Popular Tags:

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


Bird watching on Staffa Island 2013 by J.G Mortley ©

July 24, 2013 at 8:57 pm

Bird watching on Staffa Island 2013                                J.G  Mortley ©



We were solicited by some puffins

To offer protection from their pimps.

They let us take some pictures

For helping guard their shrimps.


She landed just in front of us

On her web stilettos,

Coyly she slinked towards us

Over the greasy meadows.


“It’s ten minutes for the photos

And fifteen with the group.

Take as many as you want

But all you can do is look.”


We fumbled with our trousers

To dig out our cameras.

She nodded to her pals

And they started to surround us.


We reveled in their beauty

As they unfurled their wings.

We took pictures of them posing

As they thought of other things.


You see it’s the gulls that are the heavies,

The villains in this piece.

We were there for pleasure

Not to steal fish from puffin beaks.


The Glade by J.G Mortley ©

July 24, 2013 at 8:55 pm

The Glade                                         J.G  Mortley ©


The sound unlocks the spring, releases the pressure rising. The gases escape with a hiss and puncture the air with their pungent smells. The smells cling to the walls and paint the room with colours – the wood appears and we sit surrounded by the flowers and fauna of a glade, fermenting before our eyes. It bubbles under our feet, as grass and ferns sprout up to caress our ankles. The wet whip of dew slides down our trouser legs as we feel its cool kiss on bare skin.


The table has reduced into a brown sheet, a pool spreading out on the floor of the glade. The pulp and grain now shine and glisten with the varnish of the summer sky – knots to clouds transforming; the gnarl and twist of aged trunks released into cirrus and cumulus illumined by a light lifted from the sun. A mirror or a portal – only the gazer will know the answer.  Take the plunge.

Haiku from Iona 2013 by J. G Mortley ©

July 24, 2013 at 8:45 pm

Haiku from Iona 2013        J. G Mortley ©



Sense of exit

Stealing early hours

To take the bus


Pretty to survive

Symbol of rites of passage

Lily Lotus



Fantasy island

Creating a new voice

From seas and shore



Type click go

Email post confirm

Plane bus ferry



James Mortley’s Iona 2013

July 24, 2013 at 8:41 pm

James Mortley was a fantastic addition to the Writers’ Course on Iona this year. I knew nothing about him when he booked. When this tall, genial figure arrived, he immediately fitted in brilliantly with the group. We were amazed when we heard that he hadn’t shown his work to anyone – for he is seriously talented, a talent spiced with a great sense of humour and very modest with it! Perhaps too modest, as I think he still doesn’t realise how good he is. James was taking a brief career break when he decided to explore the possibilities of the Iona course, and we all felt strongly that he must include his writing in any future career path. We wish him luck!

James and Charles Woodhouse took a trip to Staffa in extreme bad weather (full marks to the boatman )– but nevertheless both managed to create some great writing out of the soaking experience. Hence the Puffins…!

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…