a busy week

On Tuesday Gill brought in her dye cutting machine for cutting fabric for doing appliqué

Chunky knitting by Margaret

It was lovely to see Cate back in France and she is always trying something new

A couple of paintings by Patricia

Dawn was conning with her oil painting

Steve finished off this one

On Thursday Cate was doing a large pastel

Jackie was doing this ethereal water colour

… and I was painting on roof tiles



lots of seascapes

Patricia did both of these paintings this week

Another water colour from Daniel

A stunning painting in acrylic by Steve

must do this – Dawn (S) had painstakingly painted some colour charts starting with one colour and adding different colours across and white going down. It must have taken ages.

Dawn has finished her archway in water colour

Sally was continuing with her cross stitch

I decided to try another collage –  need to get into the swing of this again

I have finished this now

a few pomegranates and a surfer

Colin and Sue came this morning for the first time. Sue had never painted before so this was impressive

and this is one of Patricia’s quick acrylics

Some of last week’s work

This last picture is a take on the American Gothic painting by Grant Wood. Needs a bit of tweaking but nearly there.


Creative writing

The writing group has started off again and here is some of their work

Jenny writes:

“One of the many conversations we had at the last creative writing meeting was about the importance of particular moments in our lives. Brian considered the pain of parting and the joy of meeting up again and for him, the station at Angoulême was particularly significant.”

The Station by Brian Wilkinson

How many more of these sad departures shall I witness –

The last hugs, the last kisses, the final waves? The sadness.

Platform Two hosts the long carriages all too briefly.

Impatient, the engine is eager to wrench my loved one away to other loved ones in another city;

They will warmly hug, kiss, smile, even laugh . . . then hurry away

To a short adventure.


And now I once more stand on Platform One.

Stand, pulse stirring within . . . waiting.

Wanting to see engine headlights, saying “Soon!”

The station clock, ever so slowly teasing away the minutes, long minutes. Before

She alights, smiling, beautiful. Here. Now. No words but urgent kisses.

And warm hugs.


Welcome words bounce between us.

Let’s leave this place for our own warm place.

To embrace another welcome of tail-wagging, kisses and joy!



“Someone at the meeting said ‘You have to know when it is your last time‘ and this struck a note with Jenny, so she wrote about that idea.

No Time like the Present    by Jenny Gilbert

“You have to know when it is your last time,”

Otherwise, later, you will feel cheated.


You have to know when it is the Last Time

You will ever be facing each other,

In case you don’t pay enough attention.


What if you rush your final words –

Or you overlook some detail?

What if you turn your back too soon?

Then you won’t remember clearly

That Last Time.


If only the brain could alert the heart:

“Watch out, the end is about to start!”

Then what a chance and a gift that would be –

To stretch your last moment eternally


And spin the Present fine like silk

To catch every last detail fast

And keep each one to view later –

Then you could endlessly repeat

Your Last Time.


So, this Now, I know, this is our Last Time.

Our farewell.

My eyes can’t leave the detail in your face

Or your eyes.


I breathe in your breath

Speak to hear you speak

And it’s impossible to touch enough

Or for this, Our Last Time, to last

Long enough.



A couple of poems from Anthony Kirk – Tony the Window Cleaner to his friends

Mont Buet 1st April 1987

“We made a fire that night.” “Do you remember?”

My front was hot

My back was as cold as hell

A frozen lake unwrapped itself before me

And lay solid like giant cubes in disarray

as if stuck fast to the inside of the wall

of a forgotten fridge-freezer compartment


“We looked up into the sky” “Surely you remember”


Their! Their! Hale Bopp presented itself like pieces phosphorous,

which had made its escape from the end of an old match

Dancing through the space in slow motion

like a Catherine-wheel that had lost it’s pin


”You do remember, don’t you?” “Say you do”


It crept slowly across the fabric of the night sky

Continuing on its mechanical,  melancholic return  journey back to the sun.

Leaving  behind in its wake,

bits of old cogs,


some dials,

some second hands,

and some postcards from a long lost and forgotten letter box.


Throwing out its sodium streaks, which  ripped through space

Like a beer stained 1980’s asteroids gaming console

in the corner smoke filled wine bar in Bordeaux

Only to makes its return in 4534


“ You will come and see me again?”. “Say you will “ “Please”


Plastic People 


I know people.

Real people.

Common people but…….

They are all plastic people.

Stretchy, bendy polyethylene people.

I have nothing against plastic

And nothing against people

But when you connect them together

Everything they touch turns to mastic treacle

Contaminating the world with their plastic faecal


We have become purveyors of plastic

Food wrapped in cling film and see through plastic

Then we throw it all in the sea

Hoping that nobody can see

Until it leaches and hits the beaches

And ends up in the stomachs

Of lots of sea creatures


I know people.

Real people.

Common people but…

They are all plastic people.

Stretchy, bendy polyethylene people..

I have nothing against plastic

And nothing against people

But when you connect them together

Everything they touch turns to mastic treacle

Contaminating the world with their plastic faecal.


Tony your tea drinking Window Cleaner Man working in the Charente and the Dordogne.

Written with my blue BIC biro ……
Sent via Tony’s Etch A Sketch……..
Saved on my Vitamin C tablet……..
Sent from my GPO trim phone……..
Tea= mc2


Glad to be back

We are open  again after a break of a couple of weeks when we needed to return to the UK. Lots of interesting painting going on this week

Patricia is as prolific as ever and finished off two pictures this week

Steve finished this painting as home – absolutely gorgeous

He also brought this long thin painting of a pier. The top is a detail of the left hand side – it’s not finished yet

I had to paint these hellebores in water colour – I was a bit rusty

And Daniel was painting another in a series of coastal water colours

lots of good work this week

some lovely water colours and mixed media

Chris does some beautiful horse paintings

A couple from Patricia

Pauline has finished her acrylic painting



I forgot Frances’ beautiful water colour

bowls of fruit

I did some small quick acrylics

Dawn was doing some beautiful little water colours

I am really impressed with Pauline’s improvement

Patricia rattled off another acrylic today

Daniel was doing this lovely water colour

… and Sally Ann was doing some cross stitch


The Creative Writing Group

For a couple of weeks this winter the writing group are meeting and here are some extracts from some of the members

Tony’s poem Lost Love appeared on The Dronne Valley Network recently. He has created an unforgiving landscape in which familiar places and objects provide a menacing backdrop for the arrival of a tourist.

Lost Love          by Tony Kirk

this outcrop of rock

sits heavily in the scheme of things

the village square is spooked

by trees that are in constant motion


these incontinent isobars

crisscross the hail bruised sky

while the old broken sundial

waits patiently for the sun


the old church bells

like dormant rocks

pounds heavily like distant ancestral drums

rain clouds ebbs and flow

covering the square

in a thick skin


a half filled polythene bag

stop starts, slides, starts stops

and is held fast on the grill

of an old forgotten drain


a lonely tourist appears

bent forward like an old parishioner

she pushes away at the elements

from the inside a borrowed broken umbrella


her feet moist damp from torrential trudging

she struggles to find a welcoming window

a warm place to wait

and seeks refuge in a homeless doorway


she waits in agitation

that broken promise

last night’s perfume permeates

through sulfurous pores


but the shop doors are shut

firmly into their frames.

all hermetically sealed

like supermarket meat


her windows heavy now with condensation

her facades wait in silence

for the lost lover to return


the lightning cast its sheet

over the old church wall

she starts to count one….. two …….

she wonders if the tourist office

will ever open again



Brian recently brought “Machines” to the group and we were impressed by the way he’d taken the idea of something inanimate having a voice. It is at once powerful and melancholy.

MACHINES   by Brian Wilkinson                                             November, 2018

Bright light startles these lathes, millers and drilling machine soldiers.

Regiments of Staggered lights steadfastly scatter to advance before you.

Your clinging with short hopeless hope to darkness is done.

Once again, inky Shapes appear in short time yet now silent from their mischief.

Suspect! standing steel grey war making machines, did you play through this spent night?

Did you touch, did you speak, did you watch mice scattering spent sandwiches hither and dither for their young,

They too avoiding spent oil, dirty suds laying their liquid death around, should they skirt these silent grim puddles?

Watch startling bright lights follow busy hurrying humans accepting you are now back in position

Welcome the quiet cheerful peacefulness of this brief morning moment.

A mechanical awaking of sculptured machine tools slowly emerges energizing your vast space.

Human chatter, laughter, smiles, drowned by your lustful noise, urgent to change metal into parts.

You pursue for hours this screaming din.

Your reward! the birth of shining parts lying orderly in dirty metal trays awaiting leave to their appointment.

Your magnificent worthy hours now waiting for a silent calm. To again welcome the night’s darkness.

Colleagues cease creaking. Mulching mice riffle through to paltry scraps.

Now is your time once again.

Jenny’s short story is an attempt at a Christmas ghost story – is it cheerful or downright miserable?

Window Display

Sheila was fully aware that she had grown somewhat invisible and that as she walked down Talbot Road on this particularly grey day, no-one would remark her passing. She had become a ghost.

Burying her bluing hands into familiar pockets, now cold, she drew her chin down into her scarf and walked towards the Hospice Shop as usual. She stopped in front of the window to peruse the bargains described in marker pen on torn off pieces of cardboard box  – but today she didn’t feel interested in special offers. She really was cold and though entering inside such a warm interior was tempting, she stayed out there in a darkening street, where she felt she belonged.

Sheila gazed at her grey indistinct reflection standing next to the inflatable Santa and plastic reindeer. She was a huddled shape with everything drawn in. Buried in her scarf, she thought she looked a sorry sight and decided to move on.  She took a step back and watched herself fade into the coats and umbrellas on display – each made merry with a twist of tinsel – and there she still was; a spectre amongst it all, looking on:  separate. She sighed.

Sheila was a little surprised when she saw her own face wink. Her own face now large against the glass, brown eyes shining, flushed with excitement and animated by a huge grin. She nearly died again when her own body raised a hand and began to tap with one finger upon the windowpane. Sheila stared, the tapping turned to a thudding and then she heard her own voice call, “Hello!”

It was certainly her own voice. Sheila stared, fascinated and unable to tear herself away. She went closer to have a better look at her face which beamed back until the lips pursed and emitted a loud raspberry blast.

“Oh!” Sheila jumped back from the spray that splattered on the glass. On the other side, her spectre threw back her head and laughed and then Sheila watched herself rummaging through the coatrack, then pulling off her own grey coat and replacing it with the blue fur one that was suspended, its arms at jaunty angles, from the ceiling. “What do you think?” she laughed, striking a pose and spinning on the spot. Sheila was horrified to see herself, hand to head, strutting around the inflatable Santa, kicking aside the neatly laid out shoes at the front of the display. Was she really singing “Santa Baby?” Was she really dancing like that?

There was giggling behind her and Sheila turned to see a young lad with his arm thrown around a girl-friend. They had stopped despite the drizzle of rain to watch her window display. Then, to Sheila’s horror, an elderly man stopped in his tracks, a steaming pasty not yet reaching his open mouth and then there came a little boy and a little girl, all bundled up in warm coats to tap on the glass and laugh delightedly at her antics. And no wonder, for now Sheila watched herself waving at the children and straddling the plastic reindeer, crying “Gee-up!  Gee-up!”

What next? Would she juggle with the shoes? Sheila’s thought was answered with a “Why not?” from the other side and soon there were shoes flying everywhere. Sheila could see silver court-shoes and red and green wellingtons rising and falling above the heads of the crowd and then they started to rise in rhythm and everyone was counting until the air exploded with a round of applause. The crowd started to disperse, chattering and laughing, pink cheeks glowing, rubbing their hands against the cold, as Sheila’s spectre took her final bows.

She was now looking straight at Sheila, standing right in the middle of the window. Next to her, the Santa was decked in the blue fur coat and the reindeer had a lampshade on his left antler. She was wearing a sparkly jacket over her grey dress and she was still holding a pair of red stilettos.  She smiled and Sheila smiled back at this curious, wonderful  woman. “Don’t worry. I will tidy up.”

Sheila laughed and shrugged, stepping forward to put her hand on the window where her fingers felt warm against the cold of the glass. She watched her spectre as she did the same – two women linked, two women separated.

It was time to go. As Sheila watched her reflections fade into the glare of electric light, she thought, “That was fun,” and headed once more up the busy road.