My feelings on paper

Barbara Warsop, Sheffield, Yorkshire

I have not done much this week, contrary to what others are allowed to do re the opening of hair dressers, pubs, more shops and cafes with outside service.

What joy, after not seeing my daughter Ellen for months, she came on Tuesday to see me and we spent a wonderful afternoon in the garden on such a lovely sunny day. The next two days I spent time with my daughters Karen and Sarah outside with a cuppa when they brought my shopping. I am very lucky to have such caring daughters. They have provided me with more food than I can eat. The freezer comes in handy.


One day this week I had a video appointment with the physiotherapist who gave me more exercises to do for my back problem. How to stand up how to sit down. Knee rolls back rolls step ups. I already have 39 steps down to the bottom of my garden. Will I be able to remember them all?  

I also had a phone appointment with my GP. He has given me muscle relaxant tablets that have more side effects than you can shake a stick at. Oh well!! 


The local pub has put up a wooden awning with lights and tables underneath and the punters like it, they can sit outside with cover now. At lunch time lots of people sat outside in the sun with no masks and not socially distancing their children playing in the children’s play area. I was not impressed.   

I have now had my second jab and was told to wait three weeks for me to be fully protected.


My garden is starting to come to life and I love it but now we need lots of rain as some plants are looking dry and one of my specimen trees looks dead. The toads have not arrived in my pond yet and I wonder if it’s too dry for them. The Redpoll are still loving my sunflower hearts and fight over prime place in the cage.

During all the lock-down my family have kept me amused with snap chat and I join in with the fun, I received a card that I am sharing with you for my 81st birthday of all the silly things I send them. Plus, a picture of me with my blue socks that they all think are amusing. I am just a figure of fun as my husband used to say and I love it.



Tropical thoughts Part 2

Paul Lowden, Malaysia

The Parakeet and the Mermaid à la piscine 


Face down in the pool’s midday glare

I stare lazily at my shadow’s bottomed 

Swirled outline. Limbs reduce to shapes.

I glide and my thinned torso tracks along

The blue tiles like an abstract “Icarus”. I play

With the cut-outs, raising an arm, tilting my head

Enjoying the live surreal moment of the free

Fall, suspended, a show outlined below me.

Coming up for air I look around and there 

Instead is the mermaid shapely caressed 

And in the tropical greenery a bird I’d like

To be a parakeet but know is probably

Not. And in between, the luxurious leaves and 

Sunlight and ultramarine play tricks across 

Matisse’s dancing languid piscine.


Mary’s projects mostly

Mary Hildyard, Totnes, Devon

If life ever returns to normal I shall welcome being able to visit the post office in person with a joyful heart. Then, if my letters and parcels go astray, I will know for certain who is to blame - the Royal Mail or the US Postal Service, not myself. Yes, I have learned to “click and drop” packages and large letters using the computer. And yes, I have arranged to have parcels collected and tracked and signed for. But, I have had terrible luck with my postal efforts.


During the pandemic, Royal Mail has been noticeably slower and more chaotic. They are probably short staffed. I hate to think of the man hours that have been spent redirecting and returning my post to me.  Some of it has made its way across the Atlantic and back again. I am looking at some well - travelled post.


I made a “pop up” Birthday card for my sister, Janet, in early February. When you opened it a sailboat popped up - she is mad about sailboats. When the card failed to arrive for  her birthday I was perplexed and a bit sad. I emailed her a photo I had taken of  it, but that was not so satisfying. And you always wonder where it has gone. Where does lost post go? Well, the card turned up this week, back from its trip to Michigan. “Unable to Forward” said the label but why did it need forwarding? Janet was in Michigan in February. 


Perhaps February was just my unlucky month. I also made a Birthday card for Peter that month and sent it to Norfolk. This also disappeared until last week when I received a card from Royal Mail asking for payment of £1.50 for someone’s underpaid letter. It turned out to be MY underpaid letter. This time it was “user error” perhaps. The card, I guess, was too fat. I had weighed it. I had measured the length and the width but perhaps misjudged its bulk! I am going to place it in a new envelope to send it again in May for Margaret’s birthday as a “joint card”. I hate to waste it.


Luckily for Simon’s birthday this week I was able to hand him a card.



Corona Diary

Annabel, A village in North Norfolk

Oh there’s quite a lot of news this week, I had to make notes…

Les McKeown, a huge heart throb to teenage girls in the 70’s died this week aged 65.

He was the front man of The Bay City Rollers and they were massive.

I saw them at a Young Farmers barn dance when I was about 17, obviously in a barn on a wet and rainy night in Shropshire. I wore my new long white Laura Ashley dress with a little flower print in mauve, also big in the seventies but not tartan so completely wrong for the occasion. I arrived in a gale on my speedy yellow moped with my billowing frilly dress tucked into my waterproof pants. Oh the glamour.


Today 39 Postal workers had their convictions quashed in the Horizon computer glitch scandal. The biggest miscarriage of justice ever.

“These prosecutions were an affront to the conscience of the court” which in legal terms means they were a shocking disgrace.

There are hundreds more who were also charged with fraud, false accounting, imprisoned, bankrupted and disgraced. In total, 736 sub post masters and mistresses between 2000 and 2014 were prosecuted by the Post Office which has private prosecuting powers based on information from the bug ridden Horizon computer system which kept saying that money was missing when it wasn’t. They knew this and carried on prosecuting the poor people.

Now they will be able to fight for compensation and hopefully some heads will roll. It was truly appalling and has gone on for years.


The journalist Nick Wallis has followed this story for years since he spoke to the bereft husband of Seema Misra who had been taken away in handcuffs and imprisoned at 8 weeks pregnant for fraud. She finally had her say today.


Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis policeman who killed George Floyd was found guilty on all 3 charges, second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

What a relief, the tension was very high as the judge opened the jurors envelope. Chauvin is now in solitary for 23 hours a day “for his own protection”.


Corona virus numbers are really going down here now but India is having a terrible surge and not coping at all. It is the worst spike in the world recording nearly a million cases in three days. The hospitals are turning people away and people are dying on the streets outside and that’s Delhi and other major cities. They have run out of beds and drugs and there’s a desperate shortage of oxygen. I don’t know why there isn’t more international support. Their government have been very slow to react. There’s talk that the spikes are linked to huge political campaigns and rallies for state elections packed with thousands of people and no social distancing or masks, a bit reminiscent of Trump but denied by the prime minister Narendra Modi.


My annoyance of the week is The Archers script. Why do they always have to take the worst possible scenario and get their characters to act completely out of character. It is so irritating.


The beautiful funeral of Prince Philip was last Saturday. It was very moving. His fell ponies stood outside the chapel with his cap, blanket, whip and a little Tupperware pot of sugar lumps on the seat of his trap.

Every thing shone, shiny brass chains and instruments, spotless uniforms, shoes gleaming, stripey lawns. His household staff all lined up out side.

His favourite press photographer Arthur was hidden inside a pillar in the chapel so he could be there and take pictures.

Prince Charles looked miserable, Princess Anne looked lovely in her black hat. Prince Andrew looked portly. Prince Edward is maturing well and Kate looked immaculate in her pearls. Harry looked nervous.

After the service the family walked back to the castle and Kate chatted to Harry and then dropped back to let Harry talk to Wills but I don’t think there has been a big reconciliation. There was talk of a tea afterwards. Princess Anne blanked him.

Lovely music, a lone piper. The British really do all this stuff very well. It was perfect for Prince Philip as he went off on his Land Rover. The Queen looked so sad all alone in her pew. She was 95 on Wednesday.

All his ribbons and titles were pinned up behind his coffin. 


The herald, Thomas Woodcock, Garter Principle King of Arms read out the list of titles and honours. 

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich, Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Member of the Order of Merit, Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order upon whom had been conferred the Royal Victorian Chain, Grand Master and Knight Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom, One of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, Admiral of the Fleet, Field Marshal in the Army and Marshal of the Royal Air Force, Husband of Her Most Excellent Majesty Elizabeth the Second. 


Alexei Navalny has ended his hunger strike after being advised he will die. He is so brave. At least 1500 of his supporters got arrested. They are brave too. 


There’s a major spat going on tonight. Boris said Dom leaked the Dyson tax texts. Today, Dom hit back and went for the jugular. He knows where all the bodies are buried so they are on very dodgy ground.


I'd better go.

I’m in the shop and have upset one girl so far who just wrapped a scarf around her face. I was going to the desk to get her a mask but she legged it.


All for now

Love Annabel xxx



Hello from Eastbourne

Shirley-Anne Macrae

What a difference a week makes


I feel glad the children have returned to school. I think I felt rather ashamed to say that and felt I should be glad of this extra time with them that Lockdown has granted. It has been lovely but equally, I feel drained. I need to recharge my batteries, especially as it's only around ten weeks until the summer holidays and then possibly, a third Lockdown. I had better make the most of it. So with recharging and free time in mind, I am flower pressing. I have purchased two presses of different sizes and researching plants. I'm planning a scheme for my Garden Room as the lino cutting isn't working out. Tomorrow I am heading out of town to buy some linen type paper to mount my pressings onto. I'm enjoying the shops being open even though I haven't bought anything for myself. I'm bored looking at paper and other materials on the internet, I want to see it in a store. I'm enjoying the atmosphere in the shops and streets, helped along by the sunshine we've enjoyed this week. 


Last week I was fretting because my eldest child is demanding more independence and I felt the easing of restrictions would leave me with no choice but to grant it in its entirety. However a week or so in and I'm realising that I am still in charge and I can measure it out in small doses. And easing of restrictions means they are back at school, shops are open and I have time to flower press and buy materials. Yes, what a difference a week makes.


Then and Now

Peter Scupham

This sonnet, previously unknown, was discovered on Shakespeare’s birthday in a heap of sixteenth century manuscripts we had been using to light bonfires with, kept in an outhouse at Old Hall. A note signed Will Shaxper claims that every line was written by him alone.


Sonnet 156


How heavy do I journey on the way,

For what care I who calls me well, or ill,

And threescore years would make the world away.

Make but my name thy love, and love that still.

Then, what could death do if thou should’st depart ?

The earth can have but earth, which is his due.

When I am sometimes absent from thy heart,

O know, sweet love, I always write of you.

Your monument shall be my gentle verse,

My verse alone had all your gentle grace

For every vulgar paper to rehearse,

Dulling my lines, and doing me disgrace.

         When I (perhaps) compounded am with clay,

         The worst was this; my love was my decay.


From the Editor

Margaret, Norfolk

Friday April 23rd - Shakespeare’s birthday


Sunny but a chilly east wind. The tulips have not done well this year. I waited for ages in the winter before planting new bulbs because it was so wet, and many of the existing bulbs seem to have rotted in the ground.
Heigh ho! ...as Shakespeare might have said. So I’m not picking many for the house, just odd ones surviving in the old vegetable patch. A lot of the ‘early’ tulips are coming up late and Queen of the Night (I had lots) seems to have done a vanishing act.

But, as ever, we have a wonderful crop of cow parsley, which I love, though it is almost invading the house. The cat Bertie disappears into it for hours at a time. Hatty is older and above such simple pleasures and hugs the Aga.

But things (cross fingers) do seem to be relaxing here in the U.K., with no nasty reversals yet. We’ve visited a couple of local plant nurseries this week, and many friends I know have enjoyed meals outside and visits to gardens. 

On Tuesday, Chris and Sheila came for early tea in the garden, and Sheila and I had to be photographed by lovely photographer Danielle for a feature on this journal in the Eastern Daily Press by Rowan Mantel. You can find it online! 


If you are reading this this because you read that article, welcome to the journal!


It has been a sad week too. Poet and friend, Anthony Thwaite, died on Thursday, aged 90, after a long illness. He will be much missed, firstly at our annual Poetry Picnic, if we ever have one again. And more importantly as a good friend, who lived a long and fascinating life.