My attention was caught by the wonderful latticework effect of this cafe chair at Nottingham Castle

Chiaroscuro”… fabulous word, Italian in origin, I believe, and generally used to mean how the contrast between light and shadow is portrayed, like in drawing, for example. Since buying my new phone (and Alex going to University…) I am attempting to take my own photos for the blog, and I am always fascinated how the effect of shadows influences a picture.

This photo is actually the shadow of a little gargoyle ornament that I have – I wanted the hint of uncertainty that the shadow, rather than the ornament, seemed to illustrate.

I like the symbolism too, since we live our lives in both light and shadow, some of us perhaps spending more time than we should in the shade, although I feel that in order to understand and appreciate the Light we must also know and understand shadow.

Alex took this picture for a post I wrote last year, the horse symbolising beautifully how mine and my sister’s childhood receded into shadowy memory…

Shadows seem to be a recurring theme for me, at various points throughout my life…my mother fostered a German Shepherd called Shadow, Alex used to like a song called “Where Is Shadow?” when he was little and Lily did a little modelling work for the lovely Marje, (imagine a link to I tried to do this post last night and when I wanted to add the link, somehow I binned the lot…) posing as “Shadow” from her book, “The Curse Of Time” – please go and visit, she’d love to see you!

I like the hint of colour in this picture – it’s a vintage perfume bottle, in the shape of a German Shepherd, that belongs to my mother.

Also, in various pagan and Wiccan groups, there is a tradition of keeping your own Book Of Shadows, basically a journal where you can write down all your own spiritual experiences, spells, charms, remedies and events that have had an effect on you.

I liked the bold, blocky shadow that this chunk of agate casts… those dark stripes are my window blinds..not bars on the window…honest…

I had my very first psychic reading at the Well Being event I attended a couple of weeks ago, which included a Tarot reading. Guess what card was drawn… the Book Of Shadows… In essence, I still have pages in my book to fill, I have learned a lot recently, after a period of stagnation and although these lessons haven’t always been particularly pleasant, I need to learn, process this information in order to forgive and move on.

Got to get a cat in somewhere…cute kitty shadow…

Easier said than done, sometimes, really… but I suppose ultimately, we all want to leave the shadows behind us and live in the Light. We learn from the contrasts.



As I no longer have my own dog and the girls pretty much take care of their own exercise regime, I help my mother walk her dogs.

Not only is this practical – she had a fall at the beginning of winter last year and lost a lot of confidence – but it also gives me a chance to poke about in Nature in our local country park, draw creative inspiration and my mother to do some training with Rocky while I occupy Erin.


It should be a serene, calm time… but Erin generally has other ideas. The dogs know their walk time, and as I set foot on the garden path I see two eager faces appear at the front room window.

Then the drama starts. I’m trying to put my walking shoes on, Rocky is thundering about and Erin is jumping up and down screaming – literally –

YAROOO – AH! Wah! Wah! GRRRR!!”

This last growl at Rocky as he ventures too close…


Dogs safely on leads, we are on our way. We have to walk down a particularly narrow, steep flight of concrete steps. A Staffordshire bull terrier lives in the house to one side and regards the whole area as his property. Rocky objects to this and consequently I am pinged back and forth between the two sets of fence like a pinball.

Mum and Erin descend in a generally more sedate fashion, Erin resembling a Victorian lady lifting up her skirts and tripping daintily down the stairs.


Having reached the bottom and asked to sit, the dogs are given a biscuit each and allowed off the lead, and armed with plastic bags and more biscuits we set off.

I enjoy these walks as they are also an opportunity for me to practise my photography on my phone camera. I like to look at things in miniature and see the wonder of all creation in tiny scale, trying to capture it so I can share.


However, I have discovered that photography and dogs don’t really mix. Well. Rocky and photography to be precise… I was tracking the flight of a beautiful butterfly, hoping it would settle for a photo – SNAP!


No… not me. The dog. A tiny yellow flower, that caught my attention… SNAP! An empty pigeon shell, carefully nestled in the grass… SNAP!

But how can I be irritated, as despite my howl of anguish, Rocky beams at me cheerfully:

Come on! Let’s WALK!”


Balls! And… Bad Cats…

18618234_1841153562871479_138935753_oA Clear Quartz sphere… excellent for clarity of thought, overall body healing as well as amplifying the effects of other crystals…

Balls. A satisfying word and an equally satisfying crystal shape… The word can be used as a derogatory exclamation of disbelief, mainly because it is used as a slang term for… um…men parts. Or it can be used as a grudging admission of admiration, as in: “I can’t believe she had the balls to do that.”

Either way, a wonderfully satisfying word in the mouth and form in the hand. Not only are the polished crystal spheres extremely tactile but they have an esoteric history behind them that is rich in meaning and symbolism.

18596736_1841153579538144_689155423_oHoney Calcite to enhance intellect and memory and ease the challenges of change…

Along with black cats – of which I have two – crystal balls – of which I have many – are traditionally associated with witches and foretelling the future… but they can also be used in Reiki and acupressure, and of course the individual crystal will bring its own healing properties too.

18596692_1841153626204806_1223593920_oRose Quartz, my personal favourite crystal, a stone of unconditional love and happiness, promoting positivity while nourishing and comforting… 

As a sphere, a ball, the shape symbolises wholeness and infinity, the unity between body and spirit. They can help call forth the integrity within you and encourage clear thinking. As the crystal vibration is contained within this particular shape, the actual energy is emitted gently in all directions when the ball is used.

18575950_1841153646204804_1711473908_oA Yellow Calcite sphere to boost energy levels, self confidence and hope… 

Now… I don’t believe that any animal is ever consciously “bad”… perhaps bad-tempered. Charlie can be hideously grumpy if you catch her at the wrong time of day… my son and I both bear scars as proof of this. Other people may see my cats as being “badly behaved”… like it is a bone of contention as to exactly who has ripped up the carpet in the hallway…


I don’t for one minute think it’s Charlie, even though she is known for being a little free with the old toe knives… this is because I actually witnessed, with my own eyes, innocent Tooty, who wouldn’t say “boo” to a goose, digging her claws in luxuriously and pulling…


Cats are mostly motivated by curiosity and self-preservation, therefore when they do what may be considered “bad” things, like digging up a favourite garden plant, they are merely demonstrating extreme examples of natural behaviour. Cats aren’t naturally, thinkingly bad…

18596804_1292691514101468_477574274_oGuest appearance from Ozzy, looking suitably mischievous!

Charlie! Charlie! Stop dragging Alex around by his head! He’s not a prey item you know…


“If Music Be The Food Of Love…”


You may have noticed that my replies to comments lately have been more … picturesque. This is because I’m in love. I am in love… “Finally … it’s happened to me, right in front of my face… “

I have a new phone. I saved for it. I researched it, I bought it. (How we met is a story for another time…)

Like a skilled lover, it has opened my eyes to the pleasure of owning a decent phone, leading me gently from one experience to the next …

I can unlock it with my fingerprint. It loads Twitter easily and quickly. WordPress works like a dream. It makes me look like a decent photographer.


And last night… together… we discovered music. Yes! This phone holds and plays loads of songs without complaining about storage and the quality of sound is amazing.

So. Last night was spent meeting a lot of old friends again… a party in my head; and it made me think of a music tag, if you will. By all means, pick it up and carry on, I’d be delighted. This phone made me realise just how much I’d missed music and the pleasure is… intense.

1. The corniest song you have and like…

Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You” by Glenn Medeiros. I first heard this song when I was about 14… quite a few years later, I STILL know all the words. Why is this…?

2. Song by an artist no-one would expect you to like.

Mockingbird” by Eminem. I have a secret fondness for rap… thanks to my nephew.

3. Song from your past that takes you straight back to that moment in time.

Since You’ve Been Gone” by Rainbow. Straight back to the Union bar at Manchester University drinking Taboo and watching the first boy I ever kissed playing air guitar. Enough said.

4. Guilty pleasure…

Anything by Justin Bieber. Bless him. (He just needs a cup of tea and a hug.)

5. Enduring crush.

Robbie Williams. A song for every occasion and a cheeky smile to match…

6. Band or artist that you think most people would associate with you.

Coldplay… and I do actually like quite a lot of their music.

7. Favourite piece of classical music.

Mozart’s Symphony No.25 in G minor… like tiny clear quartz crystals falling softly on your senses… Genius.

8. Favourite song from an era before you were born.

California Dreamin’” by the Mamas and Papas… I would have loved to have been a hippie…

So. Here you are then… just a few of my old friends, not mentioning The Doors, Dr.Dre, Supergrass, Oasis…

I hope you’ve enjoyed a taste of my pleasure… it’s been emotional.

(With apologies to Shakespeare, CeCe Penistone, Vinnie Jones… )

The Colouring Book

bun 2

Thank you very much, Aunt Patricia, it’s lovely,” the little girl repeated dutifully.

She stared down at the book that lay on her knee, the pretty flowered wrapping paper slipping to the floor. The book was called “Magical Animals” and the little girl ran her fingers across the plain white cover.

It had a pleasing gloss to it and the words “Magical Animals” were imprinted in gold. Her aunt – well, her mother’s friend from University, actually – winked slyly at her.

Wait till you’re by yourself and then try it.”

The little girl smiled politely, never quite sure what to make of this large lady, with her flowing scarves and velvet dresses, rather dashing high heels and striking makeup.

The party took over and it wasn’t until several days later that the little girl remembered the book. She retreated to her bedroom and shut the door, reaching for her better quality colouring pencils… somehow she felt that this mysterious book would be contemptuous of her supermarket pencils.

She opened the book to select a picture and was at once swept away by the possibilities as the wonderfully detailed line drawings flooded her vision, just waiting for her to bring life and warmth with her pencils…

A unicorn! That would just have to be silver and pink – a little frog, she had several shades of green that would work for him… The animals got larger and more menacing as she turned the pages – a tiger, ready to spring from the book alive in orange and pitch black … an alligator, swamp green and brown; and then a creature she didn’t recognise, with deceptively soft drawn fur and claws like knives…

There was a little paragraph of writing underneath the drawing:

All animals, no matter how soft or tame they seem, have hidden wildness. Your pet cat can be a tiger, your dog, a wolf. This drawing is to show this wildness in every beast, to remind us to treat our animals, Mother Earth’s children with respect or -”

The little girl slammed the book shut, unnerved by the way the crouching, snarling monster had seemed to loom out of the pages towards her.

She opened the book again, careful to stay in the foremost pages and selected a picture of a rabbit. She worked hard on her colouring, wanting to bring warmth and a sense of life, of “fluffiness” to the picture – she’d had a pet rabbit when she was a very little girl and remembered with pleasure the soft warm fur.

She used a russet and a chestnut brown, colouring carefully the curved back, shading gently over the delicate ears and choosing a lighter brown for the large, round eyes. She sat back, and looked, pleased with her colouring, vivid and detailed, the little rabbit really seemed –

She laughed delightedly as he shook himself awake from the paper and leapt from her desk to the floor. He shook coloured pencil dust from his fur and sat back on his haunches as if to greet the little girl.

Shocked yet thoroughly pleased, she reached out a hand and gently touched the rabbit on the head, feeling soft warm fur and a living warmth. The rabbit hopped carefully around her bedroom, pausing every so often to examine a book, a discarded shoe.

Darling? Are you busy? Dinner’s ready!”

Her mother’s voice startled both her and the rabbit and quick as a flash he bounded from the floor to her chair to the desk and straight back into the pages of the colouring book.

Coming, Mummy!” the little girl called back, stopping momentarily to check the pages of her book. Yes, the rabbit was there again, captured in paper, the colouring exactly as she remembered doing … She touched the book wonderingly and smiled, a secret smile to herself, as she left her bedroom.

That night, before she went to sleep, she slipped the magical book under her pillow.

Tomorrow,” she thought, “tomorrow, I could try the unicorn!”

With images of wonderful silver horses dancing in her imagination, the little girl fell asleep, smiling to herself …

Only to awaken, later, heart thudding in fright and panic.

She could hear footsteps. They didn’t belong. These weren’t the careful, light steps of her mother, or the firm tread of her father … these were… creeping. She felt a wriggle from under her pillow and remembered her book. She pulled it out and dropped it frightened, to the floor, as the creeping footsteps crept and paused. Outside her door.

The pages of her colouring book stirred … and her coloured rabbit sprang from the pages of the book, followed by something much wilder and darker that slipped through the edges between reality and dreamtime … and between the hinges of her bedroom door and onto the landing.

A startled gasp – and then a scream of pain, followed by pounding footsteps that fled downstairs with her father’s voice roaring in anger…

Later, much later, after her mother had comforted her, and explained that a bad man had got into the house, but it wouldn’t happen again because he – well, it just wouldn’t happen again … the little girl looked for her colouring book.

She turned, cautiously to the page where she knew the rabbit lived. Yes! He was still there! But what was that trace of red on his whiskers and about his claws? The slight dark shadow behind…

Thoughtfully, she closed the book and laid it carefully back on her desk.

She hasn’t used it again – yet.


“Per Ardua Ad Alta” ~ Or Basically When You’re Feeling Down, Just Look UP

UP 4

I’ve heard quite a few variations on the translation of this Latin motto, but the one I like the best is “Through struggle to the stars”…

This, to me, means although you may be weighed down with the care and worry of your life, just stop a minute. And look. Look UP. A lot of the time we are rushing through life looking at our feet and literally casting our gaze downwards.

Look UP and the actual physical action of turning your eyes upwards can lift the spirits as you notice something new…

UP 9

When my son was little, I always used to say to him “Look!” and point out things that I thought might interest him, something different. I’m pleased to say that he’s carried this forwards into his growing UP life as he is now a keen photographer with a good eye and uncanny ability to interpret my shouts of “LOOK! Quick! I need a picture of that…”

UP 10

He’s been kind enough to take the majority of the photos I use on my blog, and I’d like to share a few more… for the purposes of looking UP.

UP 7

These trees… lifting their arms heavenwards into the light, letting in warmth and positivity, returning negativity to Mother Earth where it can be recycled…

UP 3

Architectural details are another thing that fascinate me, and here where I live there are some wonderful examples of buildings created by the architect Watson Fothergill who designed over a hundred buildings in the Gothic Revival and Old English vernacular styles, here in the early 20th century, red brick fancies that hark back to an earlier time in the city.

UP 5

I was so pleased when I saw this wonderful glass interior dome of the Council House, designed by T.C. Howitt in the Neo Baroque style and completed in 1929.

UP 6

And look! Two wonderful gargoyles, just perched on the corners… hmm… might find a use for them…

UP 2

And of course, I had to include these angels, for their symbolic value and traditional association with “UP”… and because the pictured crystals are uplifting and joyous.

UP 8

Try it. Physically, lengthen your spine, square your shoulders – it opens your rib cage and frees up your diaphragm so you can breathe- and just look. UP.

Earth Sandwich Anyone?


I had to have it…

What’s that…?” I asked, pointing.

Raw Tiger’s Eye”, my son’s lovely crystal lady replied…

Can I-”

She passed it to me to hold, and at once a wealth of images played through my head, rich golden honey, the dark, earthy scent of rye bread and cliffs… golden, soaring cliffs with a luminescent sheen…


I’ve written about Tiger’s Eye before, but this was the first time I’d seen it in the raw, so to speak. My son and I have quite a few pieces of Tiger’s Eye between us, and although I don’t generally use it, I am drawn to the richness of its colouring which is echoed in my cat Charlie’s fur…


Tiger’s Eye is possibly one of the most popular crystals as it is easily recognisable and people are drawn to its glossy beauty shaped and polished into tumblestones and… cats…


However, this raw piece called to me on a more visceral level. Tiger’s Eye is a member of the Quartz family and a metamorphic rock. This means that it is formed as the result of another process; generally, the original rock is subjected to very high heat, for example, and the chemical structure is altered… possibly enough science there, but I just wanted to mention that these altered formations are rod-shaped, all aligned in the same direction, which gives Tiger’s Eye its particular sheen, or “chatoyancy”… lovely word, the French word for cat, “chat” is in there, quite appropriate.


This raw Tiger’s Eye reminds me irresistibly of a honey sandwich, a crust of Mother Earth’s goodness broken off and presented to us. Tiger’s Eye is a good crystal for grounding, and is very protective, traditionally carried to ward off ill-wishers and curses. It’s a very good crystal for making decisions, in that it will help you to realise what you really need as to what you really want… bills before biscuits, that sort of thing.


Although these raw pieces are not ideal “pocket rocks” there is a pull to them, a draw… a different quality of energy just waiting to be harnessed…


Mookaite and Model Cats


Mookaite is part of the Jasper family, which I am gradually getting to know better… Jasper is also known as the “Supreme Nurturer” and is a wonderful stone to have about you in times of stress, as it lends emotional strength and support.

It’s a good stone for anyone who works in healing and it’s a charitable psychic nudge, just to remind people to help one another.


In addition to the qualities of Jasper, Mookaite, also known as Australian Jasper, is useful in that it provides stability and balance, both mentally and physically. It can help support the immune system, promote healing and purify the blood.


Mookaite is a good directional stone as it will lay out the paths open to you and help you to choose the right one. It encourages versatility, the desire for new experiences and the confidence with which to face them.


Lily, our smallest black cat, is currently undergoing a new experience… All my cats carry themselves with the grace and elegance of a top supermodel… (watch out “London Look” girl..) but Lily is actually doing a spot of modelling.


Gary – Fiction Is Food – happened to mention that his friend Marje of Kyrosmagica was in need of a black cat… not for any nefarious purposes, I hasten to add, but to aid with promotion. Marje has written a wonderful YA book and it just so happens that a black cat is featured. Lily was only too happy to oblige and hopefully the book will be published this summer. Please do go and have a look at Marje’s blog…


Photographing black cats has its own particular difficulties, so my son informs me. The lighting has to be just right and preferably they have to have their eyes open, as Lady Joyful mentioned, otherwise you just have kind of a … furry blob. Some cats just don’t care to have their picture taken or can be a little over-enthusiastic… Ting loves to get up close and personal with the camera…


Charlie, of course, as befits a princess, is physically incapable of being anything other than beautiful on camera… think the gamine sweetness of Hepburn, the shy charm of early Diana


or the sheer “Look at me! You know I’m irresistible!” beauty of Elizabeth Taylor…


Ultimately, though, despite the fact that my little cat draws on a parade of historic beauties, she is still my little cat…

Every cat is really the most beautiful woman in the room.”



Country Ways and Castles…


I am an advocate of the old ways, the old knowledge, lost things and forgotten truths… our eyes do not always see what was there and what still is, but hidden from the general 21st century scrutiny.

Consider our island, (the U.K.)… at one point in our past, the vast majority of this country was covered by ancient woodlands, home to wolf, wildcat and boar. Alongside these animals, so it is said, nature spirits lived… we could call them fairies, the Fey Folk, the Little People… They could be possibly be off shoots of our wilder ancestors… but as man grew and modernised so our ancient connections retreated and receded into the depths of our countryside where they remain undisturbed.


Part of me longs for these old times, where Man lived closer to Mother Earth, in tune with her rhythms; yet as early as the Romans and their persecution of the Druids, as early as 1066 with William the Bastard, our land and the wild ways were chained and bound, held down by fortresses of stone.


Gone were the wooden Motte and Bailey Anglo-Saxon constructions, longer still the Romans, although some of their roads remain as does a little of their DNA. Interestingly, I think I read somewhere that something like 0.5% of our current population carries Roman DNA from those long ago times.


My mother’s family came over with the Normans… this was part of our family lore for a long time, until my wonderful uncle, when he retired, spent time and money to validate this claim… and yes, a distant ancestor did indeed travel with William from Normandy to invade England.

The Domesday Book is a fascinating piece of this country’s past, a thorough documentation and perhaps a warning of what was to come as everything was written down and described within an inch of its being.


To complete his conquest, William threw a ring of stone castles around our edges to contain and dominate. And although as man encroached the wild ways retreated, I cannot help but appreciate these stones who have their own story to tell and their own place in history.


Nottingham Castle is my local… although it resembles rather more the fortified manor house it became round about the 1700’s you can still see ancient parts that hold secrets, and who knows, maybe Robin Hood could have walked this way.


There are still bullet holes visible from the English Civil War in this building, an unhappy time for the country as brother fought brother. Earlier, Good King Richard is said to have spent the night here on his way to Bosworth; and although there are echoes and imprints, Richard is long gone, his body in an alien place, his DNA an exhibit, an experiment, a project in the county of his death.


Newark… the castle is now a romantic and picturesque ruin, another king another night… More echoes of the past from a castle that was once the centre of a thriving community.


Some remain, some are preserved and restored but others crumble and die, the castles and great houses dying and long past preserving as the 21st century edges them away, modernity sweeping away past in progress supposedly.

And so I find myself responsible for my own destruction of the past… it was my mother’s side of the family who came over with the Normans. A DNA chain that has remained unbroken for ten centuries, a mother bloodline that is passed from mother to daughter only – mitochondrial DNA.

I have no daughters, so in a way I am responsible for the death of a family that’s been here since 1066. And although I feel a little guilty, sometimes these things just have to come to an end. The 20th century with its Industrial Revolution and all the rest of it tried to finish the job of those who went before and eradicate the wild ways, to control and landscape garden… but now.


But now, it is time to walk hand-in-hand with the 21st century; a new age of love, of understanding, of kindness, of partnership between Man and Mother, Mother Earth.

Quick – look to your past and you might see a Fae, one of the Sídhe, slipping away in the turn of a leaf…


Chiastolite and Cheerful Cats


This is a wonderful crystal…a real gift… where we live, the city is built on a network of sandstone caves, carved out of the living rock, that have been used for a variety of purposes since mediaeval times, or thereabouts…

To capitalise on this geographical gift, there are organised tours of the caves, with the obligatory haunted cave and secret passage leading to the castle, as well as a wonderful gift shop. The gift shop sells little bags of assorted crystals, which of course is an irresistible draw for myself and my son.

On this particular day, we purchased the little hessian bag and opened it eagerly on the bus home… out spilled the usual treasures of Red Jasper, Zebra Marble and Green Aventurine. Then a lovely, pinkish stone with a dark cross running through it.


My son recognised it as Chiastolite, but not being familiar with its qualities I had to look it up. And what a little gift it is indeed! It’s a very protective stone – I am always drawn to these – traditionally used to ward off ill-wishing and negativity, its power perhaps associated with the symbol of the cross it carries. It will rid you of negative thoughts and emotions, bringing harmony and smooth transitions.

Again, perhaps because of its lovely inbuilt symbol, this stone is credited with the ability to help you understand immortality, the concept of Life, death and re-birth. It can ease the acceptance of reality, letting go of illusions and help the wearer release old habits and memory patterns.

Chiastolite can help in strengthening the intent to find solutions to problems, clear guilt and stabilise emotions. It provides a constant supply of stability and basic cheerfulness, actually, rather like my Siamese cat Ting… bless her!


She is unfailingly happy…

HI!!! Didn’t realise you were upstairs… that’s GREAT! Now we can play…”


She loves to lie on the bedside rug and air knead and make loud “CURR-ahh CURR-ahh” purring sounds…

She adores lying on the corner stair as you go up, waving her paws and jaws, demanding tummy tickles and strokes…


She loves sleeping back-to-back with her sister or cuddling next to you in bed…


Basically, for a little cat who had such a sad start in life, (The Finding Of Kittensshe adores living, and Life and greets it with a resolute happiness.

Just the sight of her slightly crossed blue eyes gleaming from her dark chocolate face is guaranteed to make me smile…