Robbie’s Inspiration – Poetry Challenge: Young girl

Colleen’s poetry challenge for this week is to write an Ekphrastic poem in response to this beautiful picture. You can join in Colleen’s poetry challenge here:

I have written a tanka poem

Young girl

Youthful aspirant

to a noble destiny

gazes hopefully

into a cloudy future

and appeals for clarity

by Robbie Cheadle

Treasuring Poetry 2022 – Robbie Cheadle discusses the War Poets

I am over at Writing to be Read to day with the first Treasuring Poetry post for 2022. I am discussing two of the war poets, Siegfried Sassoon and Vera Brittain, and what their poems and books mean to me. Thank you for hosting, Kaye Lynne Booth.

Writing to be Read

The poet I was hoping to feature today, Walt Page, has been unwell and was unable to participate. I decided that I would share a beautiful poem of Walt’s today called Sometimes When it Rains. Walt told me I was the inspiration for this poem and I love it.

Sometimes when it rains

Sometimes when it rains
she loves to go walking
snuggled inside
her warm rain jacket

Walking in the rain
is a sanctuary for her
a time when she can
create her poetry

it is her time alone
to be inspired
she loves being with her family
and she loves creating her poetry

those of us who follow her poetry
are blessed with her friendship
we know she is probably out walking
and we look forward to her new poems

~The Tennessee Poet~
©Walt Page 2020 All Rights Reserved

Walt is currently on a sabbatical from writing…

View original post 1,183 more words

Robbie’s Inspiration – Recipes from around the world: Chicken korma

My family are big fans of Indian food and the boys have eaten mild curries since they were tiny lads. I particularly like chicken curry and so when this korma recipe popped up in my recipe feed, I had to try it.

Everyone enjoyed it. It is not hot but is nice and spicy so even my mom had a decent serving. The boys ate the small amount of left over gravy on toast for breakfast the next day which is something they have never done before.

Ingredients (serves 8 normal people or 4 adults and 2 teenage boys)

2 onions, chopped into small pieces

Olive oil to cook (3 Tbsp)

3 Tbsp cold water

1 Tbsp garlic flakes

1 tsp ginger powder

4 Tbsp korma paste

8 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

100 grams almond flour

8 Tbsp sultanas

800 ml chicken stock

1/2 tsp white sugar

300 grams double thick yoghurt

small bunch coriander, chopped


Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot. On a medium heat fry the onions, garlic and ginger with 3 Tbsp of cold water. Add the korma paste and fry for a further 2 minutes.

Add the chicken pieces and coat with the onion and spices. Allow to brown for 5 minutes, turning over a couple of times so it cooks evenly. Add 100 grams almond flour, sultanas, sugar and chicken stock.

Once the mixture starts to bubble, turn down and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and add the yoghurt, stirring until its incorporated. sprinkle with coriander and serve with rice.

You can find the original unmodified recipe here:

Robbie’s Inspiration: Book review, The Heart Stone by Judith Barrow

What Amazon says

1914 – and everything changes for Jessie on a day trip to Blackpool. She realises her true feelings for her childhood friend, Arthur. Then just as they are travelling home from this rare treat, war is declared.

Arthur lies about his age to join his Pals’ Regiment. Jessie’s widowed mother is so frightened of the future, she agrees to marry the vicious Amos Morgan, making Jessie’s home an unsafe place for her. Before he leaves, Arthur and Jessie admit their feelings and promise to wait for each other. Arthur gives Jessie a heart-shaped stone to remember him. But with Arthur far away, their love leaves Jessie with a secret that will see her thrown from her home and terribly abused when she can hide the truth no longer.

Faced with a desperate choice between love and safety, Jessie must fight for survival, whatever the cost.

My review

The Heart Stone is a compelling story about the impact of WW1 on a two families living in a small town in the United Kingdom.

When the story opens, Jessie’s father has recently passed. He owned a small bakery and ownership has passed to her mother, a weak woman who was totally dependent on her husband. Arthur has left school and is working at a local mill with a lot of other young men. His mother is widowed and takes in washing to put food on the table.

Jessie and Arthur go on a day trip to Blackpool with Arthur’s best friend, Stanley, and his posh wife, Clara. Jessie has a most wonderful time, seeing the ocean for the first time, and also coming to the realisation that her long friendship with Arthur has deepened into love. On the way back on the train, the news that Britain has declared war on Germany becomes know to the travelers and there is great excitement.

Jessie’s mother starts a relationship with a horrible and selfish man, Amos Morgan, who is a lecher and can’t leave Jessie alone. Arthur gets caught up in the propaganda about the war and, together with a number of other lads from the mill, enlists and is sent to France. Before he leaves, he and Jessie have a sad and emotional farewell when he shows her a love letter he has left for her, hidden behind a stone shaped like a heart in a wall. Jessie later discovers she is pregnant as a result of this last meeting with Arthur and she faces terrible shame and hardship as a result.

Jessie is a lovely young woman with determination and spunk. she is, however, a minor and dependent on her mother. When her mother marries Amos Morgan, she is left in a difficult position as she has no-where to go and no-one to confide in other than Arthur’s mother who lives across the road. Stanley has also enlisted and Clara, who has discovered she is pregnant, has returned home to her wealthy family. It is sad and emotional to read about how Jessie’s life spirals out of control largely because of her mother’s inability to stand on her own two feet and make a life for herself, despite inheriting the bakery. She ruins Jessie’s life with her ill advised marriage which gives Amos access to her teenage daughter. As the story progresses, the reader comes to admire Jessie more and more as she manages to overcome the difficulties she faces as a single mother in a society that ostracizes such women.

Arthur is a kind young man but he makes mistakes due to his youth. The first is putting Jessie in a position where she becomes pregnant and is turned out of her home. The second is the action he takes during the war which impacts heavily on his mother and Jessie.

Edna, Arthur’s mom, is a strong woman. She stands by Jessie when she is forced to leave the bakery after her pregnancy becomes known to Amos. She struggles to make a living and provide for them both, but she does it and she helps Jessie hugely with the baby after he is born. In many ways, Edna is more of a mother to Jessie than her own mom and she is honourable, determined, and brave. Edna stands up to Amos on certain occasions and does her best to protect Jessie from his unpleasant advances.

This is a beautifully written book with an interesting storyline that follows the course of WW1. It is very revealing about life for civilians as a result of the war, and especially life for women who were left without providers to raise children on their own.

Purchase The Heart Stone

Honno Press

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Find Judith Barrow



About Judith Barrow

Judith Barrow,originally from Saddleworth, a group of villages on the edge of the Pennines,has lived in Pembrokeshire, Wales, for over forty years.

She has an MA in Creative Writing with the University of Wales Trinity St David’s College, Carmarthen. BA (Hons) in Literature with the Open University, a Diploma in Drama from Swansea University. She is a Creative Writing tutor for Pembrokeshire County Council and holds private one to one workshops on all genres.

She says:-

My next book, The Heart Stone, is due to be published by in February 2021.

My last book,The Memory, was published by Honno in March 2020is a stand alone book about a woman, Irene Hargreaves, who is the career for her mother. One a dark evening in 2001 Irene stands by the side of her mother’s bed and knows it is time. For more than fifty years she has carried a secret around with her; a haunting memory she hasn’t even confided to her husband, Sam, a man she has loved and trusted all her life. But now she must act before he arrives home…

Irene and her mother, Lil, are bound to each other by the ghost of Irene’s sister, Rose. A little girl with dark hair, a snub nose and an extra chromosome. A genetic hiccup that shaped all their lives. Irene and Sam care for Lil now that dementia has claimed all but her failing body. Irene is at the end of her tether, but if she consigns her mother to a residential home, she and Sam will lose theirs. Irene blames her mother for Rose’s death, and will never forgive her,

The prequel to the Haworth trilogy, A Hundred Tiny Threads, was published in 2017and is the story of Mary Howarth’s mother,Winifred, and father,Bill. Set between 1910 & 1924 it is a the time of the Suffragettes, WW1 and the Black and Tans, sent to Ireland to cover the rebellion and fight for freedom from the UK and the influenza epidemic. It is inevitable that what forms the lives, personalities and characters of Winifred and Bill eventually affects the lives of their children, Tom,Mary, Patrick and Ellen. And so the Pattern trilogy begins.

The last of the trilogy, Living with the Shadows, published in 2015, is set in 1969 and is the story of the next generation of the Howarth and Schormann families. It is a time of Mods and Rockers, the Beatles, flower-power and free love. But for Linda Howarth, Ellen and Ted’s daughter, and Richard Schormann, Mary and Peter’s son, the shadows from the past return to haunt them.

The sequel to Pattern of Shadows, Changing Patterns, is set in 1950/51.The war is over, but for Mary the danger isn’t…1950: Mary is living in mid Wales with Peter, a German ex-POW, and working as a nurse, though she knows her job is in danger if they find out about Peter. When her brother Tom is killed, Mary is devastated, especially as nobody will believe that it wasn’t an accident. Her best friend Jean is doing her best to get Mary to leave Peter and come back to Lancashire. Mary is sure this will never happen, but she has no idea of the secret Peter is keeping from her.

Pattern of Shadows was inspired by my research into Glen Mill, a disused cotton mill in Oldham, Lancashire, and its history of being the first German POW camp in the country.

I was researching for an earlier book in the Local Studies and Archives in Oldham, while staying in the area, but reading about the mill brought back a personal memory of my childhood and I was sidetracked.

My mother was a winder in a cotton mill and, well before the days of Health and Safety, I would go to wait for her to finish work on my way home from school.

I remember the muffled boom and then the sudden clatter of so many different machines as I stepped through the small door, the sound of women singing and shouting above the noise, the colours of the cotton and cloth – so bright and intricate.

Above all I remember the smell: of oil, grease – and in the storage area. the lovely smell of the new material stored in bales.

When I thought about Glen Mill I wondered what life would have been like for all those men imprisoned there. I realised how different their days must have been from my memories of a mill and I knew I wanted to write about that.

So started 18 months of research

Book review by Steve Dube, Western Mail Jul 10 2010

Pattern of Shadows Judith Barrow (Honno)

It’s Manchester and World War Two is drawing to a close. There’s a war on, but it’s not just the enemy who are the cads and bounders in Barrow’s debut novel.

Her heroine, Mary Howarth, is a 22-year-old nurse in a prisoner of war camp for German soldiers; her beautiful sister Ellen, 18, is up for good times when she finishes work in the munitions factory. Their father Bill is a drunken tyrant and a bully who beats their mother. He was gassed in Wold War One and suffers coughing fits when he smokes.

This is the world of gasmasks in the rain, gravy browning on legs, girdles, chenille table cloths, linoleum, outside toilets, and Clarke Gable and Vivien Leigh at the pictures.

Barrow beautifully evokes those raw and edgy days with this well-paced, gritty love story that draws in some of the issues of the time including family, sexual and labour relationships, unmarried mothers-to-be, censorship, pacifism in a time of war and fraternisation with the enemy.

Lancashire-born Barrow has lived in Pembrokeshire for the past 30 years and has published poetry, short stories and children’s novels as well as a play performed at Swansea’s Dylan Thomas Centre.

This is her first adult novel and it continues Honno’s record of publishing women’s works not just because they are by women, but because they are good.

Lancashire Evening Post – Pattern of Shadows Review By Pam Norfolk

Published on Mon Jul 05 07:00:21 BST 2010

The grit, the grind and the grim realities of wartime Lancashire provide the backdrop for a gripping debut novel.It is a dark tale of bigotry, lies, betrayal and loss of innocence…but also one of renewal, loyalty and trust.

In March 1944, the war is taking its toll on 22-year-old nursing sister Mary Howarth – rows are tearing her family apart, air raids are hitting nearby Manchester and the darkness of the blackout is smothering her.

Her younger sister Ellen says she should be having a good time while she can, but her job at a prison camp for the housing and treatment of German POWs, rewarding as it is, leaves little time for pleasure.

And there is the added worry of her much-loved brother Tom who is suffering the indignity of imprisonment at Wormwood Scrubs where he is reviled as a Conscientious Objector.

Mary feels trapped by her responsibilities at home and is tired of hearing from everyone that she is ‘married to her job’.

So when Frank Shuttleworth, a guard at the camp, turns up at the Howarth house and reveals that he has been watching Mary for weeks with an eye to walking out with her, she is more than a little flattered.

Frank, a southerner who claims he was invalided out of the army after being injured at Dunkirk, is a good-looking man alright and, for the first time in years, she starts to feel alive. But there’s something about Frank that she doesn’t understand and doesn’t like…

He detests her nursing ‘Huns’ even though to Mary, ‘patients are patients whoever they are’, and his simmering aggression starts to drive a wedge between them.

When violence finally erupts and Mary gives him his marching orders, Frank is not the kind of man to take no for an answer.

‘You’ll not get rid of me that easily,’ he warns.

And when he discovers that Mary is about to embark on an affair with Peter Schormann, a German doctor at the POW camp, Frank determines to exact a deadly revenge…

Barrow’s thoughtful and atmospheric novel shines a light on the shadowy corners of family life and strife, as well as exploring human concepts like friendship, love and respect.

A well-written and very wise first novel…

My first eBook, is Silent Trauma. Silent Trauma is the result of years of research, and the need to tell the story in a way that readers will engage with the truth behind the drug Stilboestrol. So I had the idea of intertwining this main theme around and through the lives of four fictional characters, four women, all affected throughout their lives by the damage the drug has done to them. Their stories underpin all the harm the drug has done to so many women all over the world. The story is fictional, the facts are real.

The Invasion, a poem

Diana from Myths of the Mirror blog has a writing challenge underway. You can find it here:

Poets and writers are challenged to write a poem or story about their TBR. I have used poetic license and written a poem about how my TBR came into existence.

The Invasion by Robbie Cheadle

A loud aggressive ring

brought me fast to the door

I opened it innocently

not knowing the score


A long line of books

stood like soldiers of yore

each flashing it’s title

like a banner of war


“We’re looking for sanctuary”

declared Orwell, leader of all

“You’re a lover of books

so we’re paying you a call.”


“But I’ve simply no room”

I replied with a gasp

“We’ll make a plan, dear”

And they quickly marched past.


Up the corridor they tramped

Into my library, so full

“Wake up and make room”

Orwell roared like a bull.


Shakespeare, Hardy, and Austen

Regarded him with distain

“You’re ‘cleared out’ trash!

You may not remain.”


“Now don’t be unkind,

you’re also not new.

We’ve been disregarded

and we’re in quite a stew.”


“Fine, we’ll move forward

and you go in behind”

Before I could stop them

my shelves were redesigned.


What a fabulous sight

to see the outcasts stowed

It filled my heart with delight

‘though the shelves overflowed.


And that was the start

of my sanctuary for books

Some people find it strange

and give me odd looks


“Books are inanimate

They can’t speak to you”

What nonsense they talk

If only they knew.