A plume with a hue

Archive for the month “July, 2021”


A guttering flame,

Sudden spark of peach-white light –

Then silent darkness.

Intentions: review and setting (week 28)

Photo by Alexandr Podvalny on

Health and Wellbeing

Last week: My intention was to scale down the number of items on my to-do list in an attempt to decrease that feeling of overwhelm and stress. It worked! I highlighted one or two tasks to focus on each day, which made life far more manageable.

This week: As part of the above effort to cut down on stress, I am practising extreme self-care by taking time out for a one day yoga retreat. It’s been a tough eighteen months so this feels much needed. Hopefully, the weather will brighten up as there is an outdoor pool and it would be great to have a swim as well. It seems to have been cloudy and rainy all summer so far.

Intention: Relax and refresh at yoga retreat.

Personal Development

Last week: I decided to make a start on the embroidery ordered from Craftpod[1]. I’m new to this so had to go on Youtube to find out how to do the stitches but the instructions were clear and this lack of experience didn’t prove to be a problem. It’s relaxing and strangely addictive, and I’ve almost finished. I’ve ordered another kit and, in a familiar fit of over-ambition, some materials to create my own design. It’s good to get back into a creative mode and I’ve been inspired to sign up for a fabric art and stitching workshop.

Intention: Finish the Craftpod embroidery.


Last week: I had two novels to read, both for book clubs; the first, The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley, I’ve finished; the second, Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse, I’m about halfway through.

Intention: Finish Black Rain.


Last week: I had planned on spending the London Writers’ Hour session working my way through the Making People course I signed up for with Writers’ HQ. However, dog-sitting got in the way. I did, however, attend an online Flash Fiction course with City Lit, which was amazing. In just a few hours, I drafted five pieces, which I can now start revising.

Intention: Review the Making People course content.


Last week: The idea was to tidy and organise my desk and surrounding area. This is almost completed. However, I’m off on holiday next week and so need to focus on preparing for that.

Intention: Get organised for holiday.


My reading week: 27/52

Currently Reading

My current novel is Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse, which is this month’s choice for the Japanese Literature book club. It tells of the aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing and its effect on the survivors.

Recently Completed

I finished listening to The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey. Set in the Caribbean, it tells the story of David, a fisherman who rescues and falls in love with Aycayia, the mermaid of the title. The mythic quality of the novel particularly lends itself to the audio version, which is beautifully narrated and transports the reader to the town of Black Conch. I love the fact that Roffey has created a mermaid far removed from the blond-haired beauty stereotype, and hers and David’s story is painfully touching to witness. This is an unusual and hypnotic novel.

I also finished reading/listening to The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley. This is one of those novels that seems incredibly popular, appearing everywhere, so I had high hopes. A group of friends spend the New Year in the Scottish wilderness but things go horribly wrong when one of the party is found dead. This is not just a story about identifying the killer, who is one of the group, but the identity of the suspect is also withheld. Potential motives abound, which made me question why these people wanted to spend time together at all. I guessed the victim early on but had no idea as to the perpetrator, and by the end of the novel I honestly didn’t care. I found the characters irritating and paradoxically although the novel centred around their back stories, it felt very much plot-driven. I can understand its popularity but as I prefer a character-driven novel, it wasn’t for me.

Reading Next

My next choice is Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez, which I’m going to read and listen to. It’s part of my exploration into magical realism and is also one of the set texts on a two week literature course next month.

I’ve chosen this week’s quotation as I’m always fascinated by the ways people use journals. It comes from Black Rain.

Her way of keeping a diary was to deal with the day’s events in a brief five or six lines for four or five days, then, on the fifth or sixth day, to devote one entry to describing the past few days in greater detail.

Masuji Ibuse

Intentions: review and setting (week 27)

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Here is a review of last week’s intentions, and my aspirations for this week.

Health and Wellbeing

I ate healthy snacks in the evening and went to ballroom and Latin dancing. I also did more yoga and walking than usual.

I’ve noticed that my to-do lists and becoming too long and overwhelming, causing unnecessary stress.

This week: Reduce the number of items on my to-do list.

Personal Development

I made a list of the outstanding reading from my Critical Reading course, which has now finished. I will work through this in my own time.

Although I haven’t done any art journalling for a long time, I have been feeling a spark of creativity return but have a desire to explore with fabric and stitch rather than paint and paper. Inspired by this post on the Willow in Winter blog, I ordered the Craftpod summer box:

This week: Make a start on the embroidery in the Craftpod box.


I finished listening to The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey. The next books I need to read are The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley and Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse.

This week: Read The Hunting Party.


I finished working through the first section of A Swim in the Pond in the Rain by George Saunders and wrote an outline for a short story I’ve already drafted in order to give it more structure. I’ve also signed up to a Making People course with Writers’ HQ.

This week: Begin working through the exercises in the course, applying them to my short story character.


I managed to tidy the spare bedroom and the kitchen.

This week: Organise my desk and workspace.

My reading week: 26/52

Currently Reading

I’m still reading Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid and listening to The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey, both of which I’m enjoying.

I’ve also started reading Busy@Home by Tony Crabbe, which is a guide on how to survive and thrive during the Covid crisis. Hopefully, I’m a bit late to the party on this one.

Recently Finished

For the first time this year, the answer is: nothing. I didn’t complete any books this week. After reading Leaf Storm by Gabriel García Márquez, I was a bit slow to decide what to read next.

Reading Next

My next read will definitely be The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley, which I need to read by mid-July for my book club.

This week’s quotation comes from The Mermaid of Black Conch and expresses the idea that when all else fails, we still have our story:

I am an ol’ man now, and sick sick so I cyan move much, sick so I cyan work, go out to sea, and so I go write my story.

Monique Roffey

21 for 2021: June review

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It’s halfway through the year and I’ve made good progress on my intentions. Some areas, however, seems to be stuck and that makes me wonder whether they remain the right choices for me.

Progress in June

Complete the 52 Book Club 2021 challenge: I completed this in June, six months ahead of schedule. I found the categories easier to fulfil this year and will soon write a post detailing the books read.

Blog regularly: This is still happening whereas in previous years it would have tailed off by now.

Practice yoga five times a week: I managed 29 sessions in June.

Complete six pieces of writing: I wrote two poems in June and am currently revising and editing a short story. The London Writers’ Salon Writers’ Hour is keeping me on track with this.

Complete A Year to Clear: I’m still working through this programme by Stephanie Bennett Vogt and am up to day 212.

Implement a cleaning schedule: The schedule is there but the motivation isn’t. This needs to become a habit.

Each week, take a positive step to improve my mood: Some of the things I did in June are: online literary festival and bookclub events, meeting friends, hosting an afternoon for a group of ex-colleagues who have become close friends, dinner in a restaurant with my daughter, afternoon tea with my sister and daughter, a trip to London with my partner, and a return to ballroom and Latin dance lessons.

Intentions already fulfilled

Choose a word for the year: My word is space and is all about creating more physical and mental space in my life.

Take a writing course: I’ve done several this year ranging from poetry to life writing.

Do a meditation: Earlier this year, I was making time for standalone meditation sessions; now I do it as part of yoga.

Visit London: I went in May and again in June.

Try new recipes: I’ve tried numerous new recipes this year and have added to my repertoire of meals. I plan on continuing to do so.

Have a wardrobe cull: I’ve been through every item of clothing and either disposed of it or, in the majority of cases, refolded and grouped similar items together.

Attend a literature course: I have attended several this year from Middle Eastern Literature to Literature of the Absurd to Critical Reading.

Visit the sea: I’ve made one trip to the coast; now it would be nice to go on a warm, sunny day and spend some time on the beach. Hopefully, when I’m away later this month, it will happen.

Try something new: From online bookclubs to London Writers’ Hour mingles, I’m always on the lookout for a new challenge.

No progress made In June

Visit new places to walk: If this is going to happen, I need to be intentional about it.

Fill my art journal: I have definitely lost my creative mojo in this respect. However, I’ve reignited my interest in knitting and am also going to try embroidery, so I’m being creative in other ways.

Tidy the study and keep it that way: Again, this needs to be scheduled in.

Watch The Merchant of Venice: I haven’t got round to this yet. I feel more drawn to Samuel Beckett at the moment!

Attend a mindfulness workshop: Although I’ve done an online course, I would like to do one in person.

Some areas I’m excelling in, others are stuck, albeit hopefully just temporarily as there are a further six months of this year left!

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