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A warm welcoming fire was burning in the fireplace in the study of Riversleigh Manor. Outside the wind moaned and grated through the bare tree branches and somewhere a strain of a Little Night Music floated on the air. Siena, warrior maiden, drew her feet underneath her in the fireside chair and sighed deeply…….



I have asked Oriah Mountain Dreamer to join us at the table. She is such an inspirational poet and I find myself often turning to her work when I need an uplifting moment in a difficult time. I have been rereading The Invitation over and over again in the past few weeks and I draw strength from it every time. She speaks of the important things in life as far as I am concerned – of loving yourself and others, of valuing the little things in life, cherishing each and every day, growing from hurt and pain, and of seeking meaning and purpose to our lives in an increasingly more complicated world.

Her writings are spiritual but not of a particular religion – more of the idea of seeking out spirituality in the world, all around you. Reflecting on her writing makes me slow down, take a good long look at what I am doing with my time, and reminds me to be good to myself and those around me. Her three books of prose and poetry, The Invitation (her most famous which is an international bestseller and has been translated into more than 15 languages), The Dance, and The Call: Discovering Why You are Here and the latest book (2005), a practical guide What We Ache For: Creativity and the Unfolding of Your Soul all provide a look at people and the world and all they are and could be. The Invitation was first published in 1994 and has finally been released along with the other prose books in paperback form in the spring of 2006 (now being released simply under the name Oriah). I heartily recommend these books to anyone who wants to read something uplifting, inspirational, and more than that, something that really matters.

Oriah is currently on sabbatical from public speaking, spending her time in deep silence and solitude to replenish and envision what is next in her life. Perhaps she will take some time from her sabbatical to join us at the table for some lively conversation. I am sure an evening at the table talking with Oriah will provide anyone with an evening filled with pleasant memories and much to reflect on.



Asmahan (1918-1944): Syrian singer and actor. Sister of Farid al-Atrash, a famous singer too, and a member of the famous Atrash family known for its role in the resistance against the French mandate in the 1920s. Asmahan lived started her career in Syria and Lebanon, then traveled to Cairo, Egypt where she cooperated with many famous composers like Riyadh al-Sombati and Mohammed al-Qasabji . Her films include ‘intisar echabab’ and ‘garam wentikam’.

Layali al-Ouns Fee Vienna (music by Farid Al-Atrash, 1944)- click on this link( you can also do this on the website) for the song- you will need Real Player

Asmahan’s voice will accompany you into the dawn light of the murmurring wood. I am trying to learn as much as I can about Damascus- to make its special places become places of my heart. Then I am off to the bath house for a soak before journeying on.



Rosamunde Pilcher is well known for her beautifully descriptive books about the countryside of England and Scotland. For the record, I am one who at times skips some intensely descriptive sections of novels because I begin to feel like I am drowning in them. The continuous onslaught of detail after detail can make my eyes glaze over and my mind lose track of the point of the paragraph because I get so caught up in the minutia. I realized after many years that it wasn’t just that I skipped over description in general; I soon figured out that it was “bad” description that lost my interest. It seems some authors believe that if they just load the reader up with more and more details they are performing the task I always assigned my students to do as readers – paint the picture so that the reader can envision it in their heads as they read. The problem is that some authors seemed to believe that quantity of details could make up for quality.

Rosamunde Pilcher is the author who proved to me that it truly was quality that mattered. Her descriptions truly do paint the picture for the reader and what a gorgeous picture it created. In fact, I fell so in love with the places she told me about that I was ready to pack my bags and move to Scotland. It’s not just lovely environments that Pilcher creates however; she also develops some of the most interesting characters I have ever known. Again, I wished I could pack a bag and head out to meet these people in person. They seemed like the kind of people I would want to interview, to write about myself, to befriend, and to learn from.

Pilcher’s book are generally “family sagas” often spanning several generations and giving the reader a picture of how the family and its members developed over time. The characters all show a love and respect of each other and their environments. Pilcher began by writing short stories for women’s magazines and a few lesser known novels in 1949. Finally her novel “The Shell Seekers” was published in 1987 and made its way to the bestseller list and received a strong fan following. It was eventually made into a movie as well. Her novels “September” (a sequel to “The Shell Seekers”) and “Winter Solstice” (a love story between two “senior” adults) follow very much in the footsteps of “The Shell Seekers”.

Through each one I feel as though there are lessons I have learned about people, places, and life. From each one I come out with those lessons and carry them with me through the rest of my days. In “The Shell Seekers”, the main characters tell each other to “Cherish yourself,” and this tiny statement carried much power with it to me. Not long after I was in a serious car accident with my Mother and my daughter and that statement took on such special meaning for me. I repeated it to the two of them whenever the long recovery and rehabilitation process seemed to be getting us down and I repeated it to myself when I needed reminding that it was a good thing to take time for myself. I remember a book by Mother Teresa where she talks a lot about filling the well. She reminds readers that if you continually empty your well to others, some day the well will be dry and you will have nothing left to give. Taking time for yourself, then, is not a selfish thing to do; rather it is one of the most selfless things you can do for yourself and for those who depend on you. You have to replenish the well if you wish to nourish yourself and in turn, if you wish to be able to help nourish others as well. Those two little words, “cherish yourself”, and the context in which they were spoken in the book never fail to remind me of that important life lesson.

Pilcher has since gone into retirement and her son Robin Pilcher has taken up the torch, writing novels much in her style. The legacy of Rosamunde Pilcher lives on in her words, her creations, her lessons for all of us contained within her books. From time to time I reread her stories, soaking in those lessons once again; they themselves serving to “replenish the well” and nourish my soul.


Come join us along with Rosamunde at Table 42 as she shares with us more of her lessons in life and love. Refill your well and nourish your soul.



039330880401_aa240_sclzzzzzzz_.jpgimages.jpgThe book that changed the Way I read:

I imagine some of you will have read Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. I did and whilst i enjoyed the novel I was very frustrated by the hero Mr Rochester and a little with Jane as well. Mr Rochester indeed- so …well… so restrained and infuriatingly correct and proper and prim- except for Bertha the women in the attic who in the Bronte novel is never anything but a brooding mad presence.

Enter Jean Rhys, white creole from Dominica, disappointed young woman trying to make her way in the world, sometime muse, wannabe artist, reveller in France , mother , wife and widow, poor and struggling, and dreamer. I want to know what made her see the Bertha of the Bronte book as a possibility for literary development? I have scoured everything that Rhys has ever written including her letters, and really she does not say much about it. But the story of Bertha/Antoinette she developed into a work of genius- The Wide Sargasso Sea. Rhys wrote this book late in her life , it was published after her 76th birthday and her earlier writing does not have the same touch, though I do like her other written work which includes Quartet. I picked up The Wide Sargasso Sea not long after I had read Jane Eyre. I loved the title for a start. I love words that suggest faraway enchanted places- the words kind of roll out of your mouth and straight away you are not in the place you were. And then she creates Bertha/Antoinette as a full fledged person to whom Rochester was far from nice- she picked up the little flaws that one the one hand make Rochester so proper and well so darned boring really and she uses this not as the basis of his “goodness’ but in reality his “badness” although some reviewers still view him as good- I am not so sure?. I loved the whole subversiveness of her idea, and in all reality she has made me peek behind every character I have read ever since.It has made me think about what might be the other lurking in the background.It adds a whole dimension to reading where not only are you responding to the written word and the authors intent and your realisation of them inside your head, but it opens the door to a whole other imagining of what is written

Some come and join, Jean has graciously agreed to come and talk and tell us about her childhood, her life in Paris and London , her later life in England. and and


Djanne Cevaal


I have set up table in the corner- for I like to observe, watch and heck take photos.So why am i sending you a picture of an echidna on a hot sunny summers day at Blairgowrie? This little fella won me a digital camera in January last year- I did have another digital camera but this one was so much better, and it came just before i was to travel to Egypt.

I love the sense of purpose this little echidna seemed to have- he wasn’t even perturbed by the fact that I lay on the ground to take his photos- in fact he didn’t even snigger whilst dashing past largish woman intent on capturing his image. In fact I have become a little guilty of snapping before looking- and have had to pay attention to the fact that seeing is important, so that is why I have taken up a table in the corner . I can see lots. I can see Lori gayly chatting with patrons, her laughter ringing through the air, I see- oh no I don’t do I ?- is that Orhan Pamuk- strapped to his writing table for 10 hours?- surely it is an illusion?

But what if I could chat with anyone I admired- whose writing enthralled me and took me to different places- who would that be- or if I had to spend a week in a bedouin tent alone, surrounded by goats hair woven fibre to keep out the sand what book would I take with me?

Posted by DCevaal.

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