Monday, 14 June 2010

re A hectic June/July...

Hi all

Well, it's that time of year... and I'm pretty bogged down with exam marking work (on top of my full-time teaching job) so I'll be out of bloggy action for a couple of months. This year I'm marking 2 GCSE papers... R.S. and Citizenship (yikes!) Also, I'm still busy looking for more suitable/permanent work against September (fingers crossed, something turns up soon:) And, my MA Poetry portofolio is due at some point this Aug/Sept. Talking poetry... I leave you with a link to an e-book, an anthology of experimental poems titled 'If I knew where poems came from' by MMU creative writing students. Do have a look... as some of my poems feature in this anthology (plus there are other very inspired reads in the collection). Hope you enjoy the read until I'm back online. Hope to resurface properly by early August after a long weekend in Cornwall (my treat after an exhuasting couple of months). I will stay connected reading and commenting on blogs when I can. Cheers.


Sunday, 6 June 2010

re Wirral Photos!

re Update on Wirral Walk

It’s taken a while to blog about my recent charity walk of 23rd May. Fully recovered, here goes...

After making the 1-hour or so train journey from West Kirby (where the B&B was located) to New Brighton station, we proceeded to make our way towards Seacombe Ferry on foot. This was the start point for the 15 mile walk. What a mistake! Walking along the coastal front, it was as we were walking against a tide of thousands of walkers that we realised that something was not quite right. Trying to stay positive, I hoped that the start point wouldn’t be a long way off despite the fact that we’d asked a helpful lady what the distance was from the start. She’d replied that it was ‘a long way off’. My walking partner was getting visibly irritated at our mistake. Fifteen minutes turned into half an hour, and this in turn became 45 minutes. It took a good 4 miles in the steaming heat just to register in order to commence the walk. Not the best way to start an epic trek (grin!). Anyway, we got ourselves registered (just in the nick of time too), as the deadline was 11 am and we were stamped in at 10:45 am. After a brief pep talk, we both managed to get ourselves into the right frame of mind for the journey ahead of us.

In spite of the ropey start, it turned out to be an absolutely glorious day. This coastal walk meandered from Seacombe Ferry through New Brighton, Meols, West Kirby and finishing up at Thurstaston Country Park. Surprisingly, the terrain was varied and arduous in parts. We trampled across asphalt, sand and woodland. I found the sand (about halfway through the route) the most difficult to navigate through. Walking on sand for a lengthy stretch was incredibly wearing on the legs, even though, it was beautiful walking along the coastline of some truly gorgeous Wirral landscape. As I powered on, my walking partner (a 10 time marathon runner), laden with a bag full of fruit and water, had more time and energy to take in the spectacular scenery and snap some photos. All I had to do, was to focus on my pace as I aimed to clock in a time of under 4.5 hours. My earlier training suggested that I could do it, and indeed, the two months training paid off. I crossed the finish line in 4 hours and 15 minutes. Hurrah. What an achievement for me, who has been slowly regaining my general health and wellbeing over the last couple of years, and who has been out of a gym for almost a year with lower back pain and tendonitis.

The highlights of the day... the fab vibe of the 5000+ walking community that took part in this walk, a wonderful array of young, old and four-legged; the varied and interesting route even sporting a lighthouse mid-way; meeting a dear blogger friend of mine en-route (J who lives in the locality spotted me in the red Action Aid T-shirt and came up, introduced himself and said ‘hi’); scoffing a couple of ice creams to cool down; a much needed loo break in a designated men’s toilets (yep, the ladies had taken over ALL the toilets in sight (lol)); not developing any blisters, although I was well prepared with Compeed - a suggestion of a Birmingham friend of mine who’d recently completed a tough hill walk challenge raising money for Endometriosis UK; and my finishing time. The only negative was possibly walking in the searing heat for 4+ hours. And in fact, much to my surprise, I suffered from sunburn - sore and peeling skin for days after. Oh dear, I looked dreadful. Normally, I tend to steer clear of the sun, so I guess my rather delicate skin took a real roasting (no pun intended) and I suffered for it. I didn’t realise how affected I was until I took a shower later that evening and felt a prickly sensation across my forehead, nose and neck. On closer inspection, I saw the darkened wrinkled blotches. Thank God for my dark colouring which meant that I didn’t turn a humming red as my walking partner did (he too had failed to take a hat!) So that’s the lesson for next year... take a hat!

On this occasion, so far I have raised about £450 to be split between two organisations - Action Aid and PDI International. My ultimate goal is to raise £1000 this year to be shared between the two charities and I hope to do another event later this year to meet this target. Huge thanks to all those who have supported my Wirral Walk endeavours. Your contributions will go so far to the HIV/AIDS work of Action Aid and PDI International. Those of you who would still like to support this effort, it’s not too late... you can make an offline or online donation. Follow the link or contact me for more information on how to do so. Those of you unable to sponsor this effort, I hope you might be able help me meet my £1000 target by supporting my autumn endeavour. Stay tuned for what I’ll be doing next. Once again, thank you... thank you... thank you... for all your support!


Thursday, 20 May 2010

re Pumpkin Moon

Chases my inky form or am I following it?
I’m reminded of pumpkin moon lodged
in Omoba sky; under which my young

fanny was fingered by Uncle Innocent’s paws.
On frayed mat in a camphor tinged room,
I wriggled; bewildered, until my movements
became bound by the spell of magic moon.

Now: I imagine pumpkin moon has the power
to reach into my skull and crack its wall,
scattering the pips of dormant gloom. It near-
succeeds, tugging the corners of Vaselined lips.

Catherine Mark

Sunday, 16 May 2010

re Countdown

Today’s training was an easy 2-hour amble... the wind down (in terms of training) before the big day next Sunday (23/5). Through a local forest land, it was lovely walking through the embrace of the warmish May sun among the chorus of chirping birds. I must say that after almost two months of active training and one month of fundraising, I am really excited about next week’s walk. So far, I’ve raised between £450 and £500 (to be split between two charities)... quite a way off from my £1000 goal. But as I started my fundraising efforts quite late to meet this optimistic target, I’m hoping to pick up some last minute donations over the next few weeks. Also, it’s likely that I will probably commit to another event in August/September to raise the difference in donations needed to hit the £1000 mark for this year’s fundraising goals. Well, I will be writing again and posting some photos on the other side of the walk. Many thanks for all your well wishes, support and donations.


ps If any of you are in the Wirral area... I'll be the one in the red Action Aid T-shirt... do wave or come over and say 'hello'!

Saturday, 8 May 2010

POEM: Cube of blue

In this aquarium room;

metallic bile rises

- Yvonne’s death at

thirty-five, a red-ribbon noose,

marriage meltdown - loss

climbs on loss, like rats

scrabbling on rats

in this blue cube...

where the only sweetness

rising is the scent

of sawdust, a reminder of a time

before cubed blue.

Catherine Mark

Monday, 3 May 2010

POEM: Last laugh

Last laugh

The goat with a slit throat,

tongue lolls, blood droplets

form burnt skin blisters

on baked Omoba soil.

My witchdoctor grandfather

cuts up the carcass, spending hours

cleaning, praying and cutting

as the stink of goat douses the air.

Seven-year-old eyes transfixed

by the smirk on the goat’s face.

This sufferer with mirth

as his song – has he breathed

his last chuckle, or has Imo miri

thrown him a lifeline?

*Imo miri - God of the Sea

Do stay connected with my Wirral Walk training updates HERE. This week's entry is titled 'Upping the ante' :)