10 Things to Do

I can’t help but be political at the moment and this post is inspired by Stella Duffy’s blog, where she challenged people to write their own list of positive things to do in these fast-moving, challenging times.

Here’s mine. It’s in no particular order, just the order ideas occurred to me today.

  1. Support City of Sanctuary, an organisation opening its arms and offering practical help to refugees and asylum seekers.   Lancaster and Morecambe City of Sanctuary is my local one and it is doing incredibly important work.

2. Donate to and publicise Paper Airplanes – an organisation fostering links and relationships between American and Syrian students.

3. Be part of  Fun Palaces. Lancaster Fun Palace 2017 is holding a launch meeting on February 9th at 7pm in The Toll House Inn. Everyone welcome! With around 280 Fun Palaces made last year, there is almost certainly one near you to take part in – and if there isn’t, start your own!

4. Take part in the 64 Million Artists creative challenges. The January Challenge is almost over for 2017, but you can still sign up to take part in a challenge a week for the rest of the year. It is empowering and positive to join such a friendly, thoughtful community – and it’s huge fun too!

5. Be political. Be brave. I’m really saying this to myself. I – in company with many, many of us, I suspect – shy away from talking politics publically – even, often, with friends. When things like the Muslim Ban (yes, I know I’m using social media shorthand, but it’s that kind of short post) are occurring, I feel I have to be brave enough to speak out and say that it is wrong. I think if we all do this, in whatever way we feel comfortable (or maybe slightly out of our comfort zones, increasingly outside our “echo chambers”), explaining our views to those who disagree, then an increasingly positive and united society should start to emerge.

6. Take a look at Frack Free Lancs. Speaks for itself.

7. Read – support libraries! – and read books from different cultures. (I am not recommending the books in the previous link, necessarily; I just came across it when pulling this post together and it looked interesting.)

8. Join with like-minded people – online and off. This one links to number 5 as I do think there is strength in numbers and individual confidence can be increased through the support of friends. (We often see this with far-right groups; we need to be more vocal to challenge this.) Tell the stories that are important to you in your own way.  I’m  hoping to make more work – shows/events – that highlight some of the issues above and am beginning to identify possible collaborators – do get in touch if you have any interest at all in being involved in any way.

9. Smile. Sing. Hope. Look out for beauty everywhere – even on gloomy days.


10. Make your own list. And Do.

elaru xx






What Did You Do Today? #FunPalaces



I’ve just arrived home after a day at Lancaster Fun Palace.

Today I have:

  • made music using a hardback book (rhythmically slamming it was particularly therapeutic!)
  • listened to jazz, show tunes and more
  • watched people making lanterns, jelly prints, craftwork and maths structures
  • played with words
  • staggered through a few steps of a dance routine (it wasn’t pretty!)
  • clapped along to a samba drum band
  • witnessed babies and toddlers singing and playing with toys, puppets and bubbles
  • learned that a radio image of a mouse’s tumour looks very similar to a distant galaxy
  • sung harmony to a pop song with a  scratch choir
  • met a local author and listened to him read extracts from his books



Yesterday, I did a lot of the above, plus I:

  • taught several people to juggle (or at least gave them the basics to practise at home)
  • became absorbed in a graffiti artist at work
  • met the Mayor (and posed for a picture with him and a skeleton…)
  • saw a schoolfriend and her family for the first time in years and years
  • watched some people drawing comic panels and learning Bollywood dancing (I wasn’t brave enough- I will be next year!)
  • tapped my feet to a ukulele orchestra alongside my mum, husband and mother-in-law
  • listened to a winning Write Science poem
  • played theatre games with a father and daughter
  • worked with friends to make a 15 minute show in just under 2 hours and performed it to an appreciative (small and select!) audience

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And there was lots more I could have done, but I ran out of time…

Throughout it all, I:

  • made some new friends and caught up with people I don’t see often enough
  • marvelled at the friendliness and flexibility of Lancaster Library
  • had FUN!


Can’t wait for next year! Long Live Fun Palaces!

elaru xx

Once Upon A Time…

I’ve just spent one of the strangest hours I’ve spent for a while: watching a primary school pantomime in which, aged almost 10 years old, I played Prince Charming. Viewing the footage, the years melted away, I found I still remembered my lines- though I suspect my polka prowess peaked then (evidence approx. 30 mins in) (not even sure I could pull off the chicken dance now, which also features in the show a few mins later…). It was really fun – recognising so many faces, some of whom I still know well, and bringing back many, many memories.

I showed my husband the finale section and he commented on what a huge show it seemed to have been – especially for the time – Christmas 1985 by my reckoning(!).

“Not really,” I said. “We did similar sized shows every Christmas – “King Arthur and the Knights of the Square Table” was one and “Snow White and the 7 plus 7 plus 7 Dwarves”, in which I played a bedraggled tulip (don’t ask!). We also did lots of concerts and smaller shows and Speech and Drama events (Morecambe Festival – more memories) and so on throughout the year. They  were a huge part of my primary school life.”

Music and drama abounded. They  really did.  I’m sure I took it for granted because, although I loved performance from the word go, I didn’t recognise, as I do now, how lucky I was to have experienced such richness at such a young age – or how lucky to have had such talented and committed teachers.

Watching the video today and seeing the smiling faces of my friends and I, realising anew just how much we learned through these experiences, has got me thinking again about the current Education Secretary’s recent comments about Arts subjects. Yet again, I am saddened and angered. I can’t do much better, though, than to re-post the open letter in response to her speech that I recently posted on Facebook.

Have a read if you’re interested: https://www.dropbox.com/s/2i8tbneylzqqos2/1411%20-%20Letter%20to%20Nicky%20Morgan%2C%20Education%20Secretary.pdf?dl=0

And do take a look at the blast from the past above  – courtesy of Cinderella herself. Who says the Arts don’t add value?

elaru xx