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It’s been a week or more since I last posted on the blog. Here’s something worth blogging about:

Six of us circumnavigated Ullswater Lake in the English Lake District yesterday. We started at Pooley Bridge at eight in the morning, and arrived back, 21 miles (or 25, according to various mobile devices) and eleven and a quarter hours later. The rain poured only until around four o’clock in the afternoon.

We were doing this as a way of inducing people to donate to the Mental Health Charity MIND. Perhaps it will induce you! Here’s the link to our Just Giving page, Ullswater Mind Your Step.


A MONTH TO GO, and it’s our 22 mile walk around Ullswater in the English Lake District, in aid of the charity MIND.

Part of the preparation involved re-proofing a pair of over-trousers (just in case..the 8th of June is close to mid-summer, and an English mid-summer holds out the promise of heavy rain). So we got the spray on waterporrfer, and sprayed it on, and read the instructions on the can….

Tumble dry, it said. So, having no tumble dryer, we’re in the kitchen with the Aga oven doors open to warm up the room, throwing the trousers from one to the other.

Picture the scene. Send a donation to

Looking forward to it!



As the Carlisle Poetry Symposium approaches, it’s a good time to remind the poets about the pop-up bookshop and to reissue the guidelines regarding how the pop-up bookshop works. Anyone (that’s ANYONE) can put their work into the pop-up bookshop and each writer gets 100% (that’s 100%) of the money raised by their work. For all that to work smoothly there’s a protocol, that you can find here: Neither the bookshop nor the event itself would be running without the support of Mike Smith – we’re very lucky to have him on board. At present, there should be two completely new pamphlets on sale at the Symposium, as well as one completely new mini-pamphlet and we may even get a date-jump (sorry, I just learned this term…) on a new collection. And, if I’ve done my counting correctly, there should be two small presses and two magazines in…

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Catch this if you can!


Here is the running order for the Poetry Symposium on May 18th. Thank you so much to all the poets for coming to read. And to you, of course, for coming, too!

May 18th Symposium Order

This should be another fantastic event – following on from two very successful occasions. I’m hoping that there will be a number of publishers (both small presses and magazines, too), also. Also, watch this space for details of the next Symposium in November – we will be able to already unveil some impressive names very soon!

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As you will already know from these pages, Annie Foster’s pamphlet Solway Songs will be published by Caldew Press and launched at the Poetry Symposium on May 18th. Below is an interview with Susan and Phil, the editors at Caldew Press – as it is very much our local small press, you will want to know more about them and what they do. You can come along and meet them at the Poetry Symposium, too.

What made you take up the reins of Caldew Press?

Susan: The reins were left sadly flapping. The ‘Freiraum’ event needed a publication to accompany it and I took on the task. The impetus to continue the publication of the Speakeasy anthology which had been started was the next task and as I had experience of the process I assisted with that. I like collating the work of the talented people I’m lucky to know and am…

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Now we have Brindley Hallam Dennis’s story published in Lit Sphere:

I’m one of a group walking the Ullswater Way on June 8th in aid of the Mental Health charity MIND. (The Ullswater Way isn’t a style of walking, but a route around the lake, covering about 22 miles of fell path and farmland track). If you’d like to support this venture here’s a link to the group’s Just Giving page.

Apparently about one in four of us will suffer from mental health problems during our lives (and who knows how many before and after?), and my guess is that writers will score well above the average, so if you possibly can, however little, do please help us out here. A poem of Mine on this subject recently appeared on the Guest list at Acumen, which might throw some light on why I’m involved in this!

Another of Mike’s essays on the short stories of Rudyard Kipling joins those already published (in Southlight 23 on his story Preface, in Thresholds’ archive on The Eye of Allah) with the publication of The Burden – The Gardener, by Rudyard Kipling, in Issue 37, to be published in March 2019 by The Blue Nib literary journal. You’ll find a few references to the writer here on the blog too!

Inspiration has had a bad press over the years, being sidelined by its second cousin twice removed, perspiration. Writing, we’re told, is ninety percent perspiration and only 10% inspiration. Writers go on about how carefully, and how often they have worked a sentence. Of course, that might go a long way to explaining something (like hwy there’s so much uninspired writing about). Sentences, like pastry, can be over-worked.

hWat hasn’t been inspired isn’t likely to inspire, one might argue; one might, in fact, be asserting.

But if you’re being paid to churn out copy year on year, month after month, week through week, day by day (let alone the hourly workload of the ‘successful’ blogger or tweeter) we might expect to have to rely on perspiration, rather than inspiration; that, and on the hope that the results of the former will disguise the lack of the latter. -( could be the eponymous hero of a story there: ‘The Adventures of Lack of the Latter’. Just a thought…BHDandHim)

For those of us not driven by the pound in someone else’s pocket, though, it might be that we can turn to inspiration to fall back on (though it might seem like falling on a sword …MeandBHD)

But we have to be motivated to perspire, or driven by hwat inspires, or hwy would we do it? Surely not to paper over the us shaped hole we fear to find in the universe?

Don’t tell me hwat you can. Tell me hwat must be told.

Thought For The Day on BBC Radio 4 this morning was in essence a call for us to accept the message in proportion to our belief in the messenger…a variation on the ‘don’t shoot the messenger’ we’re sometimes given.

The idea that the messenger validates the message, rather than the message validating the messenger is one that I’ve touched on before, and Radio 4’s correspondent this morning was saying the exact opposite to what I’ve argued: that we must evaluate the message, not rely on our feelings about the messenger. I’m  not offended that Radio 4 should offer this viewpoint airspace, nor am I calling for anyone to be banned… but I do think it’s a not quite cooked assertion to make.

One could offer a stream of names, Dr Goebbels being perhaps one of the most obvious of them, of people who depended on trust in them to get the most pernicious of messages across.. But to go down that road is to some extent a denial of responsibility.. a sort of message equivalent of ‘a big boy did it and ran away’, a version of, ‘I was only following orders’.

We might revise our opinion of heroes, saints, and other celebrities, when they talk rot, but we don’t need to throw them out with the bath water: we all have our blind spots, make our mistakes, are misled, haven’t thought things through properly – often in the case of people (who are people) to whom we attribute infallibility (which is inhuman, I would have thought – perhaps mistakenly?). Just as people whom we think of as, or even know to be, nasty, wicked, evil and (allegedly) inhuman, will often tell us things that are, nevertheless, plain common sense.

So, I wasn’t too impressed with this morning’s call to thought, or rather, the suspension of it, in favour of trust. Just a thought, trust me.