In Memory Of Francis (Frank) Walker

In February this year, a member of Lockerbie Writers and A Novel Approach – Frank Walker – sadly passed away.

Frank loved writing and often drew on his life experience as a farm stockman as his inspiration for his short stories and the memoir he was working on. He was also studying for an Open University degree in English Literature.

His stories were touching and a window into farming life in Dumfries and Galloway – always finding something to laugh at. He was also an ardent supporter of Lockerbie Writers, and held the group’s kitty as well as selling Lockerbie Writers’ two self- published books to anyone who would give him the time of day.

In memory of Frank, Lockerbie Writers have created a collection of flash fiction, inspired by Frank’s love of farming. I think he would have enjoyed reading the stories below … And told a tale or two of his own.

Paula Gilfillan

Homeward Bound by Kath J Rennie

It was a day from hell for Masie Parrington. A redundancy notice given. The car breaks down. A two hour wait for recovery has blood pressure rise. Constant phone calls to her partner Mac get no response. She’s unaware he’s packed up, taken most of their possessions, leaving her with all the debt he created. She knows this on approaching an unlit, unwelcoming flat.

A bottle of gin is opened. She drinks like a woman possessed, uncaring of the future.

A tapping on the living room window catches her attention. Her vision is slightly blurred, and yet she’s convinced the Robin is giving her a message – to return home.

A decision is made. A train ticket booked. The long journey to Scotland begins with a slip of a foot on the train’s step. Once seated, floods of tears are muffled with her scarf. She hopes the revellers in opposite seats do not notice … They do.

‘It’s not that cold!’ one shouts over to her, offering then a can of beer which is refused. ‘Snotty bitch!’ he coldly broadcasts for his friends to hear.

One joins in with a barrage of questions. ‘What’s up Doll? Been given the elbow have ye? Want to come and sit on my knee? I’ll soon warm ye up!’

The relief when the drunkards disembark in Ambleside has Masie breath with relief. Her journey continues onward towards Lockerbie station. She stares aimlessly into the countryside’s darkening sky. She worries that the weather is about to change. Blackening clouds show signs of rain, or sleet. She hopes the former, just in case the taxi-rank is closed. It is.

On finding all taxis have finished for the night, she searches her backpack for her mobile. Realises in disbelief, the phone is still heading north. She weighs up her situation. Sleep on a platform bench or begin the five-mile walk home to her parent’s farm, a place once loved until meeting Mac, a travelling salesman.

Her trek to the farm is slow-going. Sleet turns to a heavy snowfall. The country lanes become harder to climb, their steepness is battled against with might, until energy to continue diminishes and she falls to her knees. She prays for help, then when her plea goes unheard, screams out for it. In the distance, a sheep dog pricks its ears. Its master, checking his flock of sheep also hears the cry, but thinks it’s a distressed wounded animal. He calls Alfie back when taking off at pace. A scent is picked up. The dog jumps one dyke after another, until finding the woman who’d cared for him as a pup, yelping then for his master who follows behind.


Masie’s bedroom is aglow and becomes warmer as more logs are settled onto the fire by her father. He listens as his wife consoles his daughter.

‘We never trusted that man! He sweet-talked you to live in London. In time you’ll realise returning home is for the best.’

‘Yes,’ she sobs. ‘It is.’

Photo by Alex Baber on Unsplash

College Fields Farm, Shropshire by Geoffrey Hugh Lindop

It was Boxing Day, 1961, when my father showed me College Fields, the farm where he was born. The college of medieval monks, after whom it was named, farmed the area selling their produce in Market Drayton about seven miles away. Today their original farmland is split amongst three neighbouring farms with a county boundary separating them.

College Fields, Shropshire, was renowned for cheese making. It was Cheshire cheese made in Shropshire. My father’s generation was born long before the Trades Description Act came into being, but he knew his cheese. One day we went to Market Drayton and he pounced on a particular cheese in the grocer’s shop.

‘See that green fade in that cheese,’ he pointed out to me, ‘that’s a sign of a good matured cheese.’ He bought quite a big slab of it, which we ate for supper − he was right, I have never tasted such a wonderful cheese since.

Two hundred cows fed on the grass at College Fields alongside horses, sheep, pigs and poultry. They left the grass in good condition. My father continued his guided tour and showed me the medieval strip farming, perfectly preserved.

Father pointed out the strips running up and down a south facing hill where they caught the maximum of sunlight/heat. Furthermore, water easily drained from them downhill.

‘Them old ’uns knew a thing or two,’ commented Father.

He showed me the tree in Canridden Wood where he, his brother and sister had carved their initials. Something I thought was restricted to lovers. Yet the three of them were supported by their mutual love at a time of crisis − their father died of pneumonia when my father was only five. My grandma kept the farm in profit with the help of labourers.

My father precociously asked to share the labourers’ food to the point of annoyance.

‘Here lad would you like a sandwich?’

Father gladly accepted until he found that the filling was cow-shit. He never bothered them again.

William Lindop and his wife, Mary Silvester, moved from their farm at Chipnall where they raised their family, to College Fields around 1830. They had seven children.  Two of their sons had public houses, one in Woore the other in nearby Knighton.  William travelled to the pubs in his pony and trap. I guess all his drinks were ‘on the house.’ At the end of the evening his inebriated body was lifted into the trap. The pony knew the way home.

George, the second youngest of five sons, took over the farm, which was rented from the Oakley Estate. The entire 2,450 acre estate, including College Fields, was sold in September 1919 when my Father was 11.

‘Wouldn’t you think that they could let Mother stay on,’ complained my father, ‘she was a widow looking after three kids.’

It’s A Sheep’s Bleat by Paula Nicolson

Yesterday was sheep shearing day at the farm just along the road from my house. 

The ewes and rams in the shed became a choir; a cacophony of cries. But to themselves, they understood completely what they were bleating on about and perhaps it was something along the lines of:

‘Careful Doris, don’t step on my hooves, I’ve only just had them filed!’

‘I’ll try, but it’s a bit of a squeeze in this queue.’

‘Well try losing some of that lambing weight.’

‘Speak for yourself! Anyway, looks like we’re due for a shave today.’

‘About time! I’ve had to drag this coat through the mud all winter and I can barely see through my fringe. I was voted the worst coat in the flock the other day.’

‘I’m going to ask for a complete all-over shave; a makeover. That’ll show Roger for going off with another ewe.’

‘Betsy had a few swirls put in last time, so I’m going to ask for that.’

‘That’ll look bleatin’ lovely!’

‘But do you think the shearers really listen? They just shave their own way most of the time.’

‘I don’t think they understand sheep.’

(This story was previously published in July 2020 on Paula’s blog: It’s a Sheep’s Life … Baa @Blogger)

Sunday with Grandad by Christina Openshaw

I must admit, I’ve never known much about farming. Although when I was young and living in a town, it was on sunny Sundays when I would come across anything resembling farming. This was when Grandad called for us three sisters, after Sunday school and lunch, to take us for a walk. Off we’d go, I’d be about twelve, Lynn nine, and the youngest Jan sitting in her pram along with a bottle of water to drink later.

We always started our journey by going down the lane that led to the railway line. On the way stopping at the veg shop owned by two spinster sisters who still opened on Sundays, hoping, to make extra money. Grandad would buy each of us an apple to eat on our walk. On reaching the bottom of the lane, we turned left into the walkway that ran parallel between the railway on the right and the stream on the left. After a while we reached Stanley Fiddian’s pig farm. As usual, Grandad had brought along some out-of-date bread from his shop. The pigs would let us scratch their heads; they knew why we were there. Stanley’s wasn’t a true pig farm as such, I later discovered. I’ve now seen one that takes over a whole field, with lots of small pens for shelter.

Walking along, we followed the stream which passed the allotments. We waved to the men working them while keeping our eyes open for sticklebacks swimming in the shallows.

‘Should have brought a jam jar Grandad,’ I once said.

‘And who’s going to carry it all the way on our walk?’ he replied. No more said.

 Soon we reached the clough, walked to the top and the road that led to the farms up ahead. We’d be walking for about an hour by then. We’d sit on the grass verge, each taking a drink from the bottle of water before we carried on. The farms we passed were mixed: small fields with both cows and sheep getting along together, others growing wheat or some other cereal. Here it was quiet and peaceful: only the odd bird song, or the gentle moo from an approaching nosey cow.

As we made our way to the main road that took us home, we passed a chicken farm.

‘Keep an eye open for any eggs under the hedgerow along here, as the hens sometimes lay away,’ Grandad whispered.

We’d all be bent over bottoms in the air, looking in the long grass. We must have looked funny; weren’t bothered just as long as we found some – we usually did. Grandad carried a paper bag in his pocket, just in case. Eggs were wrapped and hidden near Jan’s feet under the pram cover.

Then it was back along the main road with more and more houses the nearer we got to the town centre and home, looking forward to eggs for tea and feeling sorry to be leaving the farms behind, but there was always a next time.

Photo by Vitolda Klein on Unsplash

We miss you Frank,

love from Lockerbie Writers and A Novel Approach.


Writing Our Reconnections

On 18 June 2021, Lockerbie Writers gathered to celebrate National Writing Day (see our June blog post) and to hone their creative writing skills. With this year’s aptly named theme of ‘reconnection’, the group was inspired to create new and exciting pieces of flash fiction.

Members went on to develop these pieces and below is a selection. For more information about the individual writers, pop over to our Meet The Members page.

I hope you enjoy reading them as much as we had creating them. And please don’t forget to share!

When Love Reigns by Kath J Rennie

The office is again unusually quiet today without Tommy’s boisterous goings on; he’s heartbroken and certainly in no mood for any more platitudes of, ‘You’ll get over her,’ and ‘there’s plenty more fish in the sea, mate.’

I feel for him. I have done for the past year, but unlike the rest of the office staff, I’ve kept my distance from him, even though at times I’ve wanted to throw my arms around him; holding him until he releases the tears I know he’s holding onto.

I’ve stopped myself from doing this on many occasions. It was hard − it’s still so hard, especially when he glances my way, which he often does. Is he aware of the deep feelings I have for him? Perhaps, I think to myself, I will make certain this will be the day I tell him so.

My heart races as we take the lift together at the end of our working day. His musky aftershave permeates the small space we share − it’s intoxicating. It makes me want him. We exchange knowing looks. It seems to me he’s mindful that I too am recovering from a failed marriage.

He holds the door to the outside world open for me. It’s pouring with thunderous rain, of which I find welcoming − opportunistic.

‘Would you like to share my umbrella while we walk to the taxi rank together?’ I ask, tentatively.

He accepts, takes the umbrella from me, and holds it high above our heads. We stand in silence. His close proximity is unnerving, and so very inviting.

I feel him tremble as I stand on tip-toe and place my lips lightly on his. He responds passionately, and in that moment, I know we’ve reconnected with the ability to give and receive love.

Photo by Morgan Sessions on Unsplash

Nature’s Reconnection by Christina Openshaw

Spring two years ago − we were so pleased when we realised a pair of house martins had chosen our home to build their nest. This had never happened before in all the time we’d lived here.

They were both so busy as we watched them flying backwards and forwards from the river to the eaves above our lounge window − bringing with them the mud they needed. Within a number of days it was finished, all pale grey and bobbled.

Weeks later came squabbling; sparrows trying to oust the house martins from their nest. Then one day all was quiet. No house martins; they’d gone. Looking below the nest lay four chicks: three featherless and all dead, the other still alive. We took it in, made a nest using old tea towels and a bowl. Each day it fed hungrily from a small spoon and we were so glad to see it thrive. But one morning, it had passed away in the night. How we missed caring for such a tiny creature.

Last year the nest changed, the sides disappeared; probably pilfered by other birds, but who knows!

Earlier this spring we noticed some action above our window again; hooray, the house martins were back! Are they the same adults from two years ago, we wondered, and do they remember? Each day they began rebuilding, filling in the once depleted sides; these now a darker grey than the old pale centre.

This time I don’t think we’ll be needed – hearing the sounds of cheeping as we walk below. This time we see chicks peeping their heads out of the tiny hole, looking lively.

They’ll be leaving soon – we hope that we see them again next year.

Photo by Ash from Modern Afflatus on Unsplash

Sardines by Paula Nicolson

I catch her peering, with her almond shaped eyes, at my shopping basket of a pint of milk, a packet of biscuits and a Sunday roast microwave meal for one. It’s my own fault, because I’m dithering in the tinned fish aisle; internally wrestling with the idea of buying sardines.

And as she steps a little closer to me, the odour of smoked wood and oily fish seeps into my senses. Her voice, whining like a lonesome cat, asks, ‘Do you like sardines?’

‘Well … I don’t know, but I thought I’d give them a try. What could I have with them?’

‘A cat.’

‘A cat?’

‘Yes. You could share a tin of sardines with a cat.’

‘But I don’t own a cat and I meant what with … not who.’

‘Suit yourself. It was only a serving suggestion,’ she says as she whisks away from me, taking my breath with her. And as I watch her tiptoe up the aisle, her sleekit long black tail swishes from side to side behind her.

Photo by Chris Barbalis on Unsplash

About the author of this blog post: Paula Gilfillan lives near Lockerbie with her family and an overly chatty cat. She worked as a scientist for 22 years, but is now a school librarian. She’s a published poet, short story and a prize-winning flash fiction writer, but is partial to a slice of cake. She blogs as Decky Writing and writes under her maiden name of Paula Nicolson.

Lockerbie Writers: Reflections on the last six years (2015 – 2021)

By Kerrie McKinnel, Events Manager

This year, Lockerbie Writers is going through something of a shift of membership. As I prepare to take my own step back, it seems like the perfect opportunity to reflect on my time with the group.

First, let me ask you a question. Have you ever said these words?

“I’ve always wanted to write, but I’m not any good at it.”

I hear it all the time. Outside of Lockerbie Writers, I’m a self-employed writer – I run writing workshops for all ages and abilities, but my particular love is working with nervous beginners. I have lost count of the number of people who’ve told me how much they would love to write a story, or a poem, or the true-life story which has been bobbing around between generations of their family for years … but they don’t start, because they are afraid to fail.

Seven years ago, that was me. I’d recently become a mum, and despite the fact that I LOVED writing – and despite the fact that I’d been accepted onto the University of Glasgow’s prestigious MLitt Creative Writing degree – I had zero confidence in myself or my writing abilities. I was a wannabe. I had ideas, but I struggled to get them down onto paper.

In May 2015, I was one year into my degree – enjoying it, but still unsure whether I was ever going to be able to succeed at writing. In a bid to find suitable ways to fill my time and continue to advance my skills over the summer break, I attended a workshop at Lockerbie Library which fed into that year’s Scottish Book Trust writing competition. At that workshop, I met members of Lockerbie Writers who pointed me in the direction of their fortnightly meetings.

As I imagine there will be some fellow writers reading this, I feel like I should steer clear of the cliché (“And the rest is history!”), but it really does feel like that. When I joined, the group were enthusiastic and there was clear skill, but I could tell straight away that there was potential and hunger for more. I set up the group’s blog site, which would soon become a valuable resource for posting new writing and information about meetings and events – by 2020, it could attract up to 500 views in a month! Driven by a university deadline, and hugely helped by my tutors and by several Lockerbie Writers’ members who had industry experience, I went on to collate, co-edit and publish the group’s first-ever collection of writing, Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology.

The publication, along with well-attended book launches and local press coverage, helped to inspire and encourage group members – myself included. We were published writers! Our names were in print! With the support and encouragement of the group, I went on to run my first writing workshop for members of the public, and completed my postgraduate degree. I set up my own writing website and social media. I finally had the courage to call myself a writer.

In 2017 myself and other group members worked closely with Darren at Castle Loch Community Trust to establish an annual children’s writing competition, which has since attracted hundreds of entries and given out numerous prizes including the Lockerbie Writers’ trophy for the group’s favourite overall story. I was also lucky enough to be invited by Darren to run workshops there – my first experience of tutoring in the great outdoors!

In 2018, Lockerbie Writers invited me to take on the role of Events’ Manager; I was already doing the job anyway, but this new title felt like recognition of the work which I was now putting in. By this point myself and the group’s chairperson, Steph Newham, had established a second writing group in Lockerbie (A Novel Approach), and I was preparing to set myself up as a self-employed writer. In my new role for Lockerbie Writers, I began to run regular writing workshops, spoken word nights, and organised annual celebrations to coincide with National Writing Day in June each year: Sara Maitland author talk (2018); Mindful Writing Day with Margaret Elphinstone (2019); New Writing Week on the blog (2020); and a Reconnection Writing Workshop (2021).

One of my proudest achievements has been to obtain funding for the group, to help with events and publications. In 2019, in addition to DG Unlimited/D&G Council funding for our Mindful Writing Day, I was grateful to receive funding from the Scottish Book Trust to self-publish and launch Lockerbie Writers’ second collection of new writing, Behind Closed Doors. This was a mammoth effort as I took on the majority of the collation, editing and formatting for the book, but we were rewarded with impressive attendance at our launches during Book Week Scotland 2019.

At the beginning of last year’s lockdown, I felt lost: what does an events’ manager do during a pandemic?! However, like many others across the world, I found that my creativity was pushed and challenged. Here’s another well-worn phrase for you: when life gives you lemons …! I successfully applied for Book Week Scotland 2021 funding, and with the help of several local creatives and of course the rest of the Lockerbie Writers, I put on the group’s first-ever poetry safari, and even printed a companion book which was gifted to those who attended the walk in November 2021. What a fantastic moment at the end of a difficult year – to be able to bring new writing and joyful words to the local community in a safe and uplifting way.

The decision to leave Lockerbie Writers has been a difficult one, especially on the back of all of these wonderful memories, but I am proud to say that I am going out on a high. One of my final tasks as Lockerbie Writers’ Events Manager will be to organise and help to gift trophies to a local school, in an attempt to encourage creative writing amongst the pupils there for many years to come.

I leave behind a group of fantastic friends and skilled, hard-working creatives, and I am forever grateful for the support and encouragement which they’ve given me over the last six years – and especially their patience with my long and numerous emails at times! Since 2016, I have gone from a nervous student to a confident writer, and I think Lockerbie Writers group has grown alongside me.

And yes, I am brave enough to admit it:

“I’ve always wanted to write, and now I do, because I am good at it.”

I wish the ongoing members of Lockerbie Writers good luck as they go forwards into a creative future.

P.s. I will be continuing to run workshops etc through my business, 😊 I hope to be able to work with Lockerbie Writers again in the future!

Reconnection: National Writing Day Workshop, 18th June 2021

It’s National Writing Day!

On and around 23rd June 2021, people and groups across the country will celebrate National Writing Day … and Lockerbie Writers were thrilled to be able to join in with their first in-person workshop of the year.

Read on to find out more!

Somerton House Hotel, Lockerbie

What is National Writing Day?

National Writing Day is “an annual celebration of the power of writing creatively, inspiring people of all ages and abilities to try writing for fun and self-expression” (National Writing Day website,, last accessed 23rd June 2021).

Lockerbie Writers have previously run several popular events to coincide with this day. These include the Sara Maitland Author Talk (2018), a Mindful Writing Day featuring Margaret Elphinstone (2019), and a New Writing Week on the Lockerbie Writers’ blog which received almost 500 views (2020). Although COVID restrictions meant that it was impractical to put on a big event in 2021, everyone was excited to be able to meet as a small group for the first time in months.

The Workshop

The sun shone on the Somerton House Hotel, Lockerbie, when members of Lockerbie Writers and A Novel Approach writing groups gathered on Friday 18th June 2021.

Events Manager Kerrie McKinnel arriving at the Somerton House Hotel

Events Manager Kerrie McKinnel was especially excited to attend as it was the first in-person writing workshop which she had been able to plan, coordinate and deliver in over sixteen months – but it was also the last event which she would organise for Lockerbie Writers. After six years of membership and three years as Events Manager, she announced that she planned to leave Lockerbie Writers by the end of the summer.

The announcement continues a period of real change for the group, after the resignation of Chairperson Steph Newham last winter, and the step back by several other members, either due to health or work/personal reasons. This led to a discussion of future meetings and various related issues including book sales, before the group were joined by members of A Novel Approach group and moved on to the real reason for the day – the celebration of National Writing Day 2021!

Writing prompts were on the topical theme of ”Reconnection’.

Kerrie had designed two writing prompts, both inspired by this year’s theme of ‘Reconnection’. After so long apart, the theme choice seemed topical – especially as the writing started late due to everyone enjoying their chat and catch-up!

In the first exercise, participants did some free writing on themes related to lockdown, and then used their notes to create a poem or short piece of writing.

Perhaps predictably, there were a number of reflections on loneliness, home comforts, birdsong and other observations on nature, but the exercise also prompted some unexpected pieces including book recommendations, a poem which used repetition to sum up the lockdown experience, and a dark passage about a sexual predator.

The day was a good mixture of writing and discussion – and catching up too!

In the second exercise, participants were invited to sketch or make notes about a mysterious character, and then to imagine a conversation with them. Bonus points for anyone who was able to include the word ‘Reconnection’ in their resulting short story!

Friends working hard at their short stories and poems.

This exercise took the group all over the world. There was romance at a farming show, a character foraging in the forest, a war-torn country, and plenty of flirting – with mixed consequences!

Lockdown and COVID were clearly on the participants’ minds, with tales of train journeys, visiting family after months of separation, not recognising people with their masks on, and a whole series of awkward conversations in the supermarket, car park, office, and more.


The workshop ended with a two-course lunch, and a chance to chat and catch up.

Looking to the Future

After all of the stress and uncertainty of the last sixteen months, it was fantastic to be able to meet as a small group to celebrate National Writing Day with some enjoyable and relaxed writing prompts – and a few laughs too!

Lockerbie Writers has undergone immense change since the beginning of 2020, with the departure of several long-established group members, and the increasing emphasis on the online side of the group.

National Writing Day is about encouraging people of all ages and abilities to try writing, and this is exactly what Lockerbie Writers always strives to do. With an emerging new committee, more enquiries beginning to come in from potential new members, and hope of regular in-person meetings resuming soon, Lockerbie Writers is in a strong and positive position as it evolves and heads into the future.

New Writing Week, Spring 2021 – Day 5

Launch into spring with Lockerbie Writers! Join us on the blog all week (29th March – 2nd April 2021) and enjoy a selection of new writing from members of Lockerbie Writers. Our final contribution is two short poems from Kerrie McKinnel.

One year on from the beginning of lockdown, Lockerbie Writers group remain unable to meet in person, but many of the members have continued to swap writing and encouragement online.

Today’s poems come from Kerrie McKinnel, Lockerbie Writers’ Events Manager. Inspired by the phrase ‘dead daffodils’, Kerrie has attempted a limerick and a haiku.

Read on, enjoy … and don’t forget to share!

Muddy Bulbs by Kerrie McKinnel

Ceramic shards litter the stone,
muddy bulbs setting the tone.
I know I sound moany,
but really! If only
I’d left the garden pots alone!

Daffodils by Kerrie McKinnel

Cloud, lamb, breeze, sun rays,
I try and fail to enjoy.
Dead: daffodils; you.

Kerrie McKinnel is Lockerbie Writers’ Events Manager and a founding member of A Novel Approach group. Her writing has been featured in publications including Gutter, Southlight and From Glasgow to Saturn. She lives with her husband and two young children, who inspire much of her writing. Since completing her MLitt Creative Writing (University of Glasgow), Kerrie has run a number of successful writing workshops and events, and compiled and co-edited Lockerbie Writers’ first and second anthologies. Kerrie also runs writing workshops and events for all ages through her business, Kerrie McKinnel – Writer. For more information visit:

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading all of this week’s pieces of new writing from Lockerbie Writers! Please share, and take a look around our website for more information on the group’s meetings, writing and past publications.
Have you missed any of this week’s new writing? Click on the links below to view each of the last four days!
Day 1: Christina Openshaw
Day 2: Betsy Henderson
Day 3: Kath J. Rennie
Day 4: Paula Nicolson; Rita Dalgliesh

New Writing Week, Spring 2021 – Day 4

Launch into spring with Lockerbie Writers! Join us on the blog all week (29th March – 2nd April 2021) and enjoy a selection of new writing from members of Lockerbie Writers. Today is Day 4, and we’ve got not one but two fantastic poems to mark our penultimate day!

One year on from the beginning of lockdown, Lockerbie Writers group remain unable to meet in person, but many of the members have continued to swap writing and encouragement online.

Today, we have not one but two poems from members of the group. The first is inspired by the word ‘galoshes’ and comes from Paula, who has spearheaded the running of the online group over the last few months. The second, from Rita, uses the prompt words/phrases ‘parade’, ‘brood’, ‘dead daffodils’ and ‘galoshes’ – well done to Rita for using four out of the five given prompts! Not an easy task!

Read on, enjoy … and don’t forget to share!

Photo by Noelle Otto on

We Are by Paula Nicolson

in the wet street

in the wet wind

in the wet rain

in the wet puddles

in the wet wellies

in the wet

the wet


Paula Nicolson (Lockerbie Writers’ PR Manager)
Paula lives near Lockerbie, Scotland, with her family and is a mum to a teenage daughter, two grown-up stepchildren, and an overly chatty cat. She enjoys laughing, eating cake, and writing with Lockerbie Writers; preferably all at the same time.
She worked as a scientist for 22 years in England, but now works as a librarian in a Scottish town where there’s more sheep than books (she made that fact up, but seriously, there’s lots of sheep here.)
Paula is a published poet, short story and a prize-winning flash fiction writer. She’s also a judge for BBC Radio 2’s 500 words and Castle Loch Trust’s children’s writing competitions. You can find her blogging at:

Photo by Anna Shvets on

An Historic Event by Rita Dalgliesh

As Lord and Lady Martindale return from abroad,
All residents of Mayhem find cause for merriment.
A parade they plan in earnest, first of its kind,
Celebrate a turning point, recovery of humankind.

A brood of youth research ancient heritage,
They’ll re-enact the pageant of an ancient past.
For all our hosts don’t look so hot, their provision and plot
are just what the residents of Mayhem got.

Their ideas permit the villagers to explore
Vast gardens; mausoleums with tombs
Revealing epidemics contracted by previous peers.
Lord and Lady Martindale look nearly as poorly.

The pageant planned for 2021, 23rd May.
For our hosts it may be too late, we say.
Ensure this historic year has its great occasion
Through all conforming to pandemic rule.

Lord and Lady Martindale were no fools;
Knew they had the new strain, are in great pain.
Our parades in jeopardy; all joys diminished.
Tis nasty weather, visions of another lockdown.


We’ll march in our galoshes, gothic garb and all,
Up to the big house our hosts to recall.
Throughout the grounds dead daffodils abound.
Summer’s on its way, an era over; a lost display.

Rita Dalgliesh is a member of Lockerbie Writers, and has never missed a prompt. She enjoys stretching her imagination through her writing. Rita also loves reading, in particular historical war novels. She recently joined a book group in Annan, which has encouraged her to try a wide range of genres and given her an insight into a whole new world of authors.

Thank you to Paula and Rita for providing two very different and unique poems. Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for our final piece! We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this piece of new writing from Lockerbie Writers. If you’ve enjoyed it, please share, and take a look around our website for more information on the group’s meetings, writing and past publications.

New Writing Week, Spring 2021 – Day 3

Launch into spring with Lockerbie Writers! Join us on the blog all week (29th March – 2nd April 2021) and enjoy a selection of new writing from members of Lockerbie Writers. Our third piece of the week comes from Kath J. Rennie.

One year on from the beginning of lockdown, Lockerbie Writers group remain unable to meet in person, but many of the members have continued to swap writing and encouragement online.

Today’s piece – a short story – is inspired by the phrase ‘dead daffodils’. This prompt is proving to be the most popular of the five choices which I gave to the writers! It has been written by Lockerbie Writers’ member Kath J. Rennie.

Read on, enjoy … and don’t forget to share!

Photo by Rachel Claire on

The Guilt Trip by Kath J. Rennie

Alice normally detests Sundays, except for the hour she spends on her knees praying for atonement. Today, she feels it will be achieved.

‘It’s time,’ she mutters, clambering from her bed, ‘time to lay the past to rest.’

Alice’s positive mood diminishes as it’s realised her nightwear, and bedding, are sweat-ridden. This has been the norm on Saturday eves. They’re discarded onto the bedroom carpet. They’ll lay there until her return from her son-in-law’s grave; a man loved by her herself and daughter Mia who can no longer bring herself to visit his grave, or forgive the woman she once loved.

Alice had told the police when questioned, ‘It was an accident, Officer.’

‘Sorry for your loss,’ they’d said.

Mia eventually found new love with the child she bore. A child kept away from its grandmother. Alice hopes she will get to spend time with the youngster one day − the day when Mia realises wrong choices have been made.

The trek from the cemetery gate to Thomas’s grave is walked briskly. Alice kneels and tenderly touches the wording on the gravestone; removes the rabbit-eaten daffodil stalks from their vase. No fresh flowers replace them.

‘I’ll not be returning again, Thomas. It’s time for you to forgive us! Mia never meant to push you hard as you stood at the top of the staircase. And Thomas, you have to understand why we lied to the police. And please understand why I can no longer visit. I want to stop feeling plagued by guilt.’

Alice’s burden is lightened as she walks slowly away from the man she still loves. The man who’d chosen Mia as he grabbed the stair bannister to stop his fall. The man who’d had his fingers uncoiled by herself; flamed with jealousy.

She walks home contentedly unaware of Thomas following her.

Kath, an award-winning poet, began to write poetry in her teens; it was only in her forties did she begin to submit them, with many published in various anthologies. Her latest poem, Keeping the Faith, received a full page spread in The Stove networking newspaper. She also took part in a poetry safari in Eskrigg Nature Reserve with The Relevance of Time. On joining Lockerbie Writers in 2015, she learned the art of writing short stories.

Thank you to Kath for providing this short story. Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for the next piece! We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this piece of new writing from Lockerbie Writers! If you’ve enjoyed it, please share, and take a look around our website for more information on the group’s meetings, writing and past publications.

New Writing Week, Spring 2021 – Day 2

Launch into spring with Lockerbie Writers! Join us on the blog all week (29th March – 2nd April 2021) and enjoy a selection of new writing from members of Lockerbie Writers. Our second piece of the week comes from Betsy Henderson.

One year on from the beginning of lockdown, Lockerbie Writers group remain unable to meet in person, but many of the members have continued to swap writing and encouragement online.

Today’s piece – a short story – is inspired by the phrase ‘dead daffodils’, and has been written by Lockerbie Writers’ member Betsy Henderson.

Read on, enjoy … and don’t forget to share!

Photo by Pixabay on

Someone who Cares by Betsy Henderson

Bella made straight for the cemetery as soon as she arrived back in Scotland. Her mother had died whilst she was stuck on the other side of the world and Bella couldn’t get back. This awful pandemic had meant the planes were all grounded. She had felt terrible; there was no one else and her poor mother had been buried without a single mourner. It was a totally unthinkable situation.

She phoned the undertaker who gave her the plot number of the grave. He told her the paramedic who had tried to save her mum wanted to explain what happened, so would meet her there, for which she was very grateful. Bella was still reeling with disbelief, her heart breaking with the permanence of losing her beloved mum.

A bunch of dead daffodils lay near the head of the grave. Well, they had once been daffodils, but the rabbits had a field day devouring most of the heads. She picked up what was left, not understanding who could have left them when her mum hadn’t known anyone. Bella had brought her mum to live with her only a few weeks before she had to go away on business. Her mum swore she would be fine for the short time Bella was away, but then catastrophe struck and she was knocked over and killed.

She stood looking at the grave, her heart breaking. ‘I’m sorry mum,’ she sobbed, ‘if I could have got back, I would have.’

A voice behind her spoke. ‘She knew you couldn’t help it. I was with her at the hospital when she passed away. She knew you loved her.’

Bella turned around; she hadn’t heard anyone approaching and almost jumped out of her skin. The paramedic stood behind her, concern written all over his face. ‘I’m sorry I couldn’t save her; she was too badly injured.’

‘Did you leave the daffodils?’ Bella asked. ‘Were you at her funeral?’

‘Yes, someone had to be there.’

Bella smiled at her companion, grateful there were still people who cared.

Betsy is retired.  She is married with two adult children and three grandchildren.  During the pandemic, she has spent most of her time taking her dog Becky for a walk and trying out different knitting patterns, as well as keeping her hand in with writing to on-line prompts.

Thank you to Betsy for providing this short story. Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for the next piece! We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this piece of new writing from Lockerbie Writers! If you’ve enjoyed it, please share, and take a look around our website for more information on the group’s meetings, writing and past publications.

New Writing Week, Spring 2021 – Day 1

Launch into spring with Lockerbie Writers! Join us on the blog all week (29th March – 2nd April 2021) and enjoy a selection of new writing from members of Lockerbie Writers.
Our first poem comes from Christina Openshaw.

One year on from the beginning of lockdown, Lockerbie Writers group remain unable to meet in person, but many of the members have continued to swap writing and encouragement online.

In recent months, this has evolved into an established online group. Organised by PR Manager Paula Nicolson, and entirely done by email, the group members exchange short pieces of writing in response to a regular prompt, and then share their thoughts and feedback. The aim – as with the in-person group – is to help each other to develop writing skills and confidence.

This month, Paula has kindly allowed me to set the prompt for the online group. I asked writers to produce up to 300 words inspired by at least one of the following: dead daffodil(s); parade; renaissance; brood; and, galoshes. An intriguing choice, I hope you’ll agree!

Read on, enjoy … and don’t forget to share!

Photo by cottonbro on

Dead Daffodils by Christina Openshaw

Leaving the house one morning,
When going through the door,
There on the step stood something
That wasn’t there before.

Looking up and down the lane,
No one could I see.
Who has left this present?
I assume that it’s for me?

A glass jar full of daffodils,
All tightly still in bud,
With a white bow wrapped around it.
Someone’s been so good.

It can only be one of two neighbours,
But which one comes to mind?
How should I approach them?
This mystery to unwind.

The daffodils on the window sill
Are opening up each day.
I’ve never seen my neighbours,
They haven’t passed this way.

Another week soon passes,
The daffs are in full bloom.
The weather’s bad, no one’s about,
I need to thank them soon.

Which one could I appeal to,
Without upsetting the other?
The trouble is the daffs have died,
So, should I really bother?

Christina lives with her husband outside Lockerbie. After retiring she joined a local writing group — which has now become Lockerbie Writers. Having had short stories and poems published in two anthologies, she now finds poetry coming to the fore.

Thank you to Christina for providing this poem and kicking off our week. Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for the next piece!
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this piece of new writing from Lockerbie Writers! If you’ve enjoyed it, please share, and take a look around our website for more information on the group’s meetings, writing and past publications.

Christmas Writing Workshop – November 2020

At the end of an unusual year, nobody was holding their breath that Lockerbie Writers would be able to meet up before Christmas … but in fact, that was exactly what happened!

Keep reading to the end to sample a few of the pieces of writing which were produced on the day!

Following discussions with Dumfries and Galloway Council and the venue Somerton House Hotel to ensure that we were doing everything within the relevant government guidance (correct at the date of the workshop) and as COVID safe as possible, it was a delight on my part to be able to finish 2020 by planning a small writing workshop for group members.

Sadly I was unable to attend in the end (ah, the joys of such an unpredictable year), but Lockerbie Writers’ PR Manager Paula Nicolson has kindly put together a few words about the day.

Thank you to Paula, and also to the group’s chairperson Steph Newham for providing the photographs.

‘Christmas Writing Workshop’ by Paula Nicolson

The sound of pens scribbling and brains whirring could be heard at the Somerton House Hotel, Lockerbie, on 27th November 2020 at a Christmas creative writing workshop for Lockerbie Writers.

It was the first time the group had been able to meet since March, albeit socially distanced.

It started with a sensory piece describing ‘I know it’s time for Christmas because I …’, and then followed by the creation of an acrostic using ‘LET IT SNOW’. The final exercise was editing an opening paragraph to a gothic novel. Members enjoyed the chance to stretch their fingers and minds, create new work and also receive constructive feedback in person.

Some of the feedback received was:

‘Enjoyed meeting up again. Great doing some work and listening to others. Nice to stretch my imagination; I’ve missed that.’

‘Actually hearing the works of other members read out was very beneficial.’

‘A very enjoyable morning spent with Lockerbie Writers. Informative workshop which included some Christmas prompts.’

The workshop was then followed by a delicious three-course lunch (again socially distanced).

The group are grateful for funding from Muirhall Energy that helped this workshop to take place.

Thank you to Paula for providing an account of the day.

I’d like to finish with some of the writing which was produced at the workshop. Kath’s piece is an acrostic poem produced to the phrase ‘LET IT SNOW’, while Christina’s piece explores the sensory memories associated with Christmas. Thank you to both for contributing!

The Joy of Harmony by Kath J. Rennie

Love’s Holy Christmas spirit
Engages all in its grasp
Threading souls together,

Inviting is spirit’s enchanting ask,
To each, create a tapestry

Stitched with significance and care,
Notable moments of this time of year
Outwith ourselves at times, aware …
We are as one – in harmony.

I Know It’s Time for Christmas Because … by Christina Openshaw

I see … shops decorated in October.
I smell … perfumes in the air.
I feel … aggravation – it’s October!!
I taste … fresh mince pies.
I hear … Christmas music again and again and again.

Thank you to everyone who attended, and to everyone who helped to make this possible, including Lockerbie Writers’ Steph and Paula, the Somerton House Hotel (who were fantastic), Dumfries and Galloway Council, and funders Muirhall Energy.

I hope you had a very merry Christmas, and wish you all the best for the new year. Hopefully it won’t be too long until we are free to meet again as we used to – or, at the very least, to organise another of these special socially-distanced workshoped.

– Kerrie McKinnel, Events Manager