Book review: How to interpret dreams


Many years ago I went to evening classes in dream analysis.  We were told that when we go to bed we must tell ourselves to remember our dreams and when we wake up we must concentrate on the dreams in order to remember them and then write them down.  I have been doing this ever since and get a lot out of it.  I have also read books on the subject and here’s one:

How to Interpret Dreams:

This book is published by Simon and Schuster but doesn’t say who wrote it.  However, it’s very informative and has sections on why we dream, how to remember dreams, meanings of dreams, nightmares, lucid dreams, telepathy in dreams and prophetic dreams.

Meanings of some common dreams:

  • Walking around naked but no one notices – a need to express yourself
  • Teeth falling out – fear of getting older
  • Travel dreams – your journey through life
  • Carrying luggage – you have too much emotional baggage

Remembering and Writing Down Dreams:

If I wake up in the night having had a dream and decide to wait until morning before writing it down, by the time I get up I’ve forgotten the dream.  However, when I wake up if I concentrate on the dream and go over it several times and imagine myself writing it down, then I’m more likely to remember it.  So why do this?  Well, the messages in dreams can be relevant and important in your waking life.

Problem solving dreams:

I have researched my ancestors and am not always sure I am on the right line.  Having discovered my 3 x great grandmother was Susannah Allen and I thought I had found her parents but wasn’t sure about it.  However I had a dream telling me one of the ancestors was called Masters.  So I did some more research and found the right parents for Susannah Allen, and her mother’s maiden name was Masters.

Telepathy in dreams:

The book says this is more common in women than in men and I find women are happier to talk about it.  I have dreams about what friends are doing, and this ranges from trivial things to serious problems and although this might be about something private I see it as a privilege to have the spiritual connection with them.

Prophetic dreams:

The book reports Abraham Lincoln forseeing his own death and prophecies of Nostradamus which have come true.  I once had a dream where I was told I would meet someone called Nina.  Several days later I met Nina at a meditation class.  She was pleasant but I never saw her again.  I’ve also been told in a dream that Theresa May won’t last long but this was several years ago and she’s still holding on.

And finally:

Some people say they never remember their dreams but I have always had vivid dreams, often very detailed, some symbolic and others prophetic.  Whatever the subject of the dream I enjoy writing them down and analysing them.   I have often gained inspiration from dreams and have used them when writing stories and articles.  How to Interpret Dreams is published by Simon and Schuster and if I find out who wrote it I will let you know.  Maybe I will be told in a dream.





Day out: Cookham in Berkshire


If you want a day out from London and like historic English villages and art, then Cookham in Berkshire is a good place to go.  We went there specifically to visit the Stanley Spencer Gallery and found lots of other interesting things to see and do.

Sir Stanley Spencer:

The artist Sir Stanley Spencer (1891-1959) trained at the Slade School of Art in London but spent most of his life in Cookham and the village is the setting for many of his paintings.  The first thing we did when we arrived was to walk around and look at the Spencer landmarks such as the house where he lived, the bridges he painted, the river bank he walked along and the church he attended.  When we went to the Stanley Spencer Gallery we recognised the buildings and scenery in his work.

The Stanley Spencer Gallery:

The gallery is a converted Methodist chapel in the centre of the village and the lady on reception was very helpful and knowledgeable.  It is a small building but packed full of paintings by Stanley Spencer and his contemporaries.  I particularly liked his religious painting of The Last Supper where Christ and his disciples are all dressed like monks in Cookham Malthouse and also Christ Preaching at Cookham Regatta because they show how important the village was to him.  His major work The Resurrection Cookham, on display in the Tate Gallery, depicts people he knew coming out of their graves and talking to people.  It is a unique way to portray a well known subject.

Click here to see his paintings…

Also on display in the gallery is the pram Stanley Spencer used to carry his paints and other materials around the village when he was working.

Cookham Parish Church:

Holy Trinity church dates from 750 AD and has a 12th century chapel, lots of memorials and the grave of Stanley Spencer in the churchyard.  He was buried with his first wife although when he died he was still married to his second wife who had run off on their wedding night to live with her girlfriend.

The Cookham Sculpture Garden:

The sculpture garden was huge with lots of modern sculptures amongst the trees and flowers and along the river bank.  We were very impressed with the metal flower sculptures the petals of which turned round in the wind.  The exhibition we saw was a temporary one and they have other exhibitions and events which are advertised locally.

A few practical details:

We enjoyed our day out retracing the footsteps of Sir Stanley Spencer and found a good pub for lunch nearby.  The village and the riverside walks have lots of signposts and useful information.  Cookham is easy to get to and has a railway station and a bus service to Maidenhead which is 3 miles away.

And finally:

Nearby is the National Trust property Cliveden House, formerly the home of Nancy Astor and the setting for the Profumo Affair.  It has 376 acres of land and I visited several years ago with a friend and we went for a walk along the river and found lots of sculptures amongst the trees and flowers and had a wonderful day out.

See below for more of my blogs about days out.

Visiting Burton on Trent


I went to visit Burton on Trent in Staffordshire because I wanted to know why my great grandparents moved there from London.  It is midway between Birmingham and Derby and easily accessible by railway.  The town is full of Victorian red brick brewery buildings, many now converted into shops or accommodation, and is home to the National Brewery Centre.

Brewing in Burton

Burton is the centre of the brewing trade which is still important in the town.  A visit to the National Brewery Centre in Horninglow Street is a must for the visitor.  It is a huge museum with lots of displays about the history of brewing and the role of  steam with examples of vintage vehicles and machinery used.  Visitors can go on a self guided tour following a red walkway or join a guided tour.

What I found most interesting about the museum was a large model of Burton on Trent made in about 1920.  It was very detailed and included my hotel and all the breweries and railways which are no longer used in the town.

The Trent Washlands

Burton is an industrial town and to get away from the traffic I went to the Trent Washlands, islands in the river accessible by an iron pedestrian bridge.  A 7th century Irish nun called St Modwen founded a community there with a chapel dedicated it to St Andrew.  Pilgrims flocked there to sample the healing qualities in the water from the well.   A Saxon Earl also built a Benedictine abbey and dedicated it to St Modwen.

Vikings invaded and destroyed the chapel and the abbey.  The islands in the Trent Washlands are now green and quiet and an ideal place to go for a walk.

Burton on Trent Library

The town library, overlooking the river, is an ideal place to visit. As well as books, it houses the family history centre, and has lots of tourist information leaflets and a cafe.  It was built on the site of Worthington Maltings brewery, most of which has now gone except for the red brick water tower next door.

Where to stay in Burton on Trent

I stayed at the Grail Court Hotel in Station Street which was central and very good value for £50 a night.  The staff were friendly and they have a ghost which I never saw.  There is also a Travelodge by the station which is a converted warehouse and still looks like one from the outside.

And finally

So why did my great grandparents move there?  They lived on the other side of the river overlooking the Trent Washlands so would have had fantastic views of the river.  Houses are cheaper than in London and the surrounding countryside is quiet.  I felt quite at home in Burton on Trent and I’m sure they would have done too.

See below for more of my blogs about places to go and books to read.

Book Review: Past Lives Present Miracles


I read Past Lives, Present Miracles by Denise Linn because I am interested in reincarnation and wanted to know more about it.  I found it fascinating to learn how experiences and relationships in your past lives can affect your present life and how you can deal with them so that they are no longer a problem to you.

Past Lives, Present Miracles:

In the first chapter Denise Linn describes how she was shot by a gunman when she was a teenager. She was seriously injured and had a near death experience which profoundly affected her.  This was the beginning of her quest to learn more about mind, body and spirit issues.  She has devoted her life to teaching and writing about these subjects including reincarnation, the subject of this book.

In subsequent chapters the writer discusses past lives and reincarnation with the same people but with a role reversal, how exploring traumas from past lives can help you deal with unexplained phobias in this life, exercises in meditation, relaxation and visualisation which take you back to past lives, how your past lives affect your dreams and meeting people in this life who you recognise as soul mates, twin flames and spirit guides.

Relationships from past lives:

One example of how someone from a past life affects a relationship in the present life is the case of Gerald.  He had a volatile relationship with his brother and they argued constantly, even as adults.  In a regression to 16th century Scandinavia he discovered he and his brother had both fought over the same woman but both died from their injuries.  Having learned this he found it easier to forgive his brother in this life and the relationship was better.

Phobias resulting from a past life trauma:

A second example in the book showing how a traumatic experience in a previous life can result in a phobia in this life is the case of Joshua.  He had lived in medieval times and told his friends he didn’t believe the king was descended from God.  He made them so angry they chased him and he felt down a ravine and died thinking he would never express his opinions again.  In his present life he found it very hard to speak his mind and would fall over when doing so.  By regressing and understanding why he did this, he found it easier to deal with, developed confidence and was able to express himself.

The stories of Gerald and Joshua are just two examples of many others from Past Lives, Present Miracles. I found it fascinating reading and learned a lot from it.  I would like to read other books by Denise Linn.  For more information about this writer click here to visit her website.


Christmas in Northumberland


We spent Christmas 2018 in Northumberland and between family gatherings in the coastal village of Seahouses we also visited places such as Hexham Abbey, Lindisfarne and the Angel of the North so it was all very varied and full of interest.

Christmas Eve in Hexham:

Hexham is dominated by St Wilfred’s Benedictine Abbey, just down the road from our hotel, and the venue for 9 lessons and carols in the evening on Christmas Eve.  It was very peaceful when we visited in the morning and we had the whole place to ourselves surrounded by Christmas trees and crib figures.  There is an exhibition about its history and a cafe serving coffee and mince pies.

Hexham also has a 14th century gaol which was the first purpose built prison in the country.  It is now a museum but was closed over Christmas so I intend to return another time.  Buses run from the town up to Hadrian’s Wall nearby.

Christmas in Seahouses:

The village of Seahouses is small with a picturesque harbour from where we had a good view of the Farne Islands and Lindisfarne.   There is a good walking route north along the coast to Bamburgh where I visited the Grace Darling Museum.  She lived in a lighthouse on the Farne Islands and became a national celebrity in 1838 when she saved people from drowning. The museum is small but has lots of information on her family background, lighthouses in general and a panoramic view of her grave in the churchyard opposite.

Boxing Day on Lindisfarne:

Lindisfarne, also known as Holy Island, is a must see at any time of year.  The island is accessible by the causeway at low tide.  It was quiet and the scenery was wonderful. St Aidan established a monastery there in 635AD.  There is also ruins of an abbey, a 16th century castle and a visitor centre.  They were closed for Christmas but I walked to the castle on the headland for fantastic views of the island and mainland.  In one of the churches there was an exhibition about the Lindisfarne Gospels which were written on the island and are now in the British Library, London.

St Cuthbert also ran the monastery on the island and was also a spiritual healer.  Lindisfarne is still a place of sanctuary especially at high tide when there are less visitors and several of the guest houses offer spiritual retreats.  Good for meditation, writing and  walks!  Two long distance footpaths in Northumberland both go to Lindisfarne.

Lindisfarne has a few hotels, gift shops, cafes and pubs plus a bus service to and from Berwick on Tweed.  Information about the times of high and low tide is available locally and on the internet and if you get stuck on the causeway when the tide comes in you can climb the wooden platform half way across and wait for the tide to go out again.

The day after Boxing Day:

There were 2 highlights on the journey home… Firstly, Barter Books, one of the largest second hand bookshops in the country housed in a huge Victorian converted railway station in Alnwick.  It was wonderful with lots of atmosphere, murals, a log fire, a cafe and a model railway above the bookshelves.  It’s a haven for bibliophiles and railway enthusiasts. I didn’t want to leave and would go back to Northumberland again just to visit Barter Books.

Secondly, we went to see The Angel of the North, said to be the largest sculpture of an angel in the world.  It’s high up on a hill and the height of 4 double decker buses and has wings the size of a plane.  The sculptor Anthony Gormley said he made it because no one has ever seen an angel and we need to keep imagining them.  Just before Christmas someone put a red and white Santa hat on the angel’s head and it looked very seasonal.  The Angel of the North is near Gateshead, just off the A1 and accessible by bus from Newcastle. Click here for pictures.

And finally…all the places we visited would be of interest to walkers, writers, historians, and culture lovers so there’s something for everyone at any time of year.  I will go again when the museums are all open.  See below for more of my blogs about places to go.

The Frida Kahlo exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London


The Frida Kahlo exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum is the best I have seen this year.  She was a Mexican artist whose work is described as Surrealist.  She had lots of health problems and was married to the artist Diego Rivero who beat her up.  The Mexican culture and her life experiences are all depicted in her paintings, many of which are self portraits.

Frida Kahlo:

She was born in Mexico in 1907 and suffered from polio when she was a child.  Her ambition to go to become a doctor was cut short at the age of 18 when she involved in an accident and broke her pelvis, her legs and several ribs which left her in pain for the rest of her life so she took up painting instead and worked briefly as a teacher.

In 1928 she married mural artist Diego Rivera who was 20 years her senior, had been married twice before and was fat and ugly.  They both had relationships with other people, divorced but Frida described Diego as the love of her life so they re-married. Her health problems in later life left her wheelchair bound and bedridden and she died in Mexico at the age of 47 in 1954.  Her belongings were hidden for 50 years until they were found and put on display.

The exhibition itself:

I was very impressed with her paintings in the exhibition, especially A Few Small Nips where she is lying naked on a bed covered in blood after Diego beat her up, and The Broken Column which shows her fragile body held together with one of the many corsets she wore.  There are also lots of self portraits showing her dressed in colourful Mexican costume with lots of jewellery.  She also has distinctive eyebrows and a faint moustache.  The moustache isn’t very noticeable in photos of her but is in her paintings.

As well as her paintings, the other exhibits include lots of family photos, her dresses and jewellery, letters and also a film of her house in Mexico which is now the Frida Kahlo museum.

The full title of the exhibition is Frida Kahlo – Making Her Self Up and it is on at The Victoria and Albert Museum.  It has been so popular they extended the closing date to 18 November 2018.  Tickets are like gold dust and the only time we were able to buy them for was 8 am on a Sunday morning.  The staff told us the museum had been open for 48 hours that weekend and many people had come in the middle of the night.  It’s the first time I’ve known this to happen so it was an interesting experience which we got a lot out of.

A few touristy details:

The Victoria and Albert Museum is in Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London, a few minutes walk from South Kensington tube station.  Nearby are the Natural History Museum, Brompton Oratory and the Science Museum.  When you’ve had enough of art and culture you can go for a walk nearby in Hyde Park or Kensington Gardens, which is what we did.  It was a good day out.

And finally… see below for more ideas on days out ….



Theatre trip to the Rose Theatre, Kingston


This year the Rose Theatre in Kingston, Surrey, celebrates its 10th birthday.  I went there with a friend recently to see the first part of a double bill performance of Hogarth’s Progress by Nick Dear and we really enjoyed it.

Hogarth’s Progress

Hogarth’s Progress is shown as 2 separate plays, the first of which is The Art of Success.  The play is set in 18th century London and reveals the hidden world of the recently married William Hogarth, painter, pictorial satirist and social critic.  He is spending a riotous evening with friends, his wife and a prostitute, getting drunk, emotional and discussing everything from art to murder.

The play was well acted with lots of dramatic lighting effects, rapid scene changes and brought the characters to life in a very engaging way.  We saw the matinee of the first half of the double bill but not the second part, called The Taste of the Town and performed in the evening of the same day by the same actors playing different roles.

A bit about William Hogarth

He was born in London in 1697 and was apprenticed to a goldsmith and later produced his own engravings.  They were plagarised so he campaigned for a copyright law which was passed in Parliament in 1735.  His paintings include The Harlots’s Progress and Marriage a la Mode which you can see in the National Gallery, London.

He lived in London and his house in Chiswick is now a museum called Hogarth’s House and is near the Hogarth Roundabout.  He and his wife Jane didn’t have children of their own but fostered foundlings and as a result Hogarth became a founding governor of the Founding Hospital.

The Rose Theatre, Kingston

The theatre is unusual because the auditorium is round so everyone in the audience has a good view of the action on stage.  Performances in the next few months range from The Cat in the Hat to music by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra so there’s something for everyone.

As well as showing plays, they also run workshops and courses in acting and playwriting. Now’s your opportunity to learn more!

It is in the High Street between the River Thames and the Guildhall near the Market Place in the centre of Kingston, and accessible by train and bus, and even boats.  Their website is:

And finally…….see below for book reviews and more ideas for places to go for a day out

art and literature