Tuesday, 8 November 2022

My October half term

 The weather was temperate despite some rainy days and chilly starts. I wore long loose jumpers and leggings in blue, bottle green, maroon and sand colour. A colourful scarf from Betty&Claude is always around my neck and I choose earrings with autumn colours. A few of my tomatoes are still ripening and cyclamen, geraniums, morning glories and zucchini flowers still bloom. At the same time trees are splashed with shades of yellow, ochre and red; it is an amazing spectacle of criss-crossing of seasons.

I travelled north with my husband and my daughter as soon as I finished school. We spent a few days in Newcastle with my sons and their families and met some friends up there too. It wasn’t cold so I wore my corduroy dresses and leggings. We went to Pani’s restaurant all together with our friends Greg and Gillian as well, their son Jack, and Alex, a fellow poet and friend. We had delicious Sardinian food, Mediterranean starters, ravioli sardi and culurgiones. We all loved it and chatted about our families, hobbies and interests. My granddaughter Violetta showed off a bit but was very well behaved. We brought her some toys I made for her, crochet flowers and some plastic fidget things. Unfortunately, the last day she was sick but still lively and curious.

We visited The Lindisfarne Gospels’ exhibition at the Laing Art Gallery and the 7 Storeys building that features books for children and young adults with displays that show stories and illustrations in colourful pictures. The children are engaged in exploring the different rooms not only looking and reading the books available but also producing their own work in comments and drawings. I bought some books for the little children I know and whom sometimes I meet, supporting their growth in my own way. The exhibition of The Lindisfarne Gospels was very interesting. It hosts one of the world’s best preserved illuminated books on loan from the British Library. It is a manuscript composed at

Lindisfarne Abbey in the 8th century by a single scribe, Eadfrith, who took ten years to complete it. Eadfrith was also one of the the bishops of Lindisfarne and wrote the Gospels in honour of St. Cuthbert who died in 687 AD. The book is perfectly preserved with portraits of the Evangelists at the beginning of each Gospel and decorations in geometric patterns which were influenced by Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and Mediterranean designs. The pages are made of vellum and the pigments used for the illuminations are from plants and minerals. The exhibition also displays cross fragments and slabs as well as modern artworks that link religious, spiritual and contemplative devotion to art. Not only religion but also nature and visual experiences inspire meditation and self-healing in a search to make sense of life. I have written the review of the exhibition for London Grip, here is the link: 


We also visited the Northumberland Zoo where you can get close to lemurs and wallabies and had a delicious brunch at Kennedy&Rhind in Newcastle with excellent cappuccino and sublime pastries.

My article on the fabulous yoga retreat in the Isle of Wight is out on Woking Writers Circle’s website, here is the link: 


And here are the links to the reviews I wrote during the summer until now:

Hannah Maria Stanislaus, Extremely Aggressive Uneducated & Rough


James Bell, On the Royal Road: with Hiroshige on the Tōkaidō


David Cooke, The Metal Exchange


Sanjeev Sethi, Wrappings in Bespoke


Ian Seed, ‘Unsettling encounters: The poetry of Ian Seed’ (Tears in the Fence, issue 76, October 2022)

Richard Skinner, Dream into Play


Ron Scowcroft, Second Glance


Robert Garnham, Woodview


Ian Seed, Betrayals


Conyer Clayton, But the sun, and the ships, and the fish, and the waves


Joshua Nguyen, Come Clean

Robert Garnham


Eleanor Hooker, Of Ochre and Ash


Ralph Calver, A Passable Man


Greg Freeman, The Fall of Singapore


Jennifer Dick, That which touch has no name


Brit Shneuer, The Cat comes and with her garden


Stephen Claughton, The 3D Clock


Charlotte Harker, The Novel and Other Incidents


And here are the reviews of art exhibitions:



Lubaina Himid


Africa Fashion


A Window on Scottish Art


The Lindisfarne Gospels


Canaletto and Melissa McGill: Performance and Panorama


The Ingram Collection: Revisiting British Art


Feminine Power


Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition 2022


Casa Balla


Some of my poems and a short piece have been published here:

No Good no Bad; Pristine


Yoga Classes


I remember how to fly; Worlds to come: Regeneration; Risacca; Luna




Tightening in/loosing out, Built to match existing, architectural plans, I don't mind failing in this world, You are not supposed to be rude, On giving up, The delay of summer 


Obsessed With Pipework published my poem ‘Villa Torlonia revisited’ in issue 100.

Besides my participation to the Tears in the Fence Festival and my contribution to its blog as well with my essay on Ian Seed’s work on TITF issue 76, I am also taking part in the Ver poets (https://verpoets.co.uk/ ) zoom workshops that focus on single poets such as W.H. Auden, Fiona Benson and Michael Longley and also give feedback to the members’ poetry. I joined zoom sessions with the poets I used to meet when I lived in Lancaster such as Sarah Hymas, Barbara Hickson, Mike Barlow and Ron Scowcroft and my profile is now on Second Light website:


The launch of Write Out Loud anthology at The Lightbox on the 27th of October was very successful. The book features excellent poetry from the poets that took part in WOL open mics in the past years. The anthology can be purchased on Amazon here:


I was cocompare for the first time and introduced the second part with poetry on a Halloween theme. I dressed up a bit and read some poems from the poetry foundation website (https://www.poetryfoundation.org/collections/142010/halloween-poems ) and my poem ‘Bat Files’:

Bat files

Halloween creatures, flying mice

roosting in trees, buildings,

cliff faces, old mines and bridges.

The reassurance of stereotypes rises to significance, 

a momentary reiteration of old tales.

Their communication is a silent music 

of echolocation that defies language 

to navigate the landscape, to signal food

or distress and mating opportunities.

Pipistrelles and noctules, 

Barbastelle bats, myotises; 

the familiar ugliness of long ears, beady eyes, 

hand-wings menacingly unfurling 

in our imagination against the high, white moon.

My new collection Workwear published by The High Window is finally out. Here is the link to a new web page on my website where you can know more about my work and purchase a copy of the book:



I will also add links to reviews as soon as they are published as well as the link to the publisher’s website. The launch will be next year both on zoom and at The Lightbox. The book is also on sale at The Lionsheart bookshop in the centre of Woking, 67 Commercial Way, GU21 6HN (https://www.lionsheartbookshop.co.uk/ ).

My webmaster Andrew created the page. He is not only managing my website and A2A Advertising (https://www.a2a.co.uk/ ), but he is also a great cook. Here is the link to his blog:


His recipes have intriguing introductions and great pictures. I made the excellent ratatouille and will try the blackberry, apple and plum pie soon. He also posted Italian, Greek and Turkish recipes, a revelation.

The Woking Art Society’s exhibition at The Lightbox was great. I sold a folio, ‘Bird Dress’ inspired by Alexander McQueen’ s creation,  and I also bought a piece of sculpture by Sophie Coad (https://www.instagram.com/soulsculpturebysophie/?hl=en-
  https://twitter.com/coad_sophie ), ‘Dormouse’, a cute small piece you can hold in your hand. I had commissions to reproduce my ‘British Mania’ series and a painting about Indian textiles. At The Lightbox the Ingram collection’s new exhibition has just opened, ‘The Ingram Collection: Revisiting British Art’, in the Upper Gallery. The event coincided with the launch of the book Revisiting Modern British Art (Lund Humphries, 2022) edited by Jo Baring and sponsored by the Ingram Art Foundation. It is an interesting and varied show that displays artworks made by British artists in the 20th century such as Eduardo Paolozzi, Graham Sutherland, Anthony Caro, Edward Burra and William Turnbull. Here is the link to my review:


We celebrated Halloween with my daughter Valentina dressing up and painting our faces and decorated the front door with pumpkins, bats, spiders and other scary things to encourage treat-or-treaters to knock on our door and welcomed them with plenty of chocolate and candy. We had great fun. My daughter Valentina loves Halloween and sometimes wears her Halloween costume until Christmas. 

My crochet pumpkin is installed at Tesco in Chobham with the addition of crochet poppies. I am planning a star for Christmas and I am also working on some crochet decorations for the craft fair at The Lightbox on 26 and 27 November (http://www.carlascaranod.co.uk/?Readings_%26amp%3B_Fairs ). 

We have been having a roller coaster political period both in Italy and in the UK. Liz Truss seemed to be the best option just two months ago. They said she would bring positive changes and unity. It didn’t happen and the failure of her mini-budget, which had been predicted, and the U-turns proved fatal. It was embarrassing. Labour party’s opinion polls rocketed taking advantage of the Conservatives’ infights. Rishi Sunak became the favourite leader though Boris Johnson attempted a comeback like Cincinnatus. Sunak looks handsome, fit and confident; he promises stability. Why didn’t he gain the majority of votes in the first place? Now everybody thinks he will do better than Truss. However, the global situation is not easy, Covid-19 still lingers in different variants, the Ukrainian conflict and the energy crisis are patent and consequently the inflation, and global warming issues menace our planet. It is a challenging extended period of crisis and instability, a ‘permacrisis’.

In Italy the right-wing coalition won the general election and formed the government. I don’t agree with their program, but I must say that Giorgia Meloni is good looking, elegant and charismatic. In her first speech addressed to the Italian Chamber of Deputies to obtain the confidence, she said reasonable things in a comprehensible straight language. She referred to women politicians such as Tina Anselmi, Nilde Jotti, and to other prominent Italian women such as Rita Levi Montalcini, Maria Montessori, Grazia Deledda, Oriana Fallaci, Ilaria Alpi, Mariagrazia Cutuli, Fabiola Giannotti and Marta Cartabia. Most of them were or are leftist. This doesn’t mean that her achievement is terrific, she is the first woman to hold the position as prime minister of Italy in a country where women are mainly considered as mothers, carers and lovers. Let’s see what she can do in this chaotic situation.

The good news is that Ukraine is gaining territories and Putin seems to be in trouble. King Charles III is doing well though we all miss the queen, who was an icon. I like his eco-friendly attitude and his flexibility. I think he had some difficult times in the past but he recovered well and gives the impression of being stable and in a good relationship with the Queen Consort Camilla. 

Using the pulp of the pumpkin I carved for Halloween, I made a risotto with a soffritto (a mix of onion, carrot and celery finely diced and fried slowly in olive oil), then added the pumpkin pulp cut in cubes and some water, salt and pepper. I let it simmer until the pumpkin was soft and finally added the rice and some parsley. I served it with parmigiano. It was delicious. I also made a cake cooking the pumpkin pulp in water with three tbsp of demerara sugar. The ingredient for the cake are: three eggs, 150 g of sugar, 300 g of self-raising flour, three tbs of sunflower oil, one tsp of baking powder and ½ tsp of bicarbonate of soda.

I blended the pumpkin and added it to the cake mixture and finally baked it in a greased cake tin at 180 C for half an hour. I turned 60 on the 5th of November, Guy Fawkes night. I made a cake with the same ingredients of the pumpkin cake but without the pumpkin pulp and filled and decorated it with buttercream and dark chocolate ganache. A real treat. At school they celebrated my birthday as well on the Friday together with Claire, the other TA, as we were born on the same day though she is thirty years younger than me. On the Saturday, my husband and I were too tired to go out to celebrate so we planned to have a cosy evening at home watching a film from Amazon Prime, and eating the creamy cake washed down with prosecco. I took it easy, I had my yoga class in the morning, attended a demonstration with the Woking Art Society and skyped with my daughter Valentina and my granddaughter Violetta in the afternoon. 

I am having some check-ups. Apparently one of my adrenaline glands produces too much hormone, which is called cortisol, that is affecting my bones, diabetes levels, cholesterol and high blood pressure, and maybe my crispy hair too. They might decide to remove it. On the whole, I feel fine. As an Italian commercial on laxative says ‘la felicità è andare in bagno’ (happiness is in bowel movements), which is quite diminishing, but certainly being in good health helps happiness.

Sunday, 16 October 2022

Back to the UK

 Coming back home, I had two weeks to catch up with house chores, visit some exhibitions and relax before starting the school year again. I applied to part-time jobs to support students at universities as I find a full-time job too tiring and it does not allow me enough time for my writing, painting and academic work. I had a zoom interview with UCL while I was in Italy (an ideal job, two days from home and one day on campus) but eventually I wasn’t selected. So I am back to The Park School, which is a nice place to work anyway. This year I am not following a class but I work one-to-one with a year 7 student. Going back to work was good, I met all my colleagues and we caught up on holidays and family. We had two inset days which were interesting and it was a relaxing way to start the year. As the students were not present, we were dressed in our favourite t-shirts, coloured jumpsuits, new shoes and flowery dresses. The school had been refurbished during the summer with new carpets and new furniture. The staff room had been repainted and has new sofas with bright cushions. We also have new photocopiers, and everything looks tidier and fresh.

At the end of August I travelled north to see my sons and their families. The weather was bright and warm, I had a lovely time with Violetta in the garden. We played with pinwheels and collected pebbles. She loved my rings especially the glass ones and liked the photo of my PhD graduation. She points at it every time we have a video call and calls me ‘nonna’ (grandma). I visited Whitley Bay with my other son Francesco and his girlfriend Molly. It was such a beautiful day and we had a wonderful time chatting while walking in the sun. I am planning on meeting them again in October half term in Newcastle and visit the city together.

At the beginning of September I attended a fabulous poetry event, Tears in the Fence Festival, ‘Bewilderment / Be-wildered / Be wild’, at the Stourpaine Village Hall in Dorset. I met fellow poets I am in contact with and bought their new books that I am reading voraciously. The readings, interviews and performances were engrossing. Here is the link to my review of the event: 


At the end of August I also had my friend Valerie’s birthday party. She is a poet and writer who lives in Guildford and is now 96, so we organised a gathering of friends and family at her house. There was a lot of good food and good wine too. I made the birthday cake, a sponge filled with cream and berries. My daughter Irene decorated the top with white sugar roses and silver sugar balls. Valerie was overjoyed and talked with all the guests. I visit her from time to time and we chat about our families and our writings. She is currently working on a novel set in Roman Britain though she feels tired most of the day and can work only in the morning.

In Trafalgar Square the National Gallery organised the Summer on the Square free sessions again. You could sit, use an easel or a board and sketch a drawing taking inspiration from a picture, use a mirror to make a self-portrait or just draw what was around you. Chunky pencils and oil pastels were available as well as graphite sticks, charcoal and all kinds of pencils. I made a self-portrait and spent most of the time watching children around me drawing their incredible original pieces from famous pictures of the National Gallery collection. Their interpretations were so spontaneous, colourful and absolutely unique. In London I also visited some exhibitions and reviewed them: ‘Africa Fashion’ at the V&A and ‘Lubaina Himid’ at Tate Modern. Here are the links to my reviews: 



I also had the chance to visit the Senate House which is near the British Museum. I was invited to an open reception with delicious, amazing food and a guided tour around the magnificent edifice. I didn’t know that the Senate House is a popular destination for films and TV snapshots such as Crown, Bodyguard, Miss Marple and Nineteen-Eighty-Four. I loved the stained-glass window with the coat of arms and the map of the universities of London in the Senate room. In a corridor there were also some drawings by David Hockney. There is a ghost story linked to one of the lifts of the house. One of the principal officers died tragically in a lift when some material fell on him. He shouldn’t have been on site as some works were being carried out. Of course, the lift in not in use now.

In October I took part in the Chobham Art and Music Festival attending a concert at St. Lawrence parish church, ‘Paris 1778’, featuring three famous musicians associated with Paris, that is, Mozart, Haydn and Saint George. I enjoyed the whole night and was enthralled by the music floating in the soft light of the church. I had never heard Saint George’s music before. He was the son of a French aristocrat and a slave girl. He was educated in France and composed a large number of music pieces, concertos, operas, symphonies, arias and sonatas. He was a director as well, a celebrity of his day. I took part in the Art and Craft fair too on the 8th of October at Chobham Village Hall with my art, textile and crochet works. Some of my pieces were purchased and I also had commissions for more works. A few days later one of my pictures was selected for the exhibition of the Woking Art Society at The Lightbox in Woking, which will be on from the 11th to the 23rd of October. I wasn’t selected last year and I am so glad that this year I made it.

At The Lightbox there was also the final exhibition of The Vision Project

(https://www.thevisionproject.co.uk/ ). Last June I wrote about it here: 


This time they wrapped up all the activities: music, dancing, paintings and poetry. The beautiful poem by Greg Freeman inspired by his wife Gillian’s painting of a cornfield particularly moved me. Here are the poem and the picture:


We’ll be leaving this garden before too long, 

saying farewell to the lazy foxes

that sun themselves by the summer house,

deer that venture in from the woods beyond, 

occasional badger, evening jungle of birdsong. 

Yellow iris flag up the canal close by. 

This place has always been nature’s, not ours.

Bamboo, brambles, ground elder lead us

a merry dance. But nothing wrong. 

The mower with only three wheels

still chugs along, except when it cuts out. 

Fresh evidence of our resident mole,

owl and woodpecker in the woods. 

The cat lives mostly outdoors, calls in

for meals, or to show us her foraging,

mostly mice or shrews. The old shed

nearly killed me when I swung a hammer,

knocked it down. Or maybe saved me,

gave a second chance. This place has been

a refuge for so long. Always thought 

we’d remain. Now somewhere else is calling. 

Time for others to enjoy. Time to begin again. 

 Greg Freeman

Here is also the link to the film and the documentary:


The Vision project will carry on with a Vision Project 2 with more art, dancing, writing, film, music and songs for everyone.

Reading Greg’s poem also reminded me of his departure. He is moving to Northumberland with Gillian to be near their son who lives in Newcastle. We will probably visit them as I often travel north to see my sons. We will all miss him in Woking as he hosted the Write Out Loud open mic on zoom and at The Lightbox and is the editor of WOL website too. In our September meeting of the Woking Writers Circle we celebrated his birthday and also his last attendance as he will be already in Northumberland for our next gathering. Rodney and Greg proposed for me to take over Greg’s role as co-compare for the WOL open mic. I am glad to do it and hope to be up to the role that they performed so well, entertaining and involving the audience with their witty poems and cracking jokes. Rodney also proposed me to take over his role as Woking Stanza prep, that is, the person who organises the Stanza, a poetry society group that meets regularly to discuss poetry. I will do it probably starting from next January on zoom.

At the end of September I had a fantastic Maddogyoga retreat at a youth hostel in Totland in the Isle of Wight with my yoga group. I am writing a piece about it including all the exercising, activities and good food we had in the 4-day trip. It was an exciting and rejuvenating experience that made me feel fit and happy. I felt accepted and valued in the community and the connections we created during the retreat. We had walks together, helped each other in clearing up and setting dinner and had long relaxing chats about our worries and joys. We had great fun too, delicious dinners exceptional cakes and even a game night and a fancy-dress party. Shena Grigor, our yoga instructor, was entertaining and professional as ever. I read poems at the beginning and end of each yoga session which I collected from online magazines and printed them in a booklet. It was an enthralling experience I wish to repeat.

Two anthologies launch happened in September and October, Poems for Ukraine: An Anthology by Poetry Performance, edited by Annie Havell, and Finding our Voices: Write Out Loud Woking: The First Six Years 2016-2022, edited by Rodney Wood and Greg Freeman. I attended the launch of the Ukraine anthology at the Willoughby Arms and read two poems, ‘I have something to say about crochet’ and ‘Monitoring my body’, though they are not included in this anthology. Here is the link to a review and how to order a copy of this significant collection that speaks honestly about the devastating conflict:


And here is my favourite poem from the collection:


The trouble with war – 

It distracts me from vital things 

like my phone charger and blusher.

I don’t know about this strange country 

that sits vulnerably next to Russia.

The trouble with war – 

are the Ukraine flag colours

that clash with my two piece

and my new designer shoes,

I’m not properly attired for peace

The trouble with war – 

inconvenienced by casualties,

and devastation and outrage

in the broadsheets and The Sun.

Please kindly leave the page

The trouble with war – 

families have to flee for safety

from bombs falling out the sky.

Filing my nails, I catch myself saying 

there but for the grace of God go I!

Heather Moulson

Finding our Voices celebrates Write Out Loud’s open mics and zoom meetings in which the poets of Woking and Guildford areas, and further afield on zoom, have met to read their poetry, shared their ideas and their books and connected to one another, which is what we really need. We had the zoom launch of the anthology last Wednesday and there will be the launch at The Lightbox in Woking on Thursday 27th of October at 8 pm. I meet regularly with most of the poets featured in the anthology, either online, on Facebook or in person. The poems are rich and diverse and express the inclusive, multi-faceted and entertaining spirit that Greg and Rodney promoted in the past six years. As they remark in the introduction, ‘We’ve called this anthology Finding our Voices, to try and encapsulate the founding principles we believe in about open mic poetry – that it should be open to all, that it can help people express themselves, develop self-confidence, exorcise demons, share stories.’ The cover picture is from a painting by Geoffrey Pimlott, a friend, fellow poet and renowned painter. Here are some links to his work:




The anthology can be purchased on Amazon here:


And here is my poem featured in Finding our Voices:


To my husband

You stir the carnaroli rice in the pot with a wooden spoon.

The rice is overcooked, it thickens

in the receding boiling water.

You remove it from the hob and keep stirring

until the grains look fat enough,

ripe and glued one to the other.

You scoop small portions in bowls for me and our daughter,

then eat it straight from the pot

adding in plenty of olive oil and parmigiano,

mixing, savouring,

heaven in your eyes.

Carla Scarano D’Antonio

My collection Workwear is ready. I have copies of the book at home and I have already sent some of them to friends and family. The launch will be probably at the end of November but I have asked my webmaster to prepare a webpage for my website before the launch. The book is already on sale at The Lionsheart bookshop in the centre of Woking, 67 Commercial Way, GU21 6HN (https://www.lionsheartbookshop.co.uk/ ). It will be on The High Window Press website too (https://thehighwindowpress.com/the-high-window-press/ ). Some of my fellow poets are also writing reviews of my new collection which I will post on social media and add the links on my website.

The apple harvest season has been abundant. Free apples have come from friends and neighbours, so I am cooking and baking apple recipes every other day. Here is a special apple cake one that one of my husband’s aunts, zia Angela, gave me. She has a wood-burning oven and maybe this is the reason why her pizza, biscuits and cakes come out so perfect. But she is also a good cook.

The perfect apple cake

You need: 350 g of self-raising flour, three eggs, 200 g of sugar, 1 and ½ tsp of baking powder, 1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda, ½ glass of milk, 4 tbsp of olive oil, grated zest of a lemon, four apples, the juice of a lemon.

Cut the apples, two of them in cubes and two in slices. Add the juice of a lemon and two tbsp of sugar. In a large bowl beat the eggs with the sugar add the rest of the ingredients and the apples cut in cubes. Pour the mixture in a greased cake tin and decorate the top with the apples cut in slices. Bake at 180 C for 45 minutes.

I have also realised that my name appeared in three articles on the Woking News & Mail (13th October 2022) regarding my pumpkin post-box crochet installation, my stall at Chobham Festival Art and Craft fair and my taking over as co-compare for WOL open mic. Incredible! I hardly believe it is happening. 😄