The Wine Society


My brother took me to the Wine Society warehouse in Stevenage this week.  I knew that he had been a member for sometime but he hadn’t told me much about it so two things struck me when we reached it: first, that it was a very modern building, and second that it was smaller than I had thought.  Not tiny, but not Amazon size either.

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Bro hadn’t told me much about it, so when I found it such a pleasant experience, I decided to submit an application to join.  It was incredibly clean inside (I suppose I think about builders’ warehouses, where it’s quite dusty; although there were similarities, there was no dust here).

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The warehouse is clearly laid out – different regions of France, Italian, Chilean, and so on.  There are areas where there the society’s special wines (I didn’t dwell there too long, I’d looked at the website and knew what I wanted when I went in).

One of the things I liked about it was that they didn’t just sell wine, they also sold decanters wine coolers and other such items.  They also had these very whizzy machines where you could taste some of the wines for free.  You pushed in the card, waited a few seconds, pressed a button for your chosen wine and it poured it out.  So we tasted a few (it would have been rude not to!).  Ali, my sister-in-law, and I were both very impressed so I took photographs so I know what I want to buy next time.

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One of the other things I liked, which was a clincher for me, was that the staff were all very, very friendly, helpful and knowledgeable.  And they have their own delivery service that delivers to over 60% of the society’s members.  With the problems that I have with delivery companies, that sounds like a result to me.  I submitted an application to join.

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The Wine Society was founded in 1874, as an offshoot of the Grand Exhibitions that took place during the nineteenth century.  Basically what happened was that various countries sent wine to form part of the exhibition in London, they were stored in the cellars of the Royal Albert Hall and somehow the public who visited didn’t get to see them.  This obviously caused a bit of consternation with the wine producers who’d sent their wines all this way, so, at the request of the British government, a series of lunches were held to get the word out there.  (Note to self: maybe this is what I should do to publicise my blog and other writing work?  Mm, could be expensive but I kind of like the idea…)  Some of those who attended the lunches wanted to buy these wines, and other good wines, so the idea for a members’ co-operative was born.

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Originally known as The International Exhibition Wine Society Limited, the aim was to buy wines direct from the wine growers so that they could be sure of the authenticity and quality of the wines and sell them to the members at fair prices.  The aim is the same now, but note I said “fair” prices, not cheap prices.  We’ve seen what selling too cheap has been doing to British milk producers (yes, I do feel very strongly about that, and as soon as I found out about it, I started buying my milk from one of the supermarkets that gives them a fair price) and the same applies to wine.  If you want exclusivity and quality, you have to pay.  It’s as simple as that.

Over time, the society grew and was operating from three different cellars in London – one underneath the London Palladium Theatre, another at Joiner Street, near to London Bridge Station, and the third at Rotherhithe, which flooded at high tide!  That couldn’t have been great, could it?  So, in 1965, the then chairman, Edmund Penning-Rowsell, moved the whole operation to Stevenage.  (Pause while I raise a glass of Jean Marc Brocard 2012 Chablis, a very pleasant wine, purchased at the society, to Mr Penning-Rowsell.  If not for you, Bro would never have come across the society and I would not have submitted my application to join.)

It costs £40 for lifetime membership of the society, but that gives you one share in the co-operative, and also a voucher for £20 off your first purchase (Bro bought this week’s wine, bless him) and you can join online.  It’s early days for me to recommend something, but this has my brother’s seal of approval too, and he’s just as particular as I am, so go ahead, join.  (And no, they aren’t paying me to say this.  Unfortunately.)

Meanwhile, drink responsibly.


© Susan Shirley 2015


#FdBloggers — Get to Know



Ok, here we are with a quick mid-week post…

Gianni Washington ( nominated me to do the #fdbloggers: Get to Know tag.

As regular readers will know, I am not a food blogger, hell, I don’t even cook much these days, but I do love food.  I even love cooking but just don’t get much time these days.  I do have a particular talent for unloading a dishwasher, but that’s another story…  I digress.

So the rules for this are that I answer certain questions, and then I post it on Twitter.  At least, I think that’s right.  So here goes:

Name: Su, Susan, Suse.

Blog: Susan Shirley – A Writer’s Blog

What was your reason for starting a blog? First thing, this wasn’t my first blog.  There is another one out there, but not in my name.  I set it up under a nom de plume because I was worried about my privacy on the internet, and that’s probably not a bad thing to worry about, given my recent track record (identity theft, credit card cloned).  When I got over that, I decided that, if I had any chance of making it as a writer, I needed an online presence.  Hence, starting my blog.

What’s the dish you’re most proud of?  I do a mean roast dinner, my roast potatoes are to die for, even though I do say it myself.  I’m also very good at adapting recipes.  I have often used Nigella’s cheese risotto (not one for Italian purists, I know, but it is very good).  I also have a good range of quick-cooks (because I used to get home from work too late to spend hours cooking, that whole Spanish eat-late doesn’t work for me).  Sorry, can’t go into too much detail because I’m working on a cook book.

What one kitchen utensil could you not live without? Tough call.  What I use most at the moment is my Nutri-bullet but I don’t think that classes as a utensil.  I think I have to go for my magic knife – it’s one of those ones that is supposed to stay sharp forever (again, not for the purists).  I use it for almost all my cutting and chopping except for peeling.

You’re stranded on a desert island.  What three ingredients do you take with you? Can I assume that there is fruit on the island?  That’s a bit of a cheat, I know, but there you go.  Bacon, eggs, olive oil.  I reckon I can manage with that and some of the greenery on the island.  I’m a very good ad lib cook.

Who do you take your inspiration from? No one person.  I’m a real Delia fan, but I also like Nigella and Jamie Oliver, and Gary Rhodes.  I’ve also learned a lot from my friend Theresa.  She’s taught me to cook a bit of Caribbean food, but more importantly, introduced me to it, I’d never really tried it before I met her.  My mum was a very good pastry cook, and I used to do that when I was married, but I honestly can’t be bothered now.

What’s your favourite social platform? I don’t have one.  I’m ambivalent about all of them.

Biggest disaster in the kitchen? Ha ha, that’s easy, although the disaster was averted.  Back in June, my friend Kate came to stay.  I bought some very good bacon (you know how so much of it has a lot of water in it?  This didn’t.) and was grilling bacon and sausages.  I line my grill with foil to make it easier to clean.  The bacon was done first, so I took the bacon off and left the sausages… All of a sudden the fat from the bacon caught fire and all of a sudden my cooker was on fire…  I know what to do in a fire, so I sorted it fairly quickly, but it took ages to clean that cooker.  That was the disaster.

Favourite spot for coffee? There is an independent cafe in St James Park underground station, Caffe Grana, it’s one of the best.

Favourite photo you’ve taken? I assume that this is meant to be related to food, not my actual favourite photo….  Does this count?



What would you say is your most successful blog post and why? I don’t really know.  Like so many other bloggers, I know people read them but don’t comment.  To be honest, I don’t check the stats often enough to know.

Nominate three food bloggers you’d like to get to know better: Sorry guys, there are no food bloggers that I read often enough.

(c) Susan Shirley 2015










I went to a workshop about Mindfulness and how it may help you to focus yesterday.  The first thing I should say is that, although I’d heard of Mindfulness before, I didn’t really know what it was.  The second thing I should say is that I always think I am really bad at any form of meditation, and I almost always try to do several things at once.  And it drives me mad.


Why do it if it drives me mad?  Well, I get fed up with waiting for computers to load up to do what they have to do (patience is not one of my virtues) so I start doing other things, and, of course, once I’ve started, I can’t stop.  It’s about focus, though, isn’t it?  I was always brought up to do one thing at a time, and have only learned this so-called multi-tasking as I’ve got older.  Mostly, I am a pretty focussed person, but I can get sidetracked when things delay me, and then I start on something else.  By the end of the day, I find I have started on six things and finished none and I hate it.  I keep trying to pull myself back.  I like completion, the feeling I get when a job has been well done.


So I was intrigued when the FEU offered a course called “Improved Focus through Mindfulness.”  By the FEU is the Federation of Entertainment Unions, I get access to its courses and  its website through my membership of the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain.  It’s great because they offer a lot of free courses for a very reasonable monthly union membership fee, and I’m always up for something free, so…


Our tutor today was Muriel McClymont, who is an NLP practitioner.  I am fascinated by NLP and becoming a practitioner is on my to-do list, so that was a good start for me.  Muriel explained that mindfulness comes from the Buddhist philosophy of living in the moment.  I know, as I suspect most of us do, that living in the moment is really what we should be aiming for, at least some of the time, but how often do I do it?  Not very often, is the answer.  I am always thinking about what I should be doing next, and I think I am probably not alone in this.  So it was a real culture shock for someone to suggest to me that I should sit/stand and think before I acted.  Moreover, that I should enjoy the sensation of what I was doing in that moment, even if it was just washing the dishes.  Hmm….


We started with a bit of background and theory then a short guided meditation, just focussing on the now.  I managed that without falling asleep and without causing any kind of mayhem, so that was a result. I usually find meditation an excuse for sleep.   A bit more discussion and then a further meditation – this one lead on to mindful eating.  Muriel had brought along chocolate, raisins, melon and grapes, the chocolate broken into individual square, the melon chopped up, and the grapes were, well, grapes.

As soon as we started this meditation, I could smell the chocolate quite strongly but I chose melon to eat.  No, I wasn’t being noble, but I just know that eating chocolate right now is going to hurt, and the game isn’t worth the candle, so… Muriel then talked us through a process that involved observing our chosen food and feeling it before we could actually eat it.  When we were allowed to put it in our mouths, we had to feel it with our tongues and taste buds before we were allowed to start to chew.  This was harder than it sounds!  We did this exercise a couple of times before we had a break.


When we came back, after a bit more discussion, we did another meditation, this time with just the sound of a bell (it wasn’t actually a bell, it was a small instrument like a glockenspiel, but the effect was the same) just to keep us one track.

As you might guess, people had their own different thoughts and feeling about all of this.  Me personally?  If I can find a way to stop doing so many things at once, that has to be a good thing (even though I’m tugging at my Kindle right now to look for a meditation app).  I know that none of them get my best when I’m trying to do then all at the same time.  I’m going to give mindfulness a run and see how I go.

Before I finish this week’s blog, one more thing.  My team and I went out for a meal last night, they are all going off in separate directions.  We had a lovely meal in the Palm Court Brasserie in Covent Garden.  Ladies, thank you all, keep your standards high and keep in touch.


© Susan Shirley 2015





My friend Danny took me to Gymkhana for lunch last Friday; my farewell lunch as I’m leaving my current day job.  I’d heard of it, so was very excited to be going. It’s rated as one of the best restaurants in London, and honestly, bearing in mind there are so many good restaurants in London, I can’t disagree with the assessment.

The restaurant is in Albemarle Street, so in the posh part of town, and

seats 100 diners.  Having worked in the trade myself, I know that to get it right for that many people (although there weren’t quite that many when we went) but Gymkhana looks as though it will manage it.

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The restaurant is inspired by the Gymkhana clubs set up in colonial India where the Brits would go to socialise, play sport and so on.  The ground floor had lots of dark wood (very Victorian).  We walked through this part of the restaurant to go downstairs to where we were going to eat.  There was a mixture of architectural styles here but it all seemed to work pretty well: bare brick next to dark wood with a beautiful cream ceiling to add height and light.  We were seated near to the street; there was a small window on the side with those tiny little square leaded panes that you see in older buildings in London.  These ones had coloured glass, in keeping with the overall theme, which was a nice touch.

We had cocktails to start.  Danny had Arrack Punch, a mixture of Ceylon Arrack, what I think was white wine, passion fruit and green tea, while I went with the less traditional Quinine Sour, which was gin and tonic with ginger and curry leaf.  They were both delicious.

Arrack Punch
Arrack Punch


Quinine Sour
Quinine Sour

We chose from the tasting menu, which was absolutely fabulous.  They brought a selection of breads to start (not what I would normally refer to a bread, I must say, more like crispbreads and papadoms, although they told us they all contained wheat or gluten), so they brought me a dish of nuts, I’m going to say raw peanuts, with little crisps that looked a bit like pretzels, only lighter in colour and much nicer.

Some of the main dishes
Some of the main dishes

The menu has changed since we went, and I honestly can’t remember the names of everything we ate (you’d have thought I’d have learned by now, wouldn’t you?) and I failed to note down the names of each course as we went through them.  I can tell you we had chicken and fish and some paneer cheese too (I love that paneer, and it is so easy to make.  Of course, it’s what you do with it after it’s been made that matters).

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I’m not a big desert girl, but I had to try these.  One was a rice pudding with mango, the other was some sort of creamy desert.  They were both delicious, and there was too much here for Danny and me to finish (which is rare, we both like our food, so they must have been hefty portions).

Gymkhana is the work of Karam Sethi, a self-taught chef who received scores of ten by Times Food Critic Giles Coren Gymkhana was voted as number one in the National Restaurant Awards 2014, and it only opened in November 2013.

As well as a decent amount of seafood on the menu, there is also a dollop of game to be seen (Wild Boar Vindaloo and Wild Muntjac Biryani) so no shortage of variety.  The menu is clearly marked with all the dishes that contain gluten, which makes life much easier for the likes of me, and makes me award the restaurant my own little star.  I hope I get to go back really soon.  Thank you Danny, great choice.

© Susan Shirley 2015





Marilyn Monroe


This week in 1962 the beautiful film star, Marilyn Monroe, died. As the exact details of her death are still shrouded in mystery, so is much about her life.

What is known for sure is that she was born on 1 June 1926 and was first named Norma Jean Mortenson, Mortenson being the married name of her mother, Gladys, at the time of Marilyn’s birth. Gladys divorced Mortenson within a couple of years, and changed her daughter’s surname back to Baker, the surname of Gladys’ first husband. However, both Mortenson and Baker were used interchangeably throughout Norma’s childhood. Norma had a sister and a brother from her mother’s first marriage, but their father had taken them back to his home state of Kentucky when he and Gladys divorced so she really didn’t have a lot to do with them..

The identity of Norma’s father is not known. Historians have speculated that it might have been Charles Gifford, someone with whom her mother worked and had an affair; Raymond Guthrie, a film developer; or even Martin Mortenson himself. If Gladys knew for sure, she wasn’t telling and as an adult, Marilyn tried to find out, without success.

Marilyn’s childhood was difficult, to say the least. She was first placed in foster care at only a few weeks old and didn’t move back to live with her mother until she was aged seven. However, when Marilyn was 12, her mother had some sort of breakdown and was subsequently diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. She spent the rest of her life in and out of hospitals, and Marilyn was fostered, then sent to an orphanage, then back to foster care. The details are unclear – some reports say she was in the orphanage for nine months, others for two years. I’m not sure why the records are so bad, but it all adds to a shroud of mystery about Marilyn’s life.

As an adult, Marilyn told friends that she had been sexually abused as a child, by which time it was too late for any DNA evidence, and probably, in those days, for any kind of investigation. Some of Marilyn’s biographers dismiss these claims, others think that they were true. Personally, after all the recent scandals we’ve had in this country with Jimmy Saville et al, I’m going for true. It explains a lot about her to me – her insecurities, her need for love, etc.

Marilyn started her working life in a factory, the Radioplane Munitions Factory. The US was involved in the Second World War by this time, and at the end of 1944, the US Army Air Force sent photographers to get pictures of young (and, presumably, pretty) young women who were supporting the war effort. One of the photographers advised Marilyn to join a modelling agency, so she did. She joined the Blue Book Modelling Agency, died her dark hair blonde (because that’s what they wanted) and went on to become one of their top models.

At this stage, she was not Marilyn. She was still Norma Jeane Dougherty (she had married Jim Dougherty when she was just 16). Her foster father’s job was to take him out of state, but as, at the time, she was too young to be allowed to leave, it was suggested that she and Jim marry so that she wouldn’t have to return to the orphanage. Whether they were “an item” or not before the wedding is just another thing about her life that is not clear. Jim went on to join the Merchant Marine and Norma/Marilyn moved in with his parents, then started work at the factory, so at least she had some security for a short while.

Back to the modelling, where the public facts of her life are clearer. She was so successful that she caught the eye of an executive from 20th Century Fox, Ben Lyon, who arranged a screen test for her. It was he who, after some other suggestions, changed her name to Marilyn Monroe, Monroe being her mother’s maiden name. In her early days in the film company, she didn’t have any speaking parts in films, she just appeared as an extra, but she went to acting, dancing and singing classes, along with all the other actors new to the company. She worked hard to become a good actress but it just wasn’t happening for her. By 1947, she had been released from her contract with 20th Century Fox. I bet they kicked themselves for that later.


In 1948, she joined Columbia Pictures on a six-month contract, where she met the woman who was to be her acting coach for several years, Natasha Lytess. She was given a major part in Ladies of the Chorus. The film didn’t do well, and Marilyn left Columbia. When she couldn’t get acting work, she returned to modelling and did her one and only stint of paid nude photographs.

Marilyn’s film career started to pick up after signing with an agent, and she appeared in The Ashphalt Jungle, and later, All About Eve. Her agent got her a seven-year contract with 20th Century Fox. He also got her to have the second of minor surgeries to improve her appearance. In 1951 she started a course in literature and art appreciation at the University of California, whilst still appearing in small parts in four films. She also appeared as a presenter at the 23rd Academy Awards. This is clearly not a woman without a brain, or any ambition.


Things had the potential for a nosedive again the following year when when two of her nude photographs appeared in calendars and the press speculated that they might be her – the changes to her physical appearance were enough to cause a doubt. Fox wanted to cover it up but Marilyn suggested that she admit that they were her but she’d only done it because she had had absolutely no money at the time. She was interviewed resulting in upswell of sympathy for her. One of the photographs was published in Playboy, making Marilyn the first Playmate of the Month in 1953. Marilyn’s appearance and the heavy publicity invested in it by the editor, Hugh Hefner, made the fairly new Playboy Magazine a huge success, and we all know where that took Hefner, don’t we?

Marilyn was photographed and appeared in Life magazine and later, in Experiences magazine, where her childhood story – or a version of it, at least – was told. A celebrity was born. The public was captivated. At about this time, she started to date Joe DiMaggio, the baseball player. She had small parts in a few more films, coming to the notice of various influential men, until she appeared in the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, opposite Jane Russell. Marilyn stayed late on set every night to perfect her routines, but was usually late on set the following day. This was not, as might be supposed, because of drink or drugs, it was her stage fright. She and Russell had become friends, so Russell got in the habit of escorting Marilyn on set on time.

This film was the start of things getting big for Marilyn. When the film premiered, she and Jane Russell pressed their hands and feet in the wet concrete outside of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, something lots of stars did in those days. The song Diamond’s are a Girl’s Best Friend became synonymous with her. The film was a huge success grossing more than twice its production costs. A number of films followed, including How to Marry a Millionaire and The Seven Year Itch. She was upset with Fox when Daryl F Zanuck refused to screen test her for a film he was making, The Egyptian, and cast her in River of No Return instead. Marilyn felt that this was less than even a B movie and when she was given a part in The Girl in Pink Tights, she failed to turn up on set and was suspended by Fox. Her co-star, Dean Martin, was also suspended because he refused to act alongside anyone else.

Marilyn married Joe DiMaggio in January 1954. They travelled to Japan together, for DiMaggio’s business, and after publicing saying that he was her business now, she then travelled onto Korea to perform for over 13,000 Marines over a three-day period. When she returned to Hollywood in March, she kissed and made up with Fox and went onto appear in There’s No Business Like Show Business, which was a complete flop, and received dreadful reviews. As it turned out, Marilyn hadn’t wanted to appear in this film and had only done so because she’d been promised a part in The Seven Year Itch if she did.

This turned out to be one of her most well-renowned film roles – it’s the film in which she is seen with her skirt blowing as she stands over a subway air vent. Husband Joe DiMaggio was present and somewhat irritated that the scene was re-shot time after time. It caused a row between him and Monroe and two weeks later, they announced that they had separated. They divorced later in the year.


Marilyn refused parts that she considered to be inferior and left Hollywood. She set up her own production company in whose name she signed a new contact with Fox in which she had to make four films over a seven-year period, but she had the right to reject any script, director or cinematographer to whom she did not approve.

Marily started seeing the playwright Arthur Miller, whom she was later to marry. She next appeared in the film Bus Stop, for which she received a Golden Globe nomination. Her next film was The Prince and the Showgirl, which also starred, and was directed by Laurence Olivier. Marilyn’s performance received accolades by critics as well as the Italian equivalent of an Academy Award and a BAFTA nomination.

She had a couple of years away from Hollywood, but returned in August 1958 to appear in Some Like it Hot, which was nominated for six Academy Awards and which was a resounding success, but director Billy Wilder said the Marilyn was “totally unpredictable” during filming, he never knew whether she would be cooperative or obstructive, and she rarely arrived on set on time.

Marilyn agreed to appear in Let’s Make Love, which was not a resounding success. At about this time, Marilyn’s health began to suffer – her psychiatrist thought she was taking too many drugs, he also observed that everything in the marital garden was not rosy. At about this time, Miller had written a story which became a screenplay for The Misfits, which was largely filmed in the Nevada desert. Marilyn was ill much of the time, and unable to act. She was rushed into hospital in the August. When she returned to the film set, she and Miller spent much of their time arguing. A number of the other stars, including Clark Gable, reported illness during the making of the film. Within a few days of returning home, Marilyn and Miller announced their separation and Clark Gable died of a heart attack.

Marilyn became more dependent on drink and drugs, and after her divorce was finalised, she voluntarily entered a medical facility for three weeks, the exact reason is not clear, but she was unable to work for the remainder of the year. Having already had two miscarriages, she had surgery to deal with a blockage in her Fallopian tues and then another operation on her gallbladder.

In May 1962 she attended President John F Kennedy’s birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden, where she sang her famous rendition of Happy Birthday whilst filming Something’s Got to Give. As she had only turned up for work on 12 occasions out of 35 days, she was dismissed and the studio started a lawsuit against her.

Marilyn was found dead at her home on 5 August 1962, aged 36. The inquest found that she had died from acute barbiturate poisoning resulting from “probable suicide.” That may or may not have been the case. The fact is that she had had affairs with both Robert Kennedy and John F Kennedy (he is reported to be the last person she called before she died).

There have been theories that the CIA or Mafia were involved in her death. Either is possible as a result of her relationship with the Kennedys (Bobby was having a head-to-head with FBI head J. Edgar Hoover and was relentless in his fight against organised crime). Even some of those who do not fall in to the category of conspiracy theorists think that she not did not commit suicide, but we will probably never know now. Just another one of the mysteries in her life.

© Susan Shirley 2015

Spiritual Development with Anne Germain


I attended a Spiritual Development Workshop run by Anne Germain at the weekend. There were eight of us present as students on the first day, nine on the second, plus Anne herself. It was a random mix, everyone who was present lead very different lives but it was an exceptionally well-matched, well-balanced group. The energy was amazing.

For those of you who don’t know, Anne is well-renowned medium who has been in the business for many years. She has a large number of repeat clients, which says something.

Victoria was the first to arrive. She and I had time to sit and chat before everyone else turned up and found that we had a great deal in common. She also brought a gluten and dairy free tiffin that she had made herself – someone had to man up and test the food, so I stepped up to the plate. Literally. It was delicious! Made with 90% cocoa Lindt chocolate…. Mmm.



Enough of food. For the time being, at any rate. The others started turning up and when everyone had arrived, we settled down ready for the day and did the formal introductions. Of course, we’d all been saying hello to each other as people arrived, but the trainer in Anne couldn’t start a session like that without doing things in the proper fashion: name and what experience we all had. Anne then explained the way that she intended it to work for the weekend. There was an air of expectation and anticipation in the room. We were ready to go.

We started with a guided meditation, to prepare ourselves for what was to come. Then Anne went on to explain about trance work and showed us how to see auras. Like everything else in life, you have to work on these things. Anne’s shown me how to see auras before but I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I don’t practice often enough. Well, you know the answer to that one, Susan!

Then the trance work. I’ve seen Anne go into a trance before, but it was a different spirit this time. He told us that he used to be a headmaster, and taught mathematics and Latin. I know that Anne doesn’t speak Latin (nor Italian, come to that, not that I think that particularly helps with Latin pronunciation) so when I was corrected for mispronouncing some Latin, I found it quite interesting if not a little strange!


We stopped for lunch after this; Anne told us that eating or drinking water is grounding and brings you back to the earthly realm. It was a cold buffet lunch, with a whole variety of different things to eat. As you might guess with a room full of women, there was a lot of chatting going on. The clearing up was done quite quickly when we’d finished too; I guess everyone knew the drill from their own homes…

After lunch, we worked with our guides to pass messages onto each other. This was quite new to me, although some of the others present had done it before. Janice and I worked together, and although I was a bit sceptical about what I was giving her, she said it made sense to her. And what she told me certainly did. I find it quite amazing that two people who have never met before and know nothing about each other (we honestly hadn’t had time to do anything more than the superficial stuff when we were chatting) can actually pass on quite obscure messages that make sense to the other person. There was none of the “expect a tall dark stranger to come into your life.” The messages were far more specific than that. I think she and both have a bit of work to do on our confidence in that area though.

We had a group discussion about the messages afterwards. Everyone was getting messages in different ways, which was very interesting, and, I suppose, all part of the development. Then, those of us, like me, who hadn’t done this before, were given a gift from spirit to help us to be able to pass messages on. Different things for different people, things that would make sense to us.

Then a bit more trance work- Victoria channeled one of her guides for the first time, which was amazing for all of us. Anne (or rather, the spirit she was channelling) told me that I have a challenging 18 months ahead of me, challenging in a good way. Mm, that makes sense given what is going on in my life at the moment.

At the end of the day, Anne showed us how to close ourselves down, we had a cup of tea and said our goodbyes for the evening. Victoria was booked into a nearby hotel, so she was staying for the evening meal. Anne had invited her friends Pat and Cal over to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary, which had been a few days earlier. Sean arrived while we were drinking our tea – he was the tenth member of the development group but had been at a business meeting that he couldn’t miss during the day on Saturday.

Dinner was fun, and we ended up having a late night, and eating too much, which probably wasn’t a good idea when we had another busy day ahead of us. Hey ho.

The second day started with a meditation, a recap of the day before and then some details about what was to come. Anne told us that it’s important that the channel (medium) stays in control when spirit are talking to them, the channel needs to control the speed of the messages and ask spirit to make it clear what they mean. She also said that if someone was laid back when they were on the earth, they won’t become a little firecracker when they go to spirit. I suppose that makes sense too, although when I stop and think, I realise that I have more questions than answers.


We moved onto the Spirit Board. Anne said that it doesn’t always work, it’s up to spirit, and that you must always bless the board before starting, asking for help and guidance from your Guardian Angel. You have to ask them to speak in truth and love. We split into two groups for this. The first group did get the board to work, the second didn’t. What was most amazing was that the message spelled out the name of one of the members’ new company…. A name that no-one else in the room new at the time… that’s a bit hard to explain if you are a sceptic. Back in the same realm as the messages that Janice and I were giving to each other.

After lunch, there was more trance work. Victoria channelled her guide again, then Lorraine, one of the other members of the group, channelled someone, a couple of people, in fact, but Anne’s guide, Tall Trees put a halt to the proceedings because Lorraine had not given permission for the second person to come forward. That was a bit weird.

Our day carried on until it was time for the session to end. A cup of tea and then we all made our ways home. I will confess to being exhausted by the end of it – Sean and I travelled together on the train and both of us fell asleep. A fascinating and enjoyable couple of days.

Anne doesn’t know when she will be running another workshop, her work takes her all over the country and over Europe, but I’m sure if she gets enough interest, she will organise something soon.

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© Susan Shirley 2015