Great Oaks ……. Joan Dowling 11 April 2016

It was great to see so many faces – old and new – at our April 2016 meeting. One face that was particularly welcome was that of our own Bossy Cow! Her given name is Karen Wheatley – and she was the inspiration behind the formation of the Vale Royal Writers Group.

Way back in 2002, Karen nurtured our first baby steps when some of us joined her Creative Writing class at Sir John Deane’s in Northwich. She so inspired us that, at the end of her course, a handful of us joined together to form the VRWG. Initially, it was merely a means of mutual support because we didn’t feel ready to join the writing fraternity alone, but still wanted to continue to learn and develop our craft. However ….

Over the last fourteen years, the group has matured and expanded to the point where we are now all grown-up with a committee and an AGM (it’s tonight for those who want to be there!) and we have over thirty members. We also have  a website and this Blog – which invites and welcomes comments from anyone who feels they have something to say. In addition to our monthly meetings (the first Monday of the month at the Blue Cap, Sandiway) the group has built up a calendar of regular and occasional events. VRWG has also evolved into a friendly and passionate writing community, which supports and celebrates all of the members in their joint and individual efforts and achievements.

As a group, we have been – and still are – very pro-active. In 2007, we produced our first anthology of prose and poetry – followed by a second in 2014. Each year, Tonia organises two highly successful and enjoyable Wordfests at the Blue Cap, while Joyce and Tom run equally popular workshops at the Gladstone Library – again, twice a year. Courtesy of Steph, we are currently involved in holding a series of funded workshops for aspiring writers and we hope to hold more of these in the future.

We also have our lighter side. On a sunny day in August we let our hair down and socialise in Bob and Carol’s lovely garden – ‘though Bob keeps us ‘on-message’ by organising fun writing games! An outdoor theatre trip and occasional visits to other writing-related events are also becoming regular features. Recently, a visit to Paphos Writers in Cyprus was enjoyed by everyone who went and a planned writing break in France next month will add to our European ventures!

We even have our own ‘preferred’ Charity, G.O.E.S.  The Gambian Occasional Emergency Support benefits from the proceeds of some of our sales and raffles – and we are constantly surprised and humbled that so much can be done with so little.

Despite the surrounding activity, writing is still at the centre of all that we do.  We now have a healthy complement of published writers (novels, poetry and short stories) as well as others who just enjoy sharing the sheer pleasure of writing. Some of the group are prolific writers, some just write when the muse awakens; all are welcomed with the same enthusiasm and treated with the same respect.

Today, we have come a long, long way from Karen’s introduction to this demanding, frustrating, rewarding and exhilarating obsession. On a personal note, I am delighted to belong to such a diverse and convivial group of fellow writers (I use the term loosely in my own case!), who often make me laugh and sometimes make me cry. I’ve made new friends, widened my horizons and learned so many things I didn’t know – including a few that made my hair stand on end.

See what you started, Karen? Thank you!

An Account of the January 2016 Meeting

There was a meeting on January 4th 2016. I was there. I took notes so I would remember what happened. These are the notes in full:

The apparition of Les Green with his bobble bobbing

Tight pyjamas

Lovers in the fridge

Sat nav. errors

Fishing gear

Class warriors

Deep dreams eating cake

Alien abductions


Magnetic poetry

Strange award ceremonies from the point of view of a six year old child

Kick-starting audio short stories

Nothing to report

Playing it safe

Riff raff later

Armageddon’s not the end of the world

The word superfluous is superfluous

Mac goes boating

The blinking pub just ignored us

New Year’s revolutions

Writing up a storm

Bohemian Rhapsody of cake

Tidying up ideas that are lying around

Eat my shoe

Books lying on the floor of bookshops

Grasshopper mind and total idleness

Pull yourself together like another pair of curtains

Funding an eye operation

What I done yesterday

Trying to stitch a baby sample and knitting, sewing and embroidery tips

Nick is fine

Bill’s done nothing and can’t even think of an interesting way to explain it

You and your bloody gin

Last gasp available now

Bags of news there

One of which was two

My first adult poem

Textured with the hardening nipples

Black mark on freshly laundered linen

One excuse too many

Poke it with a stick

Glass cutter across my life

Eternal slumber with duties to perform

An arctic zephyr curled around the peak

Immune to wasp and fly killer

Bed bugs, cockroaches, fruit flies, field mice, black ants, slugs, leeches, lemurs and unicorns

Mitochondrial Eves

Look back, back

One family throughout the Earth

Midnight, put out the lights

3:36, no use, have to get up for a pee

Scrivener – Google it

Peeled banana; threw banana in the kitchen bin

The aging process has not yet affected my problem solving abilities

Desperate for inspiration

Eat an apple then a chocolate biscuit

Husband now covered in Vaseline.

And I think everyone who was there will agree that was pretty much how it happened.