Winter Solace

A New Year collection of writing celebrating the winter months.

Is anyone struggling with the cold damp weather? It’s so easy to feel dragged down by it and to trudge around with our heads down focusing only on placing one foot after the other; however if we stop to notice and observe – there are so many beautiful things around us in the natural world to notice.

This was the theme for a workshop that I ran in October with fellow writer Nicky Hutchison. Nicky creates and produces her own books which are beautifully hand-bound. We invited all workshop participants to submit their work for inclusion in a Winter Solace themed book as part of the NatureWrights online community involvement.

We are very proud of the result. Nicky will be making more of these publications to go on sale to the public soon!

Our resident artist Sharon Williamson did a really beautiful job of creating the art for the books. We are excited to run more workshops like this in the future 🙂

Happy New Year Everyone!!

Dusk walking in the city…

A late afternoon dog walk in the city turned into a stroll along the River at dusk. I love the reflections on the water and the sparkling lights.

I love the city pigeons but they had all gone off to roost so we found some geese to feed instead. Didn’t manage to get a steady photo – but I quite like these blurry shots.

Reminded me of a beautiful poem we use on the FSC course – Something Told the Wild Geese by Rachel Field. Although these geese are non-migratory – but still lovely all the same.

Walking to Loch Brandy

A recent hike in the mountains of Glen Clova took me to Loch Brandy (sadly not a Loch full of actual Brandy according to my Scottish husband).

The hike gave me the opportunity to begin working on a new collection of poetry. I have been reading Mary Oliver’s A Poetry Handbook, which I am thoroughly enjoying and is helping me to develop my writing.

The poem here is not yet fully finished, reading it again I have more words to cut. A fine poem is like a painting – many layers and edits are made before the finished piece is ready, and for a true artist there is always something that could be tweaked.

Loch Brandy itself has a mysterious causeway running over quarter of the Loch. Some say it was made for fishing the lake – you can see the outline of the causeway when you stand on higher ground. The Loch glittered as we paddled due to the fragments of fine sand – quartz and granite which sparkled as we stirred up the water.

We encountered what I think was an ermine moth caterpillar half way up the mountain, hence the reference to the moth in my poem. We also saw several peacock butterflies which appeared so fragile and beautiful against the landscape.

I would love to hear from any other poetry writers – any recommendations of books or resources. I would also love to read your poetry.

*Walking to Loch Brandy is copyrighted to myself. Please do not reproduce this writing or poem without my full permission. (Emma McKenzie).

Find of the week… Song Thrush / Mistle Thrush / Blackbird?

This week we found a nest in the lean to against our shed. On peeking in I thought at it was a Mistle Thrush, but on further investigation I think we may have a blackbirds nest (also a type of thrush).. This got me researching the difference between the – Blackbird, Song Thrush and Mistle Thrush and also discovering that they can cross breed.

Here is a poem I created from my findings!

Mistle Thrush

Mistle Splashed


Sound Spilling

In undulating notes

And stops.

Storm Cock

Wing Tipped

Lightning bodied


Fiercly guarding

Jewelled Berries

Throaty Rattle



Is This the Truth of the NHS?


If we take out the locums,

The bank staff,

The mounting costs,

We CAN hold the front line – only just.

If we hold back on orders,

Ration the needles, the swabs, the linen,

Stretch out supplies,

We CAN hold the front line – only just.

If we cut back on printing,

Buy our own biros,

Cut the funding for training,

We CAN hold the front line – only just.

If we close the services,

Double up the wards,

Use half the staff,

We CAN hold the front line – only just.

If we add a new triage team,

Screen all the entries,

Up-skill the nurses and health care assistants,

We CAN hold the front line – only just.

If we streamline the problem,

Keep our heads down under fire,

Signpost to outreach,

Keep our sights on the end of each shift…

We CAN hold our heads above water – only just.

Written in response to a discussion about the financial crisis of the NHS and ‘changes in the way self-employed people pay tax has led to some NHS Trusts to say they are facing demands for a pay-rise of over 50% for locum doctors.’ World at One – Radio 4 (05.04.17) This programme highlighted how much of the NHS language is the language of war.

This week I attended the NAWE conference (National Association of Writers in Education). I was inspired to hear from writers using their skills within the NHS as a teaching tool to support reflection within the workplace and understanding, in particular compassion towards patients, but also of their own experiences and the pressure born of working in the health system. I was particularly blown away by the writing of Romalyn Ante who’s recent book Antiemetic for Homesickness portrays her experiences working in the UK as a nurse and the distanced relationships between herself and her Filipino family. Personally, speaking as a health care professional, I feel too often our voices are not heard. There is a real need for humanity to be at the centre point of relationships between staff and patients, to build connections as people. Health Professionals are not infallible, we are doing our best under difficult circumstances, we are often as frustrated as the people receiving the services of the limitations on what we can offer.

During my MA in Creative Writing at YSJ University I completed a module on Literary Activism and chose to raise awareness of the pressures that the NHS staff are under by translating my own and colleagues experiences into poetry. The poem at the start of this blog and the collage was part of my final work. The NAWE conference has inspired me to resurrect this and to think about running some workshops for my colleagues in the NHS to support our voices being heard. If you are interested in this work, or have an interesting view on this, please do leave me a message on the comments.

Progress on my PhD this week – the NAWE conference has given me some rocket fuel and a raft of ideas to follow up. Challenges – Not to fall down too may rabbit holes!

Writing: Many notes / 0 typed words. Although I did get an extract sent in to my tutors and now have many exciting words to type up.

Goals for next week: To get typing. 500 words minimum.

*Collaged words scrap booked from old issues of the Nursing Times.