Monday, 25 September 2023

Shine on Harvest Moon

Photo by Luca on Unsplash

"Because I'm still in love with you on this Harvest Moon." (Neil Young)

Look up to the skies on Friday (September 29th) and you will see, clouds permitting, a beautiful full moon - a Harvest Moon, or Corn Moon. It will reach its peak at at 10.57am here in the UK. (Click here to find out more on the fascinating Royal Museums Greenwich website.)

At this time, for several evenings, the Moon appears particularly big and bright and rises early, letting farmers continue harvesting their crops into the night. This moon is also sometimes named the Barley Moon, and is often the nearest full moon to the autumnal equinox.

In the past it's inspired poets and songwriters. Click here for a poem by Ted Hughes and here for one by Longfellow. Click here for Ruth Etting's 1931 'Shine on Harvest Moon' and here for Neil Young's 'Harvest Moon.'

There's a lot of folklore associated with full moons and the Harvest Moon is traditionally associated with new beginnings. 

There are also some interesting facts about Autumn generally. Click here to find them.

Writing prompts:

  • What seeds have you sown this year that have come to fruition? Are you ready to harvest your crop? Explore this in your writing.
  • Write about the 'new beginnings' you are currently planning.
  • If you're still in love with someone on this Harvest Moon (see above) write about them, and why they are special and wonderful.

Monday, 11 September 2023

World Mindfulness Day

Tomorrow, September 12, is World Mindfulness Day. Click here to read more about Jon Kabat-Zinn 'the father of secular mindfulness', and here to learn more about getting started with Mindfulness. 

Here you will find some guided mindfulness meditations from 'Kindmind'. 

Click here for some mindfulness poems.

If you are interested in joining my fortnightly guided mindfulness meditation on Zoom, please contact me via the comments box below. 

Writing prompts:

  • Write for six minutes on what you can see, hear, feel, smell and taste right now, in this moment.
  • Have you ever meditated? If so, write about the experience for a few minutes. 

Monday, 28 August 2023


  "Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favourite things."

(from "My favourite things" Rodgers, Richard and Hammerstein, Oscar,1959)

 Are you a writer of lists? This morning Radio 4's 'Woman's Hour' devoted a whole fascinating programme to the subject of list-making. (Click here to listen.) 

Click here for song lyrics that contain lists. 

Click here for a quiz about lists.

Here's a list of writing prompts:

  • Are you a list maker? If so, write about how and why you make them.
  • Make a list of ten of the best places you have ever visited. Choose one to write about in more detail for six minutes.
  • Make a list of ten important people in your life, past or present. Choose one to write about, describing what makes/ made them special. 
  • Draw up a list of five things you have done that you are proud of, and then choose one to focus on in detail in your writing.
  • Make a list of five things you want to do before you die. 
  • Make a list of five things that you like about yourself. 
  • Draw up a list of five things you have done that have resulted in unhappiness. If you can, choose one to write about in more detail for six minutes.


Saturday, 12 August 2023

The Ordinary is Extraordinary

"The most ordinary things, the most common and familiar, if we could see them in their true light, would turn out to be the grandest miracles."

Michel de Montaigne

"Let us come alive to the splendour that is all around us and see the beauty in ordinary things."

Thomas Merton

 "The whole world is a series of miracles, but we're so used to them we call them ordinary things." - 

Hans Christian Andersen 

It's easy to take the ordinary things in life for granted: drinking a cup of tea, phoning a friend, flushing the toilet, stroking the cat, holding a child's hand, reading a book, taking the next breath. How would you feel if these things were suddenly taken away for ever? The things we take for granted may be those that other people long for. Looked afresh and notice that these things are in fact extraordinary

Poets Pat Schneider and Pablo Neruda have written about the wonder of ordinary things. Click here and here for their poems.

Click here for a short meditation (and transcript) on the ordinary being extraordinary.

Writing prompts:

  • Make a list of all the 'ordinary' things in your life, then choose one and write about why it is also extraordinary. 
  • Write about the abundant nature of your life.
  • Look with fresh eyes at the 'ordinary' and write about what is calling to be recognised in your life?


Saturday, 5 August 2023

A Local Transformation


   The Owlet

Madison Julius Cawain

  When dusk is drowned in drowsy dreams,
    And slow the hues of sunset die;
    When firefly and moth go by,
    And in still streams the new moon seems
    Another moon and sky:
    Then from the hills there comes a cry,
    The owlet's cry:
    A shivering voice that sobs and screams,
    With terror screams:
    "Who is it, who is it, who-o-o?
    Who rides through the dusk and dew,
    With a pair of horns,
    As thin as thorns,
    And face a bubble-blue?
    Who, who, who!
    Who is it, who is it, who-o-o?" 

We are so lucky to live near Cromwell Bottom Local Nature Reserve. It's in the Calder Valley between Brighouse and Elland, next to the Calder and Hebble Navigation and the River Calder runs through it.

In the past, the site has been a quarry, a tip for ash from the old Elland power station and a landfill site. Now it is a mix of woodland, wetlands and grasslands and is rich in plants and wildlife.

Today the Cromwell Bottom wildlife Group held an open day and it was great to see so many families enjoying the activities. 

Volunteer Dave took us on a guided walk through part of the reserve not normally open to the public, but the site of several development projects and an area used to teach schoolchildren, college students and people with learning difficulties and mental health issues. 

Of particular interest, and one of the reserve's success stories, was the barn owl project. In 2019, when a barn owl box was positioned, volunteers thought it might take 18 months for birds to take up residency; in fact it took three weeks. Since then the owls have regularly returned and youngsters have fledged, including two this year. Dave hears them calling to their parents in the evening, wanting to be fed.

The whole reserve is a small miracle of nature, having been transformed from an industrial site to a beautiful habitat for deer, foxes, small mammals, birds (including a heronry), insects, butterflies and moths. All manner of creatures were being discovered today by children pond dipping.

Writing prompt:

  • What small miracles have you witnessed today? Write about them for six minutes.
  • Do you know somewhere that has been transformed? Perhaps a disused railway track, a garden or even a room in a house? Write about what it was like before and what it is like now.
  • If you could be transformed, what would you become? Write about it.
  • Recall a time when you have observed with wonder something in nature - perhaps a tree, flower, animal, bird or insect. Describe it using all your senses.

Thursday, 27 July 2023


Ubuntu - I am because we are
Ubuntu - I am because we are
There is nowhere in earth or heaven 
We can make it on our own
Ubuntu - I am because we are
Ubuntu - I am because we are
I first came cross this African word 'Ubuntu' because it is the name of the the Linux operating system I use. "Linux operating systems are open source, which means that anybody can do what they want with them - for free. It's a concept of sharing that is inspired by the philosophy of ubuntu."
Then I learnt the beautiful song 'Ubuntu' in my Monday morning singing group. It reminds us of our shared humanity as Ubuntu is essentially about togetherness, and how all of our actions have an impact on others and on society. One can only grow and progress through the growth and progression of others.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, defined Ubuntu like this: "I am me because you are you. I can never be free while you are enslaved. I can never be rich while you are poor. We two are connected."
Earlier this week we learnt of the sad death of BBC journalist George Alagiah. In a moving tribute, his friend and colleague Allan Little wrote that he thought 'ubuntu' was George's lodestar and that in his reporting "there was an outstretched hand - the outstretched hand of a shared humanity, of solidarity."
 Writing prompts:
  • Do you believe it is possible to " make it on your own"? Explore the answer to this question in your writing for a few minutes.
  • What actions have you taken this week that might have had an impact on others, or on society? Were they positive or negative? Write about them and the impact. 
  • Do you feel connected to other people - to family, friends, your neighbours, people in the rest of your country, people in other countries? Write about that connection, or lack of it.



Tuesday, 18 July 2023

Viking Roots?


"A family tree can wither if nobody attends its roots."

"To forget one's ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root." 
(Chinese Proverb) 

I've recently been binge-watching "Who Do You Think You Are?" and been fascinated at the surprising ancestors of those featured in the series. Like Bear Grylls, I've wondered if, way back, I am descended from royalty, but know that, in reality, I come from far humbler origins. I'm pleased to say that I do not have a drop on royal blood in my veins, and proud to acknowledge my mainly Yorkshire, working-class roots.

Some of my relatives have spent many hours researching our family tree. The one my sister produced for me (above) goes back five generations, to my great great great grandparents, but I like to believe what my father told me, that we Nolsons have Viking heritage.
Often on the tv programme, celebrities discover some common factor that has been passed down through the generations, be it relating to sport, music, acting, politics or adventure, and that personality traits seem to be linked to their DNA. I may not be into boat-building, sea-faring or fishing, but hope that I have inherited a few Norse Viking values such as honour, courage, discipline, industriousness, perseverance and hospitality.  
Writing prompts:
  • Is there anyone in your family tree whose life has shocked or inspired you? Use your imagination to make up any details you do not know.
  • Write about why your ancestors would be proud of you. 
  • What personality traits do you think you have inherited from your ancestors? Make a list. 
  • Chose which one of those traits you would like to pass to descendants.