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It has been a truly joyful experience to spend the beginning of this year with a wonderful supportive group. Thank you Alison, Rachael, Sylvia, Emma, Emily, Macha, Becky, Penny and Jane who joined us remotely. We’ve shared our experiences, we’ve laughed and we’ve written.

We wrote of what Home means to us, we explored treasured objects and the meaning they held for us, we crafted poems, drew maps and spent time thinking about our homes and our gratitude for them and really looked at our homes in a new way. It provided a weekly connection that we all looked forward to and it was really interesting to see how everyone responded differently to the same prompt.

Here is a selection of our work – beginning with our group poem.


"I felt more connected and enjoyed being able to write and share in a supportive environment..."

Workshop participant, Leicestershire

My home is....
Group Poem

My home is my duvet - it is warm cosy and safe

My place to be myself, my springboard, my resting place

Children, pets, books, old furniture;

Chaotic, comfortable; a place for care and creativity

Now “Hands, Face, Space”, pasta, toilet roll and masses of grace
My home wraps me round; it is a box where I store my free thoughts

A colourful endless jumble: "Banana Dream", "Sulphur Springs" and "Powdered Clay"

but mostly indecision My home is a coat of many colours, full of dreams.

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

A Moment
Alison Collins

Wrapped in my warm and scruffy layers
Boots heavy with mud,
I stood, the cool air around my face.
A tightness in my back,
I stood up tall.

Coffee cup in hand (left out for me to drink)
I cast my eye around this tiny bit of land.
‘I feel grand!’

The vision all around is one of muddy mess
But, in my mind, I see next summer
On this winter’s day
With family together
Flowers alive with butterflies and bees
The girls together, finding paths to nooks and crannies
Built by granny,
Then visited by spring
With room for growth.

Family life in all its glory
That’s the thing

Alison Collins

I am holding treasure
Brighter than diamonds
More precious than old gold
Our tale in the telling

Brighter than diamonds
It has travelled through time
Our tale in the telling

It has travelled through time
Weathered storms, basked in sun
Deepest thoughts, hopes and fears

Weathered storms, basked in sun
More precious than old gold
Deepest thoughts, hopes and fears
I am holding treasure

(A poem on objects - a simple, undecorated pen holder worked in wood by my son aged about 10/11, and a tiny Fimo pot decorated with fruit, made by my daughter in her early teens)

Two tone or Three?
Sylvia Johns

Two tone, with nuances of mustard
or is it really a shade of custard?
Humble, looking down, a family of three
the child folding his wings piously.

Or is it really a shade of custard?
Now the son is a King Brasstard
the child folding his wings piously
revealing relationships in this family

Now the son is a King Brasstard
his journey, at times, has been quite hard
revealing relationships in this family
this barometer tells us surreptitiously

His journey, at times, has been quite hard
humble, looking down, a family of three
this barometer tells us surreptitiously
Two tone, with nuances of mustard

(Sylvia’s son in is a band called the King Brasstards)

The Conservatory
Becky Onions

The space changes throughout the year,
flowing through the seasons,
in springtime it’s light and bright,
it comes alive
inside and out blended together,
like butter and toast
the conservatory is a welcoming host,
like being greeted by a Sunday roast,
all the senses are activated
and it feels like home,
outside, the air is fresh with a soft elegance
inside, the sun radiates heat
the windows speak
absorbing the rays,
as it’s warmth glows upon my face,
it’s a temperature change
until the sun goes behind the clouds again,
then all of a sudden
it can start to rain
I sit and listen
a comforting sound
the space is turned upside down,
moving with the weather
but it still feels together,
like a sense of a moment
lasting forever.

Becky Onions

I can’t wait to get back to St Ives,
a place I call home
where I no longer feel alone
my happy place, where I can switch off
and be in my comfort zone
a time for peace
a place so serene
but lively and enticing
a home so inviting
as I drive, I see the sign for St. Ives
so exciting
my heart leaps with joy
it tells me welcome home
this is where you belong
a familiar old song
with lyrics so powerful and strong
reminding me of this place I’ve yearned for,
for so long
it’s always been there
a timeless classic…
it never grows old
it feeds my soul…

Names of Places
Penny Wright

Rural settlements can be set miles apart and may comprise just a few houses and a farm. Growing up in North Cornwall in the early 1950’s, I travelled around the district with my father in his work’s van passing many country fingerposts. One in particular sparked my interest because it pointed the way to somewhere called SHOP. We never went to this enigmatically named place and as I couldn’t see the village I naturally assumed there wasn’t one. Of course I was wrong. We didn’t visit that village down that turn off because why would we take a chance on finding it when we were on the A39 heading somewhere real?

I often wondered how a place could have come by such a name so I made up my own answers.

Perhaps, I would think, SHOP is the original singular word for one sheep and there will be a big farm there, or maybe it’s a misspelling of shope, a geographical word denoting a special sort of hill formation. Or maybe it marks a crossroads out in wilds of the West Country where people once travelled to barter their goods next to standing stones. Nowadays, my imagination leads me to believe some places in the future will bear the names of long disused retail parks, built as they are on plots of land on the outskirts of towns. There might be forgotten areas named The Oracle or Cabot Circus, for example, and future generations will speculate on what sort of lost places they had once been.

So, as a young child my reasoning similarly led me to conclude that SHOP had also at one time been a retail outlet, albeit very small. I visualised it as an old wooden shack with a corrugated metal roof standing on the grass verge beside a road junction far away from any town and its amenities. Here you would be able to buy jam and bread and other necessities like wellingtons and spare bits for tractors. When I was a little older I changed this image to a chip shop, or possibly just a site where a travelling fish and chip van paused for custom. But actually it was probably called SHOP for many years before take-away food existed and if the name really did relate to a mobile van it would have required a very long round to turn a profit. How many hours would it have taken and miles to travel visiting tiny hamlets off the A39 away from known civilization?

Inner space – the prophetic picture becomes a real truth
Emma Munday

This piece is written in the context of my “room within” or inner room, as I do not have access to a room of my own or private space to write and create in.

Every time I close my eyes and “Be still”, I see the same picture in my inner room. The sun on my skin is warm with an orange glow, the air fresh and clean and I am at peace. I’m seated on the top step of a grass amphitheatre, deep, circular, acid green and soft. My eye rests on the centre where there is a large tree, with globe like dense leaves, sturdy wide trunk and what appear to be butterflies of multi-coloured birds flitting and flying. A river runs through the centre at the trees base, and the entire scene feels lush, opulent and other worldly.

And He is sitting beside me, dressed as a normal man, relaxed, not speaking. I want to ask ALL of the questions that have been on my lips, demand answers to the mysteries of the earth. I am excitable and giddy to be in His presence. But He places a hand on my chin and turns my face to refocus on the view in front of me. And I don’t know why, and it repeats each time I revisit my inner room. Unknowing does not become knowing. I’m frustrated demanding and confused. It is pressing and urgent.

Here I am, I’m driving to a strange destination, alone, 20 miles from my place of rest, not knowing how I will be, or quite why I am travelling to this place, musing and abstracted, when everything starts to feel oddly familiar. I’ve been here before, but I know for a fact I have not. The closer I get to my journeys end the intensity of the feeling becomes more so. The mountains, the coastline the fragrance. I’ve been here before. On arrival the feeling is so intense it's almost a madness.

They tell me, “go to the cross”. I walk slowly, through wooded areas, leafy paths and shade, then emerge at the foot of a small hill with a majestic wooden cross, surrounded by rocks and written prayers. I’m so consumed by this image that when my eye eventually drifts beyond the immediate place of sacrifice, I see in full glory, the familiar in the unfamiliar. A circular, bowl type valley, lush and green, with a tree at its lowest point of centre and a river running through it. The sunlight reflects off of heavy raindrops in the grass, and in my deepest soul I know that He has brought me to this place. For this time. For this moment. For His purpose. For Him. For me.

The inner room and the outer space collide. This prophetic place is also my real truth.

Renaming The Hometown –
Call it as it is...
Emma Munday

Call it as it is. Say what you see.
The field of wheat which is actually the sea.
The settlement houses once humble and spacious
Taken over by money now huge and rapacious
Allotments with veggies, “A place to Grow”
The Barn is the “bomb” where the yarn ladies sew.
The river is changeable it flows and it floods
The Nook fish bar is really “The Infamous Grub”
Then “Little Italy” where the Grass Mafia meet,
The Cemetery where generations rest under your feet
Then back to a place that I wont give a name
As it resonates with fear, and darkness and pain
Then Home which I call the Penis Hotel,
filled up with Boys whom I love so well!

Emma's Map

Rachael Milczarek

In the middle of it all (my life)
I find myself living here in ELLISTOWN
Which is not a town at all
It isn’t anybody’s town… least of all Ellis
Who came and went a hundred years ago!!
If this town, my current town has or had a purpose
It is to present a crossroads and then point the way
Along the miners tracks to Ibstock full of good stock
Or charging forth on bicycle down the Ivanhoe path to Bosworth
Turn right at the mini roundabout and head towards Coalville
Past the little houses rattled still by the roaring quarry lorries
But standing firm and strong through it all
If there was ever a reason to stand still here in this place,
this ‘blink and you miss it town’
by a tree, a hedgerow, in a field
listen and you will hear
sBirdsong... they didn’t leave!

The most comfortable sofa in the world?
Emily Kendrick

I can’t remember who named it this
Sitting side by side
In a cold warehouse of temptation,
The day I met my sister’s jolly, polish boyfriend for the first time
Kieran had to give me a time limit
In my sky high mood – I would buy everything

Through the dark days and blue moods
It became our day bed
I watched and tried not to watch the clock

Head and shoulder above our old sofa
Even though 3 legged-leaving claw marks in the wooden floor
Older than its years
(count the tea cup rings)
Odd socks
Stubborn salt and pepper hairs
(they are always there and never leave)
Sticky from black coffee lakes
Flick marked with milk
Biro scribbles from when biros were a feverish discovery
This sofa has seen:
My breasts a thousand times over
Our boy turn from dark haired bairn to blondie
From snoozing to climbing to pulling it apart
to hiding in its shadow clutching books
        * Today fresh red wax crayon *
TV suppers, chips suppers,
Tin Dragon, biscuit crumbs
Basking in sun then shadows
hand me down curtains -
        open and close
        open and close
Does it feel like groundhog day?
Watching plastic vehicles moving in and out of their homes
Some with tinkling tunes
Dinosaurs, spoons banged repeatedly
Door banged repeatedly
Kieran’s gurgling stomach
Old records played with a fluffy needle
Seemingly the same books read on continual cycle
The ice cream van passing by again
A smelly bag of nappies
Frankincense and myrrh incense
Tired tears

Great Things that have Happened – after Alden Nowlan’s poem
Penny Wright

Great things, world-wide, important things have happened this year.
Trump off the rails. A vaccination for Covid 19 produced at record breaking speed
and I know we will talk about this time of shielding and separation for many years into the future
But those little personal memories will be sharper. Moments which broke the monotony stand out.
We said it was like going on a real outing the day the tip reopened;
and visiting the park was great too where I could see, but not touch, my baby grand daughter,
now walking, wearing her new crocs!

Content Within a Group – No Babysitter!
Penny Wright

Were there four of us or six?
I can’t remember that.
But I know I sat on the floor with Alan, in front of the settee.
Who was behind me? Tom and …..?
And we were happy to see the New Year in with no effort.
Someone had whisky. We must have had something else, perhaps wine.
It was a calm and easy evening.
Big Ben chiming midnight on television.
No fuss
no prep.
That was the joy.
No shouted conversations
no dressing up.
Actually no party.
Which is why we were in our house - sitting on the floor.

Resin and Dirt
Macha Barnden

This poem was written in response to a prompt which asked us write about an object in our home. In the 2020 lockdown I completed a part-time Art Foundation that I had undertaken as a mature student.

8 X 11 X 3.7 cms
Resin and dirt
At the end of the course there was no exhibition,
because of the pandemic. So, the block has a place
on a shelf in my house, my personal gallery.
Not as smooth as I wanted, resin block 8 X 11 x 4 ish
Containing the detritus swept up in the time I had to myself
on Christmas day 2019, cast in a resin block.
Usually, before the guests arrive, we open stockings on the bed,
the children, no longer little, piling on with the dogs
and the braver cat. A nostalgic ritual; our Christmas spirit.
Once dressed, a last-minute sweep with the hoover,
revival of cushions and throws, coffee machine humming
then bubbling, the smell permeating the air.
A rush of dogs to the door signals arrival and
instantly the hoovering is rendered pointless as
Biscuits are crumbed, paper ripped and discarded.
I knew it was significant, looking at the dirt and fluff.
Evidence of my choice to spend the spare moments
with the dustpan. 23 mins where I was not needed,
Communing with the waste.
Journeys had been narrated, gifts witnessed in our
contemporary nativity, but in the
23 minutes where nothing was needed,
On the floor, I am with the waste
Fluff, dust, ribbon; a lone Rice Crispy;
A flash of slim, red metallic thread
Filements of fur; a miniscule nest
Double helix of cotton strands,
Fragments of twig and leaf;
The thin elastic of a broken hairband
In a moment of inspiration
I slipped the contents of the dustpan
into a clear polythene bag.
I knew it was significant:
evidence of something
that I wanted to examine,
to interrogate
At the start of term I took the bag to the workshops
To preserve these minutes; to say something
about my life now, the way I spend my time;
the domestic pull. Rob the technician
confessed that he had never cast
the contents of a dustpan.
I learnt to decant the transparent fluids,
Stir them into a viscous mixture, and pour this into
the perspex mould I had sawn and sanded and glued.
Dog dander, hair tie, puff of rice
suspended and conserved between glugs
like those men preserved in arctic ice
All of our DNA is in it, I should think
But the significance of the block
Is as a unit of my life
It represents a fraction of minutes and hours
that I have given to the most mundane tasks;
Repetitive; repetitive. Repetitive.
We have never run out of dirt
You could view it as a sad inditement of the time lost
and what might have been achieved
if I had all those blocks of time ,multiplied
through birthdays, playdates, weekly routines,
mishaps, making dinner, after the bedtime story.
What if I had that time to make something new,
to express something important
Of being a living human being, now?
Sometimes I am Jurassic
And rail against The Drudgery;
the drive to order
that I have inherited
from generations of women
who committed their blocks of time
to this Pointlessness.
A feminist roar rises against all this waste,
never mind the mental load
But the sun is shining today, as I look out of the window
The sun is shining through the leaves of the bamboo
The palms, the ferns, the pots fringed with snow
In my small yard. As I write, the puppy sleeps below
and the sun spotlights the dirt on the floor, the mat,
the sill of the door, even though
I hoovered and mopped just yesterday.
In this pandemic, I treasure every snapped branch,
every clump of mud, every cup ring, discarded packet
and socks stuffed to the back of the sofa.
If there was no doghair, there would be no puppy kisses;
The broken hair bands are sloughed from my kids
Ready for flight when the doors to the world open,
But with me now.
They are a waste of time, all the 23 minutes
But a marker, too, of all the precious times we have together.
Now, the Christmas celebration, the drudgery, the anger and
all the love, bigger than any of it;
all of this is locked
within a resin block.
And this poem.

23 Minutes - Pantoum
I knew it was significant, that I must preserve it
23 minutes held in the contents of a dustpan
The minutes and the hours that I have given to
The most mundane tasks; repeat repeat
23 minutes held in the contents of a dustpan
Trapped solid like those men in arctic ice
The most mundane tasks; repeat repeat
This block that is a unit of my life
Trapped solid like those men in arctic ice
Rob said that he had never cast dirt
This block that is a unit of my life
Dog dander, broken elastic, fluff and dust
Rob said that he had never cast dirt
The minutes and hours I have given to
Dog dander, broken elastic, fluff and dust
I knew it was significant, that I must preserve it.

Jane Cawrey

Kneeling on my bed, I have everything:
The cold is outside, and I am warm,
My father is downstairs,
My mother has just left the room;
We are enclosed, by the snow.
The treasures are in here, with me
And within reach:
The book, the kaleidoscope, the bear
And outside the snow is making light.
Birmingham has been silenced;
This night is the darkness of magic,
Not of fear.

I have looked it up, this is Boxing Day, 1962
The year I got the best presents –
A year I wasn’t wishing there was something else
Or, someone else.
The white bear, snowy and soft.
The kaleidoscope, for colour and surprise,
And the Arabian Nights, mine to investigate.
So I remember this, a perfect Christmas, before everything.
It was the snow that sealed and held us,
Making our home, this room, the safest place on earth;
For one evening,
Creating a gleaming moment out of crystal light.

Indian Teapot
Jane Cawrey

The pot is cold and hard, a little damaged;
Across the surface, animals run.
Were you a gift or were you bought?
The snake observes and is silent.

Across the surface, animals run;
A man, I think, takes tea, another meditates
The snake observes and is silent.
Like a willow pattern, they run without moving

A man, I think, takes tea, another meditates
As no-one comes or goes from the little huts.
Like a willow pattern, they run without moving
And I am looking at an exotic world.

No-one comes or goes from the little huts.
Were you a gift or were you bought?
And I am looking at an exotic world.
But the pot is cold and hard, a little damaged;


I was thinking about all that Writing From Home has done for me, and I am so grateful! So, I wrote a Pantoum as my feedback:

At ten o’clock on Thursday
I zoom with friends
Not known before.
We share our words and worlds

I zoom with friends
Then, listen!
We share our words and worlds
With Katie and each other

Then, listen!
Alone and now together
With Katie and each other
We are mindful and creative

Alone and now together
Not known before
We are mindful and creative
At ten o’clock on Thursday

Taking part in these workshops has helped to build my confidence in being part of a group and has also contributed towards building my courage to share. I felt more connected and enjoyed being able to write and share in a supportive environment. It has given me a lot to think about and reflect on in terms of the topic as well as my creativity and personal achievements, I’ve really enjoyed it. Thank you Katie for being a very engaging and supportive host!

I very much enjoyed the workshop which was a very positive experience Having to focus on a theme made me concentrate. Katie urged us to look at The prompts in different ways so as to find personal experiences or emotions To write about. Her suggestion to write down the thoughts in our heads so as To clear our minds at the start of the session was one I found most helpful. The group members were friendly and supportive and willing to share their own efforts which encouraged the exchange of ideas.

So glad I am doing this. I have got some things on paper that I am sick of having going round in my head.I feel really good; it was nice to travel into the past in the writing and it was lovely when someone else said that what I had read resonated with her. I enjoyed listening to the others and taking part. I am so glad that I have given this time to myself without expectation or demand, and that these sessions are here for us. This time allows me to think and process, and creates a sense of calm and being centred that I would otherwise would not have. I really value this time, and it is a great example of what I should be doing rather than sweeping up! Great to focus on all the things I am grateful for… and to listen to others. I feel uplifted, and amused