A Wild Spirit

It is with sorrow that I write of the passing of Sue Vincent. I often say that blogging has changed my life, and that is absolutely true – what started as a little place to write about writing and whatever was on my mind became so much more, the friendships I’ve made here ones that will last a lifetime. Sue was one such friend. While I didn’t get to spend much time with her in the ‘real world’, I feel truly blessed to have known her. My heart goes out to Stuart, and her family, and all those who loved her.

Sue was someone who often seemed to be magic, a fairy dancing across the hills in dainty shoes and flowing skirts, while the rest of us trudged along behind her in hiking boots and wet-weather gear. Yet she was real, and down to earth, warm and generous and kind, and gave the most wonderful hugs.

When I first heard of her diagnosis, I wrote a post about it. You can read it here. But really, head over to her blog, or that of The Silent Eye, and read all the beautiful words she wrote from her heart, of life and magic and mystery and love, of gentle teachings and magical journeys through the landscape, and of course, the small dog.

She will be greatly missed.

The Soft Emptiness of a Liminal Place

A beautiful post from Alethea. Words from the heart.

The Light Behind the Story

Image by Adrian Campfield from Pixabay

I am already missing her and she is not wholly gone. When I search for her presence, I find the soft emptiness of the liminal place. Holding. Waiting. I don’t want to think about grief, again. A prolonged letting go that takes me on a journey to uncomfortable landscapes. We grasp at the tangible only to discover that we will eventually reach the cliff of letting go, not knowing when we will arrive there.

And sometimes there is no liminal place to linger.

It is a test to step into the space of soft uncertainty and feel the soul cocooned between the life and death of the temporary vessel. I do not want to think about pain and heartache. Those sitting beside her, holding the space. Holding her hand. I do not want to think of the labored breath before it breaks free. Pain…

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Getting there!

The Triad of Albion, the story of Don and Wen and their adventures in the landscape, are now updated and live on Amazon. I’ve been fortunate to spend several magical weekends with Sue and Stu, and they truly do dance between the worlds, stitching threads between the landscape and sky, between mystery and spirit…

France & Vincent

Well, at last! The three books of the Triad of Albion are now live, in paperback and for Kindle… and illustrated in black and white, which finally takes the printing costs, and therefore the sales price, down to a sensible level. It has been bugging us for years… but we have been so busy writing books, that re-writing, redesigning and re-issuing seemed to slip a bit far down the line.

But there is nothing like a deadline to get you moving. Especially when it appears to be a pretty literal one…

In these first three books, Don and Wen stumble across mysteries in the landscape, following the flight of birds along prehistoric pathways to find strange stories hidden in plain sight upon the walls of mediaeval churches. Doors open through time and vision as the two friends find themselves walking the Living Land with people from the far-distant past.

These…

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A New Year

I realise we’re already over three weeks in to the new year, so I’m a bit late to the party. But what a year it’s been already, hey? (wild understatement, I know)

However, I don’t wish to dwell on the darkness that currently surrounds us. There are threads of hope carried in this year, and I hope they flare to full brightness before it ends. Each day is a little bit longer, a little bit lighter, as the wheel of the year turns towards summer, towards bare legs and cool drinks, long lilac evenings and warm breezes, the trees rustling green. And, hopefully, the chance for us to finally start living our lives again.

While this is the time of year when, traditionally, we look ahead to what we’d like to achieve, I’m not sure how I feel about the idea of setting goals. On one hand, I see their usefulness as something to aim towards, concrete markers of achievements met. But also, perhaps, weights pulling you in one direction only, closing the path to other directions, other ideas. If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that we need to leave room for flexibility, for adaptation, in our lives.

I count myself fortunate to have family and friends, and for us all (touch wood) to be well at the moment. A family member did contract Covid over the holiday season, but, thankfully, has pulled through. So, perhaps if I do set any goals this year, they’ll be more in the vein of ‘count your blessings,’ ‘enjoy your loved ones,’ ‘look out for others’ and, ‘find joy in small things.’ Anything else I achieve will be a bonus.

Wishing you all a bright new year xx

The long night

A gorgeous post from Sue Vincent about the cycle of the seasons, and of life itself. Well worth a read!

The Silent Eye

The seasons turn as we approach the turning point, the Solstice… the longest night… just three short weeks away. And yet, the sky is beautiful this morning, a clear, deep blue graced with the lights of heaven. The world is still and silent, even the birds are hushed as dawn creeps over the horizon of a rain-washed world. The moon lights the village and touches the rooftops with silver. Branches are down in the lane and few are the leaves that still cling tenaciously to the trees, most stripped away by the vicious fingers of winter winds.

There is such strength in the grasp of leaf to twig, both so fragile they can be plucked and broken by a child, yet the bond of life so strong it can withstand the most inclement weather. Until it is time for them to fall.

Even when the leaves fall it is part…

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The Old Oak Tree

There’s an ancient oak tree not far from my house. Standing at the end of a residential street, bigger than a house and taking up a huge piece of land, it has watched over the hillside for at least three hundred years, if the size of it is anything to go by. It’s obviously been a tree of note for many years- the street on which is stands is called Oakdene Road and, further up the hill, are roads named Oak Street and Oak Close.

Within its spreading branches a world may be found, a microcosm of insect and plant life, of flocks of birds and darting squirrels, cawing crows nesting high in its branches. I visit it often, watching the branches change from barren winter to the lush green of summer, leaves dancing and twisting in the light and air. It is a tree of dreams, of winter nights and howling winds, of days when fields stretched beneath its branches, of confidences whispered and sweet beer drunk in its shade.

Sometimes, standing beneath the branches, I get a glimpse of those times. Of how it must have been before houses and streetlights blocked the view of the valley, a time when our town was a collection of small villages around a river. There’s a sense, too, of how fleeting human existence is when compared to such a being – the tree was alive long before I was born, and (I hope) will be around long after I’m gone.

There are times when the bark on the great trunk feels warm, despite the cold air, and other times when it crackles with energy, a sense of connectedness with the landscape around us. Sometimes it is streaked dark with rain, other times dusty with summer heat.

And sometimes, there is treasure left there; raven feathers or a crooked staff, pearlescent mushrooms, the silver trails of snails.

Most recently, it was an emerald-green nest in one of the low branches, soft with moss, festooned with berries and leaves.

To stand in the presence of such a being is to touch history, to connect with the ancient story of the land. The oak is said to be a tree of stories, each acorn holding possibility. I wonder what stories it will tell me, next time I visit…


Enjoyed this post? Want to read more? Find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, Under Stone (Ambeth Chronicles #4), is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page or my website to see more.

First, catch your..? #cancer

A powerful reminder from Sue that, even though we are the midst of a pandemic, it is vitally important to speak to your doctor if you are concerned about your health…

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

“… knowing you are going to die makes clearing out the cupboards so much easier!”

The sound of choked laughter came through the phone. “You should write that,” said my friend, once his calm was once more regained. The sentiment had, I think, taken him off guard, but it was a simple observation. Even in such circumstances, there are up-sides.

Like, I seem to have pretty much ‘retired’. At least, temporarily. I certainly won’t be back at work until the chemotherapy is done… and who knows after that? And all my worries, although they are exactly same as ever, are now definitely finite. Except, that has always been true, I just know now that they are. And that conscious knowledge is the only thing that separates me from any other person in the street.

We are all dying by degrees, as part of the natural lifecycle… but being aware of…

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The Joy Of Wandering… #travel

This morning, while eating breakfast, I read an article about hummus, and how the Israelis make it. I love hummus and often make my own, so this was an interesting article. But what I also loved about it was the descriptions of life in Jerusalem, glimpses into homes and kitchens and restaurants, to the idea of eating hummus for breakfast, a different way of life.

This is what travel offers us. The opportunity to see how other people on the planet live, what they consider part of their daily routines. We are all human, of course, and have needs that are universal (though not always available to everyone). Food, shelter, sleep, clothing. Work, friendship, family. Once those are in place, we diverge in how we conduct our daily routines. And that, to me, is one of the great joys of travelling. The opportunity to try new flavours, new ways of doing things. Different ideas on how to decorate homes, serve meals, shop and eat out. And also the history of a place and how it has shaped these ideas.

When we were in Dubai about ten years ago, we visited to the museum in the old town. It was very well done, not just in terms of informing us of the history of the place, but also how the desert landscape and the ocean had shaped their customs and clothing styles and diet, even their palaces built of shells. It made me consider my own life, and how where I’ve lived has also shaped the person I am and the things I enjoy doing.

Whenever we go somewhere new, I make a point of doing some research before we go. Of interesting places to visit, restaurants to try, things to see, customs to observe. While I can certainly appreciate the idea of going on holiday simply to lie in the sun, I prefer to get out and about. Last year I went to Australia, Croatia and Denmark. This year, however, things are quite different.

A planned trip to Morocco in April was cancelled for obvious reasons, and there doesn’t look to be much travel outside this small island for the foreseeable future. However, while we may be physically confined in space, there are still opportunities to let our spirits roam free. Whether in the pages of a book, or a blog like this, through travel documentaries and magazines, or even by looking at photos of places you’ve already been. And may I introduce you to the wonders of Window Swap? The premise is simple – loops of window views from around the world, submitted by users. From rain in Bangalore to sun in Melbourne, Tyrolean meadows and skyscrapers in Seoul, you can travel across the globe at the click of a mouse. People’s pets show up in some of the loops, while others have sound, and it is utterly delightful (and quite easy to lose yourself in for a little while).

So I guess this post is more about my love of wandering, rather than being a wander in itself. I’ve been fortunate to visit lots of places, but there are plenty more I still want to see. The world may be on pause for now, but one day I know we’ll all be out there again. Until then, virtual wandering will have to do…


Enjoyed this post? Want to read more? Find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, Under Stone (Ambeth Chronicles #4), is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

Wednesday Wander Revisited – Warwick Castle

This week, I’m wandering to a view that I’ve seen many times. It’s of an ancient castle, almost a thousand years old in parts – a place steeped in legend, where kings were made and battles fought, mysteries still hiding in its thick stone walls. This is Warwick Castle.

The original castle at Warwick was built in 1068 by William the Conqueror as part of his strategy to stamp his authority on the newly conquered country. It is situated along a bend of the storied River Avon and, until 1978, was still residence of the Earls of Warwick, the legendary Kingmakers.

Kings, Queens and assorted nobility have all stayed within its grey walls over the centuries, including Elizabeth I, Richard III and Queen Victoria. The castle has been painted by Canaletto, among others, and its collection of arms and armour is considered second only to that in the Tower of London. Hardly surprising, considered the many and varied wars fought on behalf of kings and queens by Warwicks over the years.

The castle is also home to one of the world’s largest working trebuchets, or siege engines. Eighteen metres tall and made of oak, it can fling projectiles as far as 300 metres. I have seen it in action and it is something to behold – it takes four men running in treadmills just to lift the counterweight!

Near to the castle is a lovely park I’ve often visited. It’s home to a funfair and mini golf, as well as lovely gardens and, down by the river, there is a place to picnic and fly kites. Water lilies float serene, as do the ducks and swans, and for a moment you could be anywhere, at any time.

On the edge of the park is a bridge across the river, where you can pause and take in the view to the castle. Set into the pavement is this plaque. I think I would have to agree. 🙂

Thank you for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me – see you next time!


Wednesday Wander Revisited – A Wet Day in New York City

Is it a wet day where you are? Or are you suffering with the heat, as so many of us are across the UK? We’re on the Devon coast at the moment, so it’s a bit cooler than inland, but there have been some spectacular thunderstorms. Still, we don’t let the weather stop us from exploring – as you can see in this Wander from a couple of years ago, when we were in New York. We arrived to brilliant sunshine, woke the next day to a snowstorm, then rain, rain, rain. Still a fabulous city, whatever the weather…Our second day in New York dawned a little warmer than the day before, but that just meant rain instead of snow, Manhattan Island still blanketed in cloud. However, it wasn’t going to stop us – we only had a few days in New York and didn’t want to waste any of them!

The gorgeous girl, who, like most kids at the moment, is caught up in the squishy craze, wanted to visit Chinatown. We decided, despite the rain, to walk from Soho through Greenwich Village, taking in Little Italy before reaching Chinatown. Soho was filled with lovely boutiques and restaurants, (and I may have stopped in a few of them en route), while Greenwich had lovely old homes and interesting shops, including one which sold only puppies (!) with a puppy play area where you could play with them *squee*

We planned a route via Washington Square Park, with its famous white marble archway built to commemorate the anniversary of the inauguration of George Washington. Constructed in 1892, the arch replaced an earlier wooden one. The park itself was once marshland, but was acquired by the city in 1797, as a place to hold public executions. Later it became a military parade ground, then a park for the wealthy inhabitants of the nineteenth century mansions still lining one side of the park. In the twentieth century it became a haven for protestors and performers, including the beatniks of the 40s and 50s, and the folk musicians of the sixties. Nowadays it’s a community park which holds regular events – they were setting up for one while we were there, as you can see from my photo.

Not far from Washington Square is the Electric Lady studios, which my husband was keen to see. In 1968, Jimi Hendrix and his manager bought the premises, which had been a nightclub, and turned it into a professional recording studio. It has hosted many famous musicians including Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Wonder and David Bowie, and, in more recent years, Adele, Lana Del Rey, The Kills and Daft Punk. It’s now the oldest operating recording studio in New York City.

As you can see, the weather hadn’t improved much, but we pressed on. I was fascinated by the zig-zagging fire escapes on the old apartment buildingsas we wound our way through Manhattan to Little Italy. The streets smelled of garlic and cooking and sweets, and were still decorated for Easter.

The interesting thing about Little Italy and Chinatown is that they exist right next to each other, so you can walk down one street lined with Italian cafes and market stalls, yet when you turn the corner you’re surrounded by the spicy smells of Chinese food, bright neon on the buildings. I really enjoyed it, and wished the weather had been better. As it was, we were keen to get inside, eating lunch at a Chinese restaurant and then spending a little bit of time searching for squishies, which was a success! The gorgeous girl got quite a haul, so was very pleased with her day out.

As we headed back up to midtown, the rain finally started to ease, giving us hope the next day might be a bit brighter. I snapped this last image of a wonderful Art Deco building (of which there are so many in New York). I loved the shapes it made, the lines and shadows like an ancient ziggurat.

And then it was back to our hotel for dinner and a rest. We had another big day planned for tomorrow…

Thanks for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me! See you next time.


Enjoyed this post? Want to read more? Find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, Under Stone (Ambeth Chronicles #4), is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.