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Although we were meant to be the Derbyshire group, our Monday morning clan was quickly rebranded ‘The Melting Pot’ – while some were Midlands based, including Leicestershire and Nottingham, others Zoomed in from further afield; Devon, the Channel Isles, even Volgograd in Russia! But despite the distance, there was an undeniable creative synergy between us from the beginning.

Over the six weeks of the course, we wrote and shared about anything and everything, welcoming from one another our tales of growing up, and the people and places that have impacted our lives, to forging new friendships in lockdown and what it really means to be connected. It’s without doubt that the enthusiasm, empathy, and encouragement our diverse collective had for the work and each other made this project a special experience for us all.


"Thank you for the effort you and your team have given to bring such a joy to lockdown days..."

Workshop participant, Derbyshire

East End Terrace
Maureen Boon

The hedge in my Aunt’s garden where Tim the cat’s adventures would begin.

Wind Whistle House where no person was ever seen but the elements played.

Grandad’s large tidy metal shed with strange smells, many racks full of tins and bottles, where my doll’s house furniture was made.

The stream by the cricket field where conker shell boats sped by.

Buckland Beacon, where Moses never visited but left his calling card.

The A38 dual carriageway cutting through my Aunt’s garden; what would Tim do now?


A House Called Tomorrow
Karen Forbes

I dream of Tomorrow, do you?
Slow-lane life
Unmasking lip gloss smiles
Abrim with Forgiveness.

Our chance will never come again.
When the Kindness of neighbours and honey bees
Repaint this world amber,
Painting over the grey.

Take time, my friend,
Make time...
Take something from the Covid Curse.

Will you share in my dream?
When they open my House,
My House of Tomorrow?

Home From Home
Rae Gray

Take me please, overseas to
County Fermanagh.
Where green really is green.
Cows chomp greedily, and
sheep flock down Market Street.
Where tractors park on roundabouts,
music swings from lamp posts,
flitters among evergreens.
Laughter and smiles brighten
yet another rainy day.
Where Loch Erne meanders,
its pulse slowly pausing, in
true Fermanagh time.
Through Lusty Beg to
Boa Island, heading
towards Belleek.
Where lazy streets spring to life
for funerals, weddings and
band parades. Pints sunk
feet dance, tales regaled
in traditional pubs that
close, sometime. Never.
Where large families gather,
for endless tea, scones,
wheaten and soda bread.
Exploring the Who’s who of
Fermanagh, alive or dead.

Watercolour memories of time
Tatiana Polyakova

The painting on the wall
Watercolour memories of time
Lockdown stories of mine
The place to which I belong

Watercolour memories of time
The outside world
The place to which I belong
Becomes just a window view

The outside world
Freedom is not a word
Becomes just a window view
It is inside you

Freedom is not a word
Lockdown stories of mine
It is inside you
The painting on the wall

My lockdown window view in Leicester, Tatiana Polyakova.
Watercolours on paper, 26x36 cm, 2020.

Old Lady Wardgate
Vicki Dean

They say ‘home is where the heart is’. I’m not sure who ‘they’ are? But in certainty my home and heart are where my family is. Our household is always surrounded with love, friendship and laughs. We have the usual fights and cross words but no-one ever goes to bed without saying, “I Love You.”

For over 200 years, our current and hopefully forever home, has perched on top of the valley, presiding over miles of patchwork hills and woodlands. She is placed only a stone’s throw from Carsington Water. From one aspect, you can see her peculiar angles, all out of alignment. Her walls all juxtaposed against each other. In reality she is our stone-built guardian. She protects us as a family, like an egg shell protects an unborn chick. We are safe from the elements here, especially the howling winds that cruelly whip around the Derbyshire Dales. For the past 3 years, she has steered all of us, as a family, safely together through different turmoil. We are 4 unique points; the North, the East, the South and the West of the compass. Different and individual but we are all still a direction of some sort. It is the house that brings us together to complete the circle.

She cossets and cuddles us on wet and cold days, enveloping us in a warm embrace. On hot sunny days she throws open her windows and lets the cool breeze flow throughout. She makes us feel happy, a sense of excitement we’ve never experienced before. We question her history, the many stories that have gone before. The aroma of the past, pours from her stone walls. As each piece of different patterned wallpaper is peeled off, it seems another part of her narrative unfolds. Secret cellars, blocked up windows, hidden treasures? Who knows?

The garden, surrounded by an ancient Hawthorne hedge, adds to her sense of mystery. We hear old rumours of an underground stream and funnily enough a straight line of tall green grass always grows, across the main lawn. Will we ever find out the truth? Does the house want to ever let her truth be known?

Are we her keepers or is she our keeper? I constantly ponder this question.

Wardgate Cottage is alive with her own personality; the radiators and pipes talk to each other, the old original ship’s planks wooden floorboards, peppered with tiny extinct wood worm holes, echo back and forth at each other’s groans. Nights are plagued with distant phantom footsteps and voices, we don’t recognise, sometimes the scent of lavender fills the air. All reverberations from a distant past I’m sure.

I am grateful and thankful for this weathered but grand old lady. She harbours us against the elements and the outside world in general. When her heavy wooden front door is closed, we are back in the beating heart of our lives, our one constant that will always bring us back together; home.

I have finally answered my own question;

Wardgate Cottage is indeed OUR keeper, but we are merely a passing speck in her long past and future history.

Insatiable Desire
Rita Avgerinopoulou

The places I’d like to live

Where to begin?

From the fantastic world or the real?

Let’s pretend for a minute that I’m pragmatic

Then, yes, perhaps Sydney, beautiful and friendly,

Or Would it be New York, culturally superior,

With only equal in the Western world London,

Or Queenstown, the most beautiful scenic town,

Or what about Leicester, where I live the dream,

To live in a beautiful place, urban yet rural,

Away from huge cities, away from capitals and metropolises

But no matter where I am, I can’t keep myself from dreaming.

Of Middle Earth and the Shire,

Of Diagon Alley and Hogwarts,

Of Star Trek Enterprise and Tardis,

If only I had just a stargate to travel along the galaxy,

If only I had a thousand lives to study all I want to learn and travel to all the places I want, real or imaginary.

Oh, the greed for experiences!

Oh, the insatiable, smouldering desire that devours me!


Thank you for running a brilliant course

Thank you for the effort you and your team have given to bring such a joy to lockdown days.

Thom is a wonderful teacher/tutor. Always in a good mood, ready to help, he provides a whole lot of stimuli, he knows how to motivate us, and he never criticizes (if that is not a plus I don’t know what is). Before this course I had no idea that writing can be so simple (in the sense of stimuli). I feel that Thom unlocked my potential (well, if there’s any...). I really enjoyed the course and I hope that way more will follow

This course has been excellent in every respect. Thom is a natural and caring facilitator, always courteous, encouraging and caring in his approach. The group is just the right size for us to share work and ideas, discuss topics and insights, and receive feedback from each other. We have been so fortunate that this wonderful group have bonded together in a mutual love of writing and appreciation for each other’s writing talents

I so look forward to these inspirational sessions every week. I do hope we will have the chance to do something similar again in the future. Thank you to everyone who had made these workshops happen, they have been invaluable especially during these difficult days of Lockdown.