Countryfile – Highlights of Shropshire – follow in the footsteps of medieval pilgrims

The following is an article I was asked to write for Countryfile Online - a lovely magazine reflecting the interests of the BBC Television Programme. It was a great pleasure

A ship leaves port – the launch of ‘All the Winding World’

The old Southampton harbour wall At the very beginning of writing 'All the Winding World', I knew there would be maritime elements in the story. So

Waiting for ‘All the Winding World’

As I write this, 500 copies of my second novel are in transit, due to arrive at my house on a pallet sometime tomorrow. I think this must feel a

Poetic Encounters #1 – A guest post by Andrew Howe – Visual Artist

Since the start of the year, I've been collaborating with visual artist Andrew Howe, as part of the Encounters Exhibition at the Visual Arts Network Gallery in Shrewsbury, which opened on

Rural Women – Past, Present and Future

Rural women - not a topic you see up for debate or discussion very often. But I believe rural women deserve more attention, and that they have been both under-estimated

Travelling in Time and Place

I am spending a lot of time in the late 13th century at the moment, editing All the Winding World, the sequel to The Errant Hours. The story involves quite

2017 – The hours gone but not forgotten

The Labours of the Months, January, The Golf Book, workshop of Simon Bening, Bruges, 1520-30. I felt rather muddle-headed over the Christmas holidays. I expect I'm

Marrying a Murderer – The Errant Hours 2

The University of Surrey Blog supported by the Leverhulme Trust -Women's Literary Culture and the Medieval Canon has kindly asked me to contribute another guest post. I took the opportunity to

Dundee University Review of the Arts – ‘Flocks of Words’

The excellent DURA have posted a review of 'Flocks of Words'. I am absolutely delighted by this beautifully written and thoughtful exploration of my poetry collection. I feel very well

The Errant Hours 1: Martyrs and Motherhood

This post was originally commissioned by the University of Surrey for their Blog - Women's Literary Culture and the Medieval Canon An International Network Funded by the Leverhulme Trust Image from

Review of ‘Flocks of Words’ – The Book

I'm very grateful to Pat Edwards (website mashup arts ), organiser of Verbatim Poetry on the Welsh Border, for reading and reviewing my new collection - Flocks of Words. It's a strange

Ear worms and El Supremos

Sometimes I get an ear worm that seems particularly relevant to my life at that moment in time. I'm sure this happens to a lot of people. It's slightly less

Heavenly Lights – a writer’s response to stained glass

A few months ago, I happened to see an image online which showed a section of a window designed and created by Margaret Agnes Rope (1882-1953). Despite having lived in

History and its Mysteries

The Roman Forum (photo by traveldigg) A while ago I was asked to introduce Lindsey Davis, who was speaking at the inaugural Shrewsbury Literature Festival on Saturday

Imagined Worlds – Coleridge and Kublai Khan

As a young person, I was very fortunate to have an excellent education. However, I fear it was a bit lacking in regards to Samuel Taylor Coleridge. I went to an American

A Varied Diet: Publishing the Unexpected

Recently I was given the opportunity to contribute to a Novel Writing Course run by the immensely talented Lisa Blower (author of newly published novel Sitting Ducks). I was invited to

The Hours – two writing paths intersect

       I wonder if you have read 'The Morville Hours' - a beautiful and precious book, as intricate and finely tended as the garden it is based on.

The Story Behind the Story

The Story behind the Story (This was originally written as a guest blog for 'The Story behind the Story' by Dr Gulara Vincent) I recently became an independent author, publishing

Walking the Hills

Shropshire Hills - The Lawley from Caer Caradoc with The Wrekin beyondEarlier this year I received a commission to write a poem for a hydro-geologist, for his birthday.I was very

The Year of the Gibbon: Apes and Monkeys – Part One

The Thinker Monkey from the Breviary of Mary of Savoy, c. 1430 Lombardy, Chambery Bibliotheque Municipal, MS 4 fol. 319rNotice his belt, to which a chain would have been attached.

The Mighty Elephant

Elephant drinking from the Zambezi RiverI have recently returned from a return visit to Zimbabwe and Southern Africa.  It was a journey that will provide grist for my mind's mill

Candle flame, lamp light

Detail of Christ in the Carpenter's Shop - Georges de La Tour-1645 -The Louvre, ParisLooking at Georges de La Tour's work reminds me that, for the vast majority of the

Windows: looking in, looking out

Cape Cod Morning - 1950  by Edward HopperEdward Hopper (1882-1967) was raised in New York State, not very far from where I grew up, although, I hasten to add, much

The Cat before the Altar

A tabby cat enjoys watching a patch of sunlight in the peaceful, cordoned-off area in front of the main altar of Wells CathedralDuring a fascinating research trip to Hailes Abbey

The Painter and the Poet

La Missonnais - Ille-et-Vilaine, Brittany by Neville CarltonThis blog post is slightly different from my usual in that it involves a contemporary, or nearly contemporary, artwork.  Normally I am entirely preoccupied

Ancient Trees

Old Knobby - from Ali Martin Arboriculture - www.alisonk.co.ukOn familiar paths through the woods recently I have been knocked out of my walking trance by the glaring absence of trees.

The White Hart

The White Hart from the Wilton Diptych,created for Richard II, 1395-99The National Gallery, London(this painting shows a tamed white hart; only a King could achieve it)Said to be a symbol

The Place of the Skull

Crucifixion from the St Gall GospelsIrish, 8th century, Abbey of St Gall Cathedral Library, MS 51(One soldier offers Jesus vinegar on a sponge, the other makes ready to pierce his

White Horses on Green Hills

The White Horse of Uffington, Oxfordshire, England approximately 1000BC The chalk horses that exist across areas of southern England are, in the main, the product of the 18th, 19th and

The Horse

Wild Horses on Abdon Burf, Brown Clee Hill, ShropshireWe had no word for the strange animal we got from the white man - the horse.  So we called it sunka wakan,

Spring Lamb

I must admit to having conflicted feelings when I see the new lambs in the fields at this time of year.  With my urban sensibilities, it worries me that so

Speaking to the birds

St Francis preaching to the birds- Giotto di Bondone (1266-1337)detail from the Predella of St Francis Receiving the StigmataMusee du Louvre, Paris(The cockerel in the back row seems particularly attentive)St

Sleeping Dogs

A Dog lying on a Ledge by a Genoese Artist (circa 1650-1680)Ashmolean Museum, OxfordThis painting caught my eye when I was last in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.  The unknown

The Wild Wood

The Ghent Altarpiece - Jan Van Eyck and Hubert Van Eyck-The Holy Hermits, 1432Ignore, if you can, the procession of hairy men in the bottom half of the painting (at

Arms for a maiden – The Hare

Breviary of Renaud and Marguerite de Bar Metz, 1302-1305 Verdun Biblioteque Municipale, MS 107, fol. 89r detail One is hard-pressed these days to wander through any high street without seeing

The Circle of Animals

Lepus (The Hare) Plate 30, Urania's Mirror, 1824 by the Rev Richard Rouse Bloxham and Sidney Hall One of the few consolations of winter is having longer to view the stars

The Magi

The Magi by Herrad of Landsberg (1130-1195) reproduced by Christian Maurice Engelhardt 1818   'We Three Kings of Orient are, one in a taxi, one in a car, one on

Robin Redbreast and the Wren

Robin from the Sherbourne Missal, c. 1400, BL Add. MS 74236 Fascination with birds is something I will admit to, although I am not a bird watcher except in the

Snowfall

The UK winter of 1947 Delight, adventure, chaos.  Snow for children is the suspension of the ordinary, and the re-imagining of the landscape into one of slide and speed, crunch

The Virgin’s Breast

St Luke drawing the Virgin by Rogier Van der Weyden, circa 1435 Musée de Bruges St Luke may be a self portrait of the artist. "That's what breasts are for, stupid,"

The Kakapo

Kakapo at the Oxford University Natural History Museum Kakapo You my flightless bird undiscovered, green as grass, large and quite absurd. Being a child in the 70's and 80's in

Guarding the Gateways

The main gate to the Citadel of King Sargon II Many years ago, I was lucky enough to be an apprentice in the Department of Ancient Near East in the

The Serpent of Creation

Adam and Eve by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1526 in the Courtauld Gallery, London I have been fascinated by the use of animals as symbols in art for many years.

Grendel’s Mother

From the Beowulf Manuscript, BL Cotton MS Vitellius A. XV, f.132 Sometimes a poem comes to me, and it is like meeting an old, dear friend unexpectedly.  But sometimes a

Artists and Hunters

                                         Reindeer from Lascaux Cave, Dordogne, France To enter a cave

The Chameleon

Twenty years ago in the Zambezi valley of Zimbabwe, my husband-to-be gave me a present: a small and unimpressed chameleon he had found near the clinic where he was working.

The Goldfinch

Het puttertje (The Goldfinch) by Carel Fabritius 1654 in the Mauritshuis, Den Hague Every day for more than fifteen years, I have looked at a print of this painting. Now

Words of the Naturalist

Galápagos Marine Iguana by Charlesjsharp - Own Work Some time ago, I came across an extract from the Commonplace Book kept by Charles Darwin during his voyage on the Beagle

Velázquez, the prince and his dog

I remember clearly the moment I stood in front of this painting in the National Gallery in 2006.  Of the rest of the Velázquez exhibition, I remember nothing.  The label

A Burden of Words

Exit from Noah's Ark- The Bedford Hours British Library Add MS 18850 f16v Writing, for me, is very like walking.  I set out to go somewhere new, but soon I