Coffee with Don Pedro – Part 30, An Ending . . ?

Sue Vincent:

The last post in the Don Pedro series….?

Originally posted on The Silent Eye:

It had been a week since Don Pedro and George Dixter had driven to see me at the coffee shop in Kendal. It seemed a distant memory. The seven days had been filled with a fury of puppy duties, and I seemed to be buried in a never-ending cycle of monitoring and walks, at all times of the day and night, as Tess got through the thirteenth week of her life.

Towards the end of the week we had a breakthrough. The previous guarantee of car sickness began to abate, as long as we put her in the back seat and kept the expensive dog crate in the car boot out of the equation.  We’d have settled for trotting alongside the car, to be honest, we were so relieved to think that there was light at the end of the car problem.

And so it was that, with Bernie at…

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An afternoon in Hope

snow weekend 050Well, what better option can there be, I ask you? It was still Friday… lunch was over and we did have to get to Stockport for the evening meeting, of course. It is onerous stuff all this travelling… such a hardship to drive through magnificent limestone passes and see the Derbyshire Dales spreading out around us… passing through tiny villages with their sturdy architecture and swathes of snowdrops and backs of winter aconite… depressing really…

snow weekend 036It was so terrible we thought we might be obliged to stop for tea somewhere on the way and a little exploration. And apparently there is an ancient cross in the churchyard in Hope. There is also a great little tea shop just opposite… It was, as they say, a bit of a no-brainer.

snow weekend 051The village is another with a long history. It is difficult to say just how far back it stretches. Certainly there was the Roman Fort of Navio close by and a wide stretch of Roman Road was uncovered in 1955. “Win Hill” to the east and “Lose Hill” to the west dominate the skyline, both over 1500 feet and almost like pyramids on the horizon. Their names are said to represent the outcome of the battle of the armies of King Edwin of Northumbria and King Penda of Mercia, who confronted each other from these vantage points in the 7th century.

snow weekend 047We bundled out of our respective cars… Steve has to drive down from Cumbria, while I had driven up from Buckinghamshire to Yorkshire the previous evening to collect Stuart so we could all meet in Derbyshire before the meeting in Greater Manchester. Off we trotted, the three of us to St Peter’s, the 13th century church in the centre of the village. A wander round the exterior showed us a building covered in carvings, glimpses of glorious stained glass… by Kempe apparently… and there was a Norman font inside. But we were out of luck. The church was locked.

snow weekend 031There were, however, more heads, gargoyles and grotesques than we could have counted. There is a difference, of course, between the two, beyond the name. Gargoyles are waterspouts, designed to carry the rainwater away from the stonework and foundations of the building. The name comes from the same French root… gargouiller… as the verb to gargle. Grotesques, on the other hand, could be said to be purely decorative… though why anyone would want to cover a church with such strange creatures is beyond me. Unless, of course, as we had worked out back in Cerne Abbas, they were symbolic of something with a meaning far deeper. But that’s a whole other story…

collage1Even the foliate finials were covered in carved faces… they were everywhere. And so, it seemed, were the crosses; for our ‘cross’ had suddenly become plural. Well, quadrupal really! The first was a calvary… this one a series of five octagonal stone steps very similar, in fact, to the one I had seen the day before in Repton. This one lacked its original shaft, and held a later sundial, but it was still a nice find!

snow weekend 016Close by is another ‘cross’… the remains of a guide stoop once used to mark the way across the deserted moorlands. These date largely to the latter part of the 17th century when a royal decree ordered their installation to help those travelling the land. Many still survive in Derbyshire, and in far better condition than this one. Some still bear directions. And some are older stones re-used for this purpose. Balanced upon the stoop is a fragment of carved stone of indeterminate age that seems to bear, significantly for us, the carving of a bird.

snow weekend 025At the other side of the church is the stump which is all that remains of the Eccles Cross, brought here from its original emplacement long ago from its place on high ground to the south of the church. When the stone churches replaced the older Saxon constructions the way between was often marked with crosses… a modern take on the older Herms that watched the ways perhaps.

snow weekend 041The best bit though was undoubtedly the seven foot ‘fragment’ of a Saxon standing cross… the St Peter’s Cross. This dates back to the Saxon church, probably a simple wooden building, that stood here before the Norman conquest in 1066AD. The cross is thought to date back to the 9th century, to the time of King Alfred. It was lost for centuries, removed during the Civil War of the mid 17th century and found buried within the fabric of Hope School when it was demolished in 1858. This, of course, protected the stone from 200 years or more of weathering and so the carvings are, for the most part, surprisingly sharp.

collage3Interlacing and almost floral designs cover most of its surface, but there are panels with enigmatic figures still visible. Once again we found the motif of the twins and we cannot help but speculate both in terms of their biblical significance and within the terms of our own School what this recurring symbolism might convey.

snow weekend 017There is another ‘cross’ in Hope which stands outside the village, but by this time we were cold and in need of tea… provided in a huge, cheerful teapot in the little tearooms opposite. We sat and worked on the forthcoming workshop for a while longer, then parted temporarily for the journey to Stockport, driving once more up the spectacular Winnat’s Pass and up over the moors. It’s a hard life…

snow weekend 053

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A pilgrim's chalice Embracing the boundless sea Before the tide turns

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Mister Fox: The Legend

Stu Fox 103Where do they come from?
They come out of the night…
Where do they go to?
Back to the night they return…
They dance in the dark to pipe and drum and fiddle
They dance in the dark with fire and brandished flame…

No-one knows who they are…

Stu Fox 100

But why do they dance?

What is the story behind this magical spectacle

There are rumours, legends…

Don and Wen set out to investigate.

In a darkened corner of the Waggon and Horses, Langsett, a hooded and enigmatic figure whispers secrets…

Stu Fox 064In honour of Charles James Fox and the Langsett Foxes, we are proud to present


Mister Fox: The Legend
Sue Vincent & Stuart France
A new Graphic Novel

Available in Paperback and for Kindle
On Amazon UK, and worldwide


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Sue Vincent:

The next leaf of the mysterious book…

Originally posted on The Silent Eye:

“What brought you back?”
“Looking behind…”
- The Hobbit: an Unexpected Journey

…The rest of the Night and into the Dawn is something of a blur for us.
One can only take so much after all.
We turned the leaves of the little book…
Leaf ‘Six’:



We took in the contents or at least we hoped we did.
We did our best to transcribe them as accurately as possible.
Even so it is likely there are mistakes.
Should tents and curtains have borne capital initial letters?
Each image and phrase played out like a rapture of increasing intensity.
Could the compilers of, ‘The Book’ be complicit in The Work?
Leaves ‘Seven’ and ‘Eight’:

3But no, as it turned out, many were the tongues and many the hands employed in the endeavour though the Mind alone appeared to be one…
The illustrated operations were clearly linked to that first image and…

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The archetypal Indie ?

Image by Zu

Image by Zu

I don’t have a feather to fly with…
Impecunious as a church mouse;
And to keep a roof over the keyboard,
I’ve sold half the stuff in the house.

The cupboards hold coffee and biscuits,
The fridge just an elderly egg,
But that’s quite enough for survival,
I don’t have to go out and beg.

See, I chose this career as a writer
And with painting a bit, as you do,
While still earning a crust at the day job,
I just about see the month through.

The house doesn’t really need heating,
I really don’t see it these days,
I just sit at the desk in the corner
While the words dance about in a haze.

On the other hand life’s never boring!
As I roam through a new world each day,
When I wander through imagination
On a quest to find something to say.

And there’s never the slightest dull moment,
No daydreaming, no time to yearn…
‘Cause this Indie self-publishing model
Means always a new skill to learn.

I’ve learned how to edit and format,
I’ve gingerly learned how to prune,
And make cover pictures and promos
And dance to the Amazon tune…

As the night falls I’m burning the candles
When I should be tucked up in my bed,
I am still tapping words on the keyboard
And writing ‘one more page’ instead.

Is it worth it? You ask, so I’ll tell you…
Over there on the shelf… take a look,
Sitting in pride of place in the corner
With my name on the spine of each book…

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Summer’s first snowflake  Bearing rainbows in its wings Heralding the sun

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10 Things for which the Indie Author is grateful

There are a good many things Indie writers and publishers have to be grateful for. Things we seem to have in common…apart, of course, from the abject poverty of living in unheated garrets whilst suffering for our art. (Look, we have an image to keep up, right?)

Whilst I wait… and wait… and wait… I thought it might be fun to explore the bond which makes a community of introspective creatives put pen to paper.

1. We are grateful for our families. Without them there would never be anything in the fridge come dinner time because we forgot… again.

Of course, there are those of us who live alone. We are grateful to our four-footed companions who insistently remind us of mealtimes at least twice a day and, with their cavernous snores, remind us occasionally to sleep. They also become almost our sole reason for seeing the outside world.

Our furry companions can be trained to do a number of useful tasks...

Our furry companions can be trained to do a number of useful tasks…

2. We are grateful for coffee… or tea/Cola/soda… anything with the requisite sugar and/or caffeine content. They allow us to defy the need for sleep, regardless of the snoring from the disgruntled animal/partner who has gone to sleep in disgust at our defection.. Quite apart from the fact that such beverages require us to leave our desks every so often in search of them.

Even though, when we do reach the kitchen… that room full of distant memories of savoury dishes and laughter that now slumbers beneath a layer of forgetfulness like a mothballed Sleeping beauty… we find we have run out….again.

Like, letting the daylight in...

Like, letting the daylight in…

3. We are grateful for microwave ovens… useful to reheat that cup of coffee you finally made and left to go cold… again. Also for the odd, desperate foray into the culinary heaven of a hot meal. Or something that vaguely resembles one, at least. As an occasional bonus they are useful for drying the coffee stains from the cup you forgot about and spilled on the manuscript…

Making sure we are fed..

Making sure we are fed..

4. We are grateful for matchsticks… when the coffee fails during a long stint of editing. Cold showers fall into this category.

5. We are grateful for computers and the internet… there is no better way of procrastinating escaping the demands of a work-in-progress than social media research.

Computers also have the advantage of remembering all the things you do not. Like the time. And the date. As well as being convenient word processors.



6. We are grateful for the ageing process. Not because of the wealth of experience it allows us to draw upon. Certainly not because we can ease up a bit… as an Indie you are probably working harder and with more focus that you ever have before… No, simply because it is a really good excuse not to move.

and answering the phone.

and answering the phone.

7. We are grateful for other Indie authors… Not only are they a supportive and knowledgeable community, the really successful ones inspire us with hope and keep us going when things get tough… and others remind us we are not alone… we are not failures.

8. We are grateful for insomnia… is there a better time to write than when the rest of our world is sleeping? It also extends the number of working hours available in a day by a considerable and useful amount.

If all else fails, they will find a way to drag us from our desks...

If all else fails, they will find a way to drag us from our desks…

9. We are grateful for reviews… Pathetically grateful. We have pointed out that you don’t have to buy a book from Amazon to leave a review there… we have begged and pleaded to no avail… We have explained algorithms and the importance of reviews to everyone we meet…. Then one day, like a dog with its first big bone, that first positive review from an unknown person makes our eyes go wide and keeps us occupied for weeks.

... even if it means resorting to lunacy.

… even if it means resorting to lunacy.

10. We are grateful for AmazonOh yes we are. Really… Createspace allows us to realise our dream of seeing our words in print. Amazon allows a simple platform for getting our creations out there…. And Readers… well, that’s up to us, isn’t it?

Even when your new book is live everywhere except that one format on your own, local Amazon site …and you really, really can’t wait any longer before you post that announcement…

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Meetings and Monsal Head

snow weekend 006We were out with time to spare on Friday morning, on our way to meet up to make plans for the workshop. Having a little time to spare we decided to call at Monsal Head. The hillfort there is still waiting for a visit and still making its presence felt. The morning was bitterly cold and blowing, but even so, the view over the valley was as beautiful as ever.

snow weekend 028
It is a curious place, with fragments of history lurking under every tree it seems, whispering tales of long ago to those with ears to hear. Shadows of forgotten days still linger by the river and each visit has been a revelation. Last time we had climbed the rocky slopes and found a giant. Now we simply paid our respects from a distance, there was no time to walk the slopes or wander through the woods.

snow weekend 004We watched the birds ride the wind, tumbling and diving in what could only be the sheer joy of flight. You are so high that they fly below and above, soaring to the clouds or swooping down as if they rode a rollercoaster. Utter exuberance in motion. But we didn’t have long, the third of our company would soon be at the rendezvous and to be fair, we were frozen. And the Queen Anne has a fire. And Stowford’s.

snow weekend 010
It was an important meeting, finalising details and schedules for the April workshop which is now drawing so close. How to create ancient Egypt in Derbyshire…We have done it before, of course, but each workshop is unique, telling a different story that explores the heart and soul of Man, using dramatic ritual in the way it was used in the Mystery Schools of old. They are powerful weekends, lightened by revelry and much laughter. The staff of the Queen Anne know us well…

snow weekend 003We also needed to lay provisional plans for upcoming workshops and next April too and, having come to an immediate agreement on what had been little more than a half-formed idea, 2016 will see us far from Egypt, walking the myths and legends of the Blessed Isles of Albion. Now the work begins in earnest, though Steve has been beavering away at the keyboard for some time. Stuart and I have to wait to fit our contributions around the central theme. Then there are all the practical issues to be dealt with… that’s the fun part for me, even though I usually hate sewing.

snow weekend 001Next year our places will shift once again… And I thought back to the birds at Monsal Head, diving and swooping in their dance of air and feather… interdependent, intertwined… wing and wind each working with the other to produce the joyous display we had watched with our hearts a little while earlier. Each bird takes flight alone and adds their unique beauty to the skies, but it is only when they ride the wind, playing together in lightness and strength that their joy calls forth your own.

solo 031

If you would like to join us in April for the workshop, River of the Sun, you can find out more by clicking the image above.


The full brochure can be downloaded as a printable pdf file by clicking here:

SE15 Brochure and Booking Form


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gold becomes silver, the invisible cradled in fragile fingers

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