the writer is a lonely hunter


Visiting Maria Donovan

I am delighted to be on Maria Donovan‘s blog today sharing my strategies and techniques for writing flash fiction. Maria is an experienced writer of short fiction with two collections to her name: Pumping up Napoleon and Tea for Mr Dead. I was absolutely delighted when Maria agreed to endorse Paisley Shirt by describing my flash fiction as ‘sensitive, surprising, unnerving, tender and crucial’.


Maria’s debut novel The Chicken Soup Murder has recently been published. It is narrated by eleven-year-old Michael who shares his experiences of family, community, loss and integration in a story which involves a suspected murder. It’s a beautifully crafted novel and well worth reading.

Do pop over to Maria’s blog to find out more about how I approach the writing of short fiction.


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Dippy on Tour

As early as last summer, the arrival of Dippy to Dorchester was celebrated with special planting in Borough Gardens.


Now the famous Diplodocus skeleton cast from the Natural History Museum is touring the country. Bringing Dippy home is the rationale for the exhibition’s first stop in Dorchester, Dorset. It’s close to the Jurassic Coast and birthplace of palaeontology.


Dippy stretches the length of the beautiful Victorian gallery at Dorset County Museum and the first floor gallery provides a wonderful opportunity to get really close to the exhibit.

Fun facts about Dippy:

Species Name: Diplodocus carnegii (meaning double-beam)

Length: 21.3m     Width: 4.3m     Height: 4.25

Number of Bones: 292

Age: 156-145 million years

Fossil location: North America, 1878

Entry to the museum to see Dippy is free and Dippy is on display until 7 May 2018. Well worth seeing! More information and ticket availability can be found on the Dorset Country Museum website.

For those living further afield, Dippy continues the tour by visiting:

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Words for the Wild

I am delighted to have a poem published on Words for the Wild. This platform for new writing has been organised by Amanda Oosthuizen and Louise Taylor in response to the threat of development on the remaining pockets of countryside in urban Eastleigh. Amanda and Louise urge all writers to celebrate the countryside through stories and poetry thereby demonstrating the value of green spaces in order to help protect them for future generations.

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My poem “Glimpses” is beautifully presented on the website – it’s thrilling to see my work mounted so evocatively. And I’m chuffed to find my poem alongside the work of other writers I respect such as Claire Fuller, Calum Kerr and Amanda Saint.

Do pop over to Words for the Wild and take a look. I hope you enjoy “Glimpses”.


Visting Patsy Collins

Check out the power of purple – I’m chatting with Patsy Collins today. Why not pop over to her blog for a read?  Click here.

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Scenes from Kashmir

Following my recent discovery that paisley print pattern originates in Kashmir, I hunted out purchases I made while visiting the area in 1981. I was a passenger on a Top Deck overland trip from London to Kathmandu. We travelled on a converted Lodekka bus which had a kitchen area downstairs and sleeping accommodation up.

For the journey to Kashmir we took local transport and stayed in luxurious houseboats on Dal Lake in Srinagar.


My purchases from Kashmir include a carpet which sits in front of the hearth in our Dorset home. I paid a deposit and it was dispatched to my parents when they settled the balance and collected it after a wrangle with customs. (I was delightfully unaware of all this – having a fun time in Australia.)


A jacket, which I’m self-conscious of wearing due to the real fur trimming.


And a set of tables which travelled from Kashmir to Australia and then onto Papua New Guinea before furnishing various homes in the UK.


The carved finish of leaf patterns on these tables is close to being a paisley style pattern. Unlike Paisley Shirt my collection of short fiction, these are not available to purchase on Amazon! (If wishing to obtain my collection, please ignore the warning that the book is out of stock and place an order anyway – it will be sent to you given time.)

I never quite understood why I went on such a spending spree in Kashmir. I blame the tea which I now realise must have been laced with hash. You can find the low-down on the overland experience from Trevor Carroll in his book Crossing Continents with Top Deck.




Dorset Feather Stitchery

Feedback from my recent post about the history of paisley print (you can read it here), directed me to the tradition of the Dorset feather stitchery. This is an embroidery stitch that was originally used to decorate rural workers’ smocks. The pattern uses feather stitch, buttonhole stitch, chain stitch and fly stitch to create a pattern similar to the droplet shaped motif found in paisley patterns.

Background to the development of this embroidery style can be found in a book written by Dorset woman Olivia Pass, published in 1957.  Even from the cover design, the border shows remarkable similarity to paisley patterns.


It is delightful as the writer of a short fiction collection titled Paisley Shirt to find the design incorporated into local Dorset craft. There are examples of Dorset Feather Stitchery in the Bridport Museum or you might wish to read Olivia’s book. Like my collection Paisley Shirt it is possible to purchase Dorset Feather Stitchery on Amazon.


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About Paisley Print


According to the Textile Glossary, paisley pattern “is a droplet-shaped vegetal motif, similar to half of the T’ai Chi symbol, the Indian bodhi tree leaf, or the mango tree. The design originated in India and spread to Scotland when British soldiers brought home cashmere shawls.”

The East India Company began importing shawls from Kashmir and Persia and due to their popularity, production of paisley shawls began in the small town of Paisley in Scotland. By the 1850s six thousand weavers were employed to produce paisley shawls made from wool. Although the pattern produced by these weavers became known as paisley due to the link with the town, this pattern is known as palme in French and bota in Netherlands.

Over the years, paisley patterns continued to be worn, but it was not until the late 1960s that the print was once again fashionable. More recently in 2012 the print also appeared in fashion shows.

Paisley Shirt is the title of a story in my new collection of short fiction which bears the same name. Can I encourage you to purchase a copy here? The paperback edition is available from 7 March 2018.


Visiting Kathy Sharp


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I’m over on Kathy Sharp‘s blog today, sharing my experiences as a writer in Dorset. Why not pop over and have a read? Or you might like to check out “Watered Down” a quirky story by Kathy which is published on CafeLit.

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Gorgeous covers

Here are all the current titles in the short fiction series published by Chapeltown Books. A group of good looking covers with enticing stories inside.

My collection Paisley Shirt is available as a Kindle Edition through Amazon and paperback copies can now be purchased from all good bookshops. Recommended bookshops in Dorset include Serendip, Lyme Regis; The Book Shop, Bridport; Winstone’s, Sherborne; Gullivers, Wimborne Minster; Westbourne Book Shop, Bournemouth; and Waterstones, Dorchester.

4* and 5* reviews of Paisley Shirt can be found on goodreads. If you do decide to purchase a copy of Paisley Shirt, further reviews are very welcome.


National Trust: Lacock Abbey

David has held life membership of the National Trust since a maiden aunt left him £100 when he was eleven. Here is his membership card complete with boyhood signature.


The membership allows an accompanying guest to enter free of charge, so we tend to gravitate towards National Trust properties when out and about. Recently we visited Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire. Both the Abbey and properties in the town are administered by the National Trust and this makes for an interesting visit. The Abbey is situated within extensive grounds where you can see the approach of spring.


The building benefits from a variety of architectural styles owing to its history. First as an Augustinian abbey, then the home to a Tudor rogue, and finally as a family home and the birthplace of photography. In more recent times it has acted as a film location to a variety of productions including Harry Potter.


Cloister that appears in Harry Potter

I usually come away from these visit with ideas for creative writing. Word prompts include stone feathers and stone blindfolds. Watch this space for creative outputs!