The War of Words

Recently I have spent a great deal of time grapplng with words, in fact my life has become a veritable War of Words.

As most people who know me realise I wear two hats, the first is that of a writer; the second of an artist. Over the years I have come to realise they are in many respects one and the sam

Wearing either hat I require two things when I am working . and they remain

almost the same whichever titfer I have on my head. Until recently I had thought what I needed

was simply Peace

and Quiet.

Until, that is, I read a book.

A pretty dangerous thing to do, I know, but as it turned out no harm befel me. The book only set me on a track of thinking about what I believed I had been craving for ever since I can remember.

Silence. Or is it as the book suggests Solitude? And if I achieve Solitude will this degenerate into – yes, another word – Loneliness. And might I try to alleviate this by counteracting Silence by replacing it with Noise?

I was tempted to look back at my younger days when I enjoyed solitude and never experienced loneliness. As a young girl I actively sought time spent alone.

I enjoyed walking home from school alone, choosing to take a route across an area of unkemp land called Storrs Hill. Here I sat amongst gorse bushes and enjoyed Solitude, looking out across the Calder Valley and listening. Certainly no Silence.

Gorse bushes alive with bees and other buzzing and humming insects. Overhead a skylark hovering, singing and fluttering as he climbed skywards. From the valley below the muted sound of a steam train chugging its way along the tracks and announcing its arrival at Horbury Bridge station with tinny hoots.

And again, as a early teenager, I had my own favourite place where I sought solitude. Stannard Well – which was not a well as such but a spring where clear water bubbled up through grains of sand to settle in a small pool bordered by an ancient wooden surround. Again no silence.

Because of the water there were birds aplenty. Blackbirds. thrushes, robins, wrens and all manner of birds, each with its own special song. Around me what we called trembling grass; fine stems topped by mauve seeds. Even this made a sound as it stirred and waved in the lightest breeze

Solitude v Loneliness. Silence v Noise.

Maybe .after all. there is actually no war of words.

Solitude is something we impose on ourselves; Loneliness is imposed. Total silence does not exist; but noise certainly does. At least, those are my opinions

Solitude renews us, loneliness diminishes. Silence does not exist except in our mind.

Hence we find it good to meditate and quieten even our thoughts.

And what of noise ?

Without a doubt it can kill … so next time you are out and about driving your car switch your radio to silent mode. And at home try an evening or two without TV. You’ll be surprised at what you hear.

Perhaps my next blog will examine Seeing!




Listening Below The Noise: The Transformative Power of Silence by

Anne D Le Claire





Magnolia. Oil on board.


Mollie Kay Smith






Power. My Japanese style horse . Ink on paper Mollie Kay Smith






I really would like to know what you think























A few days ago we put the clocks back and admitted autumn had arrived. On one hand it turns my mood to one of sadness, that the warm days of summer and lush blossoms in the garden are past. On the other I am delighted. This season is the best, I feel, for artists especially. Wonderful opportunities to paint colourful landscapes; or still life creations with apples, pears, plums. Or indeed pumpkins, seed-heads, and ‘conkers’.

That was a few days ago when I wrote this. Now we are in a winter wonderland.

Looking back summer was mixed. We had some super days despite the rain – visits to the coast, celebrations for wedding anniversaries, birthday parties, and not forgetting my ‘girls’ nights out’ to the Ogino Japanese Restaurant, Lucia and the Westwood – all in Beverley. Super food and remarkable service. Happy memories.

My wrist operation held up my painting for a while but I was able to carry on with Steve’s class on Mondays. Phase two of the wrist ops is imminent. The surgeon, Mr Platt, was extremely happy with the right wrist result and I will learn shortly when the left will take place. I am hoping this will be well before Christmas!!

My wrist recovered in time for Jan Gardner‘s workshop at Wiberfosse. I must say this was an event to remember. Jan is a wonderful warm person whose work is phenominal and her demonstration opened a whole new world for many of us. Her personality, skill and support directed our thoughts to challenges we may never have thought of without her pointing the way.( you Jan.

Right wrist now a thing of the past so I was up and running for the most recent painting workshop last Friday at Wilberfosse. This was headed up by Charlie Evans – internationally renowned as a water colourist, and the writer and producer of many instructional books on the art. ( His entertaining method of demonstrating his work kept us all on our toes until lunchtime when we all (?) enjoyed our sandwiches. His hints and tips were an added bonus as he developed a wonderful snow scene. During the afternoon session we attempted and mostly failed to do likewise – though he certainly fired us up to try to do better in the future and was generous with his supportive comments. Thank you, Charlie.

Already Christmas is in the shops. How I dislike the tinsel and glitter which assails us even before Halloween and Guy Fawkes’ Night. And I really do wonder how many of today’s youngsters even know who guy Fawkes was. Probably today he would be labelled a terrorist!

So be it. I am always ready for a celebration and here is one such which took place in France and almost started another 100 years war

On a more humourous note I will bore you with a real bonfire night event. Some friends of ours who lived in a hamlet in the Gers decided to have a bonfire party to which they invited English friends and everybody in the village and surrounding farms.

Fireworks were planned with a pyrotechnic specialist and a huge bonfire laid at the bottom of the garden. This was duly lit at about 8pm and parkin, potatoes, and the usual BBQ food served. Wine, as is normal in France, flowed.

All went well until our friend threw the effigy of the Guy into the flames causing uproar to break out fromthe French – remember this was the birth place of the real Comte de Batz-Castelmore d’Artagnan on which The Mousketeers was based!

‘Why?’ they demanded, ‘are you English burning D’Artagnan?’

My friend attempted an explanation in broken French. This, he told them, is a celebration of an event which took place England in 1605 when Guy Fawkes, a Catholic, tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament. England was then a Protestant country, they explained, and he failed.

Confusion reigned. France is a Catholic country! And why celebrate an event which failed?

It took every bottle of good Armagnac in my friend’s cellar to provide a solution. Everybody eventually agreed a good time was had by all.

My attempt at an autumn haiku!

A golden leaf spins

earthwards through morning haze

Autumn’s greeting.


PS: Now a diversion, but I must have my say. I recently watched TV and learned the Battle of Orgreave is to be swept under the carpet. I come from a mining family and was living amongst the miners when it took place and understood their suffering. I knew good men who told no lies and who were on the picket lines and I heard their stories. I myself (a woman alone) was halted on the M62 for almost an hour by police who searched my car making me late for an important appointment.

The fight must go on.


SHORT is the key word here, and that is my intention with these blog posts from now on.

Nevertheless, I’m long in experience, having celebrated my 84th birthday on the 26th of August when I enjoyed a lovely meal with family and friends. I intend to share some lessons learned during this long life with readers in future. Still, SHORT in time rules for the next week or so.

Looking back on it my last blog it may have seemed as if written in a rather negative mood – that had not been my intention. It was merely my putting into perspective (for myself) the over ruling objectives I have had to set for my life. No good saying I intend to write 1000 words a day and paint 1 or 2 masterpieces every week. Tomorrow, for example, I will be admitted to hospital for a minor operation on my right wrist – and I am not left handed!

So here is a picture I painted a SHORT time ago. There are many more in progress and will be finished SHORTLY. Just keep on looking out for just a SHORT while.


Best wishes


New projects. New ideas. New agendas. New commitments. New experiments. New ways of working. Some might say I am too old to even think of such things or even that I am stupid even to imagine I might succeed in achieving some of my dreams. Let me say, as you might guess I would, that you are never too old to dream. And what is the use of dreaming if you do not take actions to at least make some effort to achieve them.

Maybe what has inspired me has been observing the GB Olympians on television and learning what they have had to do to achieve a place on the team – let alone ensuring they reach an optimum pitch of fitness at exactly the right time.

Or maybe, closer to home and more in line with my own state of unfitness, it has been my diving deeper again into mental stimulation. This is something I have missed during recent years since ‘retiring’ and though I have continued to write and to paint I have missed the giving and taking, the exchanging of ideas, even the conflicts which sometimes arise when working in a group.

Since returning to the UK some five years ago, after 21 years in France, I at first found myself friendless and with most of the contacts in my address book either emigrated, dead or at best moved on to new locations. Research located a painting group with which I joyfully made contact and in which it is my pleasure to participate. For a couple of years this has satisfied my artistic needs.

  But still something was missing. To a certain extent I found stimulation in reading – literature, management development, psychology, personal development and so on. I looked at Facebook, Twitter, Streetwise and various other media sites all to no avail. Most of the writing contact groups left me feeling dis-satisfied until I came across that organised by John Yoeman whose personal unbiased criticisms, delivered in a chatty and amusing manner, turned out to be exactly what I needed. Sadly a few weeks ago John died suddenly. Again I lost a mentor and a good friend.

  Three days ago I fell by accident on a book written by Cal Newport entitled Deep Work. This I have almost read and its somewhat academic style turns out to be the thing I most need right now. The book provides comment on the manner in which many people across the whole spectrum of occupations, and life in general, have succeeded in achieving their dreams – on a personal front as well as in their career.

The book provides a blueprint which helps anyone, at whatever stage in life and with whatever dreams, to develop their own manner of achieving objectives.

Setting up a realistic plan is a starting point followed by such strategies as adopted by successful Olympians, Writers, Artists, Business People, Entrepreneurs, Gardeners – in fact almost anyone who has a dream. It suggests we consider the tools we use in our search in the same manner as did the craftsmen and women of earlier times. A master builder would use only the best equipment he could afford. Likewise someone designing a text written on parchment would ensure the quill used was superior.

Since reading the book my dreams have been revised. My plan is on paper though I still need to address some of the suggested rules, and to implement the tips. My mental muscles are being challenged once more.

This is not something to take up for the faint hearted, but if somebody is really committed it is not to be ignored. I truly believe the book could change lives.

Will it change mine? So far I have arrived at this. Objective number one….stay alive. And below this main objective.

a. Make sure I take my medicines regularly – arteries, heart, thyroid etc

b. Ensure I attend all my medical appointments – blood tests,  dressings, clinics and consultants, diabetics, eye checks.

 c. Eat healthily- low carbohydrates because of diabetes.d. Move as much as possible without chair and scooter.

d.  Sleep when I can  and …….

In the meantime I will continue following the advice of Cal Newport and try to take charge of the remaining hours in my days.

Good luck. Let me know how you go on.



This year, and we are only at the end of March, has been one of machine failures and this poses a real question.

Have all electrical goods a built in crash date? During recent months I have needed to replace washer/spin drier, fridge freezer, vacuum cleaner. And in recent weeks computer and printer. All the original items were bought new when we moved into this house just over 4 years ago.

Obtaining an estimate for repairing these has shown it is as cheap to buy new. Add in call-out charges, day or hourly rates and so on the figures add up.

So I have spent a lot of time surfing the web to find replacements. And here I encounter a real challenge. Prices for the same item vary so much I really do not know which to buy. Some have reductions if you buy within so many hours. Others offer free postage or immediate next day delivery. Some offer other enticements, others none. So where is the catch? Indecision rules okay.

Apart from what seemed like disasters at the time, life has gone on pretty much the same. Health wise nothing has deteriorated, at least the docs tell me so. We have some surprise worries about Tom though as yet nothing we cannot cope with. Writing progresses, painting too although the watercolour challenge has yet to be beaten. A recent attack on Venice almost totally destroyed my confidence! Instead I offer Flamborough Beach in oils which I am happy with.

Still we have got rid of the Christmas bugs – started attacking in October; the Easter bugs started if I recall on New Year’s Day. Now we have only the Holiday bugs……an attempt to book holiday in Filey from internet descriptions seemed ideal. A short visit showed the place totally unsuitable for wheel chairs and mobility scooters despite telling the agent when booking these accesses were an essential. Now I am being asked to pay almost £100 cancellation fee!

I am beginning to feel a bit like Scrooge. Must stop moaning. Flowers are blooming, gale winds are blowing them down, rain is falling in torrents and I’m off out for lunch at the local pub. Hope there are no power cuts, heating down or the scampi gone off!

And on a world scale things are worse than ever. Terrorist bombs the world over. Aircraft disasters. Floods and famine. Migrants bombed out from homes living in squalor, with no new homes in sight. Massacres and abuse.

And on top of all that we can, it seems, celebrate the long life, death and history of Britain’s Steel Industry. Also, all my old TV friends are no longer with us – it seems like one a day is taking that step into the unknown.

So, what have we to look forward to this month?

Seems like not a lot, but the days will get longer; the sun will shine more often; garden flowers will bloom and my painting Ancient and Modern will go off to the framers. Added to all that good stuff there really is even more.

That part of my brain which stimulates new ideas for my writing seems to have come out of hibernation and I am having difficulty in keeping up with the flow.

So I will just say thanks and celebrate the fact that at least I am alive, well and kicking.

A bientot. And PS: The food and environment at the Ship Inn at Dunswell, near Beverley are superb. Booking required 01482 854458

Please do let me have your thoughts on any of the points I mention in my blogs via: reference Mayday. I hope to reply within a couple of days



FullSizeRender (1)

My last post, in which I admit to loving my computer, may have left a good many of my readers with the feeling that my ‘real’ projects, those that I value highly, have suffered over recent months. Here I want to put paid to those ideas by talking a bit about some of the things I have achieved and to say a few words about work in progress.

Mentors generally advise that rather than appearing boastful it is good to let others know about ones ambitions. In fact they believe that once somebody actually expresses an idea or an intent they are more likely to strive to finish it than if they keep it to themselves. One of my own mentors, Cary Cooper, said that this is how he approaches the publication of one of his books, ‘ I tell people I am thinking about it; then that I have started.  When I am half way through I publically discuss my research findings in brief, and later I let the public know that the book is in its final draft. Then, once it is finished I announce a publication date.’ Voila! A blueprint for success.

I guess he is building interest in prospective readers so that the new book will add to his list of best-sellers ………but I also feel by using this method he is increasing his own anticipation of a time when it’s a job well done . I find a similar approach works for myself. Unless I set deadlines and let people know what I am working on I have a tendency to drift – to find diversions which at the time appear enticing but are unproductive. Deadlines force me to be more realistic about how long it will take me to finish things. And, in addition, as I grow older and less energetic, deciding on a date when I intend to complete makes for a more realistic time-scale.

So, as well as participating in all the computer based activities mentioned in my last post I have met deadlines in various tasks. Some of these have been associated with that part of my life which can sometimes seem like hard work. Writing. At the beginning of the year I mentioned a book I was working on. This is well on track now in that I am a good half way through and have edited five of the early chapters.  The recipe collection is likewise taking shape and I have also managed to do some sketches to accompany these.

Unfortunately during recent months I have needed to attend a great many hospital and clinic appointments. No doubt there will be many more of these as time goes on and these will bite into my working hours and my deadlines will need to be  adjusted. Far from seeing these appointments as a dull waste of time though (from a writing point of view) these do give me lots of ideas for stories so maybe there is a hidden bonus somewhere in there.

On the painting front – more relaxing – I still attend my Monday afternoon watercolour group and believe I am making progress there. No deadlines in mind  though I have noted down some ideas for my Xmas cards. I did exhibit two oil  paintings at the TERPS Exhibition at the Spa in Bridlington and another picture as part of the Remember Me Art Walk in Beverley which was staged as part of the Alzheimer Charity Week.  Currently I am working on an oil painting to submit to the 19th Open Art Exhibition at the Beverley Art Gallery which is to be held from 11th December through to 13th February. My deadline there is mid-November so no time to waste!

However, I must admit creating the deadlines is easy. Meeting them is harder; I could not do that without the support and help of my family and friends. Especially I am grateful to Angela who drives me back and forth and cares generally for me. Love to you all.