It was early December 2018, and I was in Shrewsbury Library filling a rare empty half-hour between appointments. I often gravitate to a particular reading room in that library -
Battle_of_Courtrai3 Chroniques de France ou de St Denis, BL Royal MS 20 C vii f. 34 Recently I was asked to contribute a guest post to the fabulous 'History Girls'
I don't know if all writers are like me, but when I send a book off for review I immediately assume that the reviewer is going to hate it, even
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
The old docks of Southampton At the very beginning of writing 'All the Winding World', I knew there would be maritime elements in the story. So
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
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 - 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 (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
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 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.
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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,
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
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
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 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
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
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 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 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
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
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,"
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
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
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.
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
Reindeer from Lascaux Cave, Dordogne, France To enter a cave
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.
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