May Beagle: New Still Life, Self-Care = Self-ish? & Surviving Spiritual Abuse

Dearest friends,

What a wonderful community this is, I love getting your emails each month and hearing your feedback, we are journeying together indeed and often seem to be on parallel paths.


Many thoughts, many things this month. My two chaps were away for 3 1/2 weeks leaving Zoe and I to enjoy immense girl-time. It's good to have them back and we had a sweet reunion but now find ourselves navigating the jet-lag disruptions, I think I'm having the strangest dream then realise as I half wake that someone is toasting hot cross buns at 3am! Hubby also got food poisoning from chicken on the plane meal. It's was a rough re-entry but we're back on track this week.


Zoe's film has been shot, I've shared pics towards the end, she's now working hard on other projects which will answer the next steps she could take. I have a few metaphorical horses which need herding in the coming months, opportunities. I've been offered a place to study theology from October but not sure if that can happen yet. I have a book proposition to outline which I've been mulling for the past 18 months but I also want to talk about my healing from spiritual abuse story and a way to write and publish that. I may pause the Beagle next month, we will see.


As I say, many thoughts. Do you ever feel like everything is in limbo yet all things are possible but nothing seems clear 🙋🏼‍♀️


Some thoughts today on 'self-care'

I still remember my back popping the day I held chubby little 3yo Jonathan on my hip. That was 14 years ago. I've lived with that back issue all these years. I'm just now starting to treat it properly and only because my hand was forced by further injury before Christmas. I've put it off for so long and even today when the consultant was asking if I'd like to go ahead with the MRI I could hear that internal voice saying, "Don't make a fuss, just decline and get on with your day". It all seemed too time consuming and to be honest, I don't always value myself as worthy of such attention. There are people worse off I tell myself.


I'm a mum, I get it. We give everything and then some. We love our children, we lay down our wants, desires and needs so that they can have the best of life and the best of us. We know we should take care of ourselves but who has the time, or money for that matter! If I have to choose between piano lessons for the kids and getting my teeth checked, guess which wins out. Besides, we're fine we tell ourselves, we can limp on, take a pill, get to it when things are easier. But life has a funny pattern of never getting 'easier', it seems in fact to grow more fruitful and more demanding. But prevention really is better than cure and I know it's far better to maintain a temple than restore a ruin.


I'm 52 and my body is simply not the same, show of hands? I also have chronic lymphopenia following a virus in 2018 and have come a long way to regaining my immunity strength but I still don't feel right in my body. As you age you may well know, you lose muscle and therefore strength so it's been my aim to lift heavy weights and do some HIIT exercises each week. But boy my body is not happy, I hurt. I am so committed to self-care now and realised a few years ago how I had relegated my own needs to the bottom of the pile. I first write about this HERE. I think as mums we all do that and fairplay we have a high tolerance for pain and what we might view as self-denial. We think it's our superpower, but it's also our Achilles heel.



We need to reframe Self-Care. Self-Care is not self-ish, it's valuing of the self, made in the image of God. Our bodies deserve respect and maintenance. It's not selfish to go get your teeth fixed, your eyes checked, your back realigned, your blood work done to check hormones etc. You're not being self-indulgent to have a monthly massage which releases toxins and eases aching muscles and joints. You're not being dramatic to go see your GP if your foot is playing up, you're not being weak or needy if you feel you need to go see a counsellor or you might just explode. You're not making a fuss when you notice a lump. Issues ignored don't go away, they either grow or will pop up again somewhere down the line.

In the book of Ephesians Paul writes about how Jesus loves the church, "...no one ever hated his own body, but he nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church."

A closer look at that comparison when studied shows us that when we don't cherish, nurture, nourish and protect our body we are actually hating it, we are persecuting and detesting it. No man ever hated his own flesh, yet we do it all the time.

So maybe you can't entertain the idea of a long bubble bath, time alone to ponder deep things, a coffee out or manicure. Maybe you feel too guilty or that it's self-indulgent, maybe you can't afford it. I understand. But take care of yourself. Cherish your body, do what you need to to feel well, to have it working as easily and pain free as possible. Looking after ourselves means we can better look after our most beloveds.


We need to change our mindset that says taking care of ourself isn't important.

Jan 2021 I had a FaceTime with my mum, we were both in the wars; I'd fallen over ice skating and cracked my head open, and was still dealing with post-concussion syndrome but the silly thing was, it was my daughter's 21st birthday a couple of weeks later and I didn't want to spoil it by going to the A&E even though the symptoms were getting worse. 'I'll leave it till the day after' I said to myself.

My mum had tripped over that afternoon while carrying a piping hot lasagne, she'd seriously burnt her arm and her little finger was swollen and black, the neighbours wanted to take her to A&E but she didn't want a fuss. You see how we are.

We take a lot for granted when we're younger and our bodies are extremely forgiving which is probably why we can fudge it for so long. But if this is you today, pushing your mental, spiritual, emotional or physical health aside, if you're muscling through and holding your breath until 'that day' comes when you think you'll be able to breath and then deal with it, don't put it off. Life rarely settles and you are far too precious to those you're sacrificing so much for to not look after you. You have to take responsibility for your own health and well being, you know by now that someone else is probably not going to do that for you. Take care of yourself (Have I said that enough).

I can recommend Paul Scanlon's course on Ageing Well. I love what he says, "Ageing is inevitable, decay is not". He seems to have a 70% off deal atm, not sure when that ends. There also appears to be a smaller taster course. BTW I'm not getting any commission for this I just love Paul's mentorship 😇

 

Guest contributor, Leslie Konhaeuser: Self-Care Mothering & The Incarnation.


I first met Leslie (I think) over on Clubhouse when I was hosting a Sally Clarkson discussion group during the first Lockdown. She was a kindred spirit not to mention wise, grace-filled and passionate about encouraging other women, we clicked right away. As well as Leslie's background in counselling she speaks from the thick of motherhood with 3 littles under 3. I asked Leslie if she would share her thoughts with you in the area of self-care from her stage of life at the other end of the journey. I hope between us we offer some practical encouragement as well as theological framing for the importance of taking notice of ourselves and the gift that our bodies are. Hopefully from 20's-50+ we've got you covered today.


An excerpt:

"There are enough mom-blogs in the world to confirm that motherhood is hard–especially these early years where emotions and needs abound, but logic and regulation are scarce. As a mother of 3 children 3 and under, I can confidently confirm that this season is the first time in my almost 30 years of life that I have reached the actual “end of my rope.” It takes every ounce of my energy, my skills, my talents, and even my weaknesses–all parts of me are “on-deck” to keep these tiny humans alive and also live into the vocation of shaping their soils.


As our heads threaten to dip below the crashing waves around us, the messages offered in attempt to keep us afloat are often conflicting–the world telling us what we need is a little more wine, a weekly massage, or a few hours of sleep to get through the harrowing days of early motherhood; the church telling us to rejoice always, deny ourselves, and count our blessings as a path to finding refreshment in this blurry vocation of motherhood.


I believe that both positions offer whispers of the truth, but are attempting to over-simplify a complex issue. Though often presented as opposing positions, self-care is not the threat to the church’s mission of service and self-denial (I know, I said it. Hold on, I’ll explain soon), but neither is it the end-all-be-all of living well in this season.


So how might a young Christian mom approach the topic of self-care? Here are a few truths that have helped shape my approach to self-care in the last 3 years of tiny-human growing and raising:


First, self-denial is not self-rejection . . ."


To read more click for the download here.


Find Leslie here on her substack and here on her Instagram.




 

Still Life

Fresh & New


Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!

2 Corintians 5:17


This idea began with gardening and getting torn to pieces by a thorny tree. As I cut and tried to tame these barbed limbs it was clear injury was inescapable. The thorns grow at every angle, most determined and designed to impale. I pondered the soldier who twisted a crude crown for Jesus that day, it couldn't have been a quick or easy task, the thorns would have caught against his skin I'm sure, did he curse it as he wove? Holding the cuttings I suddenly had a very tactile item in my hands which took me to that scene in my imagination. The soldier would have known how it would hurt Jesus' head, there was no escape.


My parrot tulips are now in bloom, this was the first cutting from them and I pictured such a burst of verdant colour against the glowy bronze background like a sunrise. This was resurrection! New life on that third day was leading to new life now for those who love him. The forget-me-nots seemed appropriate as did the empty shell. I added a new edit to this image with the crackled oil painting effect, I think I like it.


DOWNLOAD your free image here. Or right click on the image and 'save image'.


This next image was a test shoot the day before which I then edited on my iPhone. I am often impressed with how well my phone can achieve the results I desire. You're welcome to a free download of this also but I wouldn't recommend printing it any larger than a 10x8" as it won't hold up in quality. I really like the little Bluebells featuring in this shot.


DOWNLOAD your free image here. Or right click on the image and 'save image'.


Still Life

Longing


I took this image Good Friday. I always try and take myself into the humanness of a story when I'm engaging with the bible. Remember, the people in the bible didn't know they were in the bible, they were ordinary folk like us, living their lives with an extraordinary God.


I’ve been pondering today what it would have been like to have Jesus wash my feet. What it would have felt like to have this person, who you adored with your life, kneel and be so humble and gracious towards you. I’ve been imagining what it would have felt like to share that last meal, not fully aware it 𝑤𝑎𝑠 the last meal and then later, all your blissful fellowship unravelling in the face of the most twisted betrayal. What would it have been like to see the person who had given everything for you, loved you like no one else ever had, to see Him taken from you in such a cruel and unjust way?


I imagine the disciple’s deep, inconsolable sorrow. Their confusion, anger and doubts. Their whole world had been turned on it’s head and here it was being turned again. I imagine the next few days saw them moving about in a dream like state of horror and how much the words he’d spoken to them would now be sounding in their hearts.


I think of Mary, his mum, about the words she’d treasured in her heart for decades. Words from the angel, shepherds, magi, the elderly and devout Anna and Simeon at Jesus’ dedication. Did she wonder what was coming next or were her thoughts purely on being able to go see and properly prepare his lifeless body?


What a mystery. It was all unfolding and what looked like the end was actually the beginning. But how they must have longed for him in those few days.



 

My Spiritual Abuse Story (an introduction)

*** TRIGGER WARNING ***
The term 'church' is used for ease of reference but only reflects the aspect of a gathered body of people, I do not view this organisation as representing the Spirit and character of God in any way nor is a reflection of the true Church. This church is still operating today, it is a Word of Faith and Prosperity 'gospel' organisation.

September 2004, Melbourne Australia.


I'd been expecting it but it didn't detract from the brutal reality. Overnight we lost all our so-called friends.


I can still remember where I was and what I was doing. The call had been from the senior assistant pastor, also a very close family friend who'd been at my bedside during the birth of our first child and whose name we took for our daughter's middle name. Her voice was loaded with emotions threatening to break under the weight of the words she'd been sent to deliver.


"I'm afraid to tell you Jacqui that because of the things you've been saying about the pastors, a black mark has been put against your names and you're no longer allowed to fellowship with anyone from the church, you've been marked".


This was the closing line on a 7 year chapter. Every relationship we'd invested into, prayed with, eaten meals with, ministered together side-by-side, played with, they were all warned to stay away, we were poison. In an instant the people our child had grown up with (especially the young adults who'd babysat her and been her constant buddies), our big, noisy, beautiful tribe were gone. Our whole world was pulled from under our feet. It wasn't the last time I'd hear from her. Several years later after the 'church' had imploded and the world she'd built around it fell apart also, she reached out over Facebook and apologised for her part as a leader and for the way she'd treated us. There was forgiveness and healing. Don't misunderstand, we didn't go on to be best buddies but there was peace between us, and a shared sympathy. There were no winners.


The next 6 months were a fusion of breathtaking freedom and crushing horror. A war was waging in my mind and spirit between the truth I knew the Lord was revealing and leading me into and the dogma seared upon my soul. In the darkest moments the voices said I was now out of God's will, cursed with a curse with only a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. At times it was very painful to pick up my bible, words became twisted, tainted through their filter. I was scared of that book.


Their influence was the foundational part of my Christian story yet it's one I haven't always wanted to tell. It's clinically proven that the first years in a child's life are the most important for emotional formation, bonding and mental health, my first seven years as a believer were spent in this cult.


I think now, 18 years on, I'm ready to speak about it more objectively.


We are all unique, on our own journey with our own life-puzzle and personality but these are just some of the positions I've held about our experience over the years;


  • A part of me wanted to move on and never revisit the painful memories.

  • I wanted to be the hope-filled positive voice not the 'Debbie downer' of Christianity.

  • Every time I did revisit it I was so triggered I spoke from my wounds not my scars. I bled over people.

  • It took time, years, to undo and process. I'm still processing to a degree.

  • The indoctrination was so strong to not speak against your leaders that a deep fear drove me to silence.

  • Some areas were only healed within the context of new, safe relationships.

  • God's loving care through scripture took time but his guidance led to maturity, biblical literacy and helped me to learn to trust him and my ability to follow him. This in turn brought a greater discernment of the past situation and a more objective way to reflect on what happened.

  • Discerning within myself what it was that kept us under this teaching and held us in this environment. What was it about our own hearts, personalities, positions, that made us vulnerable?

  • But by far, the biggest reason I was reluctant to share my experience was the sometimes poor response from other Christians.

To be honest the term spiritual abuse wasn't something I knew of until coming out of it. I think it's being widely discussed now but back then not so much. If you said you were in a cult you pictured long orange robes, uncut hair and an off-the-grid lifestyle. You didn't associate a cult with middle class, well dressed, latte sipping professionals. You also wouldn't expect them to be talking about Jesus so much. When I tried to share how I was feeling with the church leaders and members at the time, these were just a sampling of the responses I'd meet with;


"You're offended"

"You're being very negative"

"You have an Absolom spirit"

"He who sows discord among the brethren is an abomination to God"

"You need to forgive"

"You need to stay unified, unity at all costs so God can command the blessing"

"You're not being very loving"

"Don't speak against God's anointed"

"So you think you're right and all these other teachers are wrong?"

"You have a Jezebel spirit"

"You have a familiar spirit"

"You're being rebellious"

"There's no perfect church"

"We're all human and sinful"

"You've got to not let yourself get poisoned and deceived"

"Your heart's not right"


It can be difficult to find a safe space to talk about spiritual abuse. For those who either haven't experienced it or aren't aware of its mechanisms it can seem a dark path to tread, after all, the wounded seem to be attacking the most precious thing to God, the church. I have found a strong protectionism over the local church, I'm afraid we've made an idol of it at times. I've been gaslit and shut down more times than I can remember and I've done the same to others in ignorance.


I honestly believe the inadequate response from many believers isn't due to a hardness of heart but rather a lack of education and awareness. We either do not believe spiritual abuse exists, we downplay a victim's account of abuse or we only associate spiritual abuse with those more obviously in error such as the Word of Faith teaching, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Brethren etc.


Recently on IG I asked my audience if they'd ever been spiritually abused, not surprisingly many had. We probably all have stories. I wonder what the stats are? Is it like asking who's ever been made wet by water? I personally think that abuses happen in every church on a scale, how can they not, after all, we are in it. Even within the context of safe, loving relationships we might try to exercise a degree of persuasion or coercion in order to manipulate an outcome to our own benefit. It stands to reason these traits will surface in church.


But it's important here to define the difference between common sins of the flesh as a fruit of human nature and those abuses perpetrated by leadership in spiritual settings. Where there is a power disparity between leaders and followers and the constant and systematic brainwashing of their followers into submission and/or obedience, this is abuse. Where there exists the misuse of scripture in order to uphold personal gain and hold a position of power, this is spiritual abuse.


When looking back on my journals to prepare for this writing the struggle within myself is obvious, how their teaching would sweep in and turn the focus from questioning their leadership to being about my heart issue. One day I am doubting what is happening at church, the very next I'm berating myself for being mistrusting, disobedient, having wrong motives etc.


It's important to note here that whenever I referenced God, I was in fact implying the pastors. If God wanted me to do this or that, it was what the pastors wanted me to do. They used God's will and their position interchangeably. Bear that in mind as you read this next journal excerpt.



Each Sunday, two services, we were under a consistent, systematic bombardment of teaching that among other things promoted the idea that if you served the pastor's vision then God would cause your desires to come to pass. Serving them was serving God. Without fail also, each preach would usually be accompanied by something 'God had told them', always a prophetic word yet surprisingly so predicable. God was always on the verge of doing something apparently! And all roads led to church. All 'words' were about building the kingdom which translated, meant being involved at church, because that's where God was. And if you were at church all the time, 'serving God', then so was your money.


Another consistent and overarching theme was that of unity. Unity at all cost, at any cost. Why? Because God commands the blessing where there is unity. But unity is not agreement, quite the opposite. Unity meant swallowing your questions and doubts, it meant never asking why or daring to have a difference of opinion, all under the guise of needing to keep unity. The clip below is of a guest speaker they invited in last year but who shares the same messages in line with their teachings. This was a regular tactic to get visiting ministers in who parrotted their mantras so it appeared normalised. Is it just me or does he seem angry?

How many red flags can you spot there? Watching this and listening to his patronising, condescending manner makes me feel physically sick. Earlier in the talk he clearly states that people are struggling with ill health, money problems, job loss etc, because they're not walking in unity. Do you hear how he suggests that God will only talk to the leader not to the others? Do you hear how he mocks people's desire to hear from the Lord themselves, to be 'led independently'? There is a big emphasis on these people hearing from God, parading their relationship with him as if they are special in the way he talks to them. Hear how the use of 'walking in love' is another way to make people comply. SO much of what we were taught was what I call by stealth, it wasn't always direct but it was implied. Walking in love here translates as keeping unity, even if in disagreement which reverse engineered translates as; if you have any disagreement, doubts, or arguments against anything we say, you're no longer being loving, you're sowing discord, you're speaking against God's anointed. And finally, do you hear how he singles out the leaders/pastors as the ones who God speaks directly to? It's hard to argue with someone who hears from God right.


This has been a challenging process to reflect and write on, there is so much material and I haven't known where to start. This is possibly not the right space or time to go into the depths of spiritual abuse and my experiences? I am barely touching the surface. It has however given me a desire to write more on this and to do that well.


It's tempting to want to despise these people but I also know that there's something in them that sincerely believes they love the Lord. They just don't realise how sincerely deceived they are and that they're deceiving others with them. Lord have mercy.


What is my heart in sharing these things? It's that my experiences might help others discern an unhealthy situation they might find themselves in, that freedom to follow Jesus might be theirs and that they'll know His love for them in all its purity and full blown grace.


Jesus, sweet Jesus, how wonderful and kind He is. He does not Lord it over us as these do. I have had a tremendous recovery journey over the past 18 years. There has been much redemption and healing. Trust has returned, along with discernment. I feel stronger, more attuned to these sorts of abuses and still love the church, the one which Jesus had in mind.


I'm looking forward to writing more on this. I hope this has helped you a little, maybe enlightened you. I hope it makes us all more compassionate people to those who have been through this or are still in it.


I know I'll never find the perfect church but I believe I can find a healthy-ish one that has a true shepherd after God's own heart. I think taking responsibility for our own biblical literacy is one step we can take to help trust the right people. Looking for humility in our 'leaders, servant-hearted leaders. Fruitfulness, the fruit of the spirit, should be evident. Jesus is a Shepherd not a drover, He won't push you around. He is not harsh.


Some of my favourite words from Jesus:


“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”


Matthew 11:28-29 (The Message)


Blessings to you my dear ones, peace and grace in our beautiful Saviour.


Resources and safe spaces:


BOOKS:

The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse

Toxic Churches

Powerful Leaders

Safe People

Boundaries


Other sources:

Jenai Auman, totillthesoil.com

K.J. Ramsey, trauma informed therapist, krramseywrites

Ryan Ramsey, Chaplain (hubby to K.J) aryanramsey.com

Teasi Cannon has also compiled a good list of further resources.

 

Poetry


The Christian Plummet by Malcolm Guite


Down into the icy depths you plunge,

The cold dark undertow of your depression,

Even your memories of light made strange, As you fall further from all comprehension.

You feel as though they’ve thrown you overboard,

Your fellow Christians on the sunlit deck,

A stone–cold Jonah on whom scorn is poured,

Sacrificed to save them from the wreck.


But someone has their hands on your long line,

You sound for them the depths they sail above,

One who takes Jonah as his only sign

Sinks lower still to hold you in his love,

And though you cannot see, or speak, or breathe,

The everlasting arms are underneath.



I think this poem is beautiful even though it's grappling with sorrowful themes. It comes to a redemptive closure, a reminder that ultimately we're in the arms of someone safe, stable and unwavering in His love for us.

 

Artist


Charles Courtney Curan.

(13 February 1861 – 9 November 1942) was an American painter. He is best known for his canvases depicting women in various settings.


I love the simplicity of these domestic scenes. I also love the light in this first piece and it so reminds me of Spring as we get our first line dried washes out for the year. A Breezy Day makes me chuckle as May is infamous here for its blustery winds.


Shadows

A Breezy Day


 

Recipe


Pure Pumpkin Pie

This isn't what you'd call seasonal but I had a few cans of pumpkin puree left over from last winter and it always seems a good time for pumpkin pie. This is my healthy recipe sugar free! I've made this a few times and it's delicious. Minimising sugar intake is part of my wellness way of life (when I stick to it). As mentioned, after the virus one of the ongoing symptoms was joint pain and so I found a sugar free way of life dramatically reduced inflammation and the pain stays away. Great with a dollop or two of thick cream! Sugar free does not mean fun free.


A link to an online copy of the recipe can be found HERE. My tip is to leave the salt out of the nut crust.



Cheeky Cheesy Scones

One of my favourite go-tos now that we're coming into picnic weather. I have to eat them in moderation when I do but you can substitute some of the flour for almond flour if you need and see how that works. I love to layer on the cheese and also thrown a bit of parmesan on! Here's an easy recipe.




Listening


I've got a bop for you this month. Whether you're working out, jogging (blurgh! Sorry runner friends), cleaning the house or just want a boogie while you're busy, this is my offering of beats to you. This is heavy on the 80's vibes with a mix of spiritual beats. If you don't like the romantic lyrics, pretend you're singing to Jesus 😉


My Marvellous May playlist.

This is a good playlist I've come across for reading to.

Bopping Beats to get things done!


Watching


Along the theme of spiritual abuse but one which I feel portrays the grey, then Through The Eyes of Tammy Faye is excellent. Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield deliver stellar performances and perfectly capture the contrast between their two personalities and drives. Jessica Chasten earned her first Oscar for this role and you'll see why.


The Legend of The Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole. Breathtaking animation, an A-list cast of voice over actors, this film from 2010 is one of my favourites. A hero/saviour tale and the evil forces which might try to hijack it.


Reading


I had so many good intentions last month while my two men were away, alas, they went out the window. Ever have that happen? I still have several half-read books but, I am almost at the end of The Second Book of The Dun Cow: Lamentations:2. These have been the most fascinating, puzzling and enjoyable reads of late. My friend kindly sent me a podcast link with a book discussion on all three titles in the trilogy hosted by the talented David and Heidi who I already follow on The Daily Poem podcast. These conversations were so helpful in grasping the books fuller meanings and content.


I found this utterly delightful little book by Past Times in the second hand bookshop at Wentworth Castle. You can find preloved copies on eBay very cheaply. I adore books like this with beautiful art and a collection of either prayers, quotes or poetry, they're so convenient to have to hand for a quick glance and meditation. In The Hand of God.


Sarah Clarkson continues to offer beautiful content on her Patreon and last month she spoke on my of my favourite reads The Enchanted April. Joining Sarah's community is well worth the investment.

 

Final words


Dear friends, wherever this finds you today I hope it offers something of beauty and delight. I hope that even in the harder things I've shared about my experiences with spiritual abuse it might draw you closer to Christ and stir a longing to know Him more accurately. Please do take care of yourselves in every way, be sure to follow Leslie up on her PDF download, she's one special lady.


With love and fondness and thanks for following along,


Jacqui X


 

Snaps from home


It was such a treat to spend a few days with my old and dear friend in her hometown of Leeds last month. She showed me the wonderful sights of Chatswroth House and Wentwroth Castle. We partook of the many gardens and tea rooms!


Chatsworth House



Wentworth Castle


Can you believe I forgot to take a picture of the actual castle! The funny story behind the castle site is that it's not actually a real castle. It was built by the then owner to try and impress his family and friends and convince them it's older than it is.


This building on the castle site is now a college, imagine studying here.




My daughter Zoe shot her short film as part of her course completion last month. After delays due to 'C' who shall not be named, it finally all came together and we were able to transform our home into a film set for the weekend. What a joyous experience to be with these talented and professional humans. I felt privileged to be a part of the team, to spend time with the crew, ferry people to trains and collect food. We had lots of laughs and some sweet conversations. My greatest joy was seeing my daughter flourish in her natural wheelhouse. She was calm, focused, patient and visionary, my mama heart was overflowing.




The fields of Rapeseed are stupendous this time of year!

  1. Lots of home delivery the day after the shoot was over! Alba was exhausted too. And an ice cream treat at Amorino in Ealing.

  2. The chaps left for the States, followed by Australia, then back to the States, then home. I love the architecture at Kings Cross Station. My friend Sally came to stay and Alba wanted to be her lap dog!

  3. Tulips are in bloom in my garden. Blossoms on my street and my tree peony blooming.

  4. Whispering Wheat plate I found. A proud and handsome rooster. Easter celebrations.