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Dreams of the Blue Poppy out now as an e-book!

April 5, 2013 at 8:34 pm

If it hadn’t been for my sister buying a Victorian garden and building a house there, looking over at Pennine Valley, I would probably never have written Dreams of the Blue Poppy, my novel originally published by Robert Hale. It was there, in that garden, that my sister showed me meconopsis grandis, the Tibetan Blue Poppy, growing against a sandstone wall. I had never seen a flower so beautiful and such an amazing blue, and despite never having really taken an interest in gardening before, I set out on a quest to find out about this incredible flower. I was already very interested in Tibet, and when I began researching the book, I felt I had to go to the Himalayas to see where the Blue Poppy grew naturally on the mountainsides….

Now, Dreams of the Blue Poppy is coming out as an e-book, with innovative new publishers The Book Mill, masterminded by Neil Ferber and author Kathleen Jones. Available on Kindle, Kobo and Smashwords.

Click here for further details at Amazon.

Kathleen Jones has written a great review of the book, with a very insightful resume which you can read on her review blog – one of the best around – at http://www.kathleenjonesdiary.blogspot.co.uk/

And there’s an interview on Kathleen’s blog which you can find at http://www.kathleenjonesauthor.blogspot.com

The Book Mill have done some beautiful artwork on the book, which I’m really thrilled about – especially the cover. It’s really a work of art!

I originally went to Nepal and worked with the Tibetans as part of my research for the book, and this led to the publication of my travel book about Nepal and the Himalayas On Juniper Mountain which came out in 2009 with O – Books. Dreams of the Blue Poppy also led to the foundation of Juniper Trust our international charity which works sustainably with communities across the world, which I began in Nepal, and which now works in partnership with travel specialists KE Adventure Travel and a group of fantastic volunteers to build schools and improve health across the world.


September 4, 2014 at 11:40 pm


As the bee –lines lead to the flower’s heart,
so I come here again, an uncertain traveller,
storm-blown into this quiet air, the soft pricking of rain.
Nothing is what we expect in this place;
it is a crucible of change and if we are open to it,
not resisting, there is nothing that will not change in us –
our writing, our direction, our ability to take risks, to fly.

©Angela Locke



Somerled’s Final Voyage

September 4, 2014 at 11:35 pm


Somerled’s final voyage
At that time when day turns to night.
When the sea holds its breath,
stills its voice.
The wind drops and keeps its peace.
A black-sailed burlin
slips into the sound, sails furled.
Sheets strumming their own rhythm,
to join the sailors’ lament
and the grey seals sing their eerie song.
Somerled sails his final voyage.

As the mighty keel comes to rest on the sand
The Lord of the Isles is carried home.
With the setting of the sun,
With a pounding of silver hooves,
With the ringing of many golden bells
The fairies of the west come with the mist
To welcome the great hero home.
On a road paved with tears
Somerled is borne by warriors who weep.

His fighting done, his battles won
In Oran’s chapel he lies.
A spear in hand, a sword at hip
And a battle-scarred shield to guard his heart.
For all time he will sleep with saints,
A faithful hound to guard his rest.

Jane Laskey, Iona 2007

Sacred Earth…

August 29, 2014 at 9:54 pm

‘Sacred Earth’ is from Angela Locke’s fourth collection ‘Sacred Earth’. It has been used in Quest, the international spiritual programme for universities across the world.


The humanity of Earth
is a woven part of our consciousness,
and of her Nature. Without us,
we would not ‘know’ that Earth is,
and Earth could not know herself.

She sees herself in our eyes
as beautiful. We stand on the
seashore and watch the waves
and know we are alive,
and Earth through us
knows her aliveness.

We know the morning
birdsong and the secret night,
and we give Earth back her treasures.

So life dreams itself
and we dream Earth in this unimaginable
Universe, where infinity waits for us
to find ourselves.

Maybe we are Earth’s senses, cells
on her surface that tell her what she is like;
where trees are, ravines
and deep secret places,
white snows, eagle nests, flicking
rainbow fish in deep waters, how it feels
to walk barefoot on her rain-drenched grass.

We sing the song of Earth
with our everyday being. Be careful.

We are singing her dream back to her.
We may sing her to sleep, or death.

Reprinted in Quest: Exploring a Sense of Soul : O-Books  2005


Maryport LitFest: 8th – 10th of November: Senhouse Roman Museum, Maryport:

October 30, 2013 at 11:34 pm

LitFest POSTER 2013

I can’t quite believe it’s only just over a week until the sixth annual Maryport LitFest! We’ve been working on it since last January, and it’s been a really exciting journey. It’s such a privilege to work with so many interesting authors, and the icing on the cake was when author and broadcaster Melvyn Bragg agreed to come and open the Festival on the night of Friday, November 8, and talk about his new book Grace and Mary. He has been so supportive and kind, and the whole team really appreciate it. I’ve also had the marvelous pleasure of listening to Eric Robson’s voice-mails. That chap really should be on the radio! I can’t wait to hear his talk on Wet! which includes an account of his amazing journey round the coast of Cumbria, to be published in the spring. And I’m so looking forward to seeing biographer Kathleen Jones again – she’s been in Italy for a while, has come back to a brand-new granddaughter born last week in the UK, and yet is still going to make the journey across Cumbria to come and talk about her new biography of Norman Nicholson. As the main theme of the festival is Neptune and his Realm, the coastal towns have been so important in weaving a theme together – and Nicholson and Millom are practically a double act!

There are so many marvellous writers coming to give pleasure to the LitFest audience, and I can’t wait for it all to kick off on the Friday night!

Tickets are still available for all the events. Just phone the RomanMuseumon (01900) 816168 or go on the website at www.senhousemuseum.co.uk

Melvyn Bragg to open our sixth annual Maryport LitFest!

October 14, 2013 at 10:08 pm


The sixth annual Maryport LitFest is only three weeks away! We’ve worked so hard on it since January, and now it’s nearly here!

And the great news is that the author and broadcaster Melvyn Bragg, otherwise Baron Bragg of Wigton, has so generously agreed to come and open the Festival on Friday, 8 November. He will talk about his new book Grace and Mary, which I have read twice, and found delicate, beautiful and moving. It explores the desperate sadness around seeing someone close to you with Alzheimer’s, and then goes back into the previous generation to make sense of personal history. I find it a very tender, loving novel, which is clearly close to the author’s heart. As my own mother died of Alzheimer’s in Cumbria in 2001 – just into the new century – and her history has so many of the same echoes as the mother in Melvyn Bragg’s novel, I found the book almost unbearably to read. It moved me to tears, and yet in its own way there was something very cathartic in its journey through that sad rite of passage.

It is immensely generous of someone so busy as Melvyn Bragg to make the time for our intimate little Festival. This is a real chance to get up close and personal with the authors in a very private and special setting – that welcoming quality, and the way we weave a theme around the whole weekend, in this case Neptune and his Realm, based on a rare head of Neptune which the museum is bringing up from the vaults for the Festival, and an altar to Neptune, makes it unique in the world of LitFests. Do try to come – and book soon, as tickets are going fast! You can click on the link to see our full program, and a flyer, below. Hope to see you there!


Maryport LitFest 2013 Flyer


Dreams of the Blue Poppy receives ‘Awesome Indies’ approval!

July 12, 2013 at 10:05 pm
Really pleased that Awesome Indies have today recommended the e-book of ‘Dreams of the Blue Poppy’. Have a look at http://www.facebook.com/AwesomeIndies
The Awesome Indies site shares recommendations, reviews and promotions of independently published books.

Course dates for Iona 2014 and a new brochure!

June 28, 2013 at 10:58 pm

The new course dates for 2014 are September 1st-6th.

Download the IONA BROCHURE  2014.

Some writers have already booked. I am holding the price for the Writing Course at the 2013 level….


Have a look at the Argyll Hotel, Iona’s website http://www.argyllhoteliona.co.uk/ and then give them a ring on 01681 700334. I have currently booked out the whole hotel for this period, so let them know it is for Angela Locke’s Writers Course in September. Book now and you still have a good choice of rooms.


I had been toying with the idea of setting up a course in September, as this is so often a beautiful time of year; the sea warm, the island in its full glory with wildflowers, the hay cut and hilloped up in stoops. Even the odd corncrake lounging about, taunting the twitchers! So after 14 years, I have taken the plunge, and the new course will take place from the 1st to 6th September 2014 instead of its usual time in May. We have some bookings already. I do hope that you will find a space for peace and quiet in this sacred isle; a magical gift in itself.


I invite you to join us! 


Etched In Stone by Rebekah Spivey

June 27, 2013 at 9:52 pm

Etched in Stone

 Iona is etched in stone. Layered in granite, pink and gray. Balancing female and male energy. And even though she is a thin place, she is anchored in the sea by the rocks. The restless water nipping at her shores, changing the shapes of her rocks, never to be replicated. The wind helps with this chore. But Iona continues to cling to her spot in this world, as tenacious as the purple flowers growing out of the stone. Royal Purple for the kings brought here to rest. 

The wind will not win this battle: will never blow Iona away. Don’t think the stones are silent. They are not. They sing of Iona’s history. They sing of her secrets. Here we have time to listen. We welcome her songs, her stories we need to hear. Her secrets  tell us where we are in her journey.

 This is why we return, to hear more of our story, to Iona where we are required to be authentic selves. Here our stone masks removed and we are free to stand solidly on Iona’s rocky shores. We are free to fly.

Rebekah Spivey

May 9, 2013

Iona; Rebekah Spivey’s Journey…

June 27, 2013 at 9:45 pm

I am honoured to be able to publish Rebekah Spivey’s wonderful piece Etched in Stone. Rebecca came over once again from the US for my Iona course this year, and she always adds a great sparkle to the group. She is full of humour and kindness and a terrific writer, as you will see from the piece I am about to post. She is part of a group of experienced writers in the United States, and last year I had the honour to be their guest for dinner at the Argyll Hotel when they came over to Iona on their own course. Talking to her group about the inspiration I find on Iona and which I try to share with my writers, I realised how important the island is to me, how wonderful it is to meet like-minded writers there, and how I draw inspiration from them in their turn. One of the main themes of Iona 2013’s course was The Journey, seen almost as a pilgrimage, and Rebekah’s faithful Travel Journal, which she takes everywhere with her, has been photographed in many locations on the island and on her long journey to join us – below is a picture of the famous Travel Journal – immortalised on Facebook – taking up residence on the seat outside the Argyll Hotel, looking out over the emerald sea towards Mull where Rebekah once lived for a while…

Iona Writing Retreat 2013 – a memorable year!

June 21, 2013 at 6:38 pm

I know I say this every year (as those who come regularly will know), but genuinely I felt this was the best course ever, though all the courses on Iona have been wonderful to me and gifts in themselves. Exceptional work of such a high standard, and so much! Everyone worked very hard and there was so much pleasure in listening to extraordinary work with a great mix of people – all so supportive of each other, and generous in their attention to the work of others. And of course in this I have David Clemson to thank for giving me such support every year in his afternoon classes, which contributes so much in widening the knowledge of our craft. This year we thought it would be rather a good idea to put work together and not lose it to a wider audience. We hope to make a scrapbook for the Argyll Hotel, but also I have a little booklet which would be a fine aide memoir for our special time on the island. So watch this space!

 It is a gift from me to draw breath and take time in the serenity of this special island. Also a great joy to work with writers who are taking their craft seriously, and are so gifted in themselves, beginners and improvers all. I know it is hard work, and we keep up a hectic pace, but I still feel I’ve had a week on retreat when I come home, and I do find it so hard to settle into ordinary life. This year, the some reason, I felt especially sad to leave Iona, as the sun came out, and everything looked so beautiful before I had to say goodbye. Every year I try to go up on deck and look back, as the island recedes from behind the stern of the ferry. Sometimes I can’t manage to get up there if the weather is too rough, but this time I was able to look back and remember – so much beauty and so much pleasure. There was the little Argyll Hotel nestling in its row of cottages, its grassy lawn looking out over an emerald sea framed by black rocks and white sand. There was a lump in my throat as I said farewell….until next year!

I am putting up on the website some of the work sent by participants so far – a sample of what inspiring writing has been achieved! I do hope you enjoy it.

I had been toying with the idea of setting up a course in September, as this is so often a beautiful time of year; the sea warm, the island in its full glory with wildflowers, the hay cut and hilloped up in stoops. Even the odd corncrake lounging about, taunting the twitchers! So after 14 years, I have taken the plunge, and the new course will take place from the 1st to 6th September 2014 instead of its usual time in May. We have some bookings already. I do hope that you will find a space for peace and quiet in this sacred isle; a magical gift in itself.

I invite you to join us!