200, Dove Cottage Young Poets and fiction

200, Dove Cottage Young Poets and fiction

Hello all! I’m sure you are sick of me going on about this just as much as I am, but my feeding is still not right. I’ve had a letter from my consultant to say that I have a tubiegram (fancy name for an x-ray) on the 9th May. It feels like a very long way away at the minute, especially given my extremely disturbed nights and increased levels of discomfort. My consultant only knew I had a problem on Monday, and got an appointment through to me by Tuesday. He’s so efficient and really cares, he’s just fab!

I have reached 200 subscribers on YouTube (click here to see my channel) which I just find absolutely mad! I can’t actually get my head around the idea that so many people want to listen to what I have to say about books? This has been something I have always wanted to do but never had the confidence. In one year I have set up a blog and a YouTube channel. I have gone from content watcher/ reader to content creator. I am so glad that I took the plunge and did it. The aim of having three creative projects a week (2 YouTube videos and one blog on here) is really helping me to keep my spirits up. I am making connections to people online that have the same loves as me, and I’m hoping they will become online friendships!

I have been feeling a little down, if I am honest, this last week. Can you guess what cured my sadness? Dove Cottage Young Poets! The group is always so lively and really gets me thinking. It combines loads of my favourite things – good banter, good poetry, amazing company and some really intelligent conversation. I’m not sure how Kim Moore does it to be honest. Every time I am feeling a bit down before the club mum says “You’ll feel better afterwards” – and I do! Kim puts so much effort into our sessions and you can tell she genuinely cares about our poetry. Thanks Kim!

This week I have read ‘Lying about last summer’ by Sue Walkman. This is a book from the perspective of Skye. She is at a summer camp for bereaved teenagers after her sister died in a tragic accident. When I began reading this book I thought it was going to be basic and much less enjoyable than it was. There were numerous dynamics between characters and unexpected dramatic twists. I would say stick with the first third of the book, that third is simply there for world building. The second two thirds make some very good YA fiction.

I have also read Ruby Robinsons’ ‘Every little Sound’, which is a poetry collection. The  collection focuses on the absolute of tiniest details in everyday things. For example, this from the poem ‘undress’:

“…Black veins of branches

shake against the blue screen on which they

hang. Small mammals are hibernating

in pellets of warm air under ground…”

I love this kind of poetry, it allows you to see things very clearly through the poets eyes.  I think my poetry is a bit like that sometimes (obviously not up to this standard yet), so this collection really made me think about how I could incorporate miniscule details into my work. I wasn’t overly keen on the very long poems, if I am honest. However, this does seem to be a ‘thing’ with me in poetry collections, so don’t rule them out.

Getaway, Memory Day and Book haul

Getaway, Memory Day and Book haul

We’ve had a nice and chilled first week to the Easter holidays. We’ve been in contact with the hospital about my ‘just not quite rightedness’ but my consultant is away on leave at the minute, so we are sitting and waiting.

I can now announce that I am on the shortlist for the National Memory Day best young writer competition! The results will be announced in the middle of next month. It means a huge amount to be shortlisted for this award. I don’t really speak about it that much but I struggle hugely with my memory. I can be having a conversation and completely forget what I am talking about. I have to keep notes on the plot of a book because I can just forget them sometimes. I really struggle to retain information long term, and also would forget to complete basic tasks without my ongoing to do list in my diary.

Last week we went to stay in the Lake District. Specifically, we went to go and stay at The Daffodil Hotel in Grasmere. I have to say that it was the most accommodating places we have stayed since I have been poorly. The room was fully accessible and adapted in a very subtle way. Even the shower seat was posh! There was a wonderful concierge team who couldn’t do enough for us. There was one, Steve, who was absolutely amazing. They carried all of my equipment up to my room, organised extra blankets for when I was freezing because of all my autonomic stuff and even got us a mini fridge so that I could store my medications. I couldn’t recommend them enough.

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Mum and I went into Penrith one of the days. We went around lots of independent shops, and the accessibility was okay, there were a few places I couldn’t get in but there were plenty of accessible shops.

I have made a new YouTube video, the link is HERE, talking about all of the books I have picked up on my travels around the Lake district, and some wonderful libraries.

I have also done the first in a series of five minute interviews for the Kendal Poetry Festival blog. Chrissy Williams has very kindly agreed to be my first interviewee, head over to the poetry festival website to check it out!

Access, Persisters and libraries

Access, Persisters and libraries

My health is still just not quite right. We don’t really know why I’m not picking up, and we aren’t sure what we are going to do about it – but I’ll keep you informed!
This is a very random thing to say, but I feel this may help some people. I have bought a wifi plug and put it in my room. This means that I can turn my lamp on and off when in bed on my phone or tablet, and don’t have to shout mum or faint trying to get up and turn it off. For anyone with severe POTs I think this is a very important invention. In a life where I struggle to keep my independence, something as simple as being able to switch my light on and off has been like being handed a slither of independence back. That sounds silly, as I type it – but it’s true. Turning a light on and off isn’t something you would think you would miss doing.
I have taken a break from YouTube for a few days, but if you would like to win a copy of Perfect by Cecelia Ahern click HERE
On Saturday I spent the day in Barrow attending the Persisters Holding the line event and workshop. The wonderful Kim Moore and Clare Shaw were at the helm and the events were thought provoking and unifying. The workshop centred around themes of injustice and self reflection and I found myself delving deeper into my memories and emotions than I have in a long time, and writing poems I wouldn’t have known were inside me. In between the workshop and the evening event I borrowed Kims very comfortable sofa and had a nap because I was flagging quite considerably from a long day. The evening event highlighted how strong the individual can be when they speak out – but also what an impact a group can make. The open mic gave so many opinions voices, each different and thought provoking in their own way.

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Mum and I have been attempting a couple of trips out over the last few days. My friends on Facebook will already know this but I am going to have to talk about this anyway. The Lake District is HUGELY inaccessible. I understand that there are many historical and geographical reasons for this, but there were very few attempts to modernise the access. I love the lakes and feel protective towards it, but I think they missed the memo of “reasonable adjustments” for access. Out of the nine shops that I wanted to go into ONE was accessible, which I think is unacceptable.
Our saving grace was the library in Ambleside. What a lovely set of libraries Cumbria has! We have been to Penrith, Ambleside and Kendal in the last week. All of the environments are modern, airy and have a wide range of books. I really love a good library, and Cumbria has plenty of them. Libraries are an underrated place within our town centres, they are community hubs that offer a step back from the busy high street outside. I have picked up lots of recent releases which I look forward to reading them.
Finally, I have had some really nice news. I am a finalist on the North West cultural education awards personal achievement section, the awards ceremony is at the end of the month.

YouTube book giveaway, Cecelia Ahern and friends

YouTube book giveaway, Cecelia Ahern and friends

First of all I would just like to send you over to my YouTube channel! I have been busy creating and uploading videos during some of my spare time in the last week. I am still pretty unwell, but I have a little time where I am not feeling too bad and can put some makeup on to hide the bags under my eyes.

I have a very exciting opportunity for you. If you would like to own a copy of Cecelia Aherns’ new book ‘Perfect’ (the sequel to the outstanding book Flawed) which will be released tomorrow, please leave me a quick comment at the bottom of this page or on my video. Harper Collins have very kindly given me a copy to send out, and gave me the opportunity to interview Cecelia, which is included in the video.

I have already raved about the book Flawed on here. It is amazing. It is such an original dystopian world and a very bold plot for a YA novel. The main character, Celestine, lives in a world whereby you are judged in ‘Flawed’ court over your moral and ethical decisions. If you are deemed flawed you can’t do certain things and are branded in one of five places, dependant on your flaw. Celestine is the girlfriend of the head judges son and lives a ‘perfect’ life, until one split second changes her life forever.

I have also made a few other videos – so the link to my channel is HERE and the link to the video for your chance to win a copy of Perfect is HERE.

The rest of this week has consisted of seeing two of my friends who I have been meaning to see for ages. I met up with one of them in the Warehouse Café at the Brewery. We chatted about poetry and how to include difficult circumstances within it. It was so lovely to meet up with her and have the opportunity to discuss things we never have before.

My other friend lifted my spirits more than he realises. He took me to go and see some beauty spots where I did not even have to get out of the car. One place was looking down over Bowness, having driven up a very curvy road. The other was from a tiny church looking down over the valley. It reminded me that there is life past all of this rubbish at the minute. A life past my bedroom walls. I know that sounds silly, but when you are ill it is very easy to slip into the mindset of your house becoming the centre of everything. I also made him a cup of tea, something barely worth mentioning for most people. However, this is the first cup of tea I have made for two years. He didn’t spit it out in disgust or anything. It must be like riding a bike, you never forget…

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Despite my health not being the best at the minute, I am feeling really fulfilled as I am typing this. I am achieving stuff, and moving forward despite of this illness. It is not defining me, it is driving me forward and making me.