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A few years ago I decided to start a new career as a performer. I used to be a biology teacher but couldn't face walking around in a white coat all day teaching children who didn't want to learn. Actually it wasn't so much the children as the system cause I think all children want to learn - they just don't all want to learn in schools. Anyway I now work as a Life and Executive coach. Work is perhaps not the right word because it never feels like work. I just love to see people grow and change. I love it when they peel of the layers of limiting beliefs and find their true self. And I make some great frends in the process. I've re-discovered my writing and have published two poetry books and now working on 2 CDs, a novel, a book of short stories and talking to someone about a collaoration on a film script. That should keep me busy for a whild. Oh and I do bellydance.
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Blog Archive

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Belly dance Chinese Style

No belly dance costume in sight, but that's because we're having a night off. Our teacher is on the far right and you can just about see me on the back left. The food was plentiful and the stomachs empty, but, because of my dodgy belly from the night before I stuck to dishes without sauce. It wasn't difficult - I had crispy duck in wraps and millions of prawns (butterfly in garlic, and salt and pepper sauce.

As a result of forgetting my secret Santa gift, it was suggested that I put one of my books in the sack. It was a blessing as the person who pulled it wanted it signed. Another member of the group, Claire, had bought Dare to Love last week and had nearly finished it. She gave it such a good report that others have ordered copies for when we meet after Christmas. One person suggested taking it to her readers group. So much exposure from a mistake!
Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Getting into the Christmas spirit

Today, Tuesday 13 December, the ship carrying 200 copies of Dare to Love sails for Barbados. A barrel was the best option in the end. It's a relief to know they are on their way and I can truly relax and and enjoy the Christmas celebrations.

Been doing a few lunches, and my first Christmas dinner is with the Tai Chi class tonight, at the Jolly Sailor in Hemmington. My first turkey roast. I went to the gym this morning to prepare, and to repair the damage done by two lunches last week. The first on Friday with Dali (who took the lovely picture and posted it on Facebook, recommending all her friends to buy Dare to Love) and on Friday with Deirdre from St Lucia, and my friend Ernestine from Montserrat. I now have contacts in both St Lucia and Dominica, and a place on Hagley Road to hold book promotion events. Thanks Deirdre!!

It's the belly dance dinner tomorrow. No turkey roast. We will be at Modern China at Stockland Green.

Jerk chicken, paella and dumplings

In my last blog I said that Birmingham had a festival of European foods. I take it back. I just hadn't explored far enough to see the Chinese, Indian and Jamaican stalls. It seems crazy after the event, but Andrew and I went on Saturday night before going to see Birmingham Rep's production of Sleeping Beauty at the Crescent Theatre. (The Rep is closed for rebuilding to integrate it and Birmingham Central Library). Writers Without Borders members were offered free tickets as a way of saying thank you for taking part in a lottery bid with the Rep.

I say crazy because it was absolutely heaving. It was shoulder to shoulder penguin march for most of the time in the main central areas, but thankfully there was space to breathe by the Jamaican and paella stalls. We had the seafood paella and jerk chicken with fried dumplings. Not a mix you would get in any restaurant but that's what's great about the food festival. Desert was chocolate covered strawberries and kiwi on a skewer from a German stall, and handmade fudge from an English trader. Picture is of Andrew tucking into dumplings while keeping warm by the BBQ. I can't capture the smells here - sadly.

Alas, it was so cold I headed to the theatre earlier than planned, for a cup of fruit tea laced with rum. Not Mount Gay, but who cares when it's in fruit tea. The effect is still the same.

And Sleeping Beauty? Yes, definitely, go and see it. The set is amazing, another triumph for the Rep. The adaptation is exciting, as is most of the acting. Only two criticisms. It's drags a little in the second half before it picks is for a very Shakespearean end. Secondly, did the cleaner and the ogress have to be black??
Saturday, 3 December 2011

Back in Brum

We all know that one of the drawbacks with being away for six weeks is the mountain of paperwork you return to. Just opening all those envelopes takes time. I'm not going to bore you with the tedious stuff, we all have them, the thing I've trying to grapple with is the most cost effective way of sending 200 books to Barbados for distribution.

On the way to Writers Without Borders this morning, I was unprepared for the heaving masses visiting the German market in Birmingham Victoria Sq. It's more than a German market, it is a festival of European food. Heart shaped candies, Stollen, doughnuts, ostrich burgers, Angus beef with whiskey relish, roasted hog. A cacophony of smells and flavours, and the music of the merry-go-round drawing you in, like the Pied Piper, to stop and savour the delights.

Birmingham at its best - only drawback - IT'S COLD!!!

Last few days in Barbados

Wow, a week ago I was just getting ready to go to the Plantation in Barbados for what turned out to be the last of my revelling nights. I had to turn down the offer to go to McBride's on Sunday night to listen to techno music, on the grounds that I could hardly stand up from fatigue. And seriously, could techno top the whole reggae experience of Wednesday night?
I did, however, have some very delicious fishcakes made for me on Sunday. Thanks David, we all enjoyed them.

Imagine my disappointment when I got to the beach on Monday (my last day) morning to say goodbye to the Rasta guy - and he wasn't there. It's so unlike him, everyone was surprised. Hope he's OK. I did, instead, meet up with the woman who was willing to give up her massage session for me, (in the photo with the head wrap) and the police officer who featured in the novel, whom I'd been looking out for all the time I was there.

Barbados cried for me as I left, big bulbous tears, hundreds and thousands of them, throughout the whole day. And I gather it's still crying. 'Don't cry for me Barbados, the truth is I never left you.....' somehow I think that's one's been done.

Eight hours later, I arrived in Manchester, to be greeted by the cold, the grey and the sniffer dogs.
Friday, 25 November 2011


The sleep thing was not to happen last night. At 6.45 p.m. I had a call from the head of the open campus of the University of the West Indies, (someone Gracelyn had given my details in terms of developing some course on parenting), asking whether I would be able to join him and a few other colleagues for a meal at the famous Tapas restaurant at Hastings, as he may not have another opportunity to meet with me before my departure on Monday. I naturally said 'yes' and was rewarded with a most splendid night of gorgeous food and lovely company.

The five of us at the table represented four different nationalities, Barbadian, Jamaican, Vincentian, and Grenadian. I felt I'd known them forever, despite this being the first meeting for me of all of them. Conversation was easy, we shared our stories and our food, and was in no hurry to leave. The staff, patient and professional to the last, even took or photos for us long after they should have gone home.

If you're ever in Barbados, make a point of getting down to Hastings and booking a table at Tapas. Try to get one upstairs overlooking the sea, and try the fishcakes. They are divine.


On Thursday I had the pleasure of meeting the Director of PAREDOS, the organisation for parenting education and development in Barbados. It's a voluntary organisation whose motto 'building strong communities one family at a time' is lived in its day to day operations. It reminded me very much of the National Children's Bureau and of my time there, of people who put children at the centre of everything that they do.

It was heartening to know that there are people working to bring to the wider population of Barbados, and to the Government, the need to have a more integrated and child friendly approach to legislation and to practices in schools and in the home.

It was definitely worth getting only four hours sleep to be able to make this meeting. I hope there will be things we can do together to secure a much brighter future for all the children of Barbados.

Fully Loaded

Yes, Wednesday night at McBride's in St Lawrence Gap is Fully Loaded night, the eight piece reggae band that rocked the night through its transition to morning. We were invited by Elvis, the base guitarist who also played with the three piece jazz band at the Plantation lunch on Sunday. What a difference. To encourage people out everything was two-for-one before twelve o'clock. Two admissions for one, four rum and cokes for the price of two and we were set for the night. We began grooving to the recorded beats about half an hour before the band struck up their own brand of throbbing and pulsing tunes.

When the three singers came on stage the temperature shot up several notches. Such energy. They were rocking right from the first song, connecting with the audience, doing the classics to get us going, and when we were humming and purring with them they took it up another notch. We had an hour of them before they stopped for a short break, giving us a chance to refill our glasses and find a bit of personal space before coming back even more charged than before for another hour.

They kept it fresh by using different voices, different styles, by playing around with the songs, using DJ restarts and by totally connecting with the mood of the audience. I loved every minute of it. Still suffering from getting to bed at 4.45 a.m. Still trying to recapture a few hours.
Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Bridgetown by day - and night

Yesterday I spent pretty much the whole day in Bridgetown. I began by delivering the books to Pages Bookstore warehouse on White Park Road. Then I met David Goddard who took me to meet the journalist at The Nation, with whom I left a copy of my book to be reviewed in the paper some time in the new year. David then spent time showing me his Capital. He showed me streets that could easily have been parts of Georgetown, the only thing missing was the stagnant water. Then he showed me the other, more well known Bridgetown. Cave Shepherd, and the rest of Broad St, the churches and other splendid buildings, including the Houses of Parliament; the marina with its million dollars moorings.

We sat in Independence Square and watched the sun go down, watched lovers meet and old men huddle in groups. Heard them curse the beggars. 'If you want money for milk, try finding a cow - it would be free.' The beggars seemed undeterred as they moved to the next group, or person. We were approached by at least three, each with a different story, none receiving gifts from us. While not feeling threatened in any way, I felt a little uncomfortable. Felt I could have broken the mould and given something, but I took my lead from my guide and said, 'no, not today.' and wondered what Jesus would have done.

The square took on a fairytale appearance in the dark. The yellow and blue Independence lights strung across the city, around and across the river, gave a magical feel to the night. The dark shapes were no longer old men, beggars and people making their way home, but fairies and nymphs, gnomes and princes gliding through a wonderland of colour that twinkled in the backdrop of the night.

We walked the length of Brown's Beach and marvelled at the fairy castle in the distance. Only close up did it become the Hilton. David was proud to show his homeland, proud to be a citizen of this island where the only place with more centenarians is China. Proud to be in a well governed and well organised country, where the infrastructure works and its safe to walk the beaches at night. And so he should be.

Pre-flight food

If you are ever at Grantley Adams Airport and need something to eat before your flight, instead of going through to departure straight away, check your bags in and head across the car parks to the little cafe next to the garage. The food is delicious. Choose from Snapper, chicken, roast sweet potatoes, fries, roast breadfruit, and steamed vegetables. All at $12 BBD per plate. Wash it down with a beer or two, feel the breeze on your back, take one long last look at the airport, and settle down for a nice snooze on your flight.

I went there for lunch today and realised its one of the airport's best kept secret.
Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Need more books

My sleep pattern's all over the place since I got back from Montserrat, went to bed at 8.30 last night, up at 2.30 a.m to face a full day. Going to Bridgetown to meet the editor from The Nation about featuring the book. Also received the order from Pages Bookstores which I'm hoping to deliver today if I can get a lift. They will receive them just in time to still feature in the Independence month celebrations of writing by or about Barbados. Everywhere the Barbados flag and colours abound. The radio and TV calls for Barbadians to show their pride in their nation. This is the bandstand at Brown's Beach, where we do our Tai Chi on Saturday mornings, bedecked in the Barbadian colours and The Nation Newspaper's posters for the National Fun Run/Walk which took place on Sunday.

I spent some time yesterday researching shipping costs as I've run out of books to meet the orders I have. The airport bookstore is the latest to say yes, and I'll approach Cloisters today while I'm in Bridgetown. Also looking to see if there's any tax on the import of books here, as there isn't in the UK, but can find nothing on the Internet.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Travel Club Lunch

The Travel Club of Barbados had it's annual lunch today at The Plantation, a venue that features in my novel. It was interesting to see it in the daytime, and also to assess whether my descriptions in the book were accurate. I'm not sure if the event was part of the month long Independence celebrations, but it was certainly well attended, mostly by retirees with time and money on their hands. The food was delicious and plentiful The entertainment comprised mainly of singers, young and old, backed by the police band. The non-singers were a 3 piece band (keyboard, base guitarist and drummer) and a line dancing group. The whole thing was ably and amusingly compared by a man having a bit of a blonde moment.

It was a lovely atmosphere. We got chatting to Elvis, the base guitarist from the band, who was highly amusing. It would have been nice to have carried on relaxing but the tables were being cleared away in preparation for another function. Elvis gave us a lift home only to find that Camella had been having a very blonde moment of her own. She'd left the house keys in her partners car. Elvis very generously took us to find them, which gave us a bit more time to hear about his travels with a whole range of bands. Think we'll be going to see him play with a reggae band at McBrides on Wednesday night.
Saturday, 19 November 2011

Holetown Fiasco

Still on Friday. Moved to the night now. The plan was to go to the annual wine, rum and food festival at Limegrove Lifestyle Centre in Holetown, then go on to the after party at the Beach House a little further down the road which was due to finish at 2 a.m. I was a little apprehensive when Camella suggested taking the bus there (because she wanted to fully partake of all the alcoholic beverages on offer), and coming back by taxi. Not because I have anything against buses - (I'd taken ZRs, the local private mini-bus service in Barbados to and from my massage appointment) - but because I intended to wear heels. After all, it was a dress-up night. In the end I settled for jeans and dress-up top, looked great with my strappy high heels, but not the ideal footwear for trekking. I was mightily relieved when her partner offered us a lift to the bus stop.

We waited about half an hour before our bus arrived, and was a little perplexed when another bus which had been parked up departed at the same time. I should add that both buses were the yellow, privately owned ones. It became all too clear as the journey progressed why there were two. Our man seemed intent on overtaking the one in front, baring down on innocent drivers that sat between him and the bus in front, all this while constantly talking on his mobile phone. At one stage we were surprised to see a second person in the middle seat of the bus adjusting something on the dashboard. It was to our joint alarm the discovery that it was the same driver who had somehow slid from his seat will still driving and talking on his mobile. I know men are not usually know for multi-tasking but he didn't have to go to such lengths to dispel the myths.

The hour long journey continued in that way, first one bus overtaking then the other, both competing for passengers, while our man complained bitterly that the other was acting illegally, should not be on that route at that time. It was positively scary at time the narrow gaps they squeezed into in their attempt to gain a few yards advantage. We were relieved to arrive at our stop in one piece, and I was possibly a little shakier than usual on the heels.

We made it to the Limegrove Centre only to be told that we needed tickets. How much were the tickets, we enquired. '$200 BD' replied the lady on the desk 'and in any case the event is sold out,' she added smugly. There were, however, tickets for the after party, and a mere $150 BD.

Camella and I stepped aside to confer. No, we did not wish to pay that much for a party, and decided to check out some of the other venues in Holetown instead. After all, we'd come out to eat, drink and dance, it couldn't be too difficult to find somewhere else in Holetown to fulfil those needs. WRONG. Holetown on a that Friday night is dead. A far cry from the vibrant, rocking place I'd been to on a Sunday night back on my last night in January.

'We could always go to Oistins', Camella suggested, and I didn't need asking twice. So, back on the bus to Oistens. After a long wait (where about 10 buses to Bridgetown went by) our bus came -WITH THE SAME DRIVER AS BEFORE. This time there was no competition, just a bus already full with standing room only, and this time it was a disco on wheels. As we picked up more and more passengers, many who like us was dressed for partying, I couldn't help feeling that we'd already started the party. The bus vibrated to the sounds of reggae beats and old-time dance music. People sang along, others danced - or as much as they could wedged a so closely to their travelling companions. Just as we thought the bus would burst open at the seams the driver called for us to move even further back to make room for more passengers. A few bold people asked where the hell else they could go, and although no one appeared to move, more passengers were fitted in. I was standing right under one of the speakers which made conversation impossible.

Now, this might all sound nightmarish, but it was in fact like a rammed nightclub with the added excitement of the bus taking corners on just the outer wheels. We were too tightly packed to fall over, and it was almost a disappointment (apart from the gratitude my feet felt) to be able to sit down after a few people had disembarked. By the time we got to Oistins we had struck up the camaraderie of those who have got close involuntarily and made the best of it.

So, after a two hour journey we ended up ten minute walk from home. The place was buzzing, the aromas were enticing and the dancing, was, as ever, delightful, especially the line-dancing outside Lexie's. Alas, there was still the ten minute walk home in those shoes, up the hill, with no pavement.

So you think you're in charge

Although it's Saturday today its yesterday I want to write about. Sometimes, just when I'm beginning to think I have everything under control, when I begin to believe in the marvel of my own planning, and my ability to execute my plans with precision, something happens to remind me that a force way superior to me is a better conductor, a better orchestrator than I can ever be. This is a long one so settle back. Grab a drink in if you need to.

I got back from Montserrat on Tuesday night worn out by the hectic schedule of the week and the weariness of the wait at Antigua airport. Head still buzzing from all the sounds of the festival and the images of unsafe zone, I wrote my blog as a way of downloading the information and clearing my head on Wednesday. I slept pretty much all day on Thursday, and was therefore feeling rejuvenated on Friday morning. I wanted only two things on Friday. The first was a massage. Camella left for work promising to try and find me a good masseuse. The second was a reply from the Nation newspaper to my two previous emails, but I decided to relax for the day, hang out on the beach and deal with such matters on Monday.

After twenty laps of the beach I was heading to the bench for my abs work with I stopped to speak with a young lady I'd only previously said hello to. She captured my attention when she said she'd recently had and accident, that the doctor had told her she may well have a permanent injury, and that she had decided 'hell, no. That will only happen if I believe it will. What we believe manifests in our bodies.'

An hour later I left her, having shared our beliefs that the the body does not need a fraction of the food we actually put into it. That it does not need great slabs of steak, or pounds of hard food (that's yams, potatoes, dashines, cocos etc to you uninitiated). We agreed that illness serve a purpose, has a benefit for the people who have them, whether its to get sympathy,or time off work, or to be worn as a badge of honour for carrying the hereditary tradition of the family. I told her I wanted a massage. She was going to have one that day at 12.30. She called her masseuse and within minutes I'd got a massage booked for the afternoon. What I thought was touching was that, while we waited for the masseuse to call back, she said I could have her slot and she would go the following day as my needs appeared to be greater than hers. What a coincidence, I thought. We hugged, our own energy boosted by the other, and I headed for a dip in the pool side of the beach.

Within five minutes of being in the water a gentleman beckoned my over. He turned out to be the author David Goddard. His book In the Midst was published late last year. I told him about mine. When he asked if I was doing a book launch I told him of my frustration of not being able to elicit a response from the Nation. He said I was emailing the wrong person, that he had just been speaking with someone from the Nation and that, if I was willing he would arrange a meeting with the person I needed to speak to for next Tuesday. This is where I dumped my notion of coincidence, and wholeheartedly embraced the divine planner, the magnificent orchestrator.

As we talked we discovered we had a great deal in common, not least that we believe our thoughts manifests as things, that our beliefs shape our lives. His book, he explained, challenges beliefs about divorce, particularly for Caribbean Christians, who would rather die than divorce, will live separate lives for years but will not divorce because the fear of an unforgiving God is so great.

As I walked home I was joined by a young man (well young for me, about 35) who told me he was a preacher in The Church of God of Prophecy. His main concern was to challenge some of the firm held beliefs of the congregation that some of the metaphors in the Bible are real, literal. He couldn't understand why I laugh out loud. I simply said I think we are all being challenged to question our beliefs.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Talking Health

Cathy Boffonge, the presenter of Talking Health on ZJB Radio Montserrat, attended my workshop and asked if I'd be kind enough to record an interview for her programme. She felt the issues covered in the workshop deserved to be heard by a wider audience. It was my last assignment of the visit. It was a laid back affair, coming on the back of a very lovely meal at Gracelyn's home on Monday night. The only additional question Cathy asked was what to do about tantrums. I suggested holding the child, while reassuring her constantly that she is safe and loved.

Then it was farewell to Montserrat, for the time being.

Island Tour

Five of us were taken on a tour of the island by Cecil, a most delightful tour guide. His experience of growing up on the island, of living through the volcano eruptions, of providing shelter to the refugees from the south to his homeland in the north, and of watching the rebuilding of the island on the north, was shared with colour and charisma.

From our starting point in St John's we went to the new town of Lookout, where most of the people from the south were evacuated to. Cecil told us of the building programme to create homes for the hundreds of people displaced, schools, hospital etc., and its effectiveness in developing a new community.

From there we headed to Little Bay and followed the west coast down through Sweeney's, Brades, Cudjoe Head, (part of my running route), St Peter's, Woodlands, and Salem. We dropped into the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) and marvelled at the fantastic views, but sadly the dome of the volcano was shrouded in clouds, almost as though it was ashamed to show its face, like a small boy hiding behind his hands to hide from the mess and mayhem he had caused. Fom here we learned that our tour did not have to end at Garibaldi Hill as originally planned, but that we could continue, with permission from the police, into the newly opened unsafe zone.

Cecil was delighted, and shared the significance of this with us. The zone had been closed for the past five years, he was as excited as we were to be allowed in to see what changes had happened in that time. A police officer met us at the gate, took all our names, gave us strict warning that in the event of rain we were to head straight out, as the Belham River is prone to rapid flooding which could leave us trapped. As we drove over the now dry Belham River, it all came flooding back to me. The views, the wide expanse on uninterrupted green flowing into the turquoise of the sea, the once beautiful houses crumbling gracefully like aging balarinas. When we stopped at Springs Hotel I felt the emotion well up. This was somewhere I'd come to frequently during my visits. My friend sang in Montserrat Emerald Singers who used to perform here on Friday nights. They were occasions to dress up for, to look one's best. Now the Prima Donna had lost all her sparkle, her feet were covered in mud, her body dusted liberally with ash, her hair filled with cobwebs.

The reception area still held the transactions of the last customers, the ledgers, the till rolls. A telehone looked as though it would still ring. The bedrooms were empty except for some scattered chairs and cushions. The ash, which has long since been dispersed by the wind and by new lush vegetation outside, was still very evident inside, like the cleaners had been on strike for five years. However, a house next to the hotel looked in pristine condition, almost as though the occupants had just popped out to do some shopping. I'd like to know the manufacturers of the paint used on that house. The starkest reminder of the effects of the volcano's erruption were the skeleton trees,trunks and branches smooth and bleached among the new green growth.

Parking the car at the bottom of a hill, four of us made the climb to the now deserted, dank and musty Air Studios at the top. It was well worth the effort. We reminisced about the great musicians who had recorded there. I regaled the group with my claim to fame - that I kept Stevie Wonder waiting when he was at the studio recording Ebony and Ivory with Paul McCartney.

On our way out we were amazed to find a sigh pinned to the locked and chained gates. 'Police Notice. Back in ten minutes. Please wait' it read. we could not help but laugh. Just as well there was no threat of rain.

Obeah in Old Story Time

Sunday evening's event should have been a play, but due to lack of funds to bring all the players, two were selected to act out certain scenes while David Edgecombe narrated the rest. He was brilliant at setting the play in context and linking the scenes, so much so that we hardly noticed that we were not getting the full Monty. There followed a discussion on what obeah represents in the Caribbean. Is it left hand or right hand magic? Will it work if you don't believe in it? Is it a religion? Has it ever been well represented in work for the stage? The general concensus was that it depended on where you live, and no, there has never really been a great play about obeah.

After the excitement of the Book Lovers' Parade, and the high energy required for delivering a successful workshop, I was pretty tired by the end of the day. I managed to make it to bed before midnight as I needed to be at the Mansion Gardens Hotel by eight a.m. for the start of the island tour organised for those of us (authors and presenters) still on the island.
Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Can you fix my child?

30 participant turned up for my workshop on parenting on Sunday, lured in part by the possibility that their child can be 'fixed'. It was the biggest workshop attendance of the festival with parents from all walks of life, including some of the teachers I'd presented to on Wednesday. I began by asking them to break into groups and to write a job description and person specification for parents, including renumeration, benefits and retirement age. The exercise worked as an ice breaker and the energy in the room reflected the level of engagement.

I then took them on a whistle stop tour of the stages of child development, discipline styles and parenting styles, before asking them to consider alternatives to physical discipline. It was a very interactive session with passions running high at times. Even the camera man who had been silent in all the other workshops felt moved to make a contribution. I was allowed to let the session run on beyond it allotted 90 minutes because of the interest generated. It was heartened to observe the level of involvement by the men in the workshop, and to see that they were seriously reevaluating their own style of parenting, looking at it through new eyes.
The feedback from some of the participants who accosted me later included:
1. Realizing how big the job of parenting is and how ill prepared they were for it.
2. Using the stages of child development as part of the disciplining process, rather than relying just on the age of the child.

3. Validating what they were already doing well as parents and grandparents.

4. Never considered before the link between physical discipline (hitting children) and domestic and other types of violence.

5. Should have been longer.

6. Helpful to think of parenting from a point of love, not fear.

The public health promotion officer asked if I'd be prepared to conduct an interview on Radio Montserrat so that the messages of the workshop could be made available to a wider audience. Happy to.

Lost in a masquerade

We arrived at the centre for the Book Lovers' Parade to the throbbing beats of the Masquerade band, pounding us to the bones, rhythms running wild over our bodies. They performed in their own right as well as accompanying the children in their parade past the judges. It was gourmet's delight for the senses.

Book Lovers' Parade

After the laughter of Saturday night, Sunday was a feast for the eyes. It was the Book Lovers' Parade. Children of all shapes and sizes dressed as their favourite characters from thier favourite books. There were Little Mermaids, Rapunzels, Fairy Godmothers alongside Cinderellas. The boys were resplendent as Mad Hatters, Hungry Caterpillars, Spiderman, The Hulk, and many more. It was clear that hundreds of hours had been spent cutting out, stitching, and gluing these outfits together. The vibrant colours were strong competition for the flowering shrubs sorrounding the Cultural Centre. Sadly, I had to go off to prepare for my workshop before the winners were announces, so I don't know if this delightful little girl was in with a chance.

Laughter, the best medicine

The afternoon session was lead by Jamaican born Olive Senior, who showed us how to vary the way we write our poetry, and also read from her new novel.

The evening entertainment for Saturday night was Ricardo Keynes-Douglas (yes brother to Paul) I arrived a little late (my lift working on Caribbean time), but by all accounts he was just getting into his stride. The man has energy, it was nearly a two hour set, and people turned out to see him. The auditorim was respectably full. There are so many ways to tell 'the English man, the Irish man and the Scottish man' jokes. Just change them to 'the Guyanese, the Trinie, and the Montratian'. He was real breath of fresh air and I laugh out loud with everyone else.

Leaving Montserrat

I leave Montserat today to go back to Barbados. The last few days were a blur. After the opening on Friday night, the festival went into full swing on Saturday. It started with Ian Thompson's workshop on writing about other people. He tackeled some interesting issues such as whether you need to get the person's approval or of others close to them, whether to record or to take notes, and whether to leave out sensitive material. His book 'The Dead Yard - A story of modern Jamaica' caused an outcry in Jamaica as people complained about his depiction of its peoples. He was threatened with law suits from Edward Seaga (former Prime Minister) but nothing came of it. In the end his book has been accepted. I believe I needed to hear this as my next novel may ruffle a few feathers.

The next slot was Spakers Corner and after watching the presentation on the new book by Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) 'Island of Fire' and listening to Clairce reading her neice's poems, it was my turn to perform four poems from my collection. (For anyone interested I did Newsflash, The Guide, Saxophone Lover and Meeting at the Pearly Gates) They were very well received, reflected in book and CD sales. There was talk of going into schools and helping children to understand that poems can be performed, not just read. I think the children know that already, they call it rap, but are never invited to these kinds of events to perform.

Some were, however, invited to read the the poems they had written as part of competition organised by the MVO based on the title 'Volcano in my back yard'., (at least the winners were).

I listened and was inspired. They were awesome. The picture is of the winners of the staff from MVO.
Saturday, 12 November 2011

The Festivities begins

Last night (Friday) the festival opened with a coctail reception at the Govenor's house. About fifty people networking and enjoying a few drinks at the Govenor's hospitality. It was a lovely house, with a pool overlooking the sea. The Appleton Overproof soon gave way to white wine (which incidentally continued through the rest of the night) before we moved to the Cultural Centre at 8 p.m. for the official opening and the launch of two books, Professor Ferguson's Poems from behind God's back, and Jo-Annah Richards The Ill Concepts of the Caribbeab Woman. The two were interspersed with a fashion show of tie-dyed fabrics. The evening was rounded off with a Soca Music Explosion with Scrappy and Volcanic Vybz. That's me and Scrappy in the photo.

It was a shame the attendance was so poor. The one hundred or so audience was lost in an auditorum designed to at least ten times that. Got into deep discussion with a gentleman about his forthcoming baptism. Not a good move with several white wines inside me. They were thowing us out at the end.
Friday, 11 November 2011

Arrow's night

The pre-festival symposium last night was very well attended. The six speakers focused on the importance of harnessing our creative talents and using them to create our wealth. Our education system must change to facilitate this, both in structure and content. The creative arts must no longer be second or third cousins to science, maths and English.

The evening was rounded off with a poetry reading by Professor, Sir Howard Fergus from his new anthology The Arrow Poems and Saturday Soup, and a calypso tribute by Scrappy.

What a lovely bunch

It's an ill wind, as they say. This is the bunch of bananas brought down by the storm last night. I say the bunch because it's cut in two so my friend could lug it up the hill. What a beauty. Some lucky frined are in for a treat.

I was mightily impressed by the way my friend hacked away the dead tree with her cutlass. A true pro.
Thursday, 10 November 2011

1 in 26 will do

Presenting to teachers yesterday took me straight back to my consultancy days. It could have been any staff room in any British school. The fears and concerns were the same. The resistance to change, the challenges of balancing the pressure of delivering the curriculum with the pastoral element of the job. The condemnation of some children by some teachers, the lack of understanding of how profoundly teachers affect children's lives.

I could see the ones who were prepared to think a little differently about their role, and those who had dug their heels in. I could see the thought bubbles above their heads 'it was OK for you to spout greater understanding and flexibility because you don't have to deal with the kids in my class.' I knew well enough that I wasn't going to take all of them with me, but as I said to them, if only one out of the 26 that was in the room took on board and used the techniques we'd discussed it would have been worth it for me, because that one will affect hundreds of lives.

Today I did a radio interview for the parenting workshop on Sunday. Many teachers are also parents and I anticipate the parents will come with the same concerns parents in the UK face - how to discipline their children if they're not allowed to hit them. How to counter the barrage of external influences from TV, films. the internet and peers. Of course the message is the same, with love, understanding and respect. Will the parents be any more receptive to this?

Tonight there's a pre-festival event - a memorial lecture for the musician 'Arrow' on the creative industries. It'll be an opportunity to meet some of the other visitors who are hear for the festival.
Wednesday, 9 November 2011

In Montserrat

The journey from Barbados to Montserrat took me via two other islands, Dominica and Antigua. The Liat aircraft took off on time. It was a bit like boarding a bus. 'Sit anywhere but the back seats', the chief cabin crew said as we filed on with our varying sizes of carry on bags. I snuggled into a window seat right by the wheels of the aricraft and listened to the safety talk. 'We have oxygen on the aricraft if necessary', replaced the usual 'in the case of cabin pressure dropping oxygen masks will drop down'. Watching the wheels I could tell exactly when we took off, and knew we were staying up when they folded like giant exotic umbrellas being cased.

The lushness of Dominica reminded me of Guyana, but with more contours. I wanted to stay longer than the twenty minutes it took to pick up new passengers. I know I'll be back. The seat next to me which had been vacant was filled by a base guitarist, about fifty five, who had been to the international music festival and was on his way back to Tobago.

I've been to Antigua before, but the dry arid landscape that I remembered from twenty odd years ago was now covered in green. When I queried it with my friend she said the ash from Montserrat has spread far and wide across the Caribbean, bringing some unexpected benefits.

I was the only person checking in at the Fly Montserrat desk and was informed that we would be leaving early if all passengers checked in early. Having paid 28US dollars for my departure tax, the customs officer sent me back for a refund as I'd not been in the country for twenty four hours. This was a pleasant and very welcomed surprise, as the last time I was in Antigua someone relieved me of rather a lot of my travelling funds from the hotel room.

The airport is the biggest and busiest I've encoutered so far on this trip, and again, very friendly. The member of staff on the departure gate was a Jamaican woman from my parish of Clarendon in Jamaica. She was surprised by my surname. 'Dixon isn't a Claridonian name' she declared. Then, 'Oh I knew it had to be something like that' when I explained it's my married name.

We did, indeed, leave early, with a full flight of seven passengers and a pilot. One person's bags had to be left for the following flight as the 10kgs would have been too much for the safe flying of the aircraft. No amount of cajoling could budge the pilot. I got some amazing footage of the take of and landing. I didn't think it possible, but Montserrat is even more lush than when I was here twenty seven years ago, and is, in essence, a different island. Most of the south has been devastated by the volcano and the newly developed and developing north is emerging as a splendid alternative for what was lost. Survival is stamped all over the island.

I received a warm welcome at customs and a welcome pack from the festival organisers containing lots of goodies from the various sponsors. Unfortunately Colin Channer won't be coming but there'll be plenty of other great writers and readers to meet. By some strange quirk of fate I'm going to be doing a presentation to a group of teachers today on using the ABCapproach to behaviour management.

My friend here lives in the mountains. Peace, tranquility and hungry mosquitoes.
Monday, 7 November 2011

Next leg

All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go. Now...where have I heard that before? I haven't been to Montserrat since the eruption of the volcano and I'm looking forward to seeing the changes for myself. The population is just a little over 5000, fitting nicely into the habitable side of the island.

I've packed my bellydance gear for possibly running a beginners class, poerty books and CDs for my performance in Speakers Corner at the festival, and of course my novels. I've yet to decide what to perform. I'll wait to see the space to be inspiried, but as the theme is Words and Music, I should find something in my reperatoire to suit.

We've had some rain, but as usual, it didn't last long, and who minds when we get this kind of rainbow reward?
Sunday, 6 November 2011

Work, rest and play

Although it may look like I've just gone from one party to another, quite a bit has happened in between. I've reaquainted myself with Miami Beach and it regulars, who welcomed me back home and wanted to know about my trip to Guyana. I got a long lecture on the family links between Barbadians and Guyanese, along with another swimming lesson. The tables are now reversed, years ago it was the Babadians who were going to Guyana to look for a better life. They married, had children and so the connections were formed.

Pages Bookstore is definitely taking Dare to Love.

Camella's sister called to say Radio Montserrat is already advertising my attendance at the literary festival, and in particular my workshop. YEY!! I've been giving the content serious thought, working on the finer details now.

Yesterday the second Starbroek News article came out. The focus was on my lost purse. Who would have thought the incident would be newsworthy? but it formed part of my TV and radio interviews, and now part of a newspaper article. The article prompted me to contact The Nation newspaper here again, as they still have not responded to my request to do a piece on the book in their magazine.

Last night we partied. A lovely beach front house affair with music and food to die for. People were really getting down.
Thursday, 3 November 2011

Back in Barbados

Arrived back in Barbados this morning, desparately needing sleep. We went to The Edge nightclub last night for some final revelry. It's an ultra modern club that looked and felt like the inside of a freezer chill room when we arrived. Mist floated around and the temperature had Camella reaching for her shawl. The long rectangular dancefloor, modelled on the one in Michael Jackson's Billy Jean video flashed red white and blue under floor lights.

The sparcely filled room echoed the heavy, vibrating eighties and nineties remixes, and the bar staff hovered and pounced on us as soon as we were seated. The XL rum we had was the largest and strongest we'd experienced (except when we made it ourselves), but we had to be vigilent, as on the second order we were brought the inferior 5 year version, at the XL ten year price. Good thing we know our rums. It was changed without a fuss.

By eleven the club was heaving, that being the cut off point for free entry for ladies. The crowd certainly knew how to party, including some extremely risky moves on the floor by a couple of young women in extremely short skirts. It was a great night. Not quite in the same way as the oldies night on Saturday as there was, understandably a much younger crowd. We had to drag ourseveles away at two o'clock to try and catch a couple of hours before checking out of the hotel four hour later to head for our flight.

Marcelle and Denis called by earlier, about eight, offering to take us out for a drive and also to do a final interview for the follow up story for Starbroek News. The interest was in the story of the lost purse. Marcelle also had some questions about Dare to Love which she is now reading. We've agreed to keep in touch. Told them I came not knowing anyone, and was leaving with a clutch of new friends.
Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Cancelled interview

By the time I surfaced this morning I knew I was too exhausted to do any more than veg today. I had another interview booked for 10.30 this morning, after dropping in the reminder of the books to Austins at 9.15. My angel card said 'time out' and I listened. Mr Austin would not be in the office till 10.30 so I swopped the interview for that visit as that had to be done. Other things also got cancelled, either from my side of from thiers, including lunch with Rupert and the interview with Marcelle. It left me with an opportunity to hang out on the balcony and record sounds and images. The ideas for how to shape the comparative peice on the 3 countries I'm visiting are begining to take form.

My friend and I wandered around unchaperoned for the first time today and really noticed the grubbiness of streets, the pools, streams and almost rivers of stagnant water in the streets. Energetically this has an effect of the people of the city, on the ease with which things flow and the clarity of thinking and seeing. Maybe this could be having an effect on the political 'stuckness'.
Tuesday, 1 November 2011

NCN radio interview

The National Communications Network interview that I did this afternoon (1 Nov) was the longest and most in depth so far. The presenter, Andrea Joseph, had researched the book and had used our meeting yesterday to put together a set of questions that not only allowed me to talk about the book, but also to share some of my philosophies for life. We spent some time discussing what I meant by the heart always knowing what is right. Although the programme would normally invite listeners to phone in, all phone ins had been cancelled by the government during the election campagining. One listener, however, did call anyway, to ask if there were any plans to convert the book into a talking book so that people who are blind or partially sighted can enjoy it.

At the end of the interview, my friend and I admitted that we were exhausted and in need of a little zoning out and people watching. Andrea recommended the Sidewalk Cafe, a jazz venue which did just the trick. On return to the hotel we were made the offer to attend a wake with another friend. Not having attended a wake in the Caribbean or in South America, I agreed.

I met the father of the 25 year old who was knocked off his motorbike, and died in hospital from his wounds. He was naturally distraught, but managed a laugh from time to time through the evening. Young people made up the majority of the approximately one hundred people that filled the house and lined the street on both sides of road outside the house. There was no music, just the slapping of dominos, the shuffle of cards, and the quiet outbursts of laughter.

On return to the hotel it was heaving in the bar. Two important people seemed to be visiting, the owner of Buddy's and one of the candidates for the President in the forthcoming elections. I spoke to the latter, who seemed eager to engage in conversation, about the purpose for my visit and the fact I am planning to come back again. He recommeded going into the interior next time and maybe crossing over into Brazil.

Mr Austin said yes.

A few hours ago Mr Austin, the owner of the renouned Austin's Book Services said yes to stocking Dare to Love. It was a timely agreement, given that I'm about to do a radio interview in two hours. I can now confidenty say that the books will be available in the largest bookstore in Georgetown. While I'm extremely happy about this, I am happier about the nature of the transaction. Mr Austin is an exteremly charming person with a great sense of humour and a very sharp wit, a shrewd businessman but seems fair.

Although we hadn't made an appointment, and he was about to leave for one, when he realised I was about to go and do the radio interview he spared us some time. I think also because Denis is a personal friend of his and he had accompanied us to the meeting. Denis, also a charming person, in a very laid back way. He never looked rushed, long easy strides, but as a journalist he covers a lot of ground. He met us at the bookshop, took us to the craft center and then found a taxi to take us back to the hotel. I commented on the friendliness and generosity of everyone we've met so far, which is directly opposed to what we had been warned to expect. He just smiled and said 'you can't believe everything you hear. Guyana has its problems, but not everyone has allowed it to affect their basic humanity.'

Monday, 31 October 2011

Haloween in Guyana

Haloween isn't something that's celebrated massively here in Guyana, although there was an 'All Black' event on Saturday night and a few children dressed up tonight. Being in an hotel I guess we are missing whatever is going on out there. There is more evidence on 'Dancing with the Stars' that it's Haloween, than there is in the wider community.

Today was a busy one. Marcelle, the journalist who wrote the Starborke News article, came to collect us this morning and took us to meet Rupert at the Guyana Information Agency (GIA). He weaved a very special brand of magic and I ended up doing a TV news interview. I don't know if it was used tonight because I didn't see the news at 6 p.m.

After we left, with radio interviews set up for tomorrow and Wednesday, we went to join Marcelle at the Starbroke office, a more formal affair, where I met the editor Cheryl Springer who welcomed us and discussed the follow up article to the main one published on the 22nd.
Marcelle also introduced me to Denis, a veteran reporter, who is happy to accompany me to Austins, the main bookstore in Georgetown.

I am totally bowled over by the hospitality of everyone I've met so far. I look forward to the interview tomorrow and to meeting more people.
Sunday, 30 October 2011

Lazy day, hectic night

It was worth just chilling yesteray, as we needed our energy for the night. We only left the hotel to go across the road to the spa. As they only had a massage machine (and not a real masseur) I headed straight back to the hotel, but my friend stayed to have a manicure and pedicure, which, while surprisingly cheap compared to Barbados prices, was, in her opinion, all it was worth. After last night's meal fiasco we are learning to adjust our expectation of service.

The meal fiasco in question was a chicken chow mein I ordered at Buddys on Sherrif St. Both my eating companions also had chow meins, prawn and beef. Their's were fine, lovely in fact, but mine was just a tangle of noodles and four slabs of roast chicken with orange skin plonked on the top of the noodles with a sprinkling of raw shredded cabbage. I can hardly think of a time I'd experienced a more unappetising looking meal in a restaurant. If it was unapetising to look at it was worse to taste. The chicken was like old flakey cardboard, and the noodles tasted like they'd been tossed in slightly rancid soy sauce.

My friends were generous enough to there meal with me as I found mine totally inedible. Probably only the second time in my life that I've ever left a meal untouched. The first was in a Greek restaurant in Kefalonia in 2007, and there the proprietor refused to take my money. Not so here, when the waitress finally came to clear the plates (not ever once coming to ask if the meal was OK) I told her of my dissatisfaction with it. We couldn't believe it when she asked if I would like a bag to take it home in.

We were thinking of staying to go to the nightclub but decided against it after that experience. Instead we went to the Transport Social Club which played lots of old time music and where men asked women to dance, and waltz them across the floor.

The night had begun with with a walk to the sea wall, then along it, and then to Buddys. About six miles in all. It took us past the wide square, with the Pegasus on one side, and the American Embassy on the other. Down the grove with the mature trees ringed at their base with white paint, looking like overweight school girls in white socks. The heat of the day had subsided, the air was cool, inviting, and filled with the aroma of spinning candy floss as we headed to the wall. There I understood the engineering feat that allows Georgetown to be inhabited.

We had initially been heading for an 'All Black' Haloween event in that area , but the walk and the sea air had so opened our appetites, that we had to find a place to eat. The walk from our intended destination to Buddy's further sharpened our appetites, which is why I felt the disappointment of the meal so acutely. Where the walk built the appetite, the dancing used up the meal pretty quickly. We relied for energy on rum and coke. It was cheaper to buy a bottle for the table, much like I'd buy a bottle of wine on a night out, instead of glasses.

It was a fabulous night, dispite the electricity going down twice during turrential rain. The music was spot on, the guys could dance and the women were friendly. We left at four o'clock when it became obvious the electricy was not going to come back on. But it was probably time.
Friday, 28 October 2011

In Guyana

As the plane flew over Guyana I really got a chance to appreciate the splendor of the rain forests and the vast expanse of land that is this country. It was a muggy day as we disembarked, and rain began to drizzle as the taxi sped and crawled intermittently into Georgetown. There's always something inherently tantlising about discovering something and somewhere for the first time.

The mix of housing along the route, the haphazard way they seem to have sprung up around each other, the new and shiny, co-existing next to wooden and rusting corrugated structures; some looking like their occupants have long deserted them. Past the splendid banks and other finance buildings, the distillery, the Demerara River on the left tracking our every move. Past the many school signs, sponsored by Moneygram (get them early?). Being schooled by the taxi driver in the precautions necessary not to be ripped off, the steps we needed to take to stay safe, as Guyanese are not honest, will not miss a trick to take advantage of strangers. Finally arriving at the Sleepinn with aprehension mounting, only to find it was the wrong one.

The very considerate driver took us the two miles or so to the next one, where I was unable to find my purse. The purse I knew I had in the taxi only a few minutes previously. After several fruitless searches of my bag, and the taxi, I came to the conclusion that I must have somehow left it at the first hotel. A call from the receptionist quickly confirmed this, so back to the hotel to pick it up. All the time I was thinking that there was a lesson I needed to learn from this.

When we got to the hotel the receptionist pointed to a gentleman sitting on one of the chairs opposite the counter, and said he'd seen it on the chair where I'd left it, and handed it in. They encouraged me to check that all its contents were there. They were. Then I got the message. I had begun the trip full of aprehension and mistrust, here was an opportunity to see things differently, to recognise that Guyana is not full of thieves and charlatans and people just waiting to do you over. There are probably more people like this man here, but no one is writing about them or encouraging you to see the good in the nation. So, my attitude changed. I gave him a hearty handshake and five US dollars and gave two dollars to the receptionists amidst much gushings of gratitude. A small price for the misery and inconvenience a lost purse would have caused.

I finally managed to get in touch with my friend who brought me a copy of the Starbroek News with my article in, showed us around Starbroek Market, and gave us a guided tour of the area while helping us to find somewhere to eat. This was followed by a tour of the Allbouystown area, ending the evening in a lovely bar. We talked about so much, including my interview at Mix 96 fm yesterday, which was a great success.
Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Mix 96 fm meeting

When I went to the lovely studios of Mix 96 fm yesterday it was to discuss an interview to promote Dare to Love. I was bowled over by the warm welcome I got from an amazing crew, Russell, Annie, Sheldon and Omar. As A Course in Miracles practitioner, I'm always conscious that any interaction can be used to spead love, and help to bring peace to the world. Despite this, I was still amazed by the conversations I had with Sheldon and with Russell. 'The Secret' practioners are everywhere, it's good to connect, to share, to support.

Omar suggested promoting the book in Trinidad, as they have a thriving arts culture. As I have no contacts there, he's going to share some of his with me when I go back for the interview tomorrow. I'll be on the Stokely Murray show at 5 p.m. Thursday, 27th. Looking forward to it.

I got a great email from Marcelle, the reporter on the Starbroek News in Guyana, offering to do a follow-up piece when I get there. She also offered to organise a tour of major places for us.

The only fly in a very sweet ointment of a day was the operator at my bank who froze internet banking because I could not answer the exact date I opened my account. I realised, even as I was doing it, how pointless it was telling her how screwed I was by that. My wonderful husband has been a knight in shining armour.
Monday, 24 October 2011

TV Interview

Went to Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) for a radio interview which turned out to be a TV interview. It was a great experience. The interviewer, Sandy Deane, very effectively put me at ease, assured me I need not worry about my clothes, and conducted an easy going interview with wide ranging questions. I then read a couple of extracts from the novel, which she said would have the team vieing to be the first to read the book. The edited piece will be broadcast across the Carribbean and parts of North America next week.

I finished early enough to have a wander around Bridgetown, take some pictures and film of the marina area and marvel at the beauty of the shimmering mirror created by the sun on the water. It was great to hang out with a friend for a hour.

I rode the Sam Lord's Castle rammed bus back from the bus station to Oistins. I could have continued another couple of stops to Thornbury Hill, but needed air and space to stretch out.
Sunday, 23 October 2011

Starbroek News article

Through Google found that the article in the Starbroek News was published yesterday. My friend in Guyana says its a full page spread, with the heading Romance novel explores Barbdian, Guyanese relationship.

Only a snippet was available to read on the web, but a pparently its a good article.
Saturday, 22 October 2011

Lazy Saturday afternoon

It was worth having an early night and having a clear head for Tai Chi this morning. My Arrival into Bridgetown at 6.30 a.m., in the bright sunlight, twinkling on the crystal clear blue sea, made me realise again why I want to move back to the Caribbean (or at least spend a lot more time here). The Master's assistant took the class and made the moves wave hands like clouds and twist horse easy to understand. I left feeling like I could practice on my own and get it right.

I was so energised I went to Oistins fish market, bought Marlin, and made a fish au gratin, which was apprecitated by my friends. All that walking and cooking wore me out - spent the afternoon on the beach, just watching the world go by, and taking in the amazing sunset.

First time I've been out of the country for my son's birthday. Felt strange. Miss him.
Friday, 21 October 2011

First acceptance

One bookshop (Days in Bridgetown) has definitely taken my book, and another (Pages) is considering it. I should be celebrating, and had planned to do so at Oistins tonight, but sadly I'm too exhausted. Stayed in and finished A Dog Called Demolition. Possibly the side-splitting last few chapters that wore me out. Still, an early night will put me in a better frame of mind and body for Tai Chi tomorrow morning - 6 a.m. start. Just before going to bed Ichecked the publishe'r website. First two books sold on line. YEY! I'll celebrate tomorrow.
Thursday, 20 October 2011

A chill day

A much more relaxed day, even though I was on Miami beach at 5 a.m. (A mistake - thought it was 6 a.m.) I was amazed by how many people was there at that time, way before the sun came up. By eight o'clock I'd done two hours workout, showered, dressed and was ready to eat breakfast.

Confirmed my flight to the Montserrat festival, 8-15 November. My eyes watered at the price as I gave my credit card details. I googled me and found quite a few references to my appearance at the festival, made me smile.

Sat on the beach and laughed out loud at Robert Rankin's Dog Called Demolition as I watched the sun set. One day I'll be able to write like that. Also practiced with the video camera. Tried to upload my efforts but apparently the files are too big. Will do better next time. Maybe a picture will suffice.

Tomorrow I'm going to talk to bookshops about taking my book.
Wednesday, 19 October 2011
Hard to believe I've only been here here two days. I feel really pleased with what I've acheived in that time. I completed the Starbroek News extensive list of questions, sent them a couple of photos and asked if they can hold the article till I'm there. Mainly because I haven't sorted out local outlets for the book in Guyana. That's been my biggest challenge since I got here. Getting the book into shops requires telephone and physical legwork. And the cut the shops take is phenomenal, 75% in the worst case so far. But what to do - book need exposure - that shop will certainly be a loss leader, but I'm prepared to go with it becuase they are quite a big chain here.
And I have to do it all again in Guyana. That's a job for tomorrow.

Today I confirmed my radio interviews, Monday on Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) and Tuesday on Mix 96. Gives me enough time to physically get the books into the shops.

Tried to book my flight to Montserrat and had to sit down when I heard the price. Almost as much as the flight from Manchester to here. But it has to be done, so I'll get on and do it tomorrow.

Had lots more planned but today the jet lag hit. By 2 p.m. I had to head for a sleep, think I need at least another 10 hours to get back to high functioning.
Monday, 17 October 2011

The first leg of the journey

Arrived in Barbados after an enjoyable but slightly naughty flight. Sometimes I just let the child in me go wild. I pray always that God will make me a better person. Customs took a long time because, having declared that I had books as samples, and for possible sale, I was hit with a heavy duty. I could have lied (as in, simply not declared the books) but I'm trying to do business honestly. Everyone keeps telling me that you can't succeed in business if you're honest.

Barbados always feel like coming home. 30 degrees, and I got a text from home that the central heating isn't working. How soon it feels like a million miles away.

I received a set of questions from the Starbroek News today for the article they're going to run on Dare to Love. They're making me think, especially questions like 'how much of your personal circumstances are in the book?' Hmmmm.
Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Dare to Love on Amazon

My novel, Dare to Love, went onto Amazon today. What a journey!! Its not available for sale till January (official publication date) but can be pre-ordered at a reduced price. Available as ebook, however, at only 60% of hard copy price.

I'm so excited I could burst. I've got interviews with radio and TV lined up in Barbados, and Starbroek News in Guyana got back to me today and want to feature the book!! YEY. All this in addtion to the Alliogauna Literary Festival in Montserrat. God's working overtime on my case. I appreciate it.
Sunday, 9 October 2011

Going to South America

Been telling everyone I'm going to the Caribbean, to Barbados, Montserrat and Guyana. Of course, as most of you already know, Guyana is in South America. DOH!! Will be my first time in South America. Also just discovered we will be there during their elections campaigning. Should be interesting.
Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Yeah! CD Done

Big tick in big box. My CD - Raw Vol 1&2 finally finished. Delivered today. Looks and sounds great! If only the novel had gone as smoothly, but as a good friend reminded me - everything in its own time. Today I'm happy with the CD.
Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Notting Hill Carnival

The most peaceful in years, despite the fears.
Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Newsnight on riots

I'm watching Newsnight and am appalled by the sheer lack of understanding by politicians of the problems that lead to the riots; or maybe they do understand and are just too cowardly to admit it. Too afraid to agree with the young man who pointed out that Britain is a society built on greed, that Britain was built on precisly the kind of actions the young people are engaged in, namely going in and looting from other countries. What are we doing in Iraq? Maybe at least some of these young people watch the news, and understand that there is a view that we went into Iraq on false information, and have stayed because of oil.

What happens when prople feel they have nothing to lose? For some of them, not all, they will act irresponsibly. I have great sympathy for the people who've lost their homes and livelihood. If it's not to happen again we need to really start understanding that this society created these young people. We can't expect them to change until we do. It takes a whole village to raise a child - actually with the advent of the media, it takes a whole country. We are all responsible for what is happening.
Thursday, 14 July 2011

The Red Lion

Last night I had the most randon and wonderful night. I had a Groupon voucher for the Red Lion in Hockley which ran out on the 13th. A they would not extend it I asked a friend of mine to go along with me. (Reason I asked for extension is that I normally have bellydance on Wed nights). They said no so I asked my friend to go with me. Spoke to my son (middle musician) at about one o'clock and he said he was doing an open mic gig at a pub called 'Red Lion' same night. To cut a long story short we met up. I had my meal, he did a brilliant job on the saxaphone and had everyone spell bound. Great food by the way at the Red Lion, Warstone Lane, Hockley, Birmingham 18. Also met Gerry who was manager of Steel Pulse way back. Mention it because my son Ash is nephew of Basil Gabbidon ex Steel Pulse base guitarist. It was a great night. Thanks guys for brightening up a pretty unintresting Wednesday. Looking forward to next month's event.
Sunday, 10 July 2011

Final sum for Walkathon

Seems like ages since the walk and so much has happened since, a couple of performances (Bellydance and Poetry) and a trip to Canada. It took a while to collect it all in but the final sum was £663.60 (including giftaid).

I am bowled over by everyone's generosity. A MASSIVE thank you to you all. Please see my website for all the names who made this possible.
Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Not far to go now!

Thanks everyone who's donated to the Walkathon appeal so far. We've raised £452.50 so far!! The £500 is just a whisper away. Please, please can I have your donations in by the end of the week if you've not sent it yet. Only another £47.50 to go. It's tantalisingly close. I've never done anything this big before. It's for a brilliant cause. Thanks again.
Monday, 9 May 2011

One day later!

I DID IT! Walked 26 miles in 6.5 hours wearing a bellydance outfit and carrying rather too much on my back. The forcasted rain did not happen so didn't need the rain coat and I carried way too much food. The leaflets for the BAMBA (Birmingham and Midlands Bellydance Association) festival on Saturday 23 July were duly given out so I can hold my head high in class on Wednesday. Hope you heard my mention on the radio for the class when I was interviewed in Summerfield Park.

It was a very character building experience. Lead all the way from Brookvale Park to Yardley. Then was overtaken when I stopped to take pictures of my 'left to go' series' Caught up again and stayed with the leaders until a couple who barely apperared to be moving glided past us and carried on as though walking was no effort. It was hard to maintain the 5 miles per hour I'd hoped but managed it to Kings Heath Park when I lost my walking mates as they were finishing there. Despite the well signed route I still managed to take a worng turn by the hospital!!! (Lost 10 mins)

Thanks to the man who walked with me on the last lap. If it wasn't for you I wouldn't have made such good time - would certainly have slowed down, at least to eat that last banana. Thanks too to the man who mistook me for his friend but gave me a lift home anyway. You have no idea how grateful I am.

Got some great pictures which I'll put up soon. Body holding up well today, must still be anestesized from the full bottle of champagne I drank last night.

Collected £198.50 so far. Thank you all. Would be great to get the rest in as soon as possible. Hoping to raise £500.
Saturday, 7 May 2011

Walkathon Day

Off to begin the 26 mile trek!!
Friday, 6 May 2011

2 Days to go

Only two days to go to the Walkathon. I've just seen the weather forcast - rain. Of all the good weather we've been having it has to rain on Sunday. It will play havoc with me walking in a bellydance outfit. Hopefully there'll be a few dry sunny spells. Sponsorship money still trickling in, hope there'll be a flood over the next few days.

Had my second pole dancing lesson last night. Beginning to get the hang of the fireman spin. Tried a new move. Gripped the pole with my thighs, crossed one leg and let go with both hands. Think its called 'queen' - don't know why. Am knackered. Should have given it a miss this close to the walk but hey - sure I'll be fine.
Wednesday, 4 May 2011

4 days to do

Only four days to go to the Walkathon. Thanks to everyone who have sponsored me so far. I've raised £63.60 so far, with £50 more pledged. But there's loads of you who haven't replied yet. Please, its for a good cause.

Went to bellydance tonight. Suggestion I should do the walk in bellydance gear. I've been given a bundle of flyers for the Birmingham Bellydance Festival in July to hand out. Should be an interesting sight, coin belt and New Balance trainers!
Saturday, 30 April 2011

18 Miles

Some of you know I'm doing the BRMB Walkathon next Sunday (8th May) and have been trying to build up my distance. Walkathon = 26 miles around the number 11 circular bus route in Birmingham. I read somewhere (or someone told me) that if you can do 18 miles before the day your adrenaline will carry you the rest of the way. Choise yesterday - stay home and watch the Royal Wedding or go for the 18 miles while the roads are quiet. The latter won.

Armed with a bottle of water, a banana, apple and energy bar I set of headphones in ear at 7.39 a.m. I'd hoped to start a 6 o'clock but the bed was too warm. I went the 11C route starting in Erdington going on the Stechford, Yardley, Acocks Green, a bit of Moseley, Kings Heath, Cotteridge, Stirchley, Harborne and was just thinking about the stretch of Lordswood Rd that would take me into Bearwood when my legs said 'No More.'

I could have probably gone a bit further if I hadn't taken a 2 mile detour down Fox Hollies Road and all past St Peter's Church before realizing my mistake. I had to retrace my steps to get back to School Lane. I was a little miffed but the scenery was worth it. Other scenery well worth it was Swanshurst Park and Bournville Village. How amazing that some children go to school in that amazing building covered with wisteria.

Spring's such a great time to be walking. All those blossoms, and in the stillness of the morning, before the world woke up (about 10 o'clock) the birds song mingled with Alicia Keys and John Legend to create a new genre of music; twitterock.

I bussed it back to Erdington (about another eight and a half miles) and wondered how my legs would cope today. (5 hours and 40 mins by the time I stopped) It may have been the green tea, it may have been the long rest, or it may well have been the half bottle of Chablis and a good night's rest but they were rearing to go this morning.

I rested them today - other things booked. May have a go at that final stretch tomorrow. I'll be emailing out sponsor forms this week. Please support Birmingham Children's Hospital in whose aid we are walking.
Tuesday, 26 April 2011

New Sites, New Books

I now have a new website. Well two actually. You can still find me on www.predencia.co.uk and I also have a publishing website www.cymbalspublishing.co.uk where you can purchase my first ever poetry books (more accurate to describe them as booklets really). RAW (vols 1&2) are only £3.50 each and are full of all the stuff you've heard me perform - and some that's never seen the light of day before - mainly because they're not performance pieces. I've had some great feedback and some very surprised people have rung me to say 'I never knew your life was like that.' Of course not all the poems are my experiences - some are observed, but they've all left there mark on my soul.

I'm working on two CDs to go with the books. Really excited by the way they're shaping up -some nice tunes to accompany some of the poems. Keep checking the site to see when they become available. You will love them. Trust me.

This is my year for writing. First draft of novel nearly complete. Need to have that done by end of this month. May need to be a bit anti-social to make that happen. Me, my laptop, a lot of Tindersticks and some Theta music to stimulate the creative juices.
Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Pole dancing

It's been a long time since I visited these pages but I'm moved to share the experience of my first pole dancing lesson. Yep, I said pole dancing! In a mad moment while I was in Barbados in January I was browsing Groupon and saw an offer 'Buy 4 pole dancing lessons for £15 instead of £45. It seemed a bargain. I put it out of my mind till recently when I was clearing out and found the coupon - nearing its expiry date. Emma said come along on Sunday and see what you think.

I went straight from the Mind Body Spirit fair at Derby University where I'd been listening to the wonders of creating your own meditation to making love to a long, thick, shiny pole in a large room in a snooker club. Me and four other girls (all young enough to be my granddaughters - or at best daughters) stripped down to vests and shorts (all the better for our legs to grip the pole) and awaited instructions from the teacher. I was introduced to the straight leg twist, the fireman's spin, graceful wheel (which looked anything but when I performed it) and a whole host of others. All of them involved me holding the pole as high up as I could with my right hand and pulling my full body weight up while swinging around the pole. (Apart from the one where I had to leap onto the pole and hold it firmly with my crotch - Ouch)

Don't get me wrong. I knew I'd need a bit of upper body strength and had been doing pull ups at the gym. What I was unprepared for was the expectation that I would throw myself gracefully around a slippery pole toes pointed, lips pouting, trying to look sexy. Wasn't this dance developed for acrobats?

I'd been sliding down the pole for about forty minutes before the teacher suggested using some of that cream on my hands that helps with grip. It helped enormously. I could swing round without hitting the mats like a sack of potatoes every time. Encouraged by my progress she gave me a few more moves to try; one involved swinging my legs out behind me while sticking my hips forward. I saw her do it so I know it's possible - just not possible for me - yet!

The classes are an hour and a half but after an hour and twenty minutes the teacher took pity on me and gave me the option of carrying on practicing for another ten minutes or stretching my arm and going home. As my arms could no longer hold me up I went for the latter.

Two days later my shoulders still feel dislocated and I'm having difficulty changing gears - despite taking the precaution of going for a steam, sauna and spa first thing yesterday. I've noticed a few muscles have popped up on my upper arms and my ribs hurt.

It feels a bit like sex - the thing we are simulating. Not much fun the first time, but hopefully it will get better. Three more lessons to go.