Showing posts from August, 2021

Witch or Saint? A Fine Line

  Today, I visited two famous caves in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire: St Robert’s Cave and the much more famous Mother Shipton’s Cave. Both are located by the banks of the River Nidd in the remains of Royal Forest of Knaresborough. Both once housed figures who were considered capable of working (or speaking) wonders. Both spoke truth to power in their day. So why is Ursula Shipton (neé Sontheil) remembered as a witch, while Robert Flower is remembered as a saint? I had been wanting to revisit both caves for some time. And to me, both felt like sacred sites. The cave where Ursula Shipton was allegedly born during a storm, is next to the mystical petrifying or dropping well. Water from a stream pools on top of a cave, then drops into a pool beneath, gradually turning anything in its path to stone. It’s an enchanting spot!  And round the side of that is the entrance to the “wishing well”, a cleft in the rock where the magical water pools, and into which you can dip your hand. This really

Swanwick in the Time of COVID.

  My 2021 Swanwick programme and notebook. Normally, my week at Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in Derbyshire is the highlight of my summer. But normality is something none of us has seen for the best part of two years. This year, I had my head in the sand, pretending it wasn’t happening until almost the last moment, afraid to either cancel or not cancel. So let’s just say that when I arrived at The Hayes Conference Centre, my anxiety levels were back to the way they used to be in my earlier Swanwick years. In those days, I spent most of my time lurking around the edges and retreating to my room. This year, I did much the same, for different reasons. Thankfully, the Hayes had wonderful precautions in place (numerous sanitising stations, picnic lunches etc.) Sadly, none of my particular friends were able to attend, which combined with my increased need for distancing to make it a little lonelier than usual. But there were still many happy moments and useful pieces of learning - especial