Thursday, 29 March 2012


Springtime and change is all around us, ponds laden with frog spawn new buds on the trees and faint brush strokes of green among the hedgerows. It is difficult not to notice change on this scale, the whole of creation it seems to be on the move. I think I was around 7-years old when I first caught a frog and kept it in a bucket in the back yard, eventually my parents encouraged me to let it go and on our way to Ugthorpe, Freddy was released into a small stream at Guisborough. The photo above was taken while walking through Guisborough woods last weekend; who knows? it may be one of Freddy's descendants.

I have been suffering with back pain recently and our housekeeper Mrs Johnson suggested a long soak in the bath with some herbal bubbles; I usually shower so the thoughts of a bath never enter my head. Mrs J prepared the bath and called me when it was ready, a room full of steam and the smell of lavender was quite inviting. It was during this long soak that i began to wonder when did I grow so tall? My toes just under the taps and my shoulders resting securely at the other end; now I am only 5foot 4inches but thinking back I was always known as shrimp, so when did I grow? Growing up in Warwick Street Middlesbrough, we didn't have a bathroom and each Saturday night the old metal bathtub would be brought in and filled with hot water. I had my own enamel tin bath (the one that was used to carry the washing); bath time was great in front of the fire. But the question is still there, when did I grow?

We respond to change, generally after the event; how would it be if we were able to live the changes?

Friday, 23 March 2012

The old man

The action was a self portrait for a photo competition; nothing to do with creative writing, and here we are approaching another Easter and so little progress with the book. I have to point out quickly that the title of this post is not referring to me (though it certainly could) but to the writing desk/ bureau and book case. Throughout my memory years this piece of furniture has been referred to as "the old man". My paternal grand father (Edward) was a cabinet maker and served his apprenticeship at Harrison's Grosmont; his father (David) was an engine driver and lived by the river at Egton Bridge North Yorkshire. The old man can be dated as grand dad signed and dated the bottom left drawer October 1909. Harrison's had their own woodland in Grosmont and I expect that is where the timber would have originated.

The old man has purpose apart from being a thing of beauty, I always felt important and that I was doing something special, writing at  the desk when a small boy (one way at least to get my homework done). I wonder what grand dad would have thought about a laptop resting on the desk? He was a particular man, paying close attention to detail, the dovetail joints are as strong today as they were when he put them together; ageing has only added to the character even to the splashes of blue from the ink pots. Time spent in creation, be it wood working or writing is never wasted and serves purpose into the future.

Time has been invested in producing a piece of work that will be used in schools and youth centres; it is a piece of software entitled Life-SkillsLabyrinth (it is easier to give you this link than to begin to explain). In our work with young people, it was felt that many had missed some of the basic stepping stones of life and this is an attempt to replace them.

Note to morning office: Do not be afraid to put yourself into that which you create, that's how we get the best results.