk barefoot to my circle .

The breeze is warm

As I give thanks for all that I am.

All that I have

As I dance the spiral dance of ancient ways

❤️

Dandelion wishes

Come with me on a journey

A journey back in time

To a northern council

estate the year is 1979.

Hi I’m Joolz Im fourteen and I live here on this estate

People say it’s a bad place but I love it.

My garden gate opens onto a woodland

It’s a magical place with Oak Ash and Rowen.

My favourite flower grows here

Can you guess what it is?

It’s a Dandelion.

I know! My mam calls them wee in beds.

But I really love them.

They are beautiful bright yellow just like sunshine.

Then after the flower you get a magical dandelion clock.

Each seed is a wish.

And each wish is a chance.

Everyone needs a chance.

So it’s a bright Sunday morning in May.

I’m creeping down the stairs

I can hear mam and Dad shouting and arguing..

About beer and money.

They are always arguing.

I open the door to the kitchen

There on the yellow Formica top table is Dad’s old Holborn tobacco tin

Lid half off

My dog Toby is under the table in his box furiously wagging his tail

It twacks against the table leg.

Shhh Toby I say patting his head Dad will hear.

I slowly turn the back door knob holding my breath

They are still shouting

I step out into the porch sun is shining brightly the smell of Sunday dinners and cut grass wafts over the Hawthorne hedge.

I can see my old blue grifter bike leaning on the back gate

I step into the sunlight

Frank next door is mowing his lawn

Up and down he walks

Straight narrow lines

Like his straight narrow life

He sees me and stops.

Folds his arms over his chest and asks

‘Are they at it again?’

I cringe and ignore him and he carries on mowing.

I’m half way down the path.

The old oak tree casts a huge shadow trying to hide me.

I get to my bike.

Hold onto the handles and jump onto the seat.

The back door opens.

Where the bloody hell do you think your going lady ?

Dad booms…

My heart beats faster.

I stutter.

Er I .

I won’t be long Dad I manage.

I start to peddle.

As fast as I can.

I know these paths like the back of my hand.

Faster and faster I go.

Over knobbly tree roots.

Bike bouncing this way and that .

Im heading for the bottom.field

Dappled sunlight through the canopy of trees

There ahead of me an arch way of light

As the bike busts out into the bright sunlight

I’m momentarily blinded

Then a sudden thwack!

I’m.thrown from my bike.

Ahhhhh.!

I cry as I hit the ground.

Half on the the grass half on the path

I look up squinting into the sun blood on my hands and grass stains on my jeans my mama going to kill me .

I look around expecting to see Dad and get another smack.

But there staring back at me if isn’t Dad.

It’s a boy around my age

He has the most beautiful brown eyes

He’s apologizing.

I’m sorry, so sorry he says

He is pointing at a leather football

The same ball that has knocked me off my bike.

That’s not a northern accent.

He sounds like my French teacher

He holds out his hand to me

I’m.sorry he says again.

I’m Jean Claude .

You?

Joolz I say holding out my hand and he pulls me up.

I’m running the gravel from my hands.

He picks up my bike hands it to me.

I have a bike he says.

Come and beckons me to follow.

And I do.

French boy where did you come from?

What are you doing here.

This is a northern council estate.

You can’t possibly be a sightseer.

French kid sent here to be educated

Scruffy council estate kid

Both square pegs both needing to fit.

That summer was the best ever.

We were friends.

We went bike riding.

Climbed trees

Skinny dipping.

Went for picnics with biscuits and pop.

He threw stones at my bedroom window

We would like on the grass watching stars

He made me Daisy chains from dandilions

And gave me butterflies for the first time.

Now fast forward to November.

It’s bonfire night

Can you believe French kids don’t do bonfire night .

I’ve arranged to meet him.at 6 o click on the church wall.

I’m so exited I run through the woods I can see my breath in the air.

It’s do cold the air is filled with smell of smoke and I see him sitting on st David’s church wall he’s smiling that big smile and waving

He jumps off the wall.and puts his arm around my shoulders.

We fall into step.

We walk towards the community centre

Chatting and laughing.

As we approach we see the bonfire standing tall like a fiery pyramid.

Old doors leaning around it’s sides

It’s huge he says as we get closer I look up.as Sparks rise like fire flies.

The sky is clear and inky black .

Look look.st the moon she is full says John .

You see her. That is the same moon my mother will see outside my house over the sea.

It is so beautiful there

One day I will take you there

He pulls me closer to him.and I smile.

I believe him

One day I will.go with him escape be free away from this place we have planned it

Then suddenly there is a smash and a crash and a dirty pint glass

A voice shouts loud “hey nigger lover.”

Time just stops…..

I’m dragged kicking and screaming away from my brown eyed boy.

I scream bite and fight.

There is a sound of shots is it a fire work it sounds like dad’s shotgun

I can taste blood.

Smell beer it reminds me of dad.

Suddenly I’m free.

I crawl back towards the fire.

Calling whimpering his name.

He is there laying on his side I grab his arm

Those beautiful brown eyes full of terror

Joolz he whispers

Blood on his face.

Get up . Get up I beg.

Our crime beautiful brown eyed black boy.

Brown eyes white girl

Do we not bleed the same colour blood.

Our hearts best the same terrified beat.

As holding onto each other we stagger to our feet and stumble to a house across the street

French boy where did you come from.

What are you doing here

This is a northern council estate you can’t possibly be a sightseer.

Blue flashing lights and ambulance comes to take us away.

Hospital cleans up the blood stitches us up.

But can’t stop my brown eyed boy from going away.

Back to the Seyshelles his island and family in the sun.

And me northern council.estate kid I stay here on the street where our story began

Bunches of dandilions..

Simple wishes

But just one that matters

(blow……)

Let the world see there is no colour to LOVE.

Climbing mountains

Some people your meant to meet.

Our first cancer break this year was in June. The cottage was back up and running and the break was gifted to an old friend of mine Viv.

A lass from my home town she had recently finished 20 plus weeks of radiotherapy at claterbridge hospital for two agresive tumours in her neck.

She is one of the most funny hard working and kind people i know

So I was beyond relieved when the news came she was in the clear.

So Viv and her partner Julie were coming back to.the canal.

The week before they were due to come I received a message from a mutual.friend Sharon

Asking how many bedrooms are in the retreat?

She asks if she can come down the same time as Viv and Julie her friend Bex has cancer she has two young children and is struggling she’s terminal

Yes of course she can come you and Bex can have a week to yourselves I tell her.

But Sharon goes on to tell me she has a broken foot can’t drive and so if they can all come together that would we better.

So after discussing it with Viv and Julie

They all meet up and agree to come together.

Now as I said they are from my hometown.

Salt of the earth so we go into overdrive to make sure everything is perfect for them this is our grand opening after the flood damage.

I was a little worried about the journey here they were coming in Sharon’s beetle

Julie driving as Sharon has a big boot on protecting her foot.

Thankfully they arrived safely but tired .

Bex fitted in from the start.

Bear in mind that I’d known the others for 20 plus years

Funny, bubbly with a wicked sense of humour.

She was so relieved to get away from ‘ cancer’ to just be Bex on holiday with the girls.

We sat around my fire pit on warm evenings drank red wine laughed lots shared stories hopes dreams

Went over to vivs favorite place the mumbles had lunch and sat by the sea.

Lost Sharon’s car keys spent a hour looking for them

Found them in a flower bed 🙈🤣

Bex said she wanted to walk up a mountain she was wearing a back brace due to weakness caused by cancer so Everest was out of the question.

But the tide was out and the light house stood on a small mountain.

Fancy that I asked nodding at the small mountain.

She laughed do you think I’ll make it up?

Yeah why not.

Go on then I prompted..

You not coming with me she asked..

If you want me to or do you want time on your own?

She smiled and off she went.

I sat on beach with my baby grand daughter and watched her become smaller and smaller as she climbed up towards the light house

Viv Julie and shaz where on the pier I walked up to them

Look I sad pointing at the tiny figure striding purposely up towards the light house.

The three of us watched as she got to the top.

Stood beside the light house sun shining wind in her hair

Arms outstretched to the sky .

This is what the retreat is about I thought

I felt so proud of her.

She stood up there for awhile then took her time walking back across the causeway.

She almost shone.

That was amazing she said.

I was just ME with the wind in my hair .

That’s the picture of her I shall keep in my head that day by the light house.

The rest of their time with us flew by.

Viv and Bex had healings and reflexology.

Although trying to get Viv to relax is a task in itself

And all too soon they were leaving with another holiday booked with us

Hugs and kisses exchanged and they drove off the canal top down on the car singing to the radio four beautiful lasses with so much to give.

Since then Bex got married went to Italy and sadly cancer became more aggressive.

She never lost that warrior spirit raising £670 having her hair cut last week for the retreat.

I bloody love that canal.she told me on video chat.

I’ll be back watch out for me.

I don’t doubt you will I laughed .

She died yesterday peacefully in her beloved Liverpool.

She knew it was time

I’m so glad I met her what a girl.

I see her smiling wind in her hair on top of a mountain.

You asked me when we were doing your healing what I believed.

I told you energy can’t die. It can only go on.

I like that you said.

You were a bundle of beautiful energy Bex.

See you on the canal soon my friend.

Binding herbs

Mugwort and wild flowers hanging to dry over the fire place all carefully hand bound. all local collected here on my canal. The cottage smells divine

Insence, tea who knows but all made from herbs and plants of this place .

3am Musings

I lie in my bed.
Right arm arcing around my head.
Like a waxing moon.
It’s almost 3am I don’t need the clock to know.
Silicone ear plugs block external sounds.
Soft orange glow of my salt lamp.
Gentle contented purr of sleeping feline .
Words of yet unbaked poems float across centre stage of my mind.
Pad and pen are just out of reach.
I sigh Pendle witch hangs from my ceiling sways in the breeze of the window sitting on her broom legs dangling metal rimmed glasses perched on her nose .
She knows my nightly dilemma.
The canal bank sleeps.
Ducks and geese huddled together settled
I close my eyes and take a deep breath.

Meditation takes me to the

Astral dimension
The bardic door in my mind creaks and swings open wide.
A vast library beckons long wooden table and open fire, walls of ceiling high book cases winged back chair and footstool.
Words flow like the raindrops running down my window.
I rise from my bed.
Pick up my glasses and my pen.
The Pendle witch smiles as ink pours onto the page the story unfolds and grows.
Time doesn’t exist here.
This is the land of stories, magic
Of tribe anything is possible here.
Words are powerful.
Write it, chant it, sing it, speak it.
Visualise it.
Hold out your hands.
For it shall be.

❤️

Is this rain ever going to stop?

Is this rain ever going to stop?

Its 7,45am the bus is packed making a groaning noise as it climbs up the steep hill into town like a giant dragon spitting out passengers when it stops and taking on more before moving on jerking as I stand holding onto a overhead strap I’m focusing on a pair of pointy black heels wrinkled feet squashed into them. The bus stops by the church the pointy heels are also getting off here I shuffle myself carefully past people staring into space, reading news papers and telling off small children the doors of the bus swing open and the cold December air hits me stinging my face. I’m so glad I had bus fare today it would have been awful walking in this weather. I thank the driver and a small pang of pain niggles at my back as I step onto the wet pavement.

I stand still for a minute close my eyes leaning on the wall of St James Church. Women rush past with small children on their way to school. Snippets of conversations I push my long hair out of my eyes the milk man is pulling crates of school milk of the back of the co op float and pushing open the playground gate leaving the milk by the infants door.

I look at my watch 8.30am don’t want to be late make my way to the playground gate.

‘Alright?’ says the milk man ‘good weather for ducks.’ He laughs rain dripping from his glasses I smile and rush past him pick up the first crate, little bottles blue foil caps and packet of straws clicking of heels behind me and Mrs Smeltser the reception teacher pulls the door open and hold it whilst I carry the crates in.

‘Awful accident on the east lancs road lorry and a motor bike oh I do hope no one was killed, so close to Christmas. ‘She says.

‘Put the kettle on I’m parched and she rushes into the staff room to hang her coat fix her hair and apply her pink lipstick as she does every morning.

I put the kettle on in the small kitchen take out four cups and a jar of Nescafe. There is a hole in one of my shoes my left foot is soaking. I look into the mirror above the sink.

A shy sixteen year old girl damp mousy lank hair scraped back into a pony tail red cheeks, split shoe head full of dreams looks back at me.

Voice behind me makes me jump.

‘Oh you look really flushed are you feeling okay? Half my class were off last week with a bug I hope you haven’t got it?’ Its Mrs Jackson she’s always got a kind word for me dresses in marks and spencer skirts and jumpers large glasses hid her tiny round face I hand her a cup of coffee.

‘Im okay’ I reassure her. ‘Just cold’ I follow her into the staff room she chats about her weekend and asks about mine. I like her I’m working with her today. She tells me again how she thinks I’m going to make a wonderful nursery nurse and how the two years at college will fly by.

She loves my art work I smile I wish she could be right but I know she’s not.

I find it so very hard to fit in the weeks that I’m in college but the six weeks blocks that I’m here at St James church school are so different.

It’s a different world but one I know I can only dream of being a part of.

Women who work have a career a car nice clothes more than one pair of shoes. Friends they meet up with out side of work. Its like a parallels universe `completely different world to mine.

I’ve not been here long I’m shy awkward and quiet but they always include me. I wish I knew what to say how to be more like them confidant and funny.

Iris year three teacher asked me to her party last week. Pre Christmas party she laughed it was at her home on a canal bank in Warrington huge house three floors brightly coloured tiles in the kitchen hot mulled wine and nibbles music and a huge garden.

Id wished I knew how to ‘be’ but I’m a fish out of water so different from the sprawling council estate drunken violent father and his home brew bottles that live in every room of our house. But dispit feeling like this I was glad to be there. In their world away from the chaos of mine for just a little while.

.

I was trying hard day by day to be more like the joolz I imagined could fit could be a nursery nurse have a life like Iris and her hippy dresses with friends and hot mulled wine people laughing no one fighting or arguing I wished really hard, maybe one day.

Dad had took some persuading to let me start college. Id begged he was furious. ‘Bloody college who do you think you bloody are? Walter bloody mitty gunner do this.. want to do that.’ He had ranted pouring another bottle of home brew into a cracked pint glass. Id wished it had cut of his tongue.

‘Get a job and pay your bloody way.’

Careers office had told me I could go to college to do my NNEB, as part of a government scheme twenty three pounds and fifty pence a week. To cover bus fares and the rest I would have to give to Dad for my ‘keep’.

I promised Dad I would take a bar job too to bring in more money and eventually he had agreed but only until a better job came up.’ No one in this bloody family goes to bloody college.’ he had said.

So I had took a bar job at weekends in the cross hotel so that I would have bus fare and money for dinner but some weeks Dad took that too. So I would set my alarm for six and I walk for two hours in all weathers I was determined to keep this job I loved it. The kids the way I was treated but most of all I loved the escape.

It gave me hope.

I was like a sponge in work I would do anything they asked. I loved art work I helped the children to paint we made a huge tree from printed painted tiny hands, decorated Easter eggs, painted with potato’s, made pape Mache pigs, cut out Christmas decorations with plastic scissors, made coffee for staff who were now friends read stories to wide eyed children supervised playtimes, put plasters on knees I was blossoming relaxing I was genuinely happy and I was begging to ‘fit’.

That old stone wall around the school and church yard was my fortress I felt safe and different there.

Today was going to be busy the children were attending the church service, the church and the playground were separated by a small iron gate. I was going to stay behind to finish putting up the nativity scene we had been working on.

Mary Joseph and the three kings. Five six year olds had been drawn around carefully cut out then with the help of lots of PVA glue cut up material and tissue paper we had the main characters ready to staple on the main wall of the assembly hall along with a manger made from the used milk straws and some borrowed straw from the guinea pigs cage! I stood holding the big foil star that would lead the wise men to Jesus as the children lined up in pairs holding hands ready to leave for the church.

The radio played Christmas songs and I hummed along balancing on a small ladder positioning each character carefully before stapling onto the wall. Star up there Mary and Joseph two shepherds and a wise man.

Ouch the pain came again it had been niggling me all morning but it was worse now both my sides hurt I felt hot and dizzy.

I went over to the kitchen got a glass of water another pain.

It’s raining again I can hear the cars splashing through the puddles outside the kitchen window it’s starting to go dark.

Water runs down my leg like the rain down the windows but it’s warm.

I grip my belly and water runs down my cheeks. ‘No I beg please no not here.’

A hundred thoughts run through my head what ifs? I’m so scared the pain is so much worse I can’t stop it my body feels out of control I push open the stock room door there is a pile of cut up clothes and shelves of paper pens PVA glue boxes of staples.

I take off my wet knickers and crouch it was all over so quickly much quicker than last time.

Tiny not much bigger than my hand eyes fused shut, skin almost translucent. Smaller than the rabbits dad makes me skin when he’s been shooting. Hand the size of the tip of my little finger. Lifeless and still. Perfect baby boy I kiss his tiny head.’ I am sorry I whisper’’

I sit on the tiled floor take off my cardigan and wrap him in it, Noah I whisper because of the rain. I place him gently in a box placenta still attached. My legs are shaking smeared with blood. I take some of the cut up fabric and wipe up the floor. Push the box gently under the bottom shelf in the stock room.

.

I pick up my wet knickers look for a tea towel in the kitchen to use as a sanitary towel.

I wash my face brush my hair, children will be back soon. Im convinced there is some kind of sign above my head and everyone will know.

Dad will kill me if they find out. I’m beyond scared things like this don’t happen in their world.

The door swings open gust of cold air and the chatter of exited children.

‘You did it, it looks lovely miss you’re so clever’ a little boy with huge blue eyes bright blonde hair chatters. I smile and wonder what colour Noahs would have been if he had lived.

‘You look terrible I’m betting you’re getting that bug’ Mrs Jackson fusses into the staff room now she says no arguing sit down have nice hot cup of tea.

I’ve got the last two kings to go onto the wall. I protest.

Well the kings can wait she smiles clicking the kettle on and squeezing my hand. A tear runs down my cheek I catch it as she chatters on making tea.

You’ll feel much better after tea and a rest she says handing me a mug.

Somehow I don’t think I will.

Where do you live Mrs Smeltzer is asking? I wince not wanting to tell her.

Im sure I go past your estate on my way home she continues I’ll give you a lift the weather is awful and Mrs Smeltzer is insistent you’re not going home on two buses so you can tell me on the way home.

Before I know it every one is ready to leave, Mrs Jackson hand me my coat and we walk to the door I pick up my bag panicking. ‘My cardigan.’ I say as she turns off the light to close the door.

‘I’ve left it in the stock room’. I take my bag with me pull-out the box and gently pick up my tiny baby and place him in my bag. ‘I’m sorry’ I say again ‘but we have to go home to Dad’

I sit in the car next to mrs smeltzer clutching my bag. She’s chatting about visiting her father in Dorset and her husband’s new car, she asks where to turn as we approach the traffic lights near the estate.

I direct her past the shops my old primary school and the pub here my Dad drinks it’s still raining we get to the church at the top of our avenue and I ask her to stop.

‘Which one is it?’ she asks I point at the nice house with the roses painted on a name plate which reads mardale house in the garden with a black painted gate.

‘See you tomorrow’ she says ‘early night hope you feel better if not ring tomorrow day off won’t hurt.’

‘We don’t have a phone’ I want to say but I thank her and nod.

Her little red car drives away and I walk away from the nice house with the door plaque.

Slowly walk further down to our house the lights are out I walk around the back and into the kitchen Dad is sat by the fire Rollie in his hand I start to cry. He looks at me I’m shaking I sit down and open my bag.

Tears drip and I’m aware of him slowly standing up.

What the bloody hell he almost growls.

I’ve held it together but now the tears won’t stop.

He looks at me and I see the temper flash why didn’t you come home he barks at me. I don’t get a chance to answer. The slap hits hard.

He takes the bag from my hands sprizing my fingers frothe handles red fingers white knuckles

My legs are shaking my belly hurts I ache everywhere.

Get to bed.

He places the bag on the fire place and opens the door of the rayburn

I catch my breath

Is this rain ever going to stop?

Please make it stop..

Raven Wordsmith 🖤

Flashback letter..

I know what the books and therapists say about flashbacks

I don’t disagree.

Every theory is valid in its own way.

But spiritually I look for lessons in everything.

So I try to make some sort of sense of everything.

The flash backs started Donna when you left.

Trauma they say .

I know that and I can hear you singing beautiful Trauma by Pink to me.

Typical.

So I decided to ask for help.

Nhs Oçcy health was my starting point.

It couldn’t hurt could it?

Making an appointment to see a counselor?

I could always change my mind.

I almost did first appointment as I drove up to Singleton hospital I was tempted to drive past keep going to the mumbles to sit on that rock you liked by the sea.

I could people watch maybe?

I was too early sat in the car.

What are you doing I asked myself get a grip I need coffee.

I walked up stairs thinking about the last time I was here in that corridor was with you

Going for a scan 7.30pm

You laughed as you sat in hospital gown it was on back to front bloody exhibitionist 🤣

Should be in the cross keys not sat here it’s 2 for 1 cocktails

Nutty Russian I could just drink one now if my liver wasn’t fucked you laughed just as they shouted your name.

I squeezed your hand three times .

Me to you said.

I smile at the woman now typing I’m here to.see Adrian I say

Take a seat I pour myself a water wishing it was a large gin and t and look at the door.

A smiley man steps out of the office and before I know it I’m sat in a tiny room that really could be a large cupboard

It smells like burnt fish fingers it’s really hot and I’m menopausal. The fan is crap

I’m babbling and apologizing.

He asks be the standard how do you feel questions on scale of 1-5. There isn’t a question that asks where are you at moment if there were I’d tell him im completely lost.

He’s a nice guy. Genuine I hear you beside me.

Tell him . It’s okay.

And so I do.

I tell him everything I think if I say it all at once it’s out there.

Floating about the universe.

Real.

He can start to help me pick up the pieces

Or section me 🤣

Mental health workers are shit at talking about their own shit. Or is that just me.?

He listens and we agree on a plan

You’d like him Donna

I’ve seen him three times now.

Its helping I feel safe

He asked me today what would I say to my father’s voice

I didn’t really know.

But it’s given me something to think.about

I’d tell him that nothing he has ever said will break me.

That everything that Donna held for me hadn’t died with her I have trusted someone else.

I don’t have secrets.

I’d tell him im sometimes sad that he didn’t get to know me.

That I accept all the things I wanted he wasn’t capable of giving me.

He didn’t know how

I’d tell him that’s okay.

I’d ask him to stop shouting

Stop being angry

That I hope next time around he has a better life.

That I send him healing.

That I remember good things like him holding the back of the old blue bike saddle teaching me to ride a bike .

I remember crying because a black bird was stuck in a bramble bush and begging him to save it.

Watching him push his arm in holding the frightened bird then letting it go

Scratches and blood

As we walked home he told me that the bird had gone to tell.all it’s friends it had been saved because of me.

I’d tell him that no matter how hard life is it is always beautiful.

That I wouldn’t change a day.

That I’m so blessed in my little cottage by the water in Wales kids geese ducks dog cat and a man I love.

This is my paradise.

I’d ask him if he remembered me saying I’d live in Wales one day when I was a kid.

He would call me Gunner…

Because I was always Gunner do this or that.

Power of positive thought.

The universe listens

Expect amazing and get amazing.

Dad that’s what I’d tell you

So I can’t listen to your negativity.

It no longer serves me.

I’ve been so very tiered

Lost

But I’m.getting there

Yes Donna as bloody usual.you were right I needed someone in my corner someone with the right words

I’ll get there . I’m too bloody stubborn not too.

I’d sign my letter wishing you love healing and light.

Because you taught me Donna that’s all there is.

There is nothing else

Only love ❤️

Sacred friend

Hello my oldest sacred friend
We talk every day I am always grateful to see you outstretched reaching across as I walk towards you.
Telling you my deepest secrets my hopes and fears
You always have time to listen
No judgement, always patient if I am lost for words you gently wait until I find them.
When I am tired or greaving you have brought me comfort as I have leaned against you. I have felt you gently gifting me your energy.
Draw from our mother Earth and father sky
Your love for them deep rooted and out stretched reaching up your limbs you give daily thanks and gratitude for this beautiful place and the life that we have.
Some would say you are silent, our conversations are one sided.
How foolish they are.
They walk by and miss the sacred magic you hold.
Daily we change together.
Growing older and wiser
Learning and sharing this place this life time
Today I am reflective and thankful for a beautiful weekend.
You are dressed in the most beautiful shade of green.
As you reach out over the water sheltering beautiful pink foxgloves.
Your leaves fluttering I sit beside you and we watch a lone honey bee dip in each bright pink flower
This is my favorite place
My sacred place.
We speak of tonight’s dark moon
The things in my life that are no longer needed
You listen absorbing my words and reassure me.
You are my constant ever changing by the day by the season
I have watched your leaves fall many times
Each time you stand vunerable but strong
Still gazing upwards to the source of all.
And holding on fast rooted to our mother
My luminal beautiful friend
I am forever grateful for your wisdom and guardianship your magic.
May you speak the language of wren’s and Stones sky and roots always.

Fire pit reflection

Does the weather or season affect your mood? It’s April springtime in Wales

Although it has rained a few times this weekend that’s okay the rain is what makes Wales such a lush green beautiful place.

I love this time of year everything is waking up tiny Hawthorne leaves dafodills in their yellow dresses, the ivy seems to boast a new brighter shade of green, the trees on the mountains no longer bare they are dressed in new clothes swaying in the breeze welcoming crows who caw and dart to and fro gathering twigs and straw to build this year’s nests warm and safe surrounded by new leaves and a warmer breeze.

Baby shrews scurry along the canal bank chased by my black cat Luna who also loves the rebirth of spring for different reasons. The nights are lighter.

I’ve spent the weekend clearing my cottage garden building a fire in the fire pit sitting reflecting watching the late sunset.

I feel my mood is starting to lift. It’s been a hard challenging year. The loss of my best friend Donna floored me and I miss her everyday I’ve chatted away to her as I always did tell her what’s happing and all about having to rebuild our Retreat and how its taken it’s toll.

But I’ve discovered some amazing people strangers who have become new friends.

My relationship with my husband Jeff we’ve never had an easy ride but he’s my rock and I his. We are , complete opposite but I can’t imagine me without him at times this year we’ve wondered if there was a light at the end of the tunnel as we would complete one job on the retreat something else would come up.

But yesterday we finished the floor tiling all the way through the cottage hard graft when your doing it after work and weekends singlehandedly whilst also building a shower room and fitting a kitchen

So last night I sat by the fire pit in my little piece of paradise and gave thanks to the universe.

For lessons learned and strength and patience I didn’t know we had.

For good friends chosen family and rebirth of this coming year.

I’m here holding out my hands and trusting. I’m ready for whatever it brings

With the quiet knowledge that this is a new chapter.

I’ll go back in times of reflection and reread the older chapters for without them I wouldn’t be here now.

Sat by the fire watching a black cat look up at the sky. Feeling warm and grateful for all that I am.

Exiting times

I’m about to take a huge leap of faith. Let go of my job with the NHS to become self employed.

I’ve had thirteen fabulous years working in community mental health and I can genuinely say I’ve loved it.

It’s a huge decision but I can’t do two jobs

The retreat is almost back on it’s feet after the flood my beautiful healing hive cabin is a few months away from being completed. So it really is decision time.

I know it’s the right choice but letting go of what’s old and familiar to do something new is exiting but a little bit scary and not having that guaranteed pay slip at end of the month is the scary bit!

But I’ve put it out there to the universe and when my manager asked about my case load capacity last week I told him I was planning to leave.

He was a little shocked reminding me he needs a months notice at least but as soon as I’d actually said it I felt better quite empowered.

So it’s out there!

I feel like the fool card in tarot standing on the edge of the mountain all his possessions in his back pack preparing to step out into the world as the sun rises his dog at his heels (in my case a couple of cats!)

So I’m holding out my hands trusting the universe visualising good and positive change.

Here’s to exiting times ♥️

A new beautiful day.

It’s been a busy month in Wales. Lots of new challenges. Andy came over to see us at the Retreat to advise us on insulating the Healing Hive Cabin.

Who knew keeping a wooden building warm was so complicated 🙈 not me.

So supplies are on order electric is almost finished thanks to a generous donation we are back on track to open our doors again in May.

For the time being I am still working from Crow Cottage so if you would like a Healing appointment please give me a ring.

To think all of this was a dream I’ve had for so very long and now here I am surrounded by the most amazing family, friends, healers and Therapists.

It truly is cosmic ordering at it’s most wonderful.

Holding out your hands to the universe.

Visualise the positive change you wish to see.

Most importantly BELIEVE!

Im lying here this morning thinking about the little council estate kid with an alcoholic father who called me Gunner.

(Because I was always Gunner live in Wales, always Gunner live by water always day dreaming always BELIEVED in those dreams.)

So as I sit out side our tiny cottage by a beautiful canal surrounded by friend who are other dreamers, I remember him and thank him for his words they made me more determined

When I used to close my eyes tight shut at night I could see mountains water and trees.

Now every morning before I leave the cottage I give thanks and gratitude for all those things that I never take for granted each day I look at them with new eyes.

I thank spirit, Source

The universe

Life is truly beautiful ❤️

Hand fasting

What a beautiful day on our canal.

This morning I’m sat here writing the hand fasting ceremony for two beautiful ladies I’m privileged to call friends.

I’m a wedding and funeral celebrant and both events are celebrations of our life.

Wedding wise I particularly love the old ways.

Hand fasting is where the modern day referral of tying the knot comes from

The cords used can represent many things from colours chosen and sometimes things used to make the cords with.

The ceremony is bespoke and Taylor made to fit the couple as well it should be because we are all so very different and yet at the same time connected.

This particular ceremony is so very special as the ladies it is for are very dear to my heart.

Sometimes in life we meet people who shine.

The love connecting them is palpable.

These are one of those couples

So today shall be spent weaving magic words to represent weaving for two beautiful souls.

And yet again I’m reminded that life is indeed beautiful.

I am truly blessed ♥️

There are no strangers just friends we haven’t yet met.

So as most of you know I live in a little canalside cottage nothing posh just two up two down on a tow path in South Wales.

I also have another cottage on the terrace Ravens Retreat.

Where as a soul midwife I provide respite free Therapies and breaks for cancer patients or anyone with life limiting condition.

We are slowly rebuilding the retreat after we were hit by storm Callum in Sept 2018 most of the terrace was flooded by sewerage it was a challenging time to say the least.

My hubby Jeff has been beyond amazing he is a jack of all trades and has self leveled floors, tiled bathroom fitted a shower room.

He’s almost finished tiling kitchen and living room

Fitted a new kitchen aquired from Facebook marketplace.

We are doing all this on a shoe string

We have had a cabin built (our healing hive ) on the land behind the retreat and are also trying to get this up and running insulated electrics flooring fencing the list is endless

And as I’ve been off work for a year on half pay I have really been holding out my hands to the universe and trusting we can get things finished.

Offering free Therapies to cancer patients. Holding healing clinics Reiki, Omni, and Soul Connection healing workshops teaching reiki to community

I know this work Is so very important people need to be treated holistically.

This is my service to the community a way of me giving back. A thank you for leading me to this beautiful place.

This post is about just that giving back and paying forward.

I always believe that people are for the best part good

And what you put out there you get back.

That’s what storm Callum has taught me.

This tiny street in South Wales is a community

Very commune like.

We all pulled together. We baled water, carried furniture, cleaned each other’s houses supporting each other in any way possible.

I cooked for the street my son made flood gates my hubby helped anyone and everyone. Reporters came and went we we’re on T.V for the weekend then people forgot.

Or did they.

Friends and neighbors are now closer

People come and gift me time in return for Therapies or healing or perhaps lunch.

Fab electrician had helped wire the cabin, my friend Han from work helped dig out old trees and clear garden. My son, daughter and daughter in love helped clean and grout tiles

Zoe and Ross helped clear up after cabin was erected

My grand daughter Tamika pushed wheel barrows full of garden rubbish.

Out neighbor Paul plastered the bathroom ceiling.

The twins next door brought food when Jeff was working.

My friend Sharon very kindly lent us a digger! How awesome I’ve been truly overwhelmed with kindness I’m truly blessed.

Last week I had a phone call from a lovely guy Chris who wanted to know more about what we we’re doing having heard about us from a mutual.friend

He visited and from minute I opened the door I knew we were destined to be friends.

Today he came over and painted fences helped Jeff out then had Sunday lunch with me and my family.

I guess what I’m telling you is there is a positive in every situation no matter how bad things are

Our little retreat was a lovely little cottage before the flood but we had made do and mended with what we had.

The flood pulled our little street together into a fabulous commune it pushed us to do work that we couldn’t really afford but somehow we’ve done it.

We now have that all important healing space I so desperately needed. A shower room that will make things much easier for wheel chair users or guests with dogs!

Most of all I have met some of the most amazing people who gave us the gift of time and true genuine friendship .

That to me is priceless.

So when life gets hard remember hold out your hands and trust the universe.

It may be hard but it is always beautiful.

So if your passing through neath valley south Wales

Come take a walk down Canalside drop in say hi.

A liminal magical place

My paradise.

My Tribe

My family ❤️

Stillborn still Loved

I didn’t get to wake every morning and kiss your precious tiny face;
or whisper mammy loves you to make you feel safe
I was never allowed to hold you tight
when you couldn’t sleep at night
I didn’t get to sing to you a sweet lullaby,
to calm you down when you cried
I didn’t get to fall asleep with you in my arms,
all swaddled in a crochet blanket to keep you snug warm
I didn’t get to hear you laugh and giggle
or see you little tiny baby toes wiggle
There are many things I didn’t get to do,
But my tiny still born but still loved babies mammy never stopped loving or remembering you

Digital wizard and end of leafleting

I can turn my hand to most things practical, D.I.Y jobs if you show me how to do something I’ll have a go. Tecnical stuff not so.

Like computers like most folk I can find my way around the internet (saying that thinking about the enormity of the web makes my head hurt! It’s like some endless digital universe)

I blog lots use word ect but that’s it.

Oh and shop!

Years ago I ran my own business when my children were small advertising was in local paper, and leaflets which my kids were bribed to put through doors on the estate. If you were posh you had business cards ..

Needless to say I didn’t have cards.

Scraps of paper and a bird. How things have changed.

Anyway my point is all of these simple things were enough so my “business marketing”

Was simple done for me by me.

Time Hop thirty years..

Like the film back to the Future.

Local papers are on line..

The only leaflets I seem to get are pizza delivery and political crap which goes straight in the log burner basket with the kindling.

We run Ravens retreat

Canalside cottage we do Therapies healing , workshops.

The point is I now can’t rely on leaflets and local rag mags.

Looking for something

Ask 20th century oricle GOOGLE. (I’m sure Google is actually god)

If you write things the right way he puts you to the top of his list!

If your not in there no one finds you.

Where do I start with this.

My dear friend Julie Rosser runs The Healing Room in Llangan just outside of bridgend (if you are local to this area look her up! )

https://healingroom.wales/

She’s amazing healer, reflexology, Reiki teacher.

After chatting to her she tells me of a local guy who designs web sites and does digital marketing. (What witchcraft is this?)

I’ve glazed over as I have no clue about how any of this works.

Let me tell you now it costs a substantial amount more than getting 500 leaflets printed for the estate.

But the clue is in the ww of www. World wide..

So I hand over the last of my savings for this bespoke web site. Then three months running costs after launch.

Then I wait.

This week I get a call from Stewart to go up to check site and finalize design

So off I go over to tolbot green

Meet up with a lovely guy who speaks another language of all things web..

I don’t know what I expected but a ordinary office in a smart business centre. Desk and laptop was where he was at.

We had originally decided on 22 pages (in my head 22 leaflets 🙈)

But apparently I now have 51

This man is a modern day wizard.

Who knew you can do so much online. (Not me)

Buy vouchers, book appointments, which then sync to your Google calendar.

Buy items in a shop Blog ( I like this bit)

Trying to explain to me how Google “crawls over key words to get your services to the top of searches couldn’t have been an easy task but I think I get the idea.

The graphics are amazing to be fair the whole thing is.

There is even a events page. (Banners see I was listening!) and a link to Julie’s healing room and the Malindi centre in West Wales.

The best bit I don’t have to bribe the kids to post them through prefab doors on the estate!

As Peter Kay would say it will be out there on the estate through that tinternet!

So if you need a web site.
Look up Stewart Jones. His website is at

https://jazzdigital.uk

and you can email him sj@jazzdigital.uk or call him on 07494 192019

Surprisingly normal looking guy in a normal looking office but I’m sure I felt so energy shift as I left the office I caught a glimpse of a tall hat and a wand 😉

Stewart the wizard of all things digital.

Our shiny new web site will be launched at end of April just before we finish refurb on Retreat.

New beginnings exiting times

Look us up.

http://www.ravensretreat.wales

Think how many trees we saved.

True Healers

True Healers have walked a gauntlet ~

By the time someone stands before them, to receive healing ~ You can guarantee they have experienced it themselves.

If not exactly the same experience, then they feel your pain themselves,which makes it possible to help you ~

True Healers have seen things, they would never want for others to see ~
This is how Healers stand without fear. ~

Some real serious things take place, which is one reason a Healers Heart is full of Unconditional Love ~

Healers know, before you even stand before them, they already know, they feel it, emotionally, physically and Spiritually.

Their connection to other realms, have shown them everything, they have stood before some pretty nasty looking energy forms.

They have battled for your Soul. ~ The reason they keep going. ~

To help is their path. No matter how much they would simply want to stop, it is not a choice for them. ~
True Healers do not seek fame or recognition, they have no ego attached to what they do. ~
They are quiet, caring, and usually keep to themselves, so that they can breathe and rest. ~
It’s a hard road, one that shows people for who they are, so they can walk their talk. ~

Love, compassion, truth and light surround them.

When you need Healing, they appear before you.

Will you recognize them?
Will you show them Honour and Respect?

They ask for nothin more than equal exchange!!!
Be thankful they are survivors, true modern day warriors, they are of the four nations, all know from the beginning of time. ~

No judgement of others faith, because that’s what it’s all about
LOVE UNCONDITIONAL. ~

Accidental cat

I have a cat with an identity problem.

He thinks he’s a dog.

Now I have never owned a cat before him ( Lucifer)

I was working in community mental health I went out one sunny day in May to visit a new patient.

An elderly lady who lived in a first floor flat.

Just her an her cat

We sat and chatted for a few minutes when in comes the cat.

It’s huge and as it sat down it looked like a massive triangular door stop.

Wow I say is the cat pregnant.?

She looks at me like pissed in her teacup!

“No she’s fucking not !” She hisses

“She’s doesn’t go out of the flat!”

Okay okay! 🙈

I make my excuses and leave

“see you tomorrow

I call as I shut the front door

Me and my big mouth.

I vow never to comment again on the fat triangular cat!

The day after I return.

Her mood had to improved she opens the door and I follow her upstairs she’s muttering under her breath and the smell of cat pee is so pugnent I kick myself for presuming the triangle cat has ever been out side.

She stands at the top of the stairs cigarette hanging from her mouth pointing at the bedroom door.

Your fault she says

You cursed me.

I peep around the door there on the floor by a pile of rubbish bags is the much slimmer triangle doorstop cat licking three beautiful kittens

A voice behind me says

I’m drowning them.

Oh no I say I’ll have one and I’ll find homes for the others

She’s still scowling.

I’ll pay for cat food until they can leave their mammy.

And then we can take her to be neutered.

Still she scowls

Let’s go sit down and chat.

We talk about support and help she needs and I feel her soften slightly.

I call to the shop and pick up cat food and litter and a few packets of buiscits

Take photos of the kittens and ring the pdsa to make appointment.

Over the next few weeks we got to know each other better her guard came down as I took her out shopping and to the pub for a surprise birthday lunch.

Eventually the kittens we’re ready to leave Lucifer, Lola and Ragnar

All had forever homes and the triangle cat was neautered!

Just in case she left the flat again!

I took Lucifer home to my canalside cottage.

My first cat ever

My elderly dog saffie adored him he would try to suckle her and she would lick him soon they were best friends.

When saffie and I walked down the canal

Lucifer started to follow

Where saffie went so did our cat…

If a dog barked at saffie this crazy cat would warn it off with a hiss and arched back! They were inseparable.

Last year we lost our saffie she was 14 it broke my heart.

Lucifer pined for her

Every night 7pm stood at the door by saffies lead.

So of course we still go for a canal walk .

I’m sure she about walking with us too.

Me and my beautiful accidental cat 🐈

Stormy night on the bay.

You left me on a stormy night in September 2018
9-11
loosing you will be as awfully memerable as the twin towers.
The windows looking out across Swansea bay.
A view that you loved.
The beach that you walked on many times painted toe nails and flip flops.
Drawing hearts in the sand with a stick.
Finding pictures in clouds
Paddling in the surf and throwing sticks for saffie then honey
Swansea pride in singleton park there across from the bay.
Singing to pink songs and drinking vodka cocktails.
I sit and wonder how many times we have walked there
How many sticks we have thrown.
How many coffees in take away cups
Sunsets we watched and dreams we shared
That bay holds so many memories.
The light house you loved I told you it was owned by housing association
You rang to ask if it was for rent.

It’s only right that this place you loved so much is part of today.
I have a silloette photo I took of you one summer evening standing looking at the sunset holding my granddaughter in your arms outside our favorite cafe remos.
Any excuse we would go there I’d buy us ice creams and you’d insist you didn’t like it
It’s the early hours of the morning and the stormy night intensifies.
Huge seagulls blow like paper towards the window the night is black and grey the rain comes down in sheets
A tiny glow from the light house blinks on the cliffs
Is the bay morning you leaving us too?
How many grains of sand on that beach . you often asked. As many as stars in the sky?
My random girl.
Every grain of sand and every star like every grain of me will miss you.

Twenty six hours earlier we had walked into that ward.

I’d squashed into the bed to

Hold you knowing we

Wouldn’t be leaving together

Twenty six hours later Im holding you knowing it’s the last time.
Whispering to you that its
okay to let go..
Telling you that I love you.

Your hair smelling of lush shampoo
Wet with my tears
We are surrounded by your family.
A sphere of love.

But as I feel your breathe rise and fall for the last time
I learn the meaning of heart break.
I have never felt so alone.
I promised I’d be strong.
Your faith in me was unshakable
I know your out there on the bay wind in your hair

But I don’t know how to live with out you

Flip flop shopping.

I missed you today.

First day of sunshine this year really beautiful weather

February who knew we are in Wales with no rain.

I think of you every day

But I hear your voice today

Loudly exclaiming SUNSHINE It’s flip flop weather!

I know you would be in the salon having your toe nails painted.

Then I’d reluctantly go flip flop shopping with you.

Lunch and coffee whilst you would ask “Do you like my nails?”

I’d roll my eyes and smile you were such a girlie girl.

I miss you Donna

Everything reminds me of you.

This week it’s flip flop.

So I’ll wear them for you.

See you soon my friend ♥️

What you don’t see.

Lost in a crowd

Like a small boat at sea.

Heard but not listened to

Inside a storm with no key.

Seen but invisible.

Like the astral plane

Silent screams behind convincing smiles

Tears fall like rain.

Sleepless eternal nights

Exhausted long days.

Hiding the sadness

Hoping for better days.

Wanting to fix things

But scared it can’t be.

For I am a wondering warrior

That no one can see.

Bare brick walls & cheese plants (child mental health)

This is a clip from a book I’m writing about a dysfunctional abusive family in the 1970s and child mental health services at that time.

Thankfully now it’s much better.

He sat at a huge oak desk
The wall behind him was bare brick
A modern clinic for 1975..
A cheese less cheese plant as wide as it was tall stood like a gangly guard in the corner
Leaves reaching out like huge ten fingered alien hands
A photograph of the man at the desk with a woman and two children my age smiling at the camera
But in the photograph he wasn’t wearing a suit like he wears when I see him sitting at the desk. He looks different in the photo. Perhaps it’s his twin brother?
I’m holding onto the sides of the blue plastic chair
Swinging my legs.
They don’t touch the ground.
The only sound is the papers he is holding as he reads silently reminding himself of my last appointment.
I count.
The leaves on the cheese plant guard.
Leaning to my left to check around the back.
Fourty two I whisper.
He looks at me over his gold glasses smiles.
“Forty two? It’s nice to hear you speak.” He says
I feel my face flush.
Nod my head
“Leaves I say on your plant”
Do you like counting?
I nod
‘Inside my head’
I count I sing sometimes I shout but I don’t tell him that.
So he says
“How’s things been at home this week.?”
I’m listening to the breathing behind me and the faint waft of cigarette smoke
I can’t see him but I know he’s there.
His presence is palpable.
He always sits in that chair by the door
Answer the doctor he says in his gruff voice ..
I look at the photograph. On the desk.
His eyes look kind
I look back at him holding his pen and I begin to count the bricks on the wall
Shit I think as I count
Things at home are shit always .
21, 22, 23.
Talk to the Dr the voice behind me says from the chair
Tell the truth .”
I swing my legs..
41,42,43..
She’s shy says the voice again.
Not ten mins before outside in the rain the voice had reminded me to keep my mouth shut.
Mimed turning a key and throwing it away.
“If you tell them ANYTHING the will put me in jail. You will go in a children’s home and you won’t see your mammy again. ”
I looked at the doctor smiled and carried on counting
77,78,79.
Until eventually it was time to go home to my Mam.

Talk to me about things that matter.

Talk to me about what matters to you.
What is your passion?
Who influenced you growing up?
What situation makes you want to be a better person.
Tell me what makes you laugh, the tell me what makes you sad?
Who are your tribe?
Where do you fit in the world.
If there was something major you could change what would it be?
Do you have regrets?.
Do you believe in a higher being?
A god or goddess.
The source that connects all beings
Talk to me about the universe.

Watch the sun rise, then set.
Let’s watch the stars and be amazed.
Feel the wind and rain the elements that make us whole.

Walk barefoot through a forest.

Feel the heat of a camp fire, look for pictures in it’s flames
Tell me when you feel most alive

Let me see who you really are.
The spark of life that is you.
The real you.

Belief

Everyone needs to believe in something, but I don’t think that belief is something that can be taught. I believe in the pureness of dog’s souls and the unspoken bond between sisters. I believe that you have to leave a place in order to discover how much you love it. I believe in the stillness of a Saturday and I believe you don’t need to understand life in order to live it fully. Confusion is half the beauty, confusion is half the journey. I believe there are countless soul mates for every living person and I believe they are around every corner. At any given moment, I believe there are things at which to marvel at – a never ending stream of chances to fall in Love with the world. Flowers bloom despite frost bitten stems and strangers smile despite the heartache in their lungs. I believe in dreams. I believe I am as free as I make my mind up to be. I believe there is no person or power that governs how I live.

I believe that a person can base an entire religion around falling in Love with being alive. The sun rises every morning and asks nothing of me in return; I could learn a lot from that single selfless gesture.

Love yourself, everything else will fall into place.

Women get more beautiful as they grow older.

Not less.
Female youth is only prized in modern culture because it doesn’t represent as much of a threat spiritually to anyone who is frightened of divine feminine power.
As women grow and mature, they call in stronger forces of sacred feminine wisdom. They vibrate with the creative power of their stories.
They are more of a force to be reckoned with.
They see more, know more, feel more. They put up with a lot less bullshit.
When women are trained into thinking there is something fundamentally wrong with getting older, and are coerced into spending money, energy and power investing in ‘slowing the signs of ageing’, an enormous vault of divine love is lost.
Just think what would happen if all the women in the world started loving themselves even more with every year that passed.

Perhaps a total revolution would occur.

Photo Art: Laurie Anne King

Family

Family isn’t always blood. It’s the ones in your life who want you in theirs.

The ones who accept you for who you are.

The ones who just want you to be happy, and who LOVE you no matter what and for you this feels completely mutual.
This is Family!

This is your tribe

Just giving for Ravens Retreat.

For those who don’t know me. I run Ravens Retreat a Canalside cottage in South Wales.

We provide breaks for anyone with a end of life or Cancer diagnosis.

Also free Therapies for cancer patients.

Counseling, C.B.T. hypnotherapy, Reiki Healing, Omni Healing,

Swedish massage, hot stone massage,

Reflexology and much more.

We teach reiki meditation and past life regression.

We have a list of wonderful Therapists who will visit our clients if they can’t get to us.

We also run death cafes tea cake and chat.

Poetry and writing workshops.

We gave just had a beautiful cabin built at the back of the retreat that will when finished be our dedicated healing space

But need to raise funds to make it into a warm comfortable cozy space where you can forget about the world outside.

As we are non profit c i.c company we rely on grants and donations to pay our Therapists and fund improvments to our service

So we now have a just giving page

Please share information about us to anyone who might benefit.

Here is our just giving link

Thanks and blessings.

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/ravenscancerretreat?utm_term=rb4Ag8PeP

Clava Cairns

Been a busy few weeks.

Last weekend my first visit to Belfast.

This weekend my first visit to Scotland.

I flew Bristol to Inverness to visit my old friend Les who has now made her home here.

I’ve always wanted to visit as Inverness was my mam’s favorite place she would visit twice a year I’d have to endure hours of photos on her return.

That was over twenty five years ago.

I’m finally here Mam. You were right it’s beautiful.

We visited Clava cairns today. Cairns and stone circles so beautiful The sun shone. On this magical place the energy of the ancestors who walked before us there was palpable.

I have a feeling I shall be back here many times .

Life is beautiful.

So here I am in Northern Ireland for the first time.
To say it’s been a wonderful weekend is an understatement.
Me my hubby my youngest son his partner and baby flew over to see my eldest son meet his wife and daughter.
I haven’t seen him for eight years.
I think on the build up to coming I experienced every emotion possible.
I was so nervous.
Other than it being so long I have no idea why other than I really wanted it to be perfect.
It really has been.

We have eight children but to have one missing from for eight years was indescribable there was a huge hole in my life. Nothing I could do about it but wait, and hope.

But yesterday the years

just years melted away
No matter how old our children get they are always our babies.
His wife and my youngest son’s partner sat chatting comparing how similar they both are.
Although the lads disagree it was just so wonderful seeing them and their daughters together finally meeting my beautiful granddaughter was a day worth waiting for.
Belfast and everyone we have met have been so friendly.
It’s 4am and I’m lying here blogging looking forward to welcoming them to Wales taking my grand daughters walking together on the mountains.
I can honestly now say I have everything I have ever needed or wanted.
Life doesn’t get much better than this.
Never give up.
Hold out your hands to the universe and believe.
Life is truly beautiful.

Nan

Shouting through her letter box .
Pea soup cooking
Heavy blankets on the big bed.
The archers on the old valve radio
Crazy paving in the garden

Blue lino on kitchen floor.
Tea caddy and aliminium dented tea pot on old pantry shelf.
Whistling kettle on the stove.
Peeling lead on the windows making shadows on the bedroom Walls.stone hot water bottle wrapped in a tea towel
Boxes of swan vesta matches

Brass fireside ornaments
Mirrors that hang on chains.
In their corner they hold captured Victorian painted ladies with parasols furniture polish smelling of lavender.
Lavender tree hanging over the gate.
Rubber spouts on old kitchen taps.
Wooden draining boards and twin tub washing machine.
Tracing paper toilet roll and pink carbolic soap.
Snuffly clever Staffordshire bull terrier to greet us with his tin dish wanting food.
Card games and laughter by the fire for pennies. With cousins.
Bingo at Park Street chip on way home. Cold night air
Head scarfs, blue Mac and walks to the shop for her John player cigs, milk and bread.
Walks to the outdoor for a jug of stout.
Old tins containing buttons black and white photos of memories and stories of her life.
That smell of home of cooking cleaning of love
Fragments pieces of my Nan’s house
Memories of love.

Words are powerful

My out look on life is for the best part always positive.

The power of positive thought and putting things out there to the universe has always been at my core.

Words are so very powerful I have never understood people who are constantly negative if you can’t say something nice shut the f@@k up (quote from my Nan) who was without doubt a wise old northern soul who was a million times wiser than Google.

Anyway it’s very rare that I visit my home town

I have relations there whom I have been estranged from for many years 30 plus.

Believe me I wish things were different but I accept that no matter how hard I try some things just can’t be fixed.

I have a dream sometimes where I am with a particular family member and we are having lunch in a cafe laughing and chatting and everything is as it should be.

It’s so vivid when I wake it’s completely real.

Like the dreams when we loose a loved one when we wake thinking they are still with us. Then we remember and it’s feeling that loss all over again.

You get the picture.

Well anyway I used to believe that maybe in time things would be different but they are not

I went back there. To my home town to see some old friends stay with then for a few nights.

One of my friends own a hair salon. She is a beautiful soul a fabulous hairdresser and if she can help or listen to a client she will.

After chatting one evening she tells me that this particular family member has been into the salon.

She sets the scene

“She’s just so rude” she says.

To all the staff. She’s always the same.

“She sits whilst having her hair cut and bitches about everyone and everything.

Then as she’s leaving she holds open the door and shouts over to my friend

“You know our Joolz,,,

Yes she says

She the precedes to say some awful and terrible things about me and my children.

For all in the salon to hear.

My friend asks her

Why are you saying this?

What do you want me to do with it?

“Tell her she says. I don’t care.

Then off she goes.

I laugh for a minute when I’m told. Nothing she says surprises me but this latest nugget was priceless. What goes on in her head I say.

My friend goes on.

“Joolz I said to my staff how are these two women related I’ll never know.

They are so different.”

I just know that’s how she is.

I don’t try to get into her head. It’s pointless.

To work out why she’s says such terrible and hurtful things.

Because only she knows or maybe she doesn’t.

I resolved along time ago that she won’t hurt me.

But hearing the things she says does hurt, On the drive home I could feel my anxiety level rise. Anger. I stopped on the Moors and allowed myself to feel it all

Recognising that’s the reason why I don’t go back home very often.

The truth is I accept that my dream of us together drinking tea and laughing is just that. A dream

I wake and loose her all over again.

I know she still after all these years is toxic.

But I still wish she wasn’t.

I know there is a lesson somewhere, hers and mine but I’m struggling to find it.

So I’m back home in Wales and I wish her well.

But that tiny peice of me in between dreams still wishes it could be different.

Maybe in another lifetime.

Perfect solitude

I’ve had a few weeks of not leaving the canal unless I really have to.

Calling over to see my Mam in law but other than that I’ve been home in the cottage.

Folk may call for healing or massage but most of the time has been spent writing lots, reading and potching getting things done in the Retreat, grouting tiles cleaning up tile dust, clearing building rubbish from the garden, clearing more bloody tile dust. Where does it hide?

You clean it leave the room come back and there is more.

Tile dust causes bad language I’ll never be rid of it.

Jeff comes home and we do more few friends call at the weekend to help us but other than that I’ve seen very few folk.

No human beings

It’s been heaven!

I wonder how some folk don’t like being alone.

I love it, maybe a little too much.

Social media has made it easier. I can check anyone I care about is okay.

Mobile phones well if anyone really needs me they can ring.

Well they could if I turned on the ringer, I’ll ring back when I’ve finished potching.

I’ve been captured by this magical place it’s like a little island commune like,

Thirty cottages an eclectic bunch we are,

There for each other but not mithered or bothered.

Ducks and geese lots of hooded crows

I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

Surrounded by water, view of the mountain.

Log burner, hubby and cats.

Canalside

Home.

Mental Health Crisis

Psychosis, psychics, self harm, bi polar, scizophrenia , personality disorder,
Melting pot acute ward where there is no pecking order.
Underpaid over worked staff juggle back to back cefn coed hospital disorder
Meds trolleys doles out pills but they can’t numb the pain
Discharge sheets and promises of Oh! you won’t see me on this ward again.
Visitors checked for meow meow speed and weed
For untreated drug habits that the valium can’t feed
Drinks machine spews watery hot chocolate to visiting kids
Mam will be home soon
Mental health part of a broken system no way to live.
Talking therapies please.. your having a joke
ask your consultant again
But his eyes tell a tale of a NHS beyond broke
We are luckier than some views over Swansea bay
Other are shipping off to bridgend
There has to be another way
Cefn coed the big hotel on the hill
Looking over Swansea
Big red bricked Welsh dragon watching out for the vunerable bekoning them inside it’s walls there are beds to fill.

Power

She’s coming into her power…
She no longer believes in the notion of “forgiveness”, because she has asked her higher self, “Who is it that needs to forgive?” The answer that came was, “The part of you that hasn’t seen the perfection yet”

She looks back on her past relationships and she can see the purpose now of her experiences with all those who offended her, hurt her, betrayed her…Or so she thought at the time.
She can now honestly say that she wouldn’t change anything in the past including the heartbreak that caused her to grieve for months and become as thin as a rail…

Including the relationship that was instrumental in her losing her biggest dream and everything that she owned, identified with and loved.

Poof it all went up in smoke and she felt lost and scared but she found more of herself as a result;
She learned how to truly let go
She became softer,
Kinder.
Wiser,
More capable
More humble…
She swallowed her pride and allowed herself to be rescued by others,
She came out of it all with compassion for herself so she could give herself the time she needed (without self reproach), to grieve, heal and pick up the pieces…

She has discovered since, that the Goddess was preparing her for a greater purpose all along, one she wouldn’t have had the courage or the substance to consider before, but now she feels ready to answer the call…

She moves forward with new eyes that can see the love that is obscured in the darkness and she’s feeling gratitude in her heart for all the “seeming” petty tyrants who enabled her to be where she is in this moment…

She has released all the ghosts in her closet and made peace with her past and her past self…

She feels strong and is excited to be discovering what she’s capable of creating and contributing to the world now.

Wild women

Have you ever wondered how you managed to end up in such an odd family as yours? If you have lived your life as an outsider, as a slightly odd or different person, if you are a loner, one who lives at the edge of the mainstream, you have suffered. Yet there also comes a time to row away from all that, to experience a different vantage point, to emigrate back to the land of one’s own kind. Let there be no more suffering, no more attempting to figure where you went wrong. The mystery of why you were born to whomever you were born to is over finished.

Rest for a moment at the bow and refresh yourself in the wind coming from your homeland.

For years women who carry the mythic life of the Wild Woman archetype have silently cried, “Why am I so different? Why was I born into such a strange [or unresponsive] family?” Wherever their lives wanted to burst forth, someone was there to salt the ground so nothing could grow.

They felt tortured by all the proscriptions against their natural desires.

If they were nature children, they were kept under roofs. If they were scientists, they were told to be mothers.

If they wanted to be mothers, they were told they’d better fit the mold entirely.

If they wanted to invent something, they were told to be practical. If they wanted to create, they were told a woman’s domestic work is never done. Sometimes they tried to be good according to whichever standards were most popular, and didn’t realize till later what they really wanted, how they needed to live.

Then, in order to have a life, they experienced the painful amputations of leaving their families, the marriages they had promised under oath would be till death, the jobs that were to be the springboards to something more stultifying but better paying. They left dreams scattered all over the road. Often the women were artists who were trying to be sensible by spending eighty percent of their time doing labor that aborted their creative lives on a daily basis. Although the scenarios are endless, one thing remains constant: they were pointed out very early on as “different’’ with a negative connotation. In actual fact, they were passionate, individual, inquiring, and in their right instinctive minds.

The Awakening.

I am the dream of awakening.

I am the returning of the light.

I am the tough green shoot pushing up through the paving stones, I am the first kiss of sunlight on the unfurling petals of the snowdrop. I am the wind which whispers the gentle pull of home to the migratory bird.

I am the drop of ice melting on the mountainside with its great dream of the ocean.

I am the sap rising in the blossom tree just before it reveals its sticky buds to the sky; I am the riotous celebration humming away beneath the earth’s mantle of frozen sleep.

I am the rousing of the bee from its winter slumber, and the soft pad of the mother-wolf’s paw on the snow as she prepares to birth her pups.

I am hope, potential, rebirth and promise. I am the kindling breath which transforms the flicker of inspiration in your creative core into a blazing torch.

Give me the silent crescent moon rising over the sea and I will build you a bridge of silver light so you can walk up and lie in it.

Give me the frost-hardened wilderness and I will breathe radiant green life over it.

Give me the healer, the writer, the craftsperson and the storyteller, and I will replenish her essence and make her new again.

I am Brigid, Bast, Inanna and Hestia. I am the fierce protectress of the sacred fire.

Tonight I bestow my gifts of power and courage at the hearth of your soul: power to step out of the shadows of self-doubt and negativity which have held you in darkness for too long, power to shed all that which no longer serves you, and courage to clear your heart and mind for the dawn that awaits you.

I am the time to honor your unique gifts for their true worth and to protect and nurture your creative self as you would a child. I am the deep longing of the spirit which refuses to be consumed by a narrative of fear and chooses instead to place itself vivaciously on the side of love.

I am the stirring in your belly which knows exactly what you are capable of – and that it’s time the world found out.

I am the fire within which will not be contained any longer.

I am the quickening, I am the serpent uncoiling, I am Imbolc.

I am the dream of awakening. ❤

Portals

One of my favourite books Alice in Wonderland, the story begins with Alice being led to the rabbit hole by her curiosity of an anxious rabbit or is it a rabbit of anxiety? sure to be late for something. A hole that went on for what seemed like miles and the bottom was the portal leading her to a new world. Blogging I suppose is to take you through parts of my life where I can remember falling, falling down holes. Portals into different worlds

“Little Alice fell
d
o
w
n
the hole,
bumped her head
and bruised her soul”

Different Dads.

The sky is so non discript neither grey or blue like dishwater drizzeling from above
A red dirty Audi estate drives in front of me it’s brake lights the only brightness on this dull day.
Will today be the day you leave us?
I wasn’t even in the same part of the country when my own father died. I’d moved to Wales three years before we we’re estranged he was a bully and a alcoholic.
I don’t even know how or where he died. If anyone was with him
I drove back to my home town and was told in a very matter of fact way “Your old man died last night”
A pause
What?
Yes last night he died …
Another pause.
Nothing I felt nothing.
Relief maybe .
That I didn’t feel anything.
You Malcolm are the exact opposite of my Dad.
I’ve sat today listening to my hubby, your son chat to you about childhood memories you are completely non responsive but he carries on.
Stories of you and lou taking the sow to the boar. Rope tied around the back leg of a large pig , stearing it with a stick. Who knew that’s a done thing.
Down the road into the village past the pub and down the lane.
It’s starts out quite no problem until most of the dogs on in the village realise what’s happening and before you know it your like the pied piper. Pig, stick and thirty dogs following you. What a commotion!
Another story about going to fetch a Billy goat in the back of a small van.
Goat unimpressed about being transported and sticks it’s horns through the van roof so many memories.
I’m here dad he says.
He looks at me and says I came home from work because I had that feeling.
Someone was standing behind me.
He was waiting for me to come home. So I came.
Keep talking I tell him he knows your here.
My heart swells with love for him my grafter of a man.
Everything about him so like you Malcolm you taught him well.
I wish we had know each other longer I’m sure you had hundreds of more stories to tell me.
See you later Dad Lou will be here later to go fetch the m. Jeff’s says kissing you gently.
We leave to drive home in separate cars.
Dreary drizzles clouds the view from the back door over the bay.
“I watched the pier burn from this step, over at Weston super mare I here you say. On a clear day you can see ilfracombe
Your voice as clear as day Malcolm.
I know I whisper only last summer you were up there on the flat roof fixing the gutter with Jeff.
How will he live with out you I wonder ?
I’ll take care of your lad I promise.
Now go fetch the pig home xx

Final journey

I’m sitting here mid afternoon listening to you breath steady hum of the hospital bed mattress keeping you comfortable here in the living room where you have brought up your family.

Sringe driver increased dose today keeps you comfortable. You have declined this last week. Cancer…..

Your a hard man, a grafter but the pain has taken the glint from your eye.

I tell you what’s going on around us I’m taking your dog patch out, that Jeffery your son my husband will be here after work.

Always “Jeffrey” full title never Jeff.

The picture of you and Nancy hangs over the bed in younger years with your mop of dark curly hair you look greek both smiling and happy.

Memories of the past family parties birthdays, anniversaries when you and your twin brother would arrive dressed the same we would laugh knowing you hadn’t planned it. I can only imagine the trouble you two caused when you were young lads handsome and cheeky.

Before your women tamed you.

You and your Nancy.

Douglas and his Ethel

You had always been close.

Bringing your children up together. Holidaying together.

Ethel was the life and soul of the party few drinks and she would hold up her skirt dancing around with her infectious laugh. It’s a good few years since she left us cancer took her too.

I wondered how Doug would cope without her.

Now I can’t imagine how this family will carry on without you Malcolm.

Sixty plus years Nancy has loved you and your children and grandchildren idolise you.

Douglas your twin your other half. He’s never known life without you by his side.

My Jeff was run over suffered massive brain damage as a child you told me you couldn’t go to work as a lorry driver without him screaming the house down. So you would take him with you up and down the country. From here in Wales up to Scotland. I’ve never been I told you.

Go you encouraged there is no where like it.

You gave jeff car engines told him to take them.apart then rebuild them you always believed in him

He is amazing just like you are your boys run their own garage they rebuild camper vans do mots any engine Jeff can fix it.

When you and I sat talking few weeks ago you told me you’d also taught Jeff to build ‘ go and look at the fireplace in front room you winked twinkle in your eye.

You had built it.

The garage overlooking the bay. Did you build that too I asked.

“no that was Jeffery you laughed he built me a garage then put two horses in it and used it as a bloody stable!”

You are so alike. Peas in a pod . Father and son, friends.

We laughed cars and horses that’s my Jeff

That’s our link our connection Malcolm we both adore the same man. How can I thank you enough?

I sit here while your Nancy sleeps for a little while she had seldom left your side

I whisper thanks and promise I will look after your lad.

That we will take care of Nancy

I bet Ethel will be there waiting and your best friend Jock. What a party that will be Malcolm.

As Dad’s go I don’t know a better one I wish I had known you longer

When you go I whisper come back sometimes and see us I think I feel you squeeze my hand.

I whisper again to my goddess to take you gently carry you on this last part of your journey. Keep you safe

My heart hurts but I remind myself I’m blessed to have had you in my life.

Estranged

Almost nine years since I saw my eldest son being estranged from a grown up son or daughter is indescribable.

Knowing waiting is the only thing you have is heart breaking.

A friend once said to me ,”birthdays and Christmas must be hard”

Yes they were but it is much more than that

I have three children and five of my husband’s eight in total Lots of grandchildren.

They are all so very different when they all turn up it’s like the Walton’s!

If your under 30 you may have to Google them 🙈

Anyway my point is they are all individuals I love them all dearly

Matthew was always the one who would ring his Mam. Every other day, everyday sometimes when he was on tour in the army in Iraq he would Skype or send e blueys little blue letters. He always kept in touch so we would chat about everything.

I’d tell him everything. We were so alike sense of humor,liked same food well you get the picture.

So when suddenly he stopped calling then refused to see me I was distraught.

No reason absolutely no idea why

That’s hard to imagine I know what your thinking if you knew him so we’ll you must have an idea.

Well I didn’t and that’s what was so bad my kids can come to me with anything.

He wouldn’t talk to his sister or brother about it I thought my heart would break.

So every time something happened a baby born, a holiday, my dog saffie was I’ll. Talking about my other childrens childhood of course there was memories of Matthew too he was always in my heart.

I would have rang Matthew we would have talked.

I’ve been in hospital a few times he would have been there

Good things, sad things, new things every single thing I’ve thought of him I’ve missed him there has been a hole in my life no one can fill.

My other children were upset about how much I was hurt. Keep in contact with him I’d beg he’s your brother I wanted them to still have each other it was beyond hard.

Our children are irreplaceable. I have a few close friends who know me well and know when I struggle know that every few months I ring his mobile just to hear his voice.

Friends who knew me as a single mum when the kids were small who remember how it was, friends with shared memories.

So Friday gone I visited my home town for first time in two years stayed with good friends

Viv and I sit up late chatting inevitability the conversation turns to Matthew I get the crampy feeling in my gut fear and I hope that this year will be the one that I see him again. You will she says positively.

I drive home and I speak it out loud as I drive.

“Please mother hear me bring my lad home to me,

Happiness health and abundance I ask from thee

All my children together is all that I ask

The past to be left and a new beginning to cast

My face is wet and I stop my car on the Moors

I love my life where I live my hubby our retreat but the ache that my lad left in my heart won’t ever be fixed without him .

Today I sit down with my phone to read e mails.

A message pops up from Matthews wife who I’ve never met.

She asks for my phone number.

I feel sick is something wrong.

I send it.

She rings

He has spoken to her Saturday night the night I sat chatting to Viv.

I don’t ask for details but he wants to sort things, to see me I’m trying hard to be okay but I’m sobbing.

Can I go over and when.

Of course I’ll go as soon as he wants me there I’m on a plane I cannot tell you how I feel it’s beyond happy. This is the first day of a new beginning. I rang Viv to tell her she too is blow away.

I had never given up hope but I can say honestly I was afraid.

So there it is.

Everything I asked for

I really am overwhelmed.

Never give up. Never.

I know I say it often

But

Life is often hard….

But always beautiful. ♥️

Omni kriya

Today another beautiful day spent with Stephanie Jones at the malindi centre in West Wales.

I met Stephanie when I did my Omni energy healing a system of healing from India founded by Dr Sameer Kale I have thought how best to describe it’s differences to Reiki which I have worked with and taught since 1992.

I’d have to say they are both a form of energy healing Reiki from Japan

Omni from India.

The similarities end there.

If you have been a recipient of Reiki please think about experiencing Omni and see for yourself completely different.

A very solid grounding healing all encompassing I’m really enjoying using on myself and as a distance healing.

Looking forward to using it on others.

So whilst doing my Omni I read and asked about Omni Kryia (energy healing massage therapy)

It seemed to draw me although I was a little curious how massage would work clothed?

As kria can be used either way.

So I booked and went back today to learn more!

In a nutshell I’m hooked.

This is amazing having experienced a massage myself by Stephanie my Omni Teacher/Master I have nothing to compare this to. It left me feeling totally relaxed, energized and refreshed.

Then my turn to give a kria massage I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to do this whilst the client is wearing clothing covered with a light cotton blanket.

The heat and energy from the healing was palpable.

I know this is going to be a valuable tool in my holistic tool box. Particularly with pallative patients kria is something that is easy to do even in a hospital bed.

If you are a holistic therapist and you feel drawn to energy healing I’d encourage you to check out the link below

I’m thankful I was drawn to this loving path of Omni. I’m sure my journey with Stephanie Sameer and malindi centre is just beginning.

My new website will be launching this month please check us out any profits go to providing breaks for cancer patients at Ravens Retreat. Wales.

https://ravensretreat.wales/home

The healing room run by my dear friend Julie Rosser in the vale of Glamorgan also provides Reiki classes and a range of therapies there is also a beautiful yurt available to hire for workshops.

https://healingroom.wales/

Training for Omni can be found here

https://www.malindi.co.uk/

Shadow work.

As a female, I was often disappointed as a child that most stories had a male lead. My favourite fairy tale was beauty and the beast, which shaped my future and unfortunately, proved to be just that – a fairy tale, the beast didn’t turn into a prince and I was inconsolable (Just Kidding). However, the moral of the story for me was – you have to love YOUR own beast, the part of our personality we all try to hide, we all have a shadow side, and self control is the key to overcoming the dual natured challenge of being human.

Jung sought his inspirations from ancient mythology, that encompasses the whole of the life span from maiden to wise woman, with each level offering a different challenge. Persephone, Hecate and the Crone are three aspects of who and what we are, as a woman and the journey our lives take, from immaturity to maturity, because all three of these goddesses, also have a darker, shadow side to their persona too. Making them the perfect role models, for young girls to leant from.

Hecate is a goddess in ancient Greek mythology, often shown holding a pair of torches or a key and in later periods depicted in triple form. She was variously associated with crossroads, borders, city walls, doorways, and, by extension, entrance-ways, light, magic, witchcraft, knowledge of herbs and poisonous plants, ghosts, necromancy, and sorcery. With those invisible realms outside or beyond the world of the living.

The Greek goddess Hecate was the only one of the Titans who Zeus allowed to retain authority once the Olympians had defeated them. Her main role appears to have been associated with being ‘between’ worlds and characterized as a ‘liminal’ goddess. Hecate mediated between regimes—Olympian and Titan—but also between the mortal and divine spheres.

She was worshiped in Athenian households as a protective goddess and one who bestowed prosperity and daily blessings on the family and was regarded with (some) rulership over earth, sea, and sky, as well as a more universal role as Saviour.

Mother of Angels and the Cosmic World Soul.

Hecate was represented as three-formed, or with three heads or as in Egyptian texts, three animals; one dog, one serpent, and one horse. Which is speculated as being connected with the appearance of the full moon, half moon, and new moon.

As a virgin goddess, she remained unmarried and had no regular consort, though some traditions named her as the Mother of Scylla.

The story of Persephone, the sweet daughter of goddess Demeter who was kidnapped by Hades and later became the Queen of the Underworld, is known all over the world. It is actually how the ancient Greeks explain the change of the seasons, the eternal cycle of the Nature’s death and rebirth. Persephone is understood in people’s mind as a naïve little girl who flows between the protection of the mother and the love of her husband- Hades.

Persephone, was the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, the goddess of harvest and fertility. Attracting the attention of many gods. However, Demeter had an obsessed love for her only daughter and kept all men away from her. The most persisting suitor of Persephone was Hades, the god of the Underworld. When he asked Demeter to marry her daughter, Demeter got furious and said there wasn’t the slightest chance for that to happen. Hades was heart-broken and decided to get Persephone no matter what.

One day, while the young girl was playing and picking flowers along with her friends in a valley, she beheld the most enchanting narcissus she had ever seen. As she stooped down to pick the flower, the earth beneath her feet suddenly cleaved open and through the gap Hades himself came out on his chariot with black horses. Hades grabbed the lovely maiden before she could scream for help and descended into his underworld kingdom while the gap in the earth closed after them.

Hecate, known for her farsightedness, where she had witnessed the abduction of Persephone and told Persephone’s’ mother what had happened. Later she became a close friend and confidant to the frightened Persephone and helped her adjust to life in the Underworld. Hades – to express his gratitude for her assistance to his young bride, invited Hecate to become a permanent resident in his kingdom and allowed her to come and go as she wished.

Demeter, in grief for the loss of her daughter, decided to take a long and indefinite leave from her duties as the goddess of harvest and fertility, with devastating consequences. The earth began to dry up, harvests failed, plants lost their fruitfulness, animals were dying for lack of food and famine spread to the whole earth, resulting in untold misery.

The cries of the people who were suffering reached Olympus and the divine ears of Zeus. The mighty god finally realized that if he wouldn’t do something about his wife’s wrath, all humanity would disappear. Persephone was allowed to live in the underworld for six months, and during this time, her devoted mother was too heart broken and grieved, she stopped working on fertility and harvests (Autumn and Winter) and during the six months when she had her daughter again, the land was fertile for crops to grow (Spring and Summer)

Dogs were closely associated with Hecate in the Classical world, it has been claimed that her association with dogs is suggestive of her connection with childbirth, for the dog was sacred to Eileithyia, and other birth goddesses.

Closely associated with plant lore and the concoction of medicines and poisons. In particular she was thought to give instruction in these closely related arts. A number of other plants (often poisonous, medicinal and/or psychoactive) are also associated with Hecate.

In later times, when this divinity becomes identified with Persephone, she is supposed to inhabit the lower world as a malignant deity, and henceforward it is the gloomy, awe-inspiring side of her character which alone develops itself.

She now presides over all practices connected with witchcraft and enchantments, haunts sepulchres, and the point where two roads cross, and lonely spots where murders have been committed.

Since Hecate had great influence in the spirit world, appeals were often made to her for assistance in keeping one safe because she was known as a protector of young children, shepherds, and sailors. And she could be counted on to help those who were dying, easing their transition into the Otherworld, and helping them prepare for a return, in their next life.

Hecate is nevertheless recognized for a special type of knowledge and is considered to be the goddess of trivia.

The Crone Goddess or dark mother is the last aspect of the Triple Goddess, together with the Mother and the Maiden she represents part of the circle of life. In today’s society where we worship youth and beauty, and this aspect of the Goddess is the most frightening and misunderstood of the three, as she represents our destruction, decay and death. However, death is part of the cycle.

In some stories, she is disagreeable, malicious, or sinister in manner, often with magical or supernatural associations that can make her either helpful or obstructing. However in her positive aspect she is depicted as a Grandmother, a wise woman, or a midwife. The word Crone is derived from the old word for crown, suggesting wisdom that emanates from the head like a halo.

She embodies the three life levels of the young maiden or wife, the child and then, the wise women.

Happy new year 2019

Well another year begins.

The wheel turns.

2018 has been somewhat of a challenge.

I lost my best friend to cancer.

My youngest grand daughter emilia Willow was born in June

Our street flooded in storm Callum

My father in law is as I write in final stages of liver cancer.

My canalside cottage is now registered as a community interest company non profit.

We will continue to provide breaks and Therapies for cancer patients.

I have just finished my Omni energy healing course.

Another string to my holistic bow. Next Sunday I start my Omni massage course.

I have a good feeling about 2019.

Good things are coming.

Lessons have been learned so as we walk into this new year as always I trust my goddess Hekate and remember life is sometimes hard, but always beautiful.

♥️🤗

Post flood (Storm Callum)

so this is where we are up to.

After our Canalside cottage was flooded by backed up drains thanks to storm Callum.

We are hoping to be back open offering cancer patients a much needed break away and free therapies

Floors have been leveled we are busy tiling the bathroom we make a pretty good team.

After the bathroom we have floor tiles to go down from front to back and it has to be finished by end of January!

Wish us luck! 😊

My reason to breathe.

Standing at a bus stop with my eight week old baby daughter strapped to me in a baby harness.

I turned to see an old lady gazing at my baby.

She spoke quietly as if she might wake her

Precious beautiful baby, she is an empty vessel be careful what the world puts into her. She pushed fifty pence piece against her tiny hand.

Custom to gift a new baby a silver coin. I thanked her and smiled. It was 1983 I was just eighteen and that was the first bit of wise advise I was given as a new young mum.

I don’t think any of us realise just how fast our children will grow. I know I didn’t.

I lived alone in a tiny bedsit. It was far from ideal but I’d wanted my baby and I was doing the best I knew how. With very little help. I never left her. Ever.

Well not until she was three years old. Time for nursery Not even when my second child was born I had him at home because I couldn’t leave my daughter.

There isn’t a guide book is there. A what to do when you’ve fed, changed, winded and they are still crying, or a number for Mary Poppins when your bedsit is on the ground floor and toilet is upstairs and the baby is asleep. Or your I’ll or you and kids both have a bug and there is no one to help.

Or there is too much week at the end of your money.

I remember sometimes thinking it will be easier when they are older.

It’s never easier as a parent you just worry about different things

If your getting it right.

I think everyone wings it occasionally. I know I did.

I look back now they are all grown up and I’m so proud of them all.

Every new grand child brings joy more love and reminders of my babies and the old lady at the bus stop.

She was so right precious and beautiful and so important what we allow the world to put into them.

Even more so now. Social media and mobile phones technology.

Milestones flashing by, rolling over, sitting up, swimming under water, sleeping all night.

I remember that joy of more than a few hours sleep.

It was hard work being a single mum.

But the best thing I ever chose to do.

My only complaint is it went far too fast.

I still worry about them now they are grown with children of their own.

But I’d do it all again in a heart beat.

All the colours of a rainbow.

I cannot remember my hair’s natural colour. Some non descript brown.

My sister eighteen years older than I and a want to be hairdresser cut it permed it platted back combed generally practicing on me and her three girls.

I remember my dad cutting it when I was at junior school with Mam’s pinking shears there is a horendous school photo taken the day after fringe like a ski slope and one pony tail longer than the other. I looked a right state.

The day after my sister came over and cut it short it did look better but I was heart broken I couldn’t tie it up anymore.

That was it I was like her hairdressing dummy she cut it regularly after that perms became fashionable do she practiced that too.

I should say she wasn’t at anytime at college. Then when I was thirteen she asked if I wanted it dyed? Before I knew it my head was over the kitchen sink plastic shower stuck onto the taps Luke warm water dripping down my front.

Then sitting with itchy burning mixture on my head fidgiting and complaining keep still she scalded it’s bleach it’s only been on for ten minutes!

BLEACH!

she babbled how it had to be bleached first before it could be dyed red.

Mam is going to kill me wailed she laughed and pushed my head back over the sink.

Back onto the hard kitchen chair and slopped red coloured dye onto my sore head.

Wrapped it in a kwik save carrier bag and started to warm it with a hair dryer holding dryer with one hand and a fag in the other.

Shouting all the while at the kids running in and out the kitchen and the dog for chasing the cat.

If there is a Hairdressing for dummies manual she hadn’t read it but we we’re in the 1970s.

She washed it off and gave me a cracked bathroom mirror to hold. You know the ones that swivel and make everything look 12 times bigger?

Jesus Mary and Joseph I heard myself say in a whisper.

“I’m dead”

Red it was luminous bright pink.

To make things worse I was wearing orange t shirt.

My sister screwed up her eyes.

It’s not too bad.

She said brushing it as she dryed it.

“Wash it out” I begged.

“Er it’s permanent”

I could feel my heart beating in my head I grabbed my coat as her husband walked in.

“Fucking hell lizard” he laughed “your Mam’s gonna kill you. ”

I banged the door behind me the glass rattled in the door.

I walked across the estate home thinking of a way to get out of my latest mess but apart from leaving home, buying a hat and refusing to remove it the fact was I was dead!

I sneaked in the back door and ran upstairs.

Just as the bathroom door opened and mam stood there in her yellow dressing gown.

We stood on opposite sides of the landing clashing and staring.

What the bloody hells fire have you done she gasped?

It wasn’t me it was my sister I stammered I always stammered when I was nervous which was most of the time.

Get in that bloody bathroom and wash it out!

But it won’t wash out I tried to explain as she clipped me around my head screaming at me and launching a bottle of head and shoulders.

“but Mam” I wailed.

“don’t come down until it’s out!”

Needless to say I was up there awhile

It didn’t come out if anything it seemed to get brighter.

I looked like a match stick!

I was suspended from school and grounded.

But after a week I got to like it.

It was different. Definitely different.

So there it started accidentally my life long love affair with dying my hair.

It’s been punk, red, blue, green, black, blonde purple but never dull!

I’m fifty three now and last week I dyed it brown.

I looked in the mirror and reminded myself of my sister years ago unsure if I liked it I thought I’d leave it for a week or two.

Until my grand daughter arrived.

“Nan” she shreeked what’s happening with your hair?”

You don’t look like you Nan it’s too ….. Normal!

She really didn’t like it and to be fair neither did I.

So few hours later it’s bright pillar box red .

That’s better she said I couldn’t have gone out with you with brown hair.

So I guess why change the habit of a life time.

Rebel grand mother it is.

Last goodbye. (soulmidwife)

Last Goodbye
Cancer was the catalyst that founded our friendship
Without it we wouldn’t have met.
A soul midwife I expected someone nursey maybe serious.
That Joolz is exactly what I didn’t get.
You came into my room like morning sunlight.
Bringing me life’s energy love and fun.
We made plans for things I’d like to do exactly my way.
Talked of my life and all that I’ve done.
I’ve shed a few tears, but we’ve laughed so much.
If it needs saying I know I can say anything to you.
Complete unconditional acceptance it’s not just a ‘job’ to you.
You’ve walked along a path I found scary
Gone before me with what to expect.
Taken worry from myself and my family.
Always treated us with love and respect.
You have a way of just fitting into families.
Into a Joolz shaped space we weren’t aware was there.
To make plans to reassure, take me to magical planes
I’d never even dreamt of before
Now when sleeping I dream of new adventures.
The wonderful places and things I haven’t yet seen.
You’ve given me the courage to go further explore without feeling frightened.
My eternal friend
Soul midwife Earth angel who needs no wings.
I know that as I leave you will be there waving and cheering me on to adventures new.
As you go on in life as a soul midwife to others know I’ll be around to cheer you on too.
Thank you.
Xx Ian.

Culture club in Cardiff.

Should have been in Cardiff tonight. At culture club concert. Donna you had rang me in July so bloody exited your life long love affair with boy George at last you would get to see him.

Are you excited? You laughed dancing around my living room.

I’ve booked us a hotel we can make a weekend of it.

Wow bar and Christmas shopping!

I sat there I hadn’t answered the first question syou were so pleased I jokingly groaned you hit me with a pillow.

You positively glowed.

Posh hotel mind you carried on.

On the bay mind. You were in full Nessa flow now sing song Welsh

Remember last year you laughed. It was getting to be a bit of a ritual our Christmas shopping trips combined with your birthday.

Cocktails, dancing in wow bar, Chinese food you laughed and he would let us pay with a debit card insisted on us getting cash from the cash machine .

You sitting beside me now shaking belly laughing.

Ahhhh!! He told me he was keeping my bag until we came back with the money.

Do you remember?

Remember how could I forget, your shoes were in it old shoes you’d bought boots because it had rained and your shoe had split.

He was really rude. So you had marched off back to the hotel .

He can keep my bloody shoes!

The waking the next morning you’d looked at me panda eyed and groaned

Do you think we will be on crime watch?

That’s where we should be now walking back to our hotel.

Or standing looking out over Cardiff bay.

As I came out of spoken word Saturday this afternoon

A white feather caught on my black wrap.

I smiled and thought of you.

But that’s not unusual.

There isn’t a day since you left this earth plane that I haven’t thought of you.

Boy George in Cardiff doesn’t know what he missed.

I do.

I missed you today as everyday.

My random warrior friend.

I hope you were there beside him on stage as he sang.

♥️

Over active mind.

Inside my head is where they rush.

Demanding to know

What was the name of the hand cream used by my mam when I was a kid

In a green tub, remember it had a tight lid?

It smelled of earth and was greasy too.

And if penguins had feet not flippers would they need shoes?

What was the name of the lad at school?

42 years ago the one who.broke all off the rules

Do I have a pen? I forgot to write

The recipe for curry Mike asked me for it, you know mam the one that I like..

Did I turn off the light the one in the yard?

What was the name of the film. with bridges that Clint Eastwood stared?

Is there palm oil in the vegan buscuits I bought?

Is that the cat banging the flap with a mouse that she’s caught?

Did I remember to shut down the damper on the coal fire?

If this rain doesn’t stop soon the river will get higher.

My hubby can sleep on an old washing line.

I might as well get up it’s almost quarter to five!

I wish I could banish the thoughts in my head

Or leave them downstairs with t