originally part of training/fundraising for the Hepatitis C Trust's Nepal trek. Now, sporadic musings...

Friday, April 28, 2006


‘Harnessing the Power of Dreams’ - Poetry Competition on the theme of realising dreams (max 40 lines).

Judge: performance poet and creative writing tutor, Crysse Morrison

1st Prize £50
2nd Prize £30
3rd Prize £20

This competition is a part of a fundraising initiative for Hazel Stewart’s trek to the Himalayas in Nepal, to raise funds for The Hepatitis C Trust Awareness Campaign.

The 100km trek at altitudes up to 4000m is organised by the Hepatitis C Trust (registered charity number: 1104279) in conjunction with Community Action Treks. All the would-be trekkers have, or have recently been treated for, the blood-borne virus Hepatitis C – and this is where the realising of dreams comes in. The commitment to train adequately for the trek is a huge undertaking – symptoms of the virus can include chronic fatigue, muscle and joint pains, fevers, chills, headaches, night sweats, blurred vision, dizziness and poor quality sleep. Other trekkers include a woman whose partner has hepatitis C, a hepatitis C specialist nurse and a woman who provides hepatitis C awareness training for agencies in the drug field.

If you are a poet, why not support this venture and take your chance at winning one of the small cash prizes on offer?

Anyone wishing to find out more about the trek, log on to http://www.hepctrust.org.uk/ and anyone wishing to sponsor Hazel can check out her donation page at www.justgiving.com/wychhaz .

Deadline 31st August 2006
Entry fee £5 per poem, £10 for 3. Entries must be in English, single-sided, single-spaced. Entries must be the work of the entrant and must not have been published.
Cover sheet required with name, address, email, telephone number, and title(s) of poem(s). No identification should appear on the manuscripts.

Critiques £10 per poem – enclose an sae and write ‘critique requested’ at the top of each poem you would like critiqued, and beside the poem title(s) on your cover sheet.
Please ensure correct postage on your entry – regretfully, we will be unable to retrieve entries which languish at the depot with inadequate postage. Only those entries being critiqued can be returned.

No corrections will be accepted, and no refunds will be given.

For acknowledgement of entry send an SAE marked ‘Acknowledgement’.

For a list of winners, send an SAE marked ‘Results’.

Entries not complying with competition rules will be disqualified.

Cheques should be made payable to The Hepatitis C Trust Awareness Raising Campaign, with your name and address on the back.

Post your entries, with cheques and cover sheets, by 31st August, to:

Harnessing the Power of Dreams Competition Secretary
H. Stewart
16 Marston Mead
BA11 4DU

No entry form required.

The judge’s decision is final, and no correspondence will be entered into.

notebook jottings..

19th Jan 06:

…something in the atmosphere, something of the rarified air of Nepal perhaps,
leaching from the slides of gargantuan mountain ridges, clear, pure skies… that called out ‘yes, yes, YES!’

…why do I want to do it?

Because I may never have another experience like it.

Because I need to know if I can.

14th April 06:

Orbiting the closeness of couples often intensifies loneliness when solitude is regained – at other times there’s a deliciousness about indulgence…

16th April 06

isn’t the breathcloud of a horse the most fragrant exhaled air in the world?

17th April 06

Under the yew tree
the ground is Easter damp
putting steam engines
vie with reverberating generators
bass lines to the dissonances of children
shrieking Bank Holiday wildness
conversations weave around the gravestones
and avenue of solemn box yews
linking church to lychgate

the outer perimeter
a snaking collage
of car boot stalls and classy traders
sculpted mirrors reflecting
the bronzed warmth of amber
next to tatty paperbacks
and tarnished silverware

the bells in the church tower
add melodious markers to the sliding afternoon

Monday, April 24, 2006

stylish fundraising... £182 to add!!!

Here are some of the pix Crysse took from our fantastic clothes swap evening last night. It was great to see some of the clothes I never get the chance to wear on other people... and of course, I got some choice pieces myself!
Some absolutely gorgeous colours (and women, of course!) as well as some fabulous clothes...
and lots of fun - which of course is obligatory! my thanks to all who supported the evening and made it so special.
it's always good to have a stylish 'dresser' to help accessorize the outfits...
I'll try to get some copy run off for the papers - 'Kind of Kerouac' got coverage in both the Frome Times and the Standard (& the Standard used pix, which was great given that it was the first issue to publicise this year's Frome Festival...) so fingers crossed!

SPONSORSHIP! www.steppingouttheatre.co.uk

News today - Stepping Out Theatre Company are sponsoring my blog! For details on the sterling work Stepping Out do, log onto www.steppingouttheatre.co.uk

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Easter break has been - and gone...

It's past the witching hour, so I should be heading back through the dream gate rather than firkling about in cyberspace, but so much time seems to be slipping through my fingers... I wanted to do justice to the NHCN conference, rather than merely mention it in passing - particularly as there were some very special moments, with deep inner resonance for me... I have a sheaf of notes jotted in bed on the Friday night, scrawled in the car on Saturday night, and more on my return, but... work and life intervened. Maybe there will be time before October! Or maybe some experiences are not to be shared, but simply hugged close to the heart.

No surprise that by Easter Sunday's walk, I'm thinking in lines of poetry - writing time squeezed down to words rather than pages...

today I walk with sadness
a leaded feather mantle
the Easter sun cannot warm
memories of a night-long lover's hug
on journeys through the dreamgate
tantalisingly incomplete.

Easter Monday - Mells Daffodil Day - Crysse and I walked over this year; last year we cycled. We sat with Siegfried again, and wrote a few lines.

The walking, the walking over the last four days has been wonderful. In bright hopeful Spring sun, therapeutic and grounding, energising and mood-lifting. Walking allows me to stay with my emotions, and release them naturally back to the earth, in safety and solitude.

I met a woman yesterday who has lost a close friend to hep C. Forty-seven - only two years older than me... I've asked her to write some words about her friend for me to post here, and give me something symbolic to take on my journey to Nepal.

My life seems to abound with such synchronicities at the moment. I'm continually touched by totally unexpected offers of support - an email from a haiku poet tonight offered performance at any events we have in the pipeline.

Tonight, I met two women who live and work in Shetland. I've always been intensely jealous of the writers who go there for months on end (though I don't fancy winter there - I'm too much of a sap!) I took one look at the photo of the view from Jill's window and just dissolved - such an idyllic coastline vista... Maybe I'll get there yet - what more perfect place to write...

Tonight's posh dinner at the Pump Rooms in Bath was pretty cool, too. Drinks around the hot spring pool, meeting some of the conference speakers... That too, felt like a gift. The food was delicious, and the company at our table varied and entertaining. Much more fun than I expected.

And so to bed - or I shall be too tired to enjoy the conference!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The regenerative power of creativity...

I had a great day yesterday.

The start was a bit wobbly - I managed a reiki self-healing before Ath was up and on the computer playing some of the vast library of sounds he's downloaded since I got MY (note that; MY) new computer... (is it men and male children in particular that have the compulsion to colonise - or am I just a jaded single mother?) To be fair, that wasn't an issue yesterday - he's managed to get Lowell George for me, I've been after that for twenty-odd years, and figured how to get it into my files from his. And yesterday I was in a hurry to get the the media arts centre. I'd hoped to walk - but it was a wet day, and I had tremendous sweats, so I had to have a quick sluice to be fit for 'public consumption'. No time to wash my hair - it would still be sopping wet for the filming.

With the music on, missed Crysse's text and call - so missed synchronisation, and was a bit late. Over coffee to liven us all up, Howard played us Crysse's 'Onomatopoeia' track which he'd done visuals for last time, and which he's made a funked up sound track for since we last met. It's just brilliant - and it's so energising to work with Howard's enthusiasm. While he got set up in the studio, I had time to jog my memory on my lines (having totally neglected to take on board that I should have learned them again for our session - life at warp speed means not being able to be as conscientious as I'd like, a great deal of the time I racket about like a bagatelle ball... even missed an acupuncture Tuesday - hadn't written it down and so it totally slipped my mind - I swear having a life as well as work makes for far more chaos than we ascribe to full-on addicts).

Four takes of me standing on a chair not speaking to Crysse's previously filmed head (the two-dimensionality of film is really weird) and we had a reasonable version. At least, it looked OK played back on the camera's built-in screen - proper screen-size, I might change my mind... Christies for coffee (via Raves from the Grave to get me a ticket for Pee Wee Ellis), lunch, a bit of tinkering with poems and trying to squeeze in some new writing.

A lovely few hours, in short. And productive.

I dropped Crysse and decided I was going to go for a stroll through the lanes. Just to see how it felt. By Little Keyford I get a text 'GET A STANDARD' so detour down to the Mount to pick one up.

They printed my review and pics.

One of me and Crysse, and one of Steve. Placed opposite the telly listings - so damn good positioning, too. I'm chuffed to bits.

And as I meander down under the railway bridge across the bypass into the Longleat Estate, it occurs to me perhaps I shouldn't feel I'm not doing enough. Perhaps I should just accept I'm doing what I'm doing, and that it can't necessarily be compared to the efforts of others. It's not measurable, it just is.

It's a beautiful day now. The dark clouds have gone, just cottonwool drifts in blue, and the landscape looks glorious in the Spring sunshine. I feel as if I'm playing hookey - which I am, in a sense; there are so many chores and such a pile of admin awaiting me - but this is sanctioned. I'm allowed to be wandering the Somerset countryside, filling my soul with the joys of freedom and Spring when there's work to be done - it's trek training!

Maybe the lesson I'm supposed to be learning is to junk that ethos; the ethos drummed into me all my life that always, always chores come before anything else - before enjoying being with family, taking care of your health, and certainly before any pleasureable stuff...

Two hours go by. And I'm not too knackered... Time to grab a quick snack, have a quick bath and dive in the car downtown to meet Crysse and Peter in the Granary for Pee Wee’s gig.

Home at the same time as (a very tipsy) Ath. He puts on the music and crashes out. I watch ‘Lost in Space’ for a bit until I get fed up and retire to bed.

Yes, I had a very good day yesterday.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

One step forward, seventeen back

All right, maybe not quite that bad. But that's how it feels.
I walked yesterday, the first decent walk since the 3rd April (and that was only 3/4 of an hour). Crysse and I managed a very short walk on Sunday (9th). So I've had nearly ten whole days of no time for a decent 'training' walk.

When I left work yesterday, I knew that by the time I got home, I'd probably be too hungry and tired to walk. So I took a wee detour to find Chew Valley Lake, parked up in the picnic area, and took a stroll along the Grebe Trail and then the Bitterne Trail - neither circle the lake, unfortunately. So I thought I'd try the other direction. It was a lovely blue-misted evening - a chill breeze blowing from the lake; good walking weather. Birdsong and wind in the trees muted the faint traffic noise from the road.

In the end, I wasn't so disappointed that I couldn't go all the way round the lake - by the time I got back to the car, I was knackered.

And by the time I got home, I managed an hour or so telly-gazing before I was zonked on the sofa - for the second time this week.

And I went back to bed this morning after I'd dropped Ath at work. (sleeping in on Tuesday obviously didn't catch me up completely with my sleep quota).

So much I wanted to do today. The idea was - an extra day off work to 'get things straight' as well as have the shiatsu treatment I'd had to reschedule on Tuesday because I was running so late.

There's a pile of admin to get through, 50 or so emails to respond to, I'm overdrawn again and need to transfer funds asap... there's piles more washing, I need to hoover - and as for the kitchen and bathroom floors... I don't want to think about the work I left to be sorted out back at the office on my return... I've got a couple of workshops to prepare for the WEA - I need to find out if the book club is going to run, and get my reading done if yes (Jane was on Grand Designs last night - mum rang to let me know, she'd remembered I said Jane was going to be on, how did she remember that? or is it just me that can't remember anything I don't write down...)

I've managed to wash up, get just one load of washing done, go to Carla for my (first ever) shiatsu (wonderful!) and sleep. I've fallen asleep three or four times since I got home this afternoon.

It feels like a shameful waste of a day - very like I used to feel when I snoozed my study days away.

I need to be much more self-nurturing when I'm timetabling work. No more training people on two days in a row - nor the marathon spread I've just had; two training days, a conference, a day's training, then a workshop, and another day's training. My external supervisor raised her eyebrows and commented 'that is full-on' when I told her...

But I did it. Even when there's a sense of thrashing yourself to the limit - maybe because of that? - there's a huge sense of achievement when you do get to the other side...

And Crysse and I are filming for the DVD tomorrow.

I need to draw up a proper trek training schedule, too. Stretching and walking - every day, even if it's only 15 minutes. Five minutes would be better than none... (I did swim twice at the conference - but I also drank gallons of coffee and (to my shame) smoked half a small packet of tobacco...)

I'd like to write about the conference, but now is not the time. Believe it or not, I'm tired and need to sleep (again!). So, more for another time.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Perception is everything - target on track!

If we break down the fundraising to March - September, that works out at £500 a month.
(as I only signed up around the end Feb, all that 'do I, don't I, will people support me to make this possible, am I completely crazy to even think of doing it?' during the end of Jan/beg Feb is largely irrelevant as 'decision time').
So, March to September it is. At £500 each month - 500 x 7 = 3,500

Which means we start April £213 up on our target (and there's £45 so far on a sponsor sheet at Lyn's, bless her heart, which we won't add in until the sheet is complete).

Perception is everything.
(a quote from one of the workshop facilitators at the Mainliners Conference - he's so right...)
Ruth's advice was 'do what you normally do, and incorporate the fundraising into that.' A tricky one - what do I usually do apart from write? (and these days, precious little of that - writing needs time so if there isn't any... It can't happen. I try to just take notes, things I can copy up or develop later - but as that begins to pile up, it just becomes distressing because I feel the lack of time even more acutely.
And really, what use is writing? If it hasn't generated an income for me by now... it's hardly likely to be a means of generating funds for the Trust and Nepal...
I'll tell you what use writing is; it has the potential to save lives, and to enrich them beyond measure. You can't put a price on that. I'm not saying that my writing has saved other people's lives, or enriched them - I may be a bit dramatic, but I'm not that grandiose (although people have been known to enjoy some of my readings). Writing has saved my life, enriched it, and been a tool for positive change...
And I think this blog is an extension of that.
Perception is everything.
And what it might do is keep up interest and the creative energy to keep things bowling along...
If I just follow what I'm compelled to do, somehow the universe will provide what is needed, as Goethe said - it's not for me to predict outcome, it's my task just to do the work...

Saturday, April 01, 2006

In performance mode... pix courtesy of Jill Miller

For those of you who weren't there, hope this gives a flavour - hoping to post up some more soon of our supporters that night!
Watch this space!

Kind of Kerouac Review - and £162 pounds to add!

Kind of Kerouac was wonderful.
Christies is a perfect venue for a relaxed cafe-style atmosphere with an intimate gathering. Once Steve opened the evening with his gravelly-velvet vocals (including Dixie Chicken and the Norah Jones number Turn Me On, which Crysse fell in love with), it began to feel far more like a private party than a 'performance event'. Crysse and I had chosen our set carefully, with slightly darker material than usual to fit the Beat Generation theme, and it seemed to be well enough recieved... Everyone certainly seemed to enjoy the evening immensely. Peter read extracts from Thigmotaxis - he reads so beautifully, and so does Skip (aka Robert Palmer). Skip's sets framed the interval with his thought-provoking and lyrical poetry, and included a piece from Kerouac. Peter, Crysse and I also had another slot before Steve rounded the evening with another selection of songs.

£162 towards the £3,500 target.

The evening was such fun, it was so lovely to hear Steve play again - having a musician open for us nervy poets creates a whole different ambience, we can be much more relaxed than if it's simply words...
All in all, to be part of the wonderful energy of the evening was absolutely intoxicating.

Well, for every peak, there has to be a trough...

About Me

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I began blogging during training for a trek in the Himalayas... several lifetimes ago. Currently working on my novel - in the tiny spaces left by a 50 hour plus working week...