Two Rivers and a Sea

I haven’t left the sea behind. It’s always with me. I see it mingle with the thread of river that defines the city. A ribbon that widens and narrows, rises and falls twice daily. As a bulk of light that spreads golden like a cymbal, or like ripples, swirls and eddies as if it’s shivering in the cold, like a kaleidoscope on a bright spring day or like grey, grungy green, khaki colored soup. Flowing forward, flowing back, static at its peak when it is plump and full, neither here nor there, just being.. And when it’s gone, it leaves a scooped out basin, revealing a muddy stone strewn place.

There is a river, in another place, that literally flowed right past my door. It has big rocks and boulders that were dumped there by the ice age, still fixed in place, unmoved by time, weather or human interference. Thousands of years in one place. The stones and boulders landed in a pattern to enable you to pick your way across, carefully balancing before taking the next step. This river dipped into a trickle in the summer but when the rains had been, the thunder rush of water was strong and voluminous and noisy. It powered clearly over the biggest boulder forming a glassy smooth surface before it tumbled and crashed below.

The big river/sea is organised and controlled by walls, its flow contained and its path determined, the only variable is the water level, which can rise substantially. Even the threat of it overflowing is controlled by the barrier upstream.

The other river is lined by trees and vegetation that reach the waters edge, on a lower portion down away from the house, is a hazelnut tree. The bank on the other side rises to steep slopes with carefully trodden pathways created by sheep. This flank of river bank turns yellow and purple in summer, ferns flourish, lush like a jungle, bilberries grow underneath. At the top of the mountain side you can see the sea, where the river is headed. It doesn’t have far to go.

Safety, pins and quilts

The safety pin is a paradox. It represents the biggest hurdle in the making of a big quilt whilst simultaneously solving the problem.

The challenge is layering and securing, pinning all of the components of the quilt together. A large workable space is needed for this. The bigger the quilt, the more space is required plus space to manouvre around the edges.

A quilt is made from three layers of fabric. The backing cloth is stretched out flat on the floor , the edges taped down. The soft fluffy inter layer, called batting or wadding, is lined up and laid on top. The final layer is the ‘quilt top’ which is the designed, stitched together piece of cloth.

These three layers, the ‘quilt sandwich’ as it is commonly known, is secured with safety pins, which are pinned about a fist width apart across the whole surface and through all the layers.

Pinning the layers on the floor is an awkward process but this is where the flexible benefits of yoga practice Help.

Meeting God

Looking up to the sky, past the crown of a coconut palm on the road from Kinlass.I am walking along the pavement, on the other side of the road, just past Mrs Moss’s house. It’s early morning, the sun has already warmed the world, the smell of creosote blends into the air. I’m going to see my friend, the baby Simon. I am embraced by sunlight, the warm aroma of creosote. I feel glad to be alive.

I am walking along the pavement on our side of the road, just past Mr and Mrs Browns house. It’s a grey day. I am approaching the very tall poplar trees that stand guard on the corner. I consider the notion of a ‘Father’ in ‘Heaven’ that was introduced to me recently at primary school. I look upwards beyond the treetops to the sky, ‘an invisible man ? In a transparent sky? ‘ ‘Two dads ?’ No, I already have my father.

Clutter Confession #4. A Song and Dance

The backlog of indecision is piled up. Again.

Clearing clutter away is like being on a archeological dig, going back into history, peeling back the layers of time. I have a pretty good idea of what is physically stored and taking up space. An emotional element lays buried, dormant, holding up the process. The fear is digging too deep and too fast, ( by my time frame, that is ) to expose the emotions that caused the clutter in the first place . It is this.

To worry about making the wrong move. Putting it off ( indeterminately) then tackling a little bit of it and then delaying some more. The procrastination dance, forward, backward pause, forward, stop. Then repeat a significant time later.

There is plenty of advice out there of ways to deal with removing stuff. And plenty of before and after photos. What the books and tidy gurus don’t share is how to cope with emotional clutter. No before , during and after photos on that one. No, the secret desire is that the tidy fairy will visit overnight and do it for me and face my fears for me too.

Its always time to face the music and learn the tidy tango, one step at a time.

Reveal what needs to be revealed. Garner courage deal with the consequences.

I have followed the Marie Kondo method and it has worked beautifully for my clothes and books. And the tidying I did as a topic for the #100 day project has stayed Organised. So really it’s time to take the last step forward and no steps back. To trust that all that needs to be, will be, released and space and energy will join in. Change the Chi, change the energy. Make it like it is to be made. Create space like a piece of art, aim for beauty. Dance.

At home

After landing at the airport we ventured onto the forecourt to make the onward journey, it was like being in an extremely hot summers day on the South Coast of England.

I knew where I was in Barbados. That is to say, I knew exactly where I was on the globe. As I swam in the Caribbean turquoise water, ahead of me was South America and over my left shoulder was England, far far away.

When I travel to a new place, I look out to see if I would like to live there. Barbados was everything I had wanted seaside Llandudno to be. Still warm as the sun slid down, background music from the bar, sipping cool alcohol on the beach, relaxing back with family.

They call Barbados ‘little England’ To my mind it’s more that England is a Big Barbados, operating the inherited centuries of colonial indoctrination and ‘business systems, set in the sea. The power structure of capitalism borne from the slavery system and rolled back on the waves to England.

At no time do I feel physically reminded of being in Barbados, in the same way that I do about Jamaica. A car can roll up outside on a sunny day in London playing a reggae beat to the street. I am instantly transported to Clarkestowns surround sound music, all of the time. Music has that way about it, like the power of sense of smell, to take you back in a flash, in an instant I am in that beloved place where I am welcome and at home.

Minds Eye.

Pink and red squares of fabric inlaid with contrasting colored crosses by Maggie Winnall at Sewin StudioI set myself the task of finishing many works in progress to bring it to completion. Too many pieces left undone , too many unwarranted stops in the process, too many abandoned intentions.

In my minds eye, I (thought) I knew what the finished piece would look like and lazy mind was satisfied. Both minds satisfied. Except no. Not really.

Minds eye had no idea how beautiful the finished work would be and lazy mind was yearning for confidence. And that is what has transpired.

But it began before this. In an ancient ship

When the inner critic, cloaked in darkness crept right on in and lay dormant, waiting, until I wanted to create some beauty.

Shadow mind moves silently, stealthily, floats fear down like an invisible veil over any creative intentions or is just an out and out mean and spiteful nasty voice, or eyeing how you become numb to things or even how you become vague and not

quite present.

Curious mind began to ask around. Why was it undone, why was it abandoned ? Why, when I thrived on stitching, cutting, manipulating fabric, enthralled with Colour, delighted with words did the brakes jam on suddenly?

A boat named επφάνεια

I’m setting sail on a boat named επφάνεια – Epiphany, in search of turquoise sea, or in Monday to Friday, everyday language , I’m taking part in a writing experiment. The challenge is to publish my words every week day for three weeks, starting today.
Why the Greek name ? Because I’m ten days into learning Greek on Duo Lingo and quite obsessed with it. ! I’ve been introduced to the words ψυχή – soul , χρομα – colour, φιλοσοφία – philosophy, already (ήδη !) words that appeal to the heart of my work and words feed my creativity.
I loved the strange script of the road signs when I visited Corfu but didn’t like that I couldn’t read them. I was daunted as to whether I could navigate learning Greek but I’m finding that I love everything about it, because it’s all new ! New letter shapes , new words, new sounds and a whole new alphabet. I’m stepping back into the happy childhood time when learning was a pleasure. When learning to read and write was new then and with a fresh open mind. If I take my time, stick at it, I know at some point it will sink in.
Tales of beauty and the friendly people of the island of Zakynthos from my daughter and the going crazy (Covid time) fantasy to escape to see turquoise sea is my motivation to learn Greek. I’m preparing . I’m getting ready. For when….
The best discovery of learning on Duo Lingo is that it temporarily takes me away from worries, shadowy thoughts and all the other nonsense going on in my mind. It’s like a brain cleanse.
There are several words in Greek for discovery :
ανακάλυψη – discover, find, detection
ανεύρεση – finding, discovery
εξεύρεση – discovery
I hope you discover something positive today .


This rectangle study , pieced improvisationally, has been hand quilted now. Before I bind the edges, I adjusted the bottom left hand corner to add some light and balance.

I am trying to stick to the plan and quilt everything in sight ! (i.e. The small unfinished pieces ) without getting distracted with adjustments and amendments. which is so tempting. After comparing the before and after , I’m still not sure and I need to get this finished.

Are you easily distracted or are you blessed with a single mind ?

Welcome Home

Contemporary Hand quilted and stitched textile embellished with hand cut letters by Maggie WinnallContemporary hand quilted and stitched textile art with embellished words ' Welcome HomeContemporary Hand quilted and stitched textile embellished with hand cut letters by Maggie WinnallContemporary Hand quilted and stitched textile embellished with hand cut letters by Maggie Winnall

Welcome Home !

Of late, I’ve come to realise that quilting is a spiritual practice for me as much as yoga and meditation and like yoga and meditation is essential to my wellbeing. So it’s timely that I was inspired to create the ‘Welcome Home’ piece above – first photo. I started and finished it within a week.

The font , colour of the words and contrasting thread colour against the background collage are satisfying. The square shape not so much. So I’ve auditioned roof shapes to add interest. Like the traditional topping off ritual when building a house, I see this as a symbolic topping off of my work as a devotion to spirit.

I’m calling it ‘Message from the Universe 2’.

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