Category: Uncategorised

Dream Diary – Mouse Aethelflaed (by )

I dreamed of the Anglo-Saxon Queen Aethelflaed, I dreamed of her in flowing linen in bold cuts with gold glinting and shield in hand, she was a warrior, she was strong with a purposeful stride and... she was a mouse. All those historical intrigues I had fallen asleep reading about where there with Danes and Viking hoards and ancient Iron Age earthworks cracked open for battle restbite. This was a nodal saga digging deep into the mythos of my mind with mist swirling to hide armies and lands that are firm grasslands now being mires and swamps with island towns between.

But everyone was a mouse or hedgehog or otter (especially the vikings though also they were ferrets) and Gloucester Cathedral loomed into view with a statue of it's founder on a plinth except it was again a mouse - and I realised I was in Loamhedge in the books of Redwall and things made much more sense - books I read again and again. Books my dad has read to me and then to my children, books I begged the scifi library at college to get. It was all mushed together and there was a quest and it was like the stories of knights but more like the thread of the story that those glittering escapades had been threaded onto. There was something of Robin of Loxley with his hood there and something Arthurian. Dragons even slept beneath the hills.

The quest involved a cure for a plague, a plague that had laid the Roman Empire bare and had and would again sink empires in despair, two roses I had to find with my own mousy paws and little whiskered noise but not just any rose - The Sister Roses that grew at Deep Poole. I knew the place - how could I not it was a fusion of Welsh lakes I have known - one found with my husband on the flanks of the mighty hill of Snowdonia, scarred and coloured with the metals of said hill. Beautiful blues that mark its taint and the cave that is barred in the mountain wall. The other was something from childhood - a half remembered place important to my family. A place I think of even in waking as Deep Poole though I do not know what it's name is.

It is the place where my nan insisted on traveling all the way from her new home in the outskirts of London to bring her children, as part of taking them home, to her real home though it no longer really existed, a little village lost to the damp and progress of the modern world. It was hidden in the hills of South Wales - in many ways a very different land from those of Snowdonia. She took us there when ever we were in Wales with her, the waters were still and quiet cupped in an almost circle and they were dark and deep and icy and they called, whispering to you.

The lake in my dream was a combination of these two, with a weir pummelling the escaping waters into white and deadly froth. An unnaturally seeming bank rose from the lake surrounding it's dark blueness, cupped within and hiding, up on the rise over looking it was a ruin, a window so moss covered that it could have been a brick build, or tin or hewn from the very mountain side. This was a sheep grassed grass land on the steps of the mountains, trees loomed at the edge and it was all concentric circles like a labyrinth with curves and twists and somehow I knew that this was a story and that it was looping in on itself. There were desperate men there that should have been guarding the lake, instead they had been drinking holy waters and had become soul sick.

One had appointed himself king and stood taller than us with a crown glinting on his head, it was a tarnished crown and the jewels had been acid etch to a dullness, his features showed a mouse like snout but upon his back where leathery wings and in his mouth sharp incisors like a predator. He howled at us and wanted to keep us for himself but we fought him until a tin thin corroded sword pierced his belly and he fell screaming into the lake. We tried to retrieve him whilst his soldiers flittered around in unease but though he swam to avoid being pulled down into the dark heart of the lake he refused our help and was pulled into the weir where we were sure he could not survive.

He emerged retched and bleeding the other side, his wings were lost and he shivered with spasms of pain, we nestled him and cooed to him in his dying day and his people flocked around us murmuring about the Christs Blood and the Goddesses Tears and how they could save though his wings had been been ripped from his back. Without them he really was just an over sized mouse and we felt a kinship for him now that we had not before - the waters had cleansed him. One of his men told us of the boxes of remnants or possibly a drum or was it a cup? What ever it was it had been hidden by the lake and it could save him.

We told them what we sort and they shrugged, there were many flowers that grew around the lake the trick was getting to them before the sheep did. We decided to help them look for the healing box or cup that was hidden around the lake, they looked at and dug at the banks of the draining river and went onto the grey stone beach that marked the only accessible shore of the lake, we however climbed, we climbed up the grassy slope to the moss covered building. If there was some sort of healing box it might be in the building, it might just be a first aid kit.

Two types of pale pink roses grew on the window so dilapidated and sorry looking, one was a domesticated bloom, large but not overly and elegant rather than bulbous as some over bred roses can become, the other was a series of smaller blooms, little more than blossom, they were wild but you could see that at some point they had been the same as the larger flower next to them. The sister Blooms. We carefully took one of each bloom and no more - for we would not need more than that and to destroy such a thing... a glorious testament to life itself, growing on decay, the bringer of a future and somehow also the guardian of the past - it seemed an unforgivable thing.

The blooms would cure the plague so we knew they would fix the poor broken bat king and so we took them to him and he smiled and smelled their fragrance and become still... we thought he had perish and that the bats would rip us apart instead they too went still as if waiting expectantly for something. He began to murmur a story... it told of Jesus walking the lands of Albion and of a well in Bristol now hidden beneath a house, it told of miracles and knights and of an object that was divided into four, one for each corner and the foundations of the Earth, of how those objects become different things - containing the maiming iron, or the flesh for the skin, or the piercing spear or a cup of ichor and blood caught so carefully.

To keep the items safe they had each ended up in vastly different places that had been designated before the dark death, hosted by very different people but with a connection and a core that connected them. The roses were planted so as their roots would slowly consume the blood and bring the healing into the world and they were watered with the Goddesses Tears just as she filled the lake, though she was known by some local saints name now, but she was the goddess of the hills and the vallies and she kept all her kindred of the land safe within the rocks and trees. And so it was with these two clashes of culture that the Sister Roses had grown one wild and one as it had always been and both perfect and sublime.

A bird screeched and called and pierced the dream which was sweet in my mouth by now and the morning pressed in on my lids as an alarm replaced the bird, a whirl wind of child eggar to know if was a school day appeared. The book on The Warrior Queen and the local Priory sat next to my pillow and my old hedgehog toy looked at me from a shelf, a glittering stone on a faux leather thong reminds me of games pretending to be princess adventures and fearocious fairies and of course the notes I'd made on holy relics a few weeks ago lay scattered around the room, a stake of Brian Jacques books await a re-read or three and I smile thinking of the old photos in yellow reds of Welsh holidays I got developed for my family and the annual holiday me and my husband would take on the slopes of Snowdon including our honeymoon and I think - that was a strong dream and it is not going to leave me alone and though I can see where it comes from the mystic feeling of it remains and I shall share and so I have.

More Dates for the Diary Autumn 2017 (by )

Fri 22nd - Sun 24th Nasty Women Fine Art Show in aid of End Violence Against Women - Stour Space in East London. Sarah's film Love: A Stranger Dream will be showing on loop and the colouring books that accompany it are for sale. There are also lots of other things going on such as workshops, live music and performance as well as art works.

Sun 24th Sept 2-4 pm Villanelles at Waterstones Gloucester - Sarah is hosting a poetry recital, open mic and workshop. Free entry

Thurs 28th Sept 7-8 pm Villanelles Gloucester at the Fountain Inn Gloucester - Sarah is running a poetry workshop followed by performance and interviews. Free entry

From Sat 30th Sept - 31st Oct Frightmare Halloween Festival at Over Farm Gloucester - Sarah will be performing at various points during the Festival.

Fri 6th - Sat 7th Oct 6:30 pm Young G.O.D.S. Presents Alice In Wonderland at Ribston Hall High School - Mary's first ever musical. Donations on the Door

Young GODS Alice In Wonderland Production

Sat 7th Oct 11 am - 3 pm Cheltenham Fun Palace at Cheltenham Library - Cuddly Science presenting sci-craft workshops, puppets, science poetry, colouring and more. Free Entry

Sat 14th Oct 11 am - 1 pm Ada Lovelace's Coding Time at the Museum of Gloucester. Ticketed £5 concessions £4

Sat 21st Oct 2:30 - 5 pm Food for Thoughts Festival Special at the Cafe Rene Gloucester. Donations on the door

Sun 22nd Oct 2-4 Gloucester Poetry Society at Waterstones Gloucester - Sarah is hosting poetry recitals, open mic and workshop. Free Entry

Thurs 26th - Sun 29th Oct Gloucester Poetry Festival in various venues around Gloucester. Sarah will be hosting, performing various events through out the festival and there will also be the launch of the latest WigglyPet's Press publication Poetry Without Pretension.

Sat 4th Nov 7-9 pm Villanelles at Diverse City Festival Gloucester Guild Hall. Sarah shall be performing.

More dates yet to be confirmed.

The Festival of Archaeology (by )

Cuddly Science Histories

This weekend on Sat 22nd of July I'll be at Gloucester Cathedrals Festival of Archaeology event with my workshop Awesome Archaeology and Fantastic Fossils. There will be a sand pit with sieves and tools to find things, panning for "gold", a little lab set up to sort out and label your finds, clay impressions, sediment bottles, stratigraphic logs, metal detecting, papier mache fossils, little ruins to piece together and colouring in sheets plus some actual rocks! 🙂

Here is a sneak peak at the sandpit we've made 🙂


And this is all just me! There are lots of other things going on for adults as well as kids 🙂 I'll be in the Cloisters Garden 🙂

My workshop shows the basic methods for finding and sorting specimens/finds as well as going over some basic geological processes!

Oh yeah and of course there will be the Cuddly Science puppets!

Can you tell I'm excited?

This is the undigitised version of one of the colouring sheets as is the picture at the top that I have been working on. Created by making studies of actual fossils and archaeological ruins!


Mary’s Hair :) (by )

Mary's hair is now long enough to be plaited... if you french braid it! I am still not quiet up to scratch on these things but she was happy with the result 🙂

Right hand side of Mary's hair Mary's Braid from the front no flash Mary's hair from the back Left side of Mary's hair

Yes it's not a full braid - she calls it her "Elsa Hair" as in the Frozen film. It is a special for when she goes swimming which the school are doing again 🙂 Here is the cheeky one more time 🙂

Mary's French plait front

2 Weeks Away and Back Again :) (by )

So we finally managed it!!! We went away as a family for 2 weeks! We went far away.... far far away to another hemishpere. We went to South Africa, first time out of the country with the kids, first uninterrupted holiday for me and Al EVER - even our honeymoon in Wales was punctuated by work stops to internet cafes!

I bought rocks...

Amethyst and Raw Tigers Eye

The girls bought rocks...

Tri-coloured Goldstone

Alaric bought rocks....

Raw Amethyst et Al

I took photos of and told everybody who would listen about rocks (lit. I have taken hundreds of photos of rocks!!!).

rock beads

The rocks were pretty...

Rainbow rocks

Really we did get alot of rocks...

Did I mention the rocks?

mineral chips

The girls came home with some new friends 🙂

South African Cuddlies

We all did!

Pretties from South Africa

Lots of trinkets 🙂

Holiday Table Centre

And clothes! We took very little with us so we could buy cloths and things... well we bought lots of cloths and books and rocks!

Stuff from South Africa

This was Mary's first buy 🙂 At Cape Point where the seas meet where there were baboons and rocks!

Lighthouse snowglobe

It was amazing!!! I was petrified on the way out, planes... terrorism, pilot error, blood clots, I knew it was stupid I knew the most risky bit was the bus journey from our house to the train station. But it was still there, as it was I'd checked the blood lot thing out (I had blood clot issues due to pregnancy and wasn't allowed to fly but I was unsure as to when that restriction was supposed to end). Then there was the Gluten Free thing - seriously me and Mary are hard to feed - add in that I also can not have bannanas and strawberries and what not...

Turns out South Africa is MUCH MUCH MUCH better at catering for this stuff and not cross contaminating you than the UK is!!! I think this is because they are already catering for a range of food needs so it was little hassle for the restuarants and cafes to add another variant. (There were multiple options for dairy free milks and gluten free pizza crusts!!!!).

And the flights were great and I caught up on films I'd missed in the cinema. Though big plane rides (which I find less stressful as turbulence tends to be less) result in me having seizures 🙁 To be fair on the way out there was a stress as the car to take us from the hotel to the airport in Amsterdam was delayed (we were over nighting). And lighting and patterns in the airport began to make me feel not great so I had like a mini seizure thing and so was struggling when I got on the plane (and made us even later so we were like the last in the queue but at least the queue was still there!). I switched off my little screen and stuff but everyone elses was on and the lighting on the plane and it kept switching back on for announcements etc...

So I went into a deeper/bigger siezure and was embarrassed and did not want to talk to anyone as my speech was slurred. But I slept and carefully watched films with the brightness on my screen turned down and looking away for bright flashy action and fight scenes - avoiding films that had caused past seizures.

On the way back I got to the end of the flight before having the seizure, as in I was getting off the plane - scared the poor flight attendants :/ They have a new LED lighting system on the plane and were still working out how to us it. This did mean I was then stuck at transfer in a bit of a state, unable to talk properly and standing and walking hard etc... people kept trying to help which was lovely and embarasing.

Seizure was bad enough that I got some sort of weird cramp, spasm thing with my leg and now 2 days on my leg still hurts. It also meant Alaric was looking after me and the girls and trying to get us on the right vechile at the right time. Hence we ended up stranded at Paddington on the way home for 4 and a bit hours so we had pizza hut and it was good.

This means the travel there and back was a little stressful - the way out was a mini adventure of it's own which I shall shortly relate 🙂 (allbeit in another post).

And I had little mini seizure things if I looked at the sea too much and when we drove at night in the city and when the sun was shining low etc... but each time I learn better ways to avoid and cope and yes I was scared about traveling with it, I don't want to hit my head again but I can now tell when things are going arey and falling down is actually pretty rare. Muscle spasm things have happened twice as far as I know. Lynn's friend has the same issues and finds a sun visor helps so I borrowed one of Lynn's and that was a real help!

Anyway yes innoculations were painfiul, yes we couldn't really afford a holiday, yes it was scary getting on that plane, and it was a time of political unrest for the country.

HOWEVER.... it was mind blowingly AMAZING!!!!

We got to see family we'd never met, Alaric got to spend good times with his dad, the girls got to see the grandparents they tend to physically see every 2 yrs approx. and the country is full of wonders!!!

We saw a whale giving birth, seals in the harbour, penguins feeding their babies and deciding to swim with Jean, Jean surfed, we rode in a cable car, Mary loves giraffes as in the cuddly she chose to take with her was her giraffe, she was kissed by a giraffe, we saw where the oceans meet, I scared Alaric by disappearing on the mounting, we went to the places of Granny Lynn's childhood and learnt about her parents struggle, she got an award whilst we were there, there was singing, there were cycads (the "trees" of the dinosaurs) and dolphins and art fairs and the Maker Station (a hackspace). I painted and sketched and wrote some stories, I watched humming birds that flashed in the sun and read speculative fiction written by people living just up the road. I met artists and was climbed on by a little bright yellow monkey, Jeany surfed and taught Alaric and Grandpa Lionel to body board, we had a party with some local kids who came to play with the girls, we got painted and our hands washed in rose water, I discovered that Zulu mythology holds the same elements at its heart that Celtic mythology and Greek mythology does.

I found I could still read a landscape, could still see the stories the rocks wanted to tell. Jean spent ages talking to the lion rescue lady and... and.... it was not as foreign as we were expecting, the urban areas had a... well Dagenham vibe to them. Seriously it was like the old docklands and surrounding areas but with palm trees and random creatures like mongooses and baboons appearing. I think it's a port thing... all ports are the same on many levels.

As I said I have a bizillion photos and plan to do proper little writes ups of it all. I noted what we did each day in my note book - filled up the one I bought with me and bought another 3 whilst out there including one that smells of mushrooms in a non-rotten way. I also plan to paint more pictures from my photos now I am back but will share the ones I did as quick sketched there in Africa.

Also there is the question of the curry. Turns out the curry Alaric always thought wasn't real curry, the sort of curry I grew up with, that I cooked for him... is Cape-Malay curry. I thought mum had been taught how to cook it by a friend but it turns out her father was in South Africa at various points I don't know if that was as a member of the Merchant navy or as a fisherman but either way he bought curry back with him so it is indeed South African curry which is just bizar!

We owe a big big thankyou to Alaric's parents for hosting us and encouraging us to get our bums out there!!! You will all now be bored stiff with holiday pics and vids!!! You have been warned!!!

WordPress Themes

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England & Wales
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England & Wales