Blue Monday

Move over Bridget Jones. The new girl is on the blog. This is Caroline Davenport’s piece, inspired by Blue Monday.


#NewYearNewMe Blog


Friday, December 30th 20:55


Well, 2016 is almost over thankfully, it’s been hell.


Been looking at the photo in my end of year review on Facebook, what happened to me.


Gained some weight, well okay a lot of weight. Never seem to feel well. Oh and lost my boyfriend.


Saturday December 31st 09:44


That’s it woke up feeling rough, going to have to do something about this. New Year tomorrow, so New Me.


That’s it from now on my mantra will be “New Year, New Me” #NewYearNewMe


Saturday, December 31st 12:34




My friend shared this on her Facebook, it’s amazing, I’m starting right away, well actually I’ll start tomorrow as I am at a party tonight so I can’t give up alcohol, can I?


I’ve printed it and stuck it on the fridge to remind me. #NewYearNewMe




Saturday December 31st 23:09

Happy New Year everyone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Me and Dave are back together.



Sunday, January 1st 07:35


Had set the alarm for a run, but it’s too early and I feel a bit yuck. Coffee that’s what I need.


Read this great article about losing weight in the bath.





Sunday, January 1st 12:00


Well, the weather was rubbish today, and I realised I didn’t have any running shoes or clothes. So walking to the shops to see what I can get in the sales.


Have spent the morning looking at apps that will help me.





Sunday, January 1st 14:00


Wow, town was a longer walk that I thought, went to get a drink and cake. Now sat here with water and an apple. #NewYearNewMe


Sunday, January 1st 17:00


Knackered, I had no idea how unfit I was, had to get a taxi home as I had so much stuff.


I got new running stuff, and stuff for yoga. Also, a blender so I can make smoothies and my own soups. But best of all I got a Fitbit.




Sunday, January 1st 18:30


New trainers and running gear on, new Couch to 5K app ready. Wish me luck.




Sunday, January 1st 20:55


God, I can’t move, but I’m sure it will get easier. My feet ache and I have a blister. Really fancy a packet of crisps. Off for a bath in my new Detox, Weight Loss Bubble Bath.




Monday, January 2nd 06:36


Early to bed early to rise, that’s what that website recommended. That and setting time when you can eat, then only eating at those times. My times are below


06:30 – 07:30 Breakfast

12:00 – 13:00 Lunch

17:00 – 18:00 Dinner


Nothing outside those times and no snacks watching TV.




Monday, January 2nd 08:15


Just seen a post on Facebook about the 1000 walking challenge, got to be better than running. I’ll still build up to running, gotta sign up to a half marathon in June. But I’ll walk as well.







Monday, January 2nd 09:45


Fitbit set up, walking to Tesco to buy fruit to make smoothies. Aiming for 10000 steps a day.




Monday, January 2nd 13:33


Back from Tesco, Fitbit says I only walked 3560 steps, must be more than that. I’ll have to check its working right. I’d forgotten how heavy fruit and veg was, crisps are lighter. Got some exercise DVDs as well.


Anyway missed lunch so just had a smoothie, raspberry, parsnip and carrot it was different but lovely.




Monday, January 2nd 17:45


Just had dinner Grilled Chicken and Hummus. No run today as it’s a rest day was going to have a walk but as it’s raining and I walked to Tesco earlier decided to stay in and watch Exercise DVD.




Monday, January 2nd 20:00


Watched DVD’s knackered and I didn’t even do the exercise, thought it best to watch first make sure I know what I am doing.




Tuesday, January 3rd 18:00


Late for work today.




Wednesday, January 4th 19:24


Didn’t last night as after walk to yoga and back I was shattered.


Going well – have lost some weight I’m sure I am must buy some scales tomorrow.




Thursday, January 5th 06:45


Up early been up most of the night, got bad stomach pains.

So been research diets, just trying to decide which one, have got it down to these.

The Grapefruit Juice Diet.

The Blood Type Diet. …

The hCG Diet. …

The Cabbage Soup Diet. …

The Baby Food Diet. …

The Magnetic Diet. …

Cotton Ball Diet. …

The Lemonade Diet.





Thursday, January 5th 10:00


Nipped out from work to buy cabbage soup, seems you can’t buy it ready made.




Thursday, January 5th 12:30


Smoothie for lunch, not the best one tasted a bit earthy must have been the carrots maybe I will peel them next time. Went to market and brought loads of cabbages and more fruit for my smoothies.




Thursday, January 5th 19:00


Realised I don’t actually know how to make soup, so brought a soup maker from Argos, being delivered tomorrow.


Saw Dave tonight he said it was about time I lost weight.




Friday, January 6th 10:00


Got my soup maker can’t wait to get home and try it.








Friday, January 6th 23:45


Up late tonight. So Starting from ground zero (01/01/2017).Very pleased to report I have done 8.3 miles in my first week despite work and the horrible weather meaning I needed a dry coat and boots every time I went out!

And… I lost 7lb too I think, obviously as I only got the scales today so working on what I was last time I was weighed at work in the summer. Next week new Fitsteps class and diet to add into the mix.

Watch this space. This girl is on a mission.




Saturday, January 7th 08:00


Up early been for a run, well more of a run and walk, the weather is really cold, may have to look in the sales for a treadmill, I’m sure I can fit it in my bedroom or the living room.


Anyway off to make my soup.





Saturday, January 7th 12:00


Soup made its great, looking forward to this. Realised today I’m almost vegetarian now, not how that happened.





Saturday, January 7th 14:30


Off to a birthday party, been trying on my going out clothes, but nothing really fits, all a bit tight. Off to town to buy a new outfit to show off my fabulous new body.





Saturday, January 7th 17:45


Can you believe I had to buy a size 18 still, very odd I reckon the manufacturers have changed the dresses sizes, I mean all this exercise and diet I must be losing weight right.


Anyway walking to party tonight, can’t wait. The dancing will be good exercise too.







Saturday, January 7th 22:40


So tired. Parties stink when you are hungry, can’t eat any of the buffet and can’t even have a drink.

Dave danced with some young blonde lass, couldn’t get his eyes off her. He said I was boring without a drink in me.


Sunday, January 8th 06:00


Up early again, not sleeping well, I think it’s because I didn’t have a nightcap. I wonder if wine counts as alcohol, after all, it’s only grapes so part of my five a day. I could add it to my smoothies; this would make them taste better as well. And if it’s to help me sleep then it’s medicinal.




Sunday, January 8th 10:00


Off to my mums for Sunday lunch, can’t wait will make a change from Cabbage soup, getting a bit sick of it, to be honest, I swear I smell of cabbage all the time. May have to try the lemonade diet; I know soda is on my list of foods I’m not eating but it’s part of the diet, I’ll just not drink cola, etc.




Sunday, January 8th 13:00


Walked to mums, my feet are killing me, got blisters, maybe I shouldn’t walk so far in high heels.





Sunday, January 8th 15:30


Dinner was basically pile of veg and meat, no potatoes, no Yorkshire pudding, no dessert and no wine.




Sunday, January 8th 20:00


Feel guilty found some biscuits in kitchen and ate one without thinking.





Sunday, January 8th 22:30


Not sure about this Lemonade diet it makes me burp all the time.




Monday, January 9th 17:00


Not been well today had really bad stomach ache, then had a massive poo that hurt. My mum said it’s because I ate lots of meat yesterday and I’m not used to it now.


#NewYearNewMe #FeelingRough


Monday, January 9th 20:00


Brought some little rubber bands with magnet on they go on your big toe and stop you feeling hungry.

Missed Fitsteps tonight, so watched my fitness DVD’s again.







Tuesday, January 10th 23:00


Someone on Facebook posted walking in circles the other day, and I decided to be a hamster today and walk around and around the building at work.

14 laps around and 3.28 miles later, this gal is exhausted!!!!






Wednesday, January 11th 20:10


Given up with cabbage and lemonade diets clearly not working, and I have wind all the time. It was Sarah’s birthday today she brought cake, of course, I didn’t have any. I wonder if there is a cake diet?




Wednesday, January 11th 21:17


There isn’t a cake diet, oh god I really want cake now. Does carrot cake count as real cake?

May try the Atkins diet.




Wednesday, January 11th 21:17


Not trying the Atkins diet, just read this.






Wednesday, January 11th 21:17


Think I might detox tomorrow, I read about having days off eating.





Thursday, January 12th 13:17


I was sent home from work after I fainted, so off to bed.




Thursday, January 12th 18:55


I’m so hungry and tired, not sure this water only day is such a good idea. Don’t even have the energy to watch my exercise DVD’s. I could really do with some chocolate.




Friday, January 13th 13:00


Oh, Friday 13th. Oh dear, hope nothing goes wrong. I’ve got my lucky rabbit’s foot just in case.


Back at work, just want to cry. Weighed myself and I have gained weight. Only managed to walk 28 miles in two weeks, I’ll never get to 1000 miles at this rate.


#NewYearNewMe #FeelLikeAFailure


Friday, January 13th 22:00


Been out for a meal with old friends, had a lovely piece of smoked salmon. Great night, feeling much better.




Saturday, January 14th 20:00


Great day been out for a walk, ran on the treadmill, feeling on top of the world.

Bikini Body on its way.




Sunday, January 15th 22:00


Looking forward to another week of exercise and diet, I think I’m not losing weight because of all the muscle I’m building.




Monday, January 16th 06:30


Back at work, Up early. Went for a run. Feel great. Positive thinking that’s the way forward.

They said on the radio that today is Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year lots of people phones in saying they were in debt, had failed their New Year’s resolutions, were overweight.


Not me Positive Mental Attitude.


#NewYearNewMe #PMA


Monday, January 16th 07:20


Not going well, stubbed my toe on the treadmill, ran into bathroom, got blood all over the bedroom and landing carpets. That’s not all then slipped on floor and banged my shoulder.




Monday, January 16th 09:44


Not got to work yet ended up in A&E, not because of my stubbed toe or hurt shoulder. No came out and slipped on the wet leaves, I mean wet leaves not even ice. So now sat waiting for x-ray.

Read an article about making positive changes to your life, ditching the fad diets, clearing out the old.




Monday, January 16th 16:30


Home from hospital. Now for some changes.





Monday, January 16th 20:30


Had time to think today, decided to make some changes.

Have dumped Dave he was demoralising me

Binned all the cabbage, may still make soups and smoothies occasionally though

Listed the treadmill and Exercise DVD’s on eBay

Emailed work to resign, I’m going to work for myself

Booked a walking holiday, I do actually like walking

Bought myself some decent walking boots.

Sent an email to volunteer at Dogs Trust

Feeling great and enjoying my burger and chips with a coke, with my besties, Thank you, girls, for being my friend.


#NewYearNewMe #FeelingPositive #PMA






Lotherton Hall

In July 2016 a group of writers from the Workers’ Educational Association visited Lotherton Hall. We were shown around by the very knowledgeable Stephanie and were completely fascinated by the people and the place.

Walking around the hall and hearing all the stories was like touching history and we were gripped by the desire to bring to life some of what we had heard and seen.

Our poems and stories are the result. They are glimpses into the past as we imagined it could have, or might have, been. So, while the people and places might be real, we used our writers’ imaginations to interpret the events.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Liz McPherson

Creative Writing Tutor for the WEA


 FLORENCE AND MARY: 30th June 2016, London. By Susan McCartney

‘Is that you Mary Seacole? Pray what are you doing here?’ Florence peered through her spectacles at the elderly lady almost hidden by a large shrub.  People milled around and the air was full of noise and the flashing of cameras. The crowd had gathered for the unveiling of a statue of a woman.

Mary rolled her eyes as she stepped forward with a hand raised in greeting. ‘Well I never, Miss Florence Nightingale as I live and breathe. They are to unveil my statue today Florence, as well you know!’ She tossed her head with a flounce.

Florence sniffed. ‘Indeed I did not know. Happenstance led me to St. Thomas’. I fancied a stroll before I took luncheon and my curiosity was raised by all the commotion and crowds.’ Her lips thinned as she took in the cameras and the mobile phones.

Mary put her hands on hips. ‘Was it not that you finally realised my contribution to nursing after so many decades and wanted to see what the fuss was about? Imagine little old me getting some of the glory.’ She thought to herself… You grabbed the lot at the time. I never got a sniff.

The smile from Florence’s lips did not reach her eyes. She sniffed again. ‘You were never my idea of a nurse Mary although I never doubted your bravery and dedication.’ She added, ‘But you proved yourself a woman of strong will with a good sense for business.’

Mary’s eyes locked onto Florence’s for some seconds. ‘Come off it Florence! I was never wanted as one of the team but I made my own way to the Crimea in spite of all the rejections.’ She squared her shoulders giving Florence a hard stare. ‘And I had to write my own history.’  She waved a hand at the statue. ‘The men called me ‘Mother Seacole’ and looked upon me with affection.’

Florence cocked her head and thought for a moment. ‘I’ll give you that it was a hasty decision, long regretted, given the reports of how you rode out to the front to give aid to the wounded and succour to the dying.’ She smiled.  ‘Those were the actions of a brave woman, Mary.’  Then Florence could not help herself. She muttered under her breath, ‘But not necessarily of a trained nurse…more like a caterer.’

Mary chose to ignore the slur and smiled. ‘I appreciate your kind words Florence and I did read all the reports about your fight to rid the hospital at Scutari of filth and disease. You were the true pioneer and you brought respectability to the nursing profession.’

‘Thank you Mary. It was a battle that I sometimes lost given that the hospital was built over a sewer.’ She shivered. ‘Although I have to admit that I did get considerable help from talented engineers.’  Florence sighed at the recollection of so many pointless deaths.

‘You were lucky to have so many influential connections. I had to make my own way in life. The benefit of a privileged background was not mine. Nevertheless, we have much in common, my dear Florence.’

Florence’s reply was stern. ‘In what way are we alike Mary?  I cannot see it myself,’ she said with a toss of her head. ‘We are different in almost every respect.’

‘We are both well-travelled, we are both well-read and we have both written books that were successful. And we were both highly regarded in our own way.’ She added with a grin, ‘And now we both are cast in bronze!’  Mary did not take the opportunity to crow that her statue was taller.

‘I will give you that Mary. But I was a trained nurse and you were not.’ Florence gave the smallest of sniffs. ‘You have to admit that you ran a hotel and not a hospital.’

With hands on hips Mary said, ‘My mother taught me how to be a hands-on nurse and the use of spices as medicines. I saw no use in the application of statistics in nursing.’  Mary suppressed the urge to narrow her eyes and thin her lips. ‘There was a time when my reputation rivalled yours but somehow I was written out of history.’  Mary’s eyes filled with tears but she brushed them aside.

Florence’s eyes softened. ‘We both came back from the Crimea with our health ruined.  It was worse for you, Mary – I heard that you were bankrupted.’

‘I bounced back and they put on a benefit for me raising much needed funds. Queen Victoria gave me a pension and I had my portrait painted.  Moments to be proud of,’ she said with a shy smile. ‘And we both have medals.’

Florence looked around at her surroundings. ‘It seems so unfamiliar and a little frightening.’  She waved an arm at the traffic and the public in their strange clothing.  ‘I don’t remember any of this,’ she said her brow furrowing in concentration. ‘For the first time in my life I feel a little fearful.’

‘There is nothing to fear here, Florence,’ said Mary, ‘But there is something you should know about us.’

‘What is that my dear?’ Florence looked puzzled.

‘It is just that we are shades of the past. This is 2016 and we have been dead for over a hundred years…we are ghosts!  Mary clapped a hand over her mouth.  ‘Sorry to be so brutal Florence.  I didn’t mean for it to come out like that.’

Florence smiled. ‘I know it my dear but I just had to see the unveiling of your statue.  Now we have both been honoured in bronze.’  She patted Mary’s arm.  ‘I have wanted to acknowledge your contribution for such a long time and today seemed appropriate.’

‘All water under the bridge as they say.  Do you think there is a Tea Room around here I really fancy a cup of coffee,’ said Mary taking Florence’s arm.

‘That’s a wonderful idea and we can catch up on the merits of our own type of nursing!’ Florence smiled. ‘Do you think we’ll scare the customers away?’

‘They’ll not see us anyway – we can go where we want.’ She giggled, ‘And I fancy one of those Bavarian slices.’

‘The ones stuffed with cream – how lovely,’ Florence said with a grin. ‘But you’ll need to watch your waistline.’

‘You put on weight yourself Florence,’ Mary said her eyes wide and innocent. ‘You’ll not get into those gowns in the display at Lotherton Hall.’ She added under her breath. ‘Nor attract so many proposals from eligible young men.’

Florence patted Mary’s arm. ‘Indeed my dear, neither of us will these days.’

Mary stopped in her tracks and gave Florence a hard stare. ‘You don’t have your pet owl with you do you?’

Florence gave a little grin and patted her pocket.  The owl gave a squawk of protest.

Mary sighed but took Florence’s arm.

Arm and arm, they left the unveiling ceremony and went in search of a coffee and cake leaving behind the popping and flashing of cameras and the sounds of London traffic.

Getting to know the WEA pt.1

Let me start off by introducing myself; My name is Joseph Haskey, I am a university graduate who has just started a nine month Social Media internship at the WEA in Yorkshire and Humber. My degree was in Media Production and I specialised in writing and making films. After three years of revelling in student life it all came to an abrupt end and it was time to find a place to work. I struggled for a while trying to work out what I wanted to do with my life and actually how would I get it started. It was a tough transition going from a structured educational program to being left alone in the world and trying to work out what is was I was meant to do.


I spent months searching for the right job for me that would utilise my skill set. I finally came across a post for a Social Media Internship at the WEA. The post mentioned that they wanted to make films and this is what really grabbed my attention. I thought this would be an great starting point for my career and I could bring a lot to the role.  So I went for it and as you maybe could have guessed, I got it.


So during my first week here I took it upon myself to get to know the WEA. Now like me, you might be wondering what is the WEA and what do they do? Firstly, the acronym ‘WEA’ stands for the Workers Educational Association and what they do is provide education to adults. They provide a vast selection of courses such as Archaeology, Film Studies, Family History, Deaf Literacy, Computer maintenance, inclusive Rugby, Digital Photography and many, many more varied courses.


There is something for everyone and that seems to be the theme here at the WEA. Nobody is left out and no matter your circumstances, if you want to get back into education there is a place for you; just like there was a place for me.


I will be visiting a Family History class later in the day in Ilkley run by Jackie Depelle. I’m doing this so I can further my understanding of how the WEA and how it works. I will let you know it goes. But for now I just wanted to introduce myself, I have big plans for my time here. Watch this space.


I run the WEA Yorkshire and Humber Facebook and Twitter page. I’m in the process of revamping it at the minute. So if you want to keep up to date with the exciting projects and course that are being run by the WEA, like and follow us on out pages (links below).









A Day In the Life of a WEA Creative Writing Tutor

I read this week that most mothers have completed 26 tasks before they leave for work in a morning.  They must have picked a quiet day for the survey.

I wake at 6am, try to clear my mind with half an hour meditation and then re-cloud it amidst the insane, chaotic maelstrom that is getting my children ready for school.  Once I’ve dropped them in the playground, hair unbrushed and milk down shirt (that’s me, not them) I head over to Headingley in Leeds for my creative writing class. When I first started teaching I used to spend most of the week preparing for a class, but these days I’ve learned to rely on the students to provide most of the inspiration and content. It seems to work better that way.

The class starts at 10am. There’s twenty students and they’re a talented bunch. I love that there’s seven decades separating the eldest from the youngest. In a writing group you get to know a lot about people, their stories and their dreams. There’s a sense we belong to each other now.

Then there’s half an hour lunch break, which I usually spend wrestling with the AV equipment for my second class, Adventures in Screenwriting.  That hardly feels like work at all as we’ve been watching some of my favourite films, Thelma and Louise and Terminator 2 included. We’re learning how to structure a three act film.

After class, I race across the city to collect my children and throw them straight out into the garden or in front of a DVD while I try to return some kind of order to the course files, decide on next week’s session plans, and reply to any emails. (In my first nine months of teaching I’ve received 944)

Then it’s tea, bath, bed. I wish that meant for me, but it’s actually for my children. I can’t complain though. Because it’s while everyone else is sleeping that I get to write.

When I started with the WEA, I worried that teaching might get in the way of my writing. In the first term, my worry turned into a self-fulfilling prophesy. I felt like a fraud in class, encouraging (some would say badgering) others to write and not penning a word myself.  But I’ve got into my groove with it now, and (if my publishers are reading this) my next novel WILL (almost definitely) be completed in time.

A Day in the Life…Sarah Holland

The whole concept of a blog for WEA tutors in the Yorkshire and Humber region originated from an idea I had about tutors sharing their experiences in a day in the life style blog. After all, a day in the life of a WEA tutor is rich and varied, and certainly never boring! After sharing the initial idea with Sheila Smith, organiser for the Doncaster area, the seeds were sown for what is already an engaging forum for tutors and students. I hope this ‘A Day in the Life….’ post is the first of many to reflect the diversity of opportunities and experiences of teaching with the WEA.

Choosing a day is of course the difficult part. In a week that saw the final meeting of the Rural Rides course based around my doctoral research, the Milton Court Place Detective group visiting places and ‘blogging’ about their experiences, and much much more including visiting the Chelsea Flower Show in its 100th year, the day in question was one that celebrated achievements.

Thursday 23 May 2013 was the culmination of the WEA Digability archaeological project with the Milton Court group (mental health service users) in Doncaster. After 40 hours of archaeological engagement, the students were able to celebrate their achievements with friends and family at Doncaster Museum. They were thrilled to receive their certificates from the new Deputy Mayor, Councillor Glyn Jones, and have all their hard work and achievements recognised.

Some of the Milton Court archaeologists with their certificates and the Deputy Mayor

Some of the Milton Court archaeologists with their certificates and the Deputy Mayor

Teaching this course has been interesting and rewarding. It was wonderful to hear the students recalling their experiences and sharing the knowledge they had acquired. The course was not just about archaeology, it had been about increasing confidence, broadening horizons and engaging with the local community. The WEA archaeology project enriches lives, and has had a positive effect on the health and well being of these students.

The celebration had been enjoyed by everyone and was a wonderful way to end the course. Hot on the heals of the project drawing to a close at Milton Court, I will be embarking upon the archaeology project with a new group in Huddersfield. The WEA will be working with S2R, a mental health charity in Kirklees, and investigating the archaeology of the Huddersfield area. Through my connections with the charity, I was invited by S2R’s art gallery to attend the Huddersfield Examiner’s Community Awards that evening. The Packhorse Art Gallery was nominated and shortlisted for its commitment to reducing the stigma and isolation often experienced by people suffering mental health problems.

The event was an opportunity to build upon the connections being forged between the two organisations. Amidst the excitement of the evening, there were many poignant reminders of how important strong communities are. As a WEA tutor I have many experiences of how the WEA has developed and strengthened communities through educational opportunities that in turn have impacted upon people and places in far reaching ways. Education with a social purpose, a notion that the WEA promotes throughout its educational provision including the archaeology project has many parallels with the ethos of the evening’s awards. The gallery won the category they had been nominated for, which was a wonderful way for me to round off a day of achievements and to look forward to working with the new intake of budding archaeologists from S2R.

To read more about the WEA archaeology project, visit