Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Reassuring neighbourhood

Left my car parked on the road for a week
passenger window wide open
only thing that bothered to get in was the rain

Friday, 6 July 2012

On my way to buy a morning paper #41

The efficiency of the rainwater drains
not quite matched - thank goodness -
by the split in the seam of my boot

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

100 days hiatus (maybe)

As from the 5th July I shall be participating in 100 days of summer
 which I anticipate will be a mix of photographs and, where applicable, 
some snippets of George Mackay Brown's poetry
which I am glad to be revisiting.

Posts here will necessarily be sparse indeed, dependent on what's left over
from this, and other writing, for inspiration

Sunday, 1 July 2012

At the Cinnamon restaurant

A high speed lesson in English history
and how we came by a Scottish king
in exchange for information, by percentages,
on Bangladesh
(and excellent food, as always)

Saturday, 30 June 2012


Spurted and smeared black purple stains
blood-red slashed and dashed
fallen fig leaves imperfectly hiding
some berry type of crime.

Thursday, 28 June 2012


Despite the fact that I knew it was about to do its worst
I couldn't help revelling in the ominous variety of bruise colours
in the fast-approaching clouds

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Not Glenn Miller

An S-shaped string of separated pearls
across the garden path
catching the sunlight
and deposited by snails

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Well-remembered, otherwise

The sight of a solitary dog-rose reminds me
it was June when we became engaged
(but I never did remember the date)

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

On my way to buy a morning paper #40

A harsh pink scrunch of colour
in the gutter
a crumpled screwed-up body scourer
(but no body, phew!)

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Some birds

When they are not flying
some birds run
some hop.
I wonder if they a) do both
and b) if so, why?

Monday, 18 June 2012

Proof-reader perceptions

Daughter tells me first chapter promises much that the book fails to deliver
Neighbour says she found it hard to start ...
I, grateful for their many other insights
embark on a major re-write ...

Saturday, 16 June 2012

At the gym

Choosing a treadmill downwind of a girl
who reeks of some obnoxious scent
I last two minutes.

Friday, 15 June 2012

A first!

Woodpecker on the plum tree
starting from the trunk and working upwards
slim pickings, and at the top he flew away.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Migraine thinking

No, not a full-blown one (I thankfully don't have those)
just the blank unseeing middle bit
but in my brain ...

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Art in odd places

Framed by the window of the gym
the interior of the steelyard sheds
vaguely grey-brown, with a line of warning signs
a painting by Prunella Clough.


Monday, 11 June 2012

Monday thoughts

Since too much of me is over-fleshed
and fails to function as it did
I take pleasure from my hands' dexterity
performing daily tasks

Sunday, 10 June 2012

At Tynemouth station bookfair

A regular and mildly worrying
repeated thumping thud
turns out to be a pushchair
bumping down the wooden steps

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Don't know why, but ...

What I assumed were wasps
(because they were, last year)
are obviously bees
multiplying, flying round haphazard
but I assume not hazardous
to me

Friday, 8 June 2012

Thursday, 7 June 2012

At breakfast

Momentary alarm
before remembering
that microwaved apricots
smell like charred wood
and again for 'macaque'
before remembering
the word is 'maquette'

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Virtue ...

... is receiving a parcel from Amazon
just as I leave for the gym
and waiting until I return 
before opening it.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

no gardener, me

A scattering of tiny blue flowers round the pond
neither speedwell nor forget-me-not
so I am clueless.

Monday, 4 June 2012

After day of wondering

The faintly-heard whispering, rasping vibrations
I've been blaming on aliens or neighbours
is realised to be wasps under the eaves

Sunday, 3 June 2012


Two stout frowning ladies
suspend bunting from an ugly ornamental wall
oblivious of the several dozen drawing pins
scattered, point up, by their gate

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Time passes

Shocked to read how different life was 'then'
when I so well remember the very recent
Silver Jubilee.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Three generations - 1979

Ken, Vera, Matthew, Julia, Muriel
Sandra, Steve and Nick in front
(and oh how we used to dress up to go to tea!)

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Three generations - 1926

Luther and Elizabeth, Harold and Dora and Ken and Muriel
the first of three photographs of three generations
before I bring this series to a close

Monday, 21 May 2012

And after the wedding ... June 1916

Proud grandparents - paternal grandmother and maternal grandfather (Luther the man behind the camera again) - and parents.   Nearly two years after the wedding a daughter, Muriel.   By then Dora and Harold had moved to Stamford for employment, but part of the happiness on his face is that he had been declared unfit for conscription.   Tom, his father-in-law, declared himself 'delighted' about this;  two of his sons had already been injured in France, having enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

Sunday, 20 May 2012


And despite hours and hours of matching,comparing and trying on families for fit
I am far from sure of the identity of the matriarch in the top photo
and not a clue about any in the photo below

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Wedding photo

After the engagement, the wedding - 4th June 1914 - and not as happy an occasion as it ought to have been, because in January Sarah, Dora's mother, collapsed in the street and died shortly after being carried home, and in April Dora's brother's wife Effie died in chilbbirth on her 23rd birthday - born in New Zealand, she and Dora had been corresponding for three years.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Somewhere around 1911

Such innocence and stiffness in this engagement photograph!

My grandmother, Dora Sutcliffe, and grandfather Harold Pickles.
It is from her I inherited my widow's peak and, less happily, I have his receding chin and over-prominent nose.

The studio background adds chilliness I think.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Body language too!

Not so much the faces on this one - I suspect this was the first formal meeting of the inlaws!   The couple on the right are the parents of the man my grandmother married, all the rest are her family. 
The chap at back left goes by the splendid name of Pliny Summerskill.
On my lines of communication blog I have put some early attempts at fictionalising my family history - in anticipation of this meeting, Elizabeth Pickles is lying awake beside her husband Luther.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Easter bonnets indeed!

Not so much the faces on this one - and I know them all! - but the idea of going for an Easter hike in all this finery, up and down the hills around Warley, near Halifax.   This was taken in 1910

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Key to identification

From some nine mostly unlabelled photograph albums and using what I knew of who and when I eventually identified all but two on this Christmas day 1905 photograph.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Sutcliffe doubles

In 1878 Tom Sutcliffe married Sarah Sutcliffe (1854-1914) eldest daughter of George and Nancy Sutcliffe.

Ten years later Tom's brother Sam married Sarah's sister Mary (1866-1927) - always known as Polly - and childless themselves they were evidently, from dozens of photographs, proactive uncle and aunt.

Sarah's photo was taken in 1909  when her second eldest son was visiting en route from New Zealand, where he had just met his future bride, to Canada, where he was about to begin building a log cabin for her.   Polly is four years earlier, Christmas day 1905.   Regrettably there is not a single photograph showing Tom and Sarah together.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

John and Susannah Sutcliffe - three surviving sons

Tom, 1855-1930, the eldest son, from when he was about twenty-three if this, as I think it might be, a studio wedding portrait.
Sam, 1863-1930, when he was forty-seven, at a family christmas gathering, and unusually serious.
John, born 1869 died in Johannesburg, alone and unmarried in 1923, not in disgrace but certainly sans photographic evidence

Saturday, 12 May 2012

John and Susannah Sutcliffe - three surviving daughters

Ann, 1857-1929, who married Brooke Rowley;  Alice, born 1861 and died unmarried in 1940, a much-loved maiden aunt, and Emily, 1866-1918, wife of Pliny Summerskill who later bought the house where John and Susannah lived until their deaths.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Susannah Sutcliffe, née Greenwood [1828-1899]

Serious as befits the age

but maybe thinking of the four daughters
already buried

[Ruth, Emily, Ellen and Clara]

Thursday, 10 May 2012

John Sutcliffe, 1829-1902

Woolstapler, 'much esteemed'
with a warehouse in Dispensary Walk.
Asthmatic, said to love cricket
and his wife, Susannah.

[photograph taken ~1875]

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Leave it to the reader!

No actual faces today
except that of my husband
all the others belong to a cast of characters
deliberately hazy

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Over-analysing the landlord?

To me, the eyes so bright and blue
smacked of something false and over-weening
and his 'Much obliged' for our lunchtime custom
of desperation.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Even at the gym!

Daughter's make-up immaculate
just as her mother,
clearly brought up to believe
she can’t leave the house without it.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Friday shop assistant

Far from good-looking
but the genuine warmth of his smile
considerably compensates

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Two never-seen-before men (at the gym)

Liquidity of conversation alerted me to likelihood
of stubble-dark good looks and olive-eyes,
but oh, they were so short!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Faces: at the gym

Creepy, ever-present smirk
presumably to counterbalance the haughty aristocracy
of her nose.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

New month but no ideas!

I'm totally lacking ideas as to what to use as a 'theme', no matter how loose for this month's blogs, partly due to the fizzling - or drowning - out of April's plans.   It seemed to me that April passed with exceptional speed - I certainly intended walking the two and a half mile route into Yarm on at least one occasion but many days were lost to rain.   

This image is from a book I made when I was at college.   Its title -  'Concertina guide to conception' was inspired by the  expression on this face.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

On my way to buy a morning paper #38

Since walking downhill to the river is even more likely to be slippery
I can report that the paper shop windows, and all the fridges,
had been attacked by a man with axe.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Highs and lows

High sky, a kind of Constable-lite
and the river calm to think by
but oh! the copious fly-blown ginger dogshit
perched atop the boot-print mud.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Sunday, 22 April 2012

To and from the Tynemouth bookfair

Over the Tees and the Wear
under the Tyne
five books bought
(one duplicate:  I should have checked my list)
a pizza lunch, a look at the sea
then same rivers in reverse.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Circular non-walk

The problem with eating chocolate digestives
thinking it'll be OK cos I'll walk them off when I go down to the river
is when it rains and hails and rains again
and I do nothing but sit at home
eating chocolate digestives

Friday, 20 April 2012

It IS April after all

The sky belies it now

but the sun was shining
and it was warm
two hours ago

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Rain again! so here's one I took earlier

Another day I'll not be walking to the river!
 It's not the rain I mind so much as the mud
and the likelihood of me slipping on the downward slope
and landing ignominously in it!

(and I was amused by a letter in yesterday's Telegraph
asking whether this was the 'wettest drought on record?)

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Two minor deceptions

No walk to the river today - too wet
and the red jagged skyline of the distant houses
has been well and truly cropped

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Small fantasy

and supplanted
enter into a conspiracy
against the fine

Monday, 16 April 2012

Noisy today

Golf-course groundsmen
mowing and blowing and rolling
machines unloaded from a tractor-trailed cart

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Saturday, 14 April 2012

On my way to buy a morning paper #37

Not a day for walking to the river, and a bit bigger than a small stone, but this true tale was what I posted on Six Sentences this morning:

I’ve seen him, not quite daily, but often enough over getting on for nine years now, coming round the corner with first three then two Welsh springer spaniels.
Maybe five years ago we started to say ‘Good morning’ – no smiles and his gruffly abrupt from beneath a ragged grey moustache.
Five weeks ago when warmth retreated back to icy, he commented on the change in weather and I on his brown woolly hat, not seen through all the snow.
Since then maybe a couple more laconic comments on the day.
In today’s unpleasant northern wind and icy sleet I said it was a day to stay at home and he said he’d be required to go to Morrisons for shopping, then added  ‘and I’ve five paintings yet to finish.’
And my view of him was instantly rejigged.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Late for the hairdresser

Contemplated the arched reflection of the viaduct
and tried again to remember how many bricks it took to build it
(the answer’s seven million, and a half)

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Strong wind roars

Surface of the river ripples black
like an animated evening beach
sadder thoughts spin across too frequently.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Wild garlic flowers look like early Spring
skylark sounds high summer
and the south west wind sprinkles cold April rain

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Walking in the hope of aiding thought

A lying-down tree, a fisherman’s pier
and a three way pointing signpost
none of which help to resolve
my current plot dilemma.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

No walk but plenty rivers.

Crossed the Tees, the Wiske, the Swale
west along the Ure to Sedbergh.
Returned north along the Rawley
crossing Eden, south of Brough,
eastward over Argill, Greta,
back to Tees.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Aural impressions

Grey, grey today and reminded it's half-term
by a trio of  treble-pitched voices from behind the hedge
talking of bogies, birdies and beating scores

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Lack of forethought

Stupidly, I hadn't anticipated that the hills would still have snow on them
we had so little here
The path's dried out and the only sign of the wind and the weather that was
are the dozens of cones and the hawthorn leaves now stuck in the mud

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Tees at Yarm

Too wet, too cold, too muddy
to take the scenic route
so down the hill to cross
from what used to be County Durham
into North Yorks

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Black wet branch

Baby blue speedwell don’t come out in the rain

new hawthorn leaves glow luminously

made the more so by the blackness of branches

and the white rump of a sheltering robin.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Down to the river

Bruce in my head, bone-hard underfoot
noting changes
high hawthorn to my left where twiglets were
exaggerates welcome openness to my right.

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Not a physical structure today

But awareness of a lack of mental
contemplating myriad unfinished projects
seeing them become unwieldy

Friday, 30 March 2012

Suffering in silence?

Invisible, the internal structure of a cheap and apparently cheerful pint glass
until it stands empty, in sunshine
wavering striped shadows revealing unimagined stress

Thursday, 29 March 2012

posting stuff on Flickr

A retrospective, structural observation
from a 'Stromness, Orkney, wood and stone' tagged photo set
to which I’ve added the description
“Gates and fence-posts, barbed wire and baler twine”

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

On looking at photo album from the nineteen-seventies

No recollection of how it then felt
to be new mother of one, then two, then three
nor knowledge that I’d one day be older
than the parents, grandparents pictured therein.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Monday, 26 March 2012

A minor pondering

very large petrol mower
very small triangular lawn
then I realise he’s a hireling

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Spring, the sweet spring

A less welcome sign of warmer weather
light-catching ever-moving cloud of little midgy things
above the drainpipe soak

Friday, 23 March 2012

Another one!

This time a shiny sporty scarlet Volvo
‘X1 WAG’
I muse amused upon the myriad possibilities.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Question on creativity

A number plate on an extremely grimy car
Easy art
and I wondered when did ‘easy’ become more attractive than ‘achievement’?

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Returning from the gym

Sun catching ivy on tree trunks turns it to chain-mail
them into well-armoured sentries
flanking a naked brown spy

Monday, 19 March 2012

On the windowsill

Fifteen triple A cylinders
empty and useless, power devoured
From now on they’re rechargeable
change of diet for a mouse

Sunday, 18 March 2012

From the back window

Thirteen bigger-than-sparrows 
finial silhouettes on the top-most twigs
of a distant poplar tree.

Saturday, 17 March 2012


Off topic this but I've just received
a Mother's Day card with a warning:
"not suitable for children  under 36 months"

Friday, 16 March 2012

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Sky still

Wipe-clean white-board pale-grey
solid stillness, blank
third morning in a row
makes it hard to believe the sun does still exist.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

On my way to buy a morning paper #35

Small tree, branches thickly wrapt
‘Angel wing’ à la Farrow and Ball
luminous, luxury blossom.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

On my way to buy a morning paper #34

Not knowingly grumpy I nevertheless inwardly complained
at the shutters, carriage lamps and faux lead-lighted windows
on irredeemably mid-nineteen-seventies houses.

Monday, 12 March 2012

From the kitchen window

Overnight dew makes vivid green brown stripes
of stack of hawthorn branches
cut ends a glowing, painful cream

Sunday, 11 March 2012

On opening the curtains

Etched and black-inked scribbled verticals
of hawthorn hedge
against the white-dewed field

Friday, 9 March 2012


Solar panels
face-down playing cards
a game of patience
silently awaiting pay-off

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Another circle

Last night the full round moon
only a little higher in the sky
that the rising sun last Thursday
its features those of a family member
temporarily blurred by drink

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Shelved CDs above my desk

Classical vertical
a pain in the neck to read
the rest horizontal
titles quick-legible
but a fingertip fight to extract

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

On my way to buy a morning paper #32

Solid rectangles of wheelie bins
ambush-hid behind the hawthorn hedges
gun-toting cowboys and Red Indians

Monday, 5 March 2012

Stockton river side

Sharp-edged and crisply red the buildings
face the morning sun
behind, the shadowed citizens
grey-blurred and un-made-over.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

A14/A1(M) north

Viewing the world for five hours
 through the spray-greyed windscreen
one begins to believe it’s near-monochrome
central-perspective composed

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Seventeenth century blacksmith’s cottage

Foot-square, front to back across the ceiling
bevelled-edge and cracked in several places
right-angled ones much smaller
marked with a multiplicity of oval-headed nails
and creak at footsteps overhead.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Theme for March

Sun confirms my half-decided theme of shape or structure
by appearing through the hawthorn
a perfect fiery circle

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

On my bookshelves

An increase in black-spines to forty-one
since last summer
all ‘research’ of course.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Monday, 27 February 2012

Not what you learn as children

The frogs in our pond
aren’t story-book green
but slip-slimy algae-slab brown
and sometimes the females are pink.

Sunday, 26 February 2012


A dozen vivid orange branch ends
robin objects loudly
from the adjoining apple tree

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Stones from four days in Edinburgh

1 brief stop for lunch
England 3, Scotland 2
white flagpoles on the border
north of Berwick

2 Man seen in Princes Street
Blue woolly hat,
side-on cadaverous cheekbones
An hour later
full face tragic and gaunt
in Rose Street

3 from a coffee shop in Nicolson Street
Scarlet 'Shelter' embroidered shirts
Callow compassion, clipboard questioning
of white-cockaded mid-teen cadets
forcing pedestrians into the gutter.

4 from the Hotel du Vin
Window table overlooking
urinal style white tiles
candle flames echoing repetition
beyond the black horizoned blind

Tuesday, 21 February 2012


Bright blue foam packaging
right-angled inserts
inexplicably reminiscent
of an unrecalled childhood experience
of a hospital operating theatre

Monday, 20 February 2012

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Saturday, 18 February 2012

What's in a name?

I suppose there might be dafter names for a pair of shoes
and I've heard of eating one's hat
but ... really?

Friday, 17 February 2012

On my way to buy a morning paper #29

Two days in succession
a discarded cotton handkerchief
one blue edged, the other red,
Never ever spotted one before
no explanation

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Books - they colour and add life to an otherwise pale and faded room
and very often to a ditto existence.

Bookshelves - they sometimes help to organise,
sometimes just keep them off the floor.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Studio - messy and neglected

Accusing me for having stayed away
for making coloured pictures using words
not aluminium plates and acid
nor tile grout patterned onto card
not ink
but if I tidy everything away
I know it will be ten times harder to restart.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

My office, upstairs, eastern-facing, room

Antelope applied in 1988
or thereabouts
the walls too covered, room too full
to even think about re-painting.
And anyway, the colours change enough
albeit slowly.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Spare bedroom

Mediterranean merit here
offering yellow and blue
a carefully-selected corner
ignoring the chaos beyond
and the dirty brown day
outside the window

Saturday, 11 February 2012


Observation only ever in this room
when we have visitors
Otherwise the tattered shabbiness
of my ever-favourite, multi-coloured Habitat settee
does not impinge.

Friday, 10 February 2012


Unripe Williams pears
shape still voluptuous
bitter green gives the lie
nowt but pained frustration
 And now I've photographed them
I see an imitation 'Conversation Piece'
as made by Juan Munoz

Thursday, 9 February 2012


A displaced, enforced day of different time scales,
lots of unknown people forcibly incarcerated
in a lecture situation, bombarded by statistics
not helped by maroon curtains and the unremittingness of grey

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

in the bathroom

Already condemned, abused and doomed
for a seventies avocado suite
I’ve compounded the error by painting the walls
chalky emulsion Etruscan red

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

On the bedroom wall

Vivid against the wall whose blue
delivered a similar buzz
to the exhibitions the posters advertise
carborundum prints of Hughie O’ Donoghue
paintings of Prunella Clough

Monday, 6 February 2012

Coloured rooms - dining room

All the sell your house daytime TV programmes
show garish naked rooms,
colour declared a statement of error,
but I love my colourful rooms
(although this IS the only two colour one!)

Sunday, 5 February 2012

from the dining room window

Green-dirty greyness of the frozen pond
birds-foot scuffing damage to the bank
negates the crisply pristine whiteness