Thursday, 31 March 2016

Making a Tattercoat!

As you may know from some of my previous posts I am a Morris Dancer in a Border Morris side and that means that I get to wear a funky costume, even better, I get to make my funky costume!
Morris Dancers traditionally wear tattercoats to signify the rags that traditional Morris dancers used to wear in years gone by. Traditionally Morris dancers were beggars and used to dance for money, those that danced along the English and Welsh border also used to black their faces with soot to avoid being prosecuted as begging used to be illegal, this is why the Border Morris sides of today now black their faces with face paint!

This post is all about how to make a tattercoat!

First off I've got a big pile of tatters. Mine are black red and green as these are the colours that my side wears, other sides wear all sorts of different colours and some don't wear tattercoats at all!

The tatters are all different shapes, sizes and materials so that the coat will look a lot more interesting!

I've also picked up a large men's black shirt from a charity shop, this will form the basis of my coat. But before I start attaching the tatters I need to cut it into a less-shirt-like style.

I've chosen to cut off the sleeves and the top of the collar and to keep the buttons at the front but you can do any variation on these things if you've got your own ideas or have seen another idea you particularly like. Many dancers do choose to keep the sleeves on, however as most of the major dance-outs are held in the summer I prefer to cut mine off so I don't get so hot on those sunny days.

Next comes the fun part, attaching the tatters!
Some people like to score or draw lines on their coats so that they know where to put the tatters but I prefer to just kind of wing it. So I want to start with the back of the coat and at the bottom so I can work my way up easily (as the top tatters will lay over the bottom ones so doing it the other way around would be awkward and fiddly).
I would suggest putting the longer tatters on the back of the coat and saving the shorter one's for the front, although it's entirely up to personal preference :)

So I've placed my tatters and attached them with safety pins, now the best way to permanently attach them is to sew them on. Some people just glue them, which is a lot quicker and easier (especially if you're like me and you don't have a sewing machine), but they come off a lot easier. I glued mine when I made my first coat last year and all summer I kept losing tatters everywhere I went, by the end of the year my coat looked pretty sorry.
Work your way up the back of the coat adding row by row of tatters until you are happy with it. Then it should look something like this.

Now I've finished the back of my coat it's time to turn it over and start on the front. Exactly the same principle, until the coat is covered in tatters :) 

Pointer - it is always difficult to get the tatters to lay well along the neckline, I suggest following the natural seams of the garment, and don't worry if it comes out looking a little messy, it is a tattercoat after all! 

I chose to do one side of the front at a time.

Then when you've finished the front...

You can start customising your coat, adding extras and accessories as you fancy :) 
I've chosen to add a big red button to the collar and will be adding more buttons and maybe some little red bows to the ends of some of the tatters :)
Many dancers also attach the badges that they have got from attending dance outs to their coats.

I hope you've found this helpful (or at least a bit interesting!).

If you've used this tutorial to make your own tattercoat please do send me a pic, I'd love to see what you've done! 

And of course check out the side that I dance with! Styx of Stroud!

Rach x

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Wordy Wednesday!

This weeks Wordy Wednesday word is;


- Any name, especially a nickname.
- A surname.
- The third and commonly the last name of a citizen of ancient Rome.

This word is derived from the Latin nomen, meaning name. It entered the English language in the early 1800's.

'She went by the cognomen of Jo-Jo.'


Comment a short piece of prose, flash fiction, or even just a sentence, using this word. It would be great to see what you come up with!

Monday, 28 March 2016

Motivational Monday! - short story competition

This weeks Motivational Monday! post features the Limnisa Short Story Competition, where you've got the chance to win a writing holiday in picturesque Greece!

There's no entry fee, as long as you share the competition on social media. However for an optional £20 you can choose to receive a critique of your work.
There is no restriction on genre or subject, what they are looking for in the winning entry is 'spark and conviction'.

So if you think a short writing break on a picturesque Greek island sounds like exactly what you need, get writing and give yourself a chance to get there!

There is a word limit of 3,000 words and all stories must be submitted by 15/04/16.

   Follow the link :)


Happy Writing

Thursday, 24 March 2016


Hello Beautiful Readers!

As of today I am officially fundraising to go out to Romania in June as a volunteer to help run a playwork summer camp for underprivileged Roma children.
The camp, as well as other community activities, will be run over two weeks in June, from the 7th to the 21st.

As part of my contribution I need to do some fundrasing, so as well as running some other activites in 'the real world' I thought would do something on here. 
First off, if you would like to donate, I would be very grateful. Please head over to my JustGiving page; :) 

Second, I'm going to host some competitions... woohoo!

Each competition will cost £3 to enter and you can enter as many times as you like. All entry fees are donations and are exclusively for the Romania Project. 
There are two competitions you can enter;

Short story competition; - up to 2,500 words, any genre
Flash Fiction competition; - up to 750 words, any genre

If you would like to know more about what I'll be doing or about entering the competitions or donating, please head over to my page 'Fundraising for Romania' and have a look! 

This project is run by Leeds Beckett University.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Wordy Wednesday!

This weeks Wordy Wednesday word is;


- Unfading, everlasting
- Of or like the amaranth
- Of purplish-red colour

This word entered the English language in the mid 1600's and was originally derived from the Greek word 'Amaranton' which meant 'Unfading Flower'.


- An imaginary undying flower
- Any plant of the genus Amaranthus
- A chemical dye
- Purpleheart


Comment a short piece of prose, flash fiction, or even just a sentence, using this word. It would be great to see what you come up with!

Monday, 21 March 2016

Motivational Monday! - First Novel Competition

This weeks Motivational Monday! post features the Daily Mail First Novel Prize, a competition hosted by the Daily Mail for previously unpublished novelists!

The only criteria is that you send them 5,000 words and include a short synopsis of no more than 600 words.
Any style, any genre.
All work must in English and all entrants must be 16 or over.

The deadline is Saturday the 16th of April at 17.30.
All submissions must be posted, not emailed, see the website for the address.

The winner will receive a £20,000 advance, the services of a top literary agent and guaranteed publication by Penguin Random House UK.

If you'd like to find out more or send them a piece of work please follow the link;

Happy Writing

Friday, 18 March 2016


Very excited to upload the fourth chapter to my fantasy series 'Clara' today! Chapter 4 is called 'Tripp' and follows Clara as she finally finds her way out of the forest.

Chapter 5 will be out on 01/04/16 on!

As always, have a read, let me know what you think, subscribe! :)

Follow the link -->>   Clara

Thursday, 17 March 2016

The Sound of Creation

At the very conception of time, there was nothing. A great blackness, a void. Nothing moved, nothing breathed, nothing spoke or squawked or howled, nothing was. There was only the unchanging darkness; static, stagnant, and the complete absence of sound.
Then from the void came an inexplicable magic, a single note so long and piercing it seemed to shake the nothing, to rattle it to it’s very nonexistent core. The single note stretched on for a lifetime, or maybe just for a second, and it created a paradox that gave life to time, for before the note there was nothing, but the note itself was something and that was only the beginning.
From the magic and the inexplicable sound, both of which were one and the same, a new universe began to form. Slowly, carefully, hesitantly, with dull and newly forged eyes it began to take its first baby steps out of the mists of creation and its first breaths of reality.
Stars opened their eyes and blinked sleepily, they began to smile and in turn to laugh as they understood the truth of themselves, and as they smiled they began to shine and in turn to twinkle as they chuckled.
Planets yawned drowsily as they found their places amongst the stars. They began to slowly turn and then to hum in pleasure as the life now beginning to flourish upon their surfaces tickled them and brought them a joy as unpredicted as magic.
The magic itself spread throughout the beautiful universe it had brought to life, marvelling at the growing complexities and seeping into everything as it passed. It saw the first blinking eye of the sun and the first beginnings of movement. It heard the first sound made by the first breeze as it rustled through the leaves of the first trees and the stems of the first grasses. It was witness to the first living creatures taking their first steps across the land of the first world, and it marvelled at what it saw. It swelled with pride as it looked upon the greatness and the intricacy of everything.
The stillness and the silence had been broken, the nothing had become something, indeed it had become many somethings. A raucous of life now stretched throughout the swirling galaxies, growing and evolving and multiplying. A vast complexity of colour and noise, sights and movement, electrically charged, vibrantly whirling through newly forged time and space. Spinning and changing from each moment to the next, life itself had taken the reins and began to lead at a furious pace.
The magic had done it’s job. it had brought into creation all that is and with it the potential for all that will be. It floated for a time, watching the universe, the only calm at the centre of of the whirlwind of creation. The magic knew it’s work there was complete, it was time now for it too to evolve, it had no place there floating through the galaxies like a sea-smoothed piece of driftwood, no longer able to perform its previous role. It was finally time. With an almost audible sound like the release of a sigh the magic gathered itself together and pulled itself inwards for the last time, swirling itself into an almost compact mass, then it let go. The magic dissipated, losing its form and spreading out across the new lands, it floated far and wide, dividing as it went. It seeped into everything it touched, losing itself in the atomic structures of all things and imbuing them with a gentle energy, a slight hum, the sound of creation.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Wordy Wednesday!

This weeks Wordy Wednesday word is;


- Fine writing in praise of trivial or base subjects.
- The art of eruditely praising worthless things.
- Skilled writing on an unimportant subject.
- Rhetorical praise of things of doubtful value.


Comment a short piece of prose, flash fiction, or even just a sentence, using this word. It would be great to see what you come up with!

Tuesday, 15 March 2016


The International Association of Master Penmen, Engrosser's and Teachers of Handwriting

IAMPETH is an association for those who practise and who wish to learn the art of fine handwriting. It was founded in 1949 and is dedicated to the preservation and art of calligraphy, engrossing and fine penmanship. They are dedicated to helping all who wish to learn to improve their skills and they hold a week long convention every year during which some of the best calligraphers and penmen teach their craft. 

On their website they state that they have four goals, these are;
- To practise and teach the beautiful arts of calligraphy, engrossing and fine penmanship.
- To restore the teaching of penmanship in schools.
- To improve the handwriting of young people.
- To preserve and share with others the rich tradition of American penmanship.

The writing and artwork produced by the members of IAMPETH is visually stunning and very intricate, it is a beautiful art form and the level of skill is exceptionally high. 

Part of IAMPETH is the Master Penman Society which seeks to recognise those members who have achieved excellence in their craft. The master penman society has been running since 2001. 

There are currently only 12 master penmen in the entire world. Jake Weidmann is the youngest by thirty years.

In the past quality penmanship was a highly sought after skill, especially in business, and people would attend schools in which to learn this skill. Typically when graduating they would compose their own certificate as an example of their skill.

Penmen are still sought after now for their rarity and high level of skill. 

If you are interested in knowing more follow the link to their website;

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Motivational Monday - Call for Submissions

This weeks Motivational Monday post features the York Literary Review, a new journal of writing and criticism whose first ever issue will be released this spring!

They are looking for fiction, non-fiction, poetry, essays, reviews, visual art and photography by both new and established writers.
The closing date for submissions is the 31st of March and all submissions must be written in English and previously unpublished. If your work is selected you will receive a £50 honorarium.

If you'd like to find out more or send them a piece of work please follow the link;

Happy Writing


Friday, 11 March 2016

Water, Water, Everywhere

By Tony Rogers

Water, water everywhere
It's more than a drop to drink
Consider its presence wherever you look
Its importance far more than you'd think

It exists in our bodies. It's essential to life
But it's not just a liquid. No, its forms are quite rife
It forms beautiful ice crystals in a myriad of patterns
And makes mountain tops glisten like rows of bright lanterns

The clouds that make us dream as we gaze at the sky
Are clusters of raindrops quietly drifting on by
Waiting to fall once again as rain
And find a river to start the journey again

The beauty of water does not stop there
All over the Earth its a treasure to share
Lakes,  rivers and seas are a gift to us all
And the splendid sight of a vast waterfall

How one can delight in a walk in the rain
The maker of rainbows and shaping terrains
And who can forget that  first look in a pond
To see your reflection projected beyond

But it's not just its beauty that should make us enthralled
But also the power it can unleash on the world
Hurricanes and tornadoes can pull down great trees
Blizzards of snow can coat vast territories

And a tsunami's power is something immense
Nothing is able to stand in defence
And consider the tides as they respond to the tune
Of the oceans being pulled round the earth by the moon

Yes the power of water is there to behold
But sometimes we can tame it and its energy unfold
First the mills on our streams that could power our tools
Then the mighty steam engines that made distances small

Sometimes when we are out and get caught in a shower
We should reflect on how water can contain such vast power
But it's not just hot steam that makes water immense
Its wonder goes deeper, and in a curious sense

All over the universe it can be found
Contained in vast comets as they travel around
Some say that's how it first got to our land
A gift from the stars enabling life to expand

And yet at the other end of the scale
There's an aspect of water that makes others look pale
For it seems that this molecule that we call H2O
Interacts with our minds and puts on quite a show

As Emoto has shown in his pictures of ice
The crystalline structures can be horrid or nice
Reflecting our thoughts be they good or be bad
The ice crystal patterns can be happy or sad

And another property that we can't yet explain
Is the memory of water of what it has seen
A homoeopathy puzzle that makes chemists confused
An infinite dilution still  beneficially used

What  a wonderful substance this water can be
Essentially of its forms there are three
As a solid we like to know it as ice
And just in that form it can be quite a surprise

From a delicate snowflake at one end of the span it
can become a great iceberg that can sink the titanic
As a liquid it provides vast routes for us all
to travel the world in boats  great and small

And as a vapour too its impact is extreme
One can only admire the power of steam
But it is also has other ways to exist
As a delicate veil in  the form of a mist

And at the same time can you really believe it
That incredible substance has one more huge asset
For you have to admit in the arid dry heat
A cool glass of water is a hard act to beat

If anyone else would like to have their work featured on this blog please e-mail me at with 'BFWsubmissions' as the subject.

Rach x

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Book Review - Neverwhere

Book Review - Neverwhere
By Neil Gaiman

'Under the streets of London there's a world most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, and pale girls in black velvet.
Richard Mayhew is a young businessman who is about to find out more than he bargained for about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his safe and predictable life and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. There's a girl named Door, and Angel called Islington, an Earl who holds court on the carriage of a tube train, a beast in a labyrinth, and dangers and delights beyond imagining... And Richard, who only wants to go home, is to find a strange destiny waiting for him beneath the streets of his native city.'

I picked this book up on a whim in a local bookshop one day, desperate for something new and exciting to read, something a bit different, a bit out of the ordinary. Well, I certainly got what I was looking for! An unusual world, strange and intriguing characters, a plot full of twists and turns, and a big helping of adventure, what more could you ask for?

The Writing - I think Neil has a great way of writing, the words flow easily and the story moves forward quickly without feeling rushed. Characters and events and places are well described so that you really do feel as if you are right there in the story. Dialogue is well written, fast paced and with no unnecessary burble. The book is written mainly from the perspective of the main character, Richard Mayhew, and during the story you really feel as if you have come to know him and how his mind works. It did at first take me a little while to get into the story as I didn't really feel as if I got where it could possibly be going, but a few pages later and it soon had me hooked.

The Plot - I found the plot very interesting, it had several twists and unexpected turns and kept me guessing right up to the end, if you ask me that is exactly what a good plot should do! Neil dropped pieces of information throughout the book leading you to double guess yourself or to form new ideas, these were all wonderfully brought together at the end which was, I thought, really quite dramatic. Even after the climax the last few pages kept me on the edge of my seat wondering what decision would be made, and there was no way I was going to put the book down until my curiosity had been sated. 

The Characters - I think the characters were wonderful. I've heard that good characters can make or break a book, and I've certainly read books where I've found poor characters to be very disappointing, but this was not one of them. Neil's characters are strange, unusual, flamboyant, innocent, intriguing and imaginative, but most of all they are real. There was a depth to each character that made you feel as though they were not merely ideas in someone's head but could in actual fact exist somewhere in reality, of course we know they couldn't, but what I am trying to say is that they are utterly believable. Not just the 'good' characters but the 'bad' characters as well, and I'm a sucker for a well written baddie! 

Overall I found this to be a wonderfully entertaining and interesting story, I enjoyed the characters and the plot and the writing was wonderfully descriptive and flowed very well. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for something a little bit different to read, and to those who aren't. (I've currently leant it to my mum!) 
Definitely looking forward to reading more of Neil Gaiman's work.

Rach x

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Wordy Wednesday!

Every Wednesday I'll find a new and interesting word in the dictionary - one not commonly used, and post it here with it's definition (or definitions!).

So, this weeks Wordy Wednesday word is; 


- Extravagant, chivalrous or romantic; visionary, impractical or impracticable.
- Having or showing ideas that are different and unusual but not practical and not likely to succeed.
- Impulsive and often rashly unpredictable
- Extremely idealistic, unrealistic or impracticable
- Foolishly impractical especially in the pursuit of ideals
 'This a vast, exciting, and some say quixotic project.'

If you fancy a challenge please feel free to comment a short piece of prose of flash fiction, (or even just a sentence!), using this word. It would be great to see what you come up with!

Monday, 7 March 2016

Motivational Monday - Seeking Short Stories!

This weeks Motivational Monday post features BTSemag who want to read your short stories!

BTSemag are currently looking for short stories between 1,000 and 4,000 words in length. 
If you'd like to send them a story to consider follow this link; 

Happy Writing


Sunday, 6 March 2016

Flash Fiction Challenge!

Recently I've been looking to try out different writing styles, techniques and ways of telling stories, and one of the things that is fascinating me at the moment is flash fiction! My short stories are usually a good couple of thousand words at least and I've been wondering how you could fit a whole story into, say, a 500 word limit!?

Now, I've started reading flash fiction on the internet and in Writing Magazine and as well as finding that I really enjoy reading it, I think I'm beginning to get the idea. So, I've set myself a challenge, to try writing some flash fiction! And I've created a new page here on this blog where I'm going to post my attempts at flash fiction, so, if you like flash fiction, or if you just fancy reading something a bit different, please have a look at what I've cobbled together and let me know if you think it's any good or not!

Rach x

Friday, 4 March 2016

The Best Feeling in the World!

Very excited to upload the third chapter to my fantasy series 'Clara' today! Chapter 3 is called 'The Best Feeling in the World' and follows Clara as she takes a little trip down memory lane.

Chapter 4 will be out of 18/03/16 on!

As always, have a read, let me know what you think, subscribe! :)

Follow the link -->>   Clara