The world is gifted with stories told and graced with those who take time to listen…..

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Bluecoat Chambers, Liverpool

Yesterday afternoon I took the train into Liverpool City centre and set out to find the meeting place for my first visit to a creative writing group.

It was held at The Bluecoat Chambers, another hidden gem in this city full of surprises. As promised by the kind organiser, there was an orange book on the long table in the bistro to guide us together and I was greeted with smiles.

Take three regulars and five newbies. Put them together in this beautiful setting with fragrant tea and coffee and a huge dollop of trust and you have a delightful and inspiring two hours.

We are a mixture of a playwright, a musician, lyricist and poet (I am buying his first poetry book), a poet and writer of prose, an artistically inspired poet, a blogger and writer, a poetry lover, a poet and criminal story writer (who is compelling when he reads out loud), a creative student writer and an academic, who writes and rants (his description not mine!)

Some of us shared and we all contributed with support, encouragement and how the pieces resonated with each of us.

I loved every single minute of the experience and we are all meeting again in a month’s time. This group is one of life’s gifts. As I rode the train home I gave thanks for my adventures since I moved to this special place and for the lovely souls that are weaving though them.

Holding my heart open for life’s new notes……

Library3Liverpool Central Library Atrium

Each day I sit at my desk to write, work, paint and go about my business in front off a sash Victorian window at home. The sounds of life at the seaside drift in and I watch the seagulls wheeling on the thermals outside. As my ‘life boat’ sails forward I am grateful for this peaceful space and my sails of loving trust, hope and opportunity.

There was a talk being held at the Central Library in Liverpool the other evening and I went along with one of my housemates. Liverpool is new to me and what a delight it is to start to explore this wonderful city. There is so much going on there and so much to see. It was a magic evening and we parked outside on the cobbled street, right in the city centre, which surprised me for a start. Then the building itself is an amazing place. I will share some photos I took, because from the moment we walked into the atrium, to the roof terrace upstairs, I was blown away and not capable of more than a ‘WOW’ as we came to each new part. I had to be dragged off the roof terrace as I stood there watching Liverpool at twilight, as our talk was due to start. Liverpool is an inspiring city with so many opportunities waiting to be discovered. The talk was good too and it did us both a world of good to be around like minded people for a few hours.

DSC_0072The beautiful building that houses Liverpool’s Central Library

DSC_0075The old reading room

Library2Liverpool at twilight

More blessings flow in with the loving care of my friends and family. My Mum and I have always been buddies and the natural flow of our communications and those with my friends are a joy. The ‘How are you getting on with that?’, ‘What happened with so and so?’ and ‘You’ll never guess where I’ve just been, or what I’ve just seen’ and the laughter that flows with the ‘Really? You’re kidding me on’ ones and the ‘Brace yourself….’ openers that never fail to delight. Loving friendships are deep, rich and add precious notes to the days as we share all sorts back and forth.

This last weekend was busy on the service as the commercial ‘love’ train notched up the pressure around Valentine’s Day. I probably got a bit weary and was coughing yesterday as I worked. My landlord and friend heard me struggling and brought a cafetiere full of a wonderful concoction to my door, with my favourite flowery mug from Mum and Dad. It was full of hot water laced with fresh honey. ginger, garlic, lemon and care. I was so grateful. We have all settled down very well in our new home and care and thought weave through our days. Our landlord has set up a cinema type system in our front room and it’s a haven to sit in there and watch a film. I was tucked up knitting and engrossed last night, when his head came round the door as he had heard my laughter. My happy face communicated that his efforts were much appreciated. We all feel that this house is keeping the fresh salad bar at Morrisons, our local grocery store, busy and when we are all at home we share food and sit nattering around the table. Pancake night was a vertiable feast. Bliss and many blessings.

Visiting our local craft shop recently I made some friends and today my new art supplies have been delivered. I am branching out with a different creative expression from my ‘norm’ and looking forward to seeing what flows from this.

I have also made contact with a local animal sanctuary that cares for donkeys, horses and dogs and I will be visiting them for the first time this weekend. I have offered to help them out when I can and as these new opportunities are coming in, I was not sure how much time I could commit. The lady who runs the sanctuary was lovely on the phone and you know what her response was? ‘Jane, if you can just come along and stroke the animals, that would be a real help’. I am looking forward to my visit there and I sense that I will be spending as much time there as I can.

Gratitude flows for all these new opportunities and for the loving notes that are the song of my days.

Loving circles catch a thermal….

The Wirral

I have felt the need lately to clear space so that new working steps can flow in and last Sunday was my final shift on the online text support service. I logged off at 1pm and to draw a loving line under this work Mark suggested a trip out. I chose the seaside.

It poured down with rain and was, ironically, bitterly cold too, yet this did nothing to dampen spirits in the car as he drove me around The Wirral in Cheshire. We joyfully discovered that we explore in the same way and had a great time discovering all sorts of country lanes and beautiful views. Picnics in the car are great fun and we sat there looking at a map, munching away and coming up with ideas for future adventures as the rain drummed down on the car roof. There was a gap in the clouds and we jumped out to explore Hoylake lifeboat station and the beach…I may have mentioned, several times (ahem), how cold I was, so hot coffee featured in our next pitstop! Then we parked up at West Kirby so I could photograph the sunset. We sat there in companionable silence as the sky and sea changed colour and I was wrapped in his gentle patience as we waited for the best moment to capture nature’s display.

Work has continued to circle through this week as I have picked up the reins again on the live support service. One of the gifts contained in this has been the continued contact with Wendy and Tracey, my colleagues. Very loving frendships full of understanding, support and laughter.

Our dining room table is graced with rainbow colour at the moment as Christine Moran, my loving friend, gifted these beautiful tulips. Chris and I are excited because we are going to be able to spend time together this year at the book launch for her wonderful poetry book ‘Dancing in the Rain’ and during other adventures….pants over tights and cape flicking hey my funky teapot buddy?

Chris's tulips

My work space in Leyland has not been confirmed, so I have set sail looking for new opportunities. This time out I am going to look for independant space and we’ll see where this path leads. I had a list of possible options and Mark took me by the hand to explore them all yesterday. It’s a work in progress, but I have every faith that the circles have a purpose and I’ll flow into the right space. There was one that ‘hummed’ with energy and I am going back tomorrow to explore it further. This latest round of hunting was celebrated with a yummy dinner, which was handy as Mark was starting to go pale……

I have many photos on my phone of Emily and her new hair style this week. Each day she has started the day with ‘This is my style today Mum, what do you think?’ On Monday she had very long hair that was all cut off. Her hair has gone to the Princess Trust to be made into wigs for children dealing with cancer and she also raised over £100 in donations for the same charity. I am so proud of you Em. x

Ems new hair xx

This window of time I have with Mum and Dad is a gift and yesterday morning I managed to finish work early and bobbed outside to see how Dad was getting on building his new store. We fell into a familiar routine and as the welcome Spring sun shone on us and I ‘assisted’ as he worked. He cracked a joke at one stage and asked if I had heard it before? Many memories of ‘assisting’ floated up and I gently suggested that I may, just may, have heard it during other project moments that revolved mainly around guttering and drainage! It made me think of Mum and how many years she has stood ‘assisting’ by his side. You have a book to write here Mate, you really do!

There’s a new week about to start with Emily going great guns on her dissertation, Mum preparing for her final Mediumship assessment, Dad finishing his store and Mark holding my hand as we explore together.

My thoughts end this post with Jasper, as his Mum took a picture of him blowing his Granny kisses for the new tank top she has knitted for him. Xx

Jasper 1

Feel the peace of a moment and breathe….

St Meugan's

Just over the end of the lane from where I live there is a little church called St. Meugan’s. There has been a church on this site since the sixth century, and after repair and restoration in the 1800’s, she still stands today re-built in stone. I was on the way back from town on Friday and as I passed by there was a sign fluttering in the breeze on her walls ‘Church open’. I turned back and parked up. Stepping inside I was enveloped in a deep peace and I sat inside for a good long while, alone with my thoughts and the feeling of many centuries of prayers emanating from the walls.

I needed the peace…

I returned from the south of England a few weeks ago, having finished my last farm sit, and courtesy of my Dad’s trailer I brought all my stuff back with me. On the Monday I had an interview in Chester and landed a role as a community carer for disabled adults living in their own homes. I hit the ground running with it on Tuesday and bonded very quickly with the souls we flow care to. Dashing between homes across Chester, and dealing with all sorts of situations and circumstances, I had a ‘baptism of fire’, but I loved being with the patients. It took a few days to realise that my printed rotas/timesheets were not adding up and I made the discovery that in the care profession we are not paid for our travelling time. So last Saturday I completed a 14.5 hour shift which equates to 8.5 hours of actual pay. The pay was modest anyway, but with this balance I was virtually working for nothing and doing it in my own vehicle. A clear and pithy conversation with the owner of the agency I was working for, resulted in a boardroom discussion later with the directors and me exiting stage left. As I recall I was heard to comment ‘Do I look like I came down in the last shower of rain?’ as I glanced outside at the owner’s new upmarket vehicle with personalised number plates! The actual payment terms are not made clear on induction and their huge staff turnover is an indication of this. My leaving caused upset to the patients they care for and certainly distressed me. How can we care for those that are vulnerable, if we are not cared for in a basic way? It is not a profession one enters into for the pay, as this is far more vocational than working, but goodness me what a ‘eye opener’ this has been. As a society we are marginalising those who are so very vulnerable and reliant on those who are physically able to do right by them. This includes our government, but that is another topic.

So I stood back in my apartment, with tight finances, a poorly car, a need for new options and a weariness that seemed to go right through to my soul, as I thought ‘What do I do now?’. It was upon returning from my local town, chasing down work opportunites the next day, that I found St. Meugan’s.

I met an elderly gentleman as I was leaving the church, who was visiting his wife’s grave with flowers. We stood there chatting in the wind, looking up at the mountains and finding out a little about each other. I did not mention my current challenges, but he did ask me what kind of work I was doing and I said I was currently looking. I touched upon a few of the different things I could do and he made a suggestion that may not come into being, but he sparked a spirited feeling in me. I have always been better off paddling my own canoe and I came home to think about the different things I could do. I have now ordered a broadband service for my little place and I will go back to the telephone service work. There are a number of other self-employed irons in the fire and I am sure it will all flow in as it is meant to.

I am meant to be here, that much I am sure of.

To give myself a break today, I am painting artwork onto a wooden pine chest and writing. Sometimes it is good to do what soothes a weary soul and as I write I can hear the kestrels on the mountainside and the cows in the barn nearby.

It is also good to stop in a peaceful place and breathe…..bless St. Meugan’s.

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What is real and the kindness of strangers…..

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This photo was taken on Wednesday night, from the top of one of the mountains that nestle the valley, where I have chosen to put down roots and make the next chapter of my life. I have found a little apartment in a 17th century converted coach house, on an estate and working farm, in the depths of rural North Wales.

I am aware, as one of life’s ‘cliff leapers’, that I may not always have all my ducks in a neat row, but I have faith and trust in what is meant to be. I was drawn here, (never having been to the area before), and as soon as I drove over the mountain range and saw the valley stretching out before me, with the little medieval town in the middle, my soul spoke the words ‘You are home’.

My new home

With much gratitude to the loving support I have had, I came into land last Saturday and a few things happened in quick succession. My original choice of apartment felt all wrong as I unpacked my car and stood in the middle of the main room. My warm spirited landlord caught on very quickly and I was moved to another apartment on the estate. As I spruced the place up and settled in my laptop died, my phone struggled with any mobile signal at all, the Wifi signal was faint (that is being kind) and nothing electrical in the place worked. I have not collected my belongings from David’s yet, so I had very little that was familiar around me. The care agency work I was assured was a doddle to get into, is anything but, and I awoke the next morning to a cold feeling of ‘Oh what have I done…’.

OK, I thought, this is fear and I will acknowledge it, but not sink into it. I have been stopped in my tracks for a reason, but I am very definately in the right place. The fear is not real, what has gone before is not real, for it is in the past, and my imaginings on what might happen next are not real either.

What is real is what I tell myself and how I tackle this. I am capable and I have my smile..I can climb mountains.

My landlord on various visits has sorted my sparkly clean washing machine, which I can now set the dials on and start with a ball point pen…he’s ordered me a new button. The oven is now functioning (it had a dicky timer) and is sparkly clean. My laptop is fixed and I have made friends with the friendly man in the computer shop in the town and a lovely lady who runs a cafe nearby. Rachel lent me her laptop and let me sit in her cafe for hours on end as I job hunted. I have sussed the water timer and I can have hot, deep soaks in a sparkly clean bath. The sparkly clean theme now runs throughout my whole place and it made my landlord smile when I texted him a friendly warning to wear shades to combat sparkliness when he next visited. He is also buying me a Wifi booster. I am starting to get to know my neighbours, as there are forty odd places all rented out on this estate. Some are in the main hall and others in the coach house, stable block and assorted cottages and farm buildings dotted about.

Midweek, a visit to my Mum and Dad, who now live less than an hour away, was much needed. Mum got my washing done, fed me, sat me down to watch an escapist film and sent me back home with all sorts of goodies. That was real.

The job hunting has clarified something for me and I think it is based on all the blessed forms to be filled in and hoops to be jumped through…I am a self employed lass at heart. So I have created some handmade cards and started advertising myself as a ‘Home Service’…think Mary Poppins. Anything from cleaning to decorating, right through to cooking and baby sitting. I had a think you see and what is real are the things that I can do right here, right now. I can do accounts and finances, but why would anyone let me loose on those when I am in a foreign country and I am an unknown? If I start by being of service; work, smile, gain trust, talk to folk and get to know those in this farming community, then I can expand my services.

With the kindness of strangers; my cards are being handed out, helpful tips are being shared (along with some much needed local knowledge), decorating work is being promised, I was given a yummy piece of chocolate cake lovingly made by a neighbour’s young daughter last night, I have been gifted a beautiful rose bush for my patio, along with a thoughtful lavender plant (they are alongside a pale pink geranium from my Mum), friendly greetings are called out as I go about my daily tasks, invitations are being issued for coffee, dinner, a visit to the top balcony on the coach house (the views are breathtaking), advice for joining local business groups and I have been driven up one of the mountains to see the valley from there. Kindness is flowing….

What is also very real here are the views from several five bar gates. I can see the cows and sheep in the fields, each afternoon I can hear the cows in the wooden barn opposite me, hear the fountain playing through my kitchen window and each evening I watch the swallows flying in formation and calling to each other as they cool off in the evening breeze, just before the bats start to fly in the dusky evening sky.

I am home.

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Last week I was mainly driving tractors, diggers and trailers……love it!

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On the farm last week, the father and son builder team of John and Duncan, creating a huge 90ft barn in a far field, were a gift. Over coffee and cake breaks we perched on stacked timber and forged a friendship with much banter and laughter.

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One evening I looked across at the tractors dotted about and asked who owned them. Duncan said he did as he watched my face light up. For years, and I mean years, I have yearned to be back on a tractor. This is linked to heart memories from my days as a teenager in Africa, way before the days of health and safety, where we really pushed boundaries and had real adventures. Anyway I digress, I whispered to him (it was that important to me), could he take me out on a tractor….pretty please? We arranged it and end of play one early evening I stood welly booted and expectant in the field. Duncan went one better and handed me the keys with the words, ‘I think you can handle this yourself Jane’. He gave me instructions, perched in the cab with me and off we went. The sprung seat bounced and I drove around that field with a massive grin on my face. He had given me the gift of a dream.

A few days later John was unable to come to work on the barn, so I offered to help Duncan and he gave me instructions on how to drive the digger, with it’s many levers! The plan was to put Duncan in the digger bucket with a 16ft wooden beam and I would manoervre him through the steel shell and lift him up to various points to place, drill and then bolt each beam into place.

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The faith and trust he placed in me was immense as I have never driven one of these things and my fear level was high as I applied every atom of concentration to my task. Backwards and forwards we went and we managed to finish a whole section.

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My heart was in my mouth, but gradually I got the hang of it and the banter flowed through facial expressions. We had been using a system of hand signals above the racket of the engine and after a while I knew when to lower this trusting soul to bring him out for the next beam. I had a little fun with him in there. I would catch the flash of a smile as the last fixings went into a beam and I would grin at him from the cab and raise him an inch (steel beams above his head). His expression was priceless and I continued to grin and bring him slowly down again. He didn’t need to hand signal, his facial expression was eloquence enough in itself. He gave me another precious gift that day as my confidence came flooding back. I struggle when I think how long ago I lost it as I have been running on auto-pilot, with regular mental reminders of ‘I can do this’, for months now. His faith in me was uplifting and I must have slowed him down that day, but he gave no hint of it, just gentle encouragement and laughter.

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I left with love and much gratitude to head on up to Cheshire. John was back in the bucket, with Duncan driving the digger, and he looked down and said ‘Will you miss the place Jane?’, I replied ‘I’ll miss you two John, and the animals, I am so grateful for your friendship this week. It has been a special gift’. This roughty, toughty compact man in his special cap looked down and his eyes twinkled. Duncan and I hugged without words.

I am back at Mum and Dad’s and their moving plans are gathering pace. I awoke on my first morning to my Dad, with a familiar look on his face, saying ‘You’ve got a tow bar on your car haven’t you Nane?’, (that’s my old family name). That morning we shifted a huge heap of ordered debris (it’s my Dad after all), that used to be the old roof of Dad’s back workshop. ‘Thirty years ago I hand laminated that with a two inch brush’, said Dad. ”Really?’ I said as I struggled to split the external panels. Now for those of you in the know my Dad does nothing by halves and this is a trailer with a capital ‘T’ and I have never driven while pulling one before. After several trips we finished the job without incident, having befriended a kind young man at the tip who made the whole thing seamless at their end, and was very appreciative of the homemade cake from my Mum.

I think I have found my calling….all I need now is a hard hat.