Free writing workshop at the Royal Pump Museum in Harrogate

Pump House Harrogate

Pump House Harrogate. The copyright on this image is owned by John Tomlinson and is licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.

Something else for free, for anyone who can get to Harrogate on Saturday – the great Yorkshire poet Char March is running a free writing workshop at the Royal Pump Room Museum. The workshop runs from 2pm-4.30pm on Saturday 29th September – taking inspiration from the bizarre ‘health’ treatments that the Victorians subjected themselves to! You’ll get to handle bits of pump room equipment, learn about the geology of the area, and the multitude of ways our ancestors decided that purging themselves with foul-smelling water would be terribly good for them!

There’s an exhibition on at the Pump Rooms that the group will be working with, so feel free to arrive early and have a good look at that before the workshop if you fancy. Tell staff on the door that you’re coming for Char’s writing workshop, and you’ll get into the museum FREE.

Please do book in advance though by dropping an email to:

Ping Pong – the movie!

There will be a free, (ticket booking required ) telephone: Leeds 3697077, showing of this film at Hyde Park cinema on the 10th October at 1.00pm, as part of the celebration of International Older Peoples Day, which is earlier in the month, before the screening there will be a demonstration of the game by one of the film’s stars.

This British made film documentary is about a group of of older people many over 80, who gather from all over the world to take part in a ping pong championship in Mongolia!

This is a screening done by the cinema in collaboration with O.W.L.S., Older Wiser Local Seniors

Mapping reality

The nearest thing to a holiday for me this year was a trip down memory lane! ……  my childhood. den making fun in the ‘jungle’ close by our house, was recalled when I went to see the film ‘Moonrise Kingdom’. The above map is a  fictitious map created by the film’s director for his island setting of his story, which he chose to call New Penzance Island. The theme of the story is about two young teenagers who run away from home in New England to a nearby island, making camps with fires, plans and mapping is part of their adventure.

These memories probably influenced my choice to partake in the workshop, ‘Campfire on Wild Cat Island’ at the Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery, University of Leeds, this being one of a series of free events currently running there.

Although I’m a bit of a kid at heart, and the event was advertised as suitable for all ages, I thought I might feel foolish among a bunch of kids…..there wasn’t even one! plenty of crayons!……love them!

Dr.Z.Reed Papp, the facilitator and events organiser at the gallery, was extremely knowledgeable about subjects related to her field of study: literature, history and cartography, she presented her material so enthusiastically, conveying the theme in a non ‘stuffy’ way.. .

We were shown a copy of the medieval Mappa Mundi from Hereford Cathedral and asked to consider that no map, even such as Google earth can be a true representation of an area, to do so it would require it  to be the same size! A massive scale globe has been created in British Columbia but to no practical purpose.

The speaker then focussed on mapping in relation to fictional literature. Authors often choosing to  first create a map as a setting before composing their narrative, among them, Ransome’s, ‘Swallows and Amazons’, the first edition manuscript which is part of the University’s, special collections, being made available for us to peruse and handle!; Milne’s, ‘Winnie the Pooh’; Tolkein’s, ‘Lord of the Rings’ and from more recently, the debut novel of Reif Larsen,  about a 12 year old boy cartographer, T.S.Spivet, ‘his’ web site with it’s sepia graphics, very imaginatively captures the setting in a US mining town called Butte,,_Montana. Holly Lisle writer of futuristic novels, is another current writer who uses map doodling as a preamble to writing her storylines, this idea appeals to me, however when it came to the practical part of the workshop, creativity eluded me. I went right back to the ‘frozen’ mode of childhood when asked to draw something, representing  reality was not my strongest point. Intriguingly it was during and following an episode of hospitalisation for an acute manic episode, I felt dis-inhibited enough to free up and produce something i was pleased with, this with the aid of the artist Bob Mills of Prescription Art.

My childhood reading was by design of my parents along more classical lines, not many children’s’ stories, although I had some exposure at school, I guess this explains my present desire to read them, maybe draw a few maps and stories of my own reality.

Mainstream attempts to ‘map’ other peoples emotional experience by using diagnostic tools such as the DSM can be fraught with similar limitations as attempting to build a  global map and could be seen as an exercise in defining reality. Medical diagnosis and treatment for emotional distress does not necessarily lead to the person’s well being.


Feeling fruity in the morning? Have fruit for breakfast!

Having fruit for breakfast is a great way to start the day!

Most of us know due to a successful NHS campaign that we need to aim for  5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day.  Eating well is so important for both physical and mental wellbeing.  However sometimes it’s easy to slip into unhealthy eating habits especially during difficult times.

During times of personal stress I found I wasn’t looking after myself as well as I could. I was eating quick snacks on the go such as toast and chocolate and drinking lots of coffee and carbonated drinks.  I really neglected myself during this time and fruit and vegetables weren’t high on the agenda. Sometimes it’s difficult to break an unhealthy eating spiral. But breaking that spiral can really help increase emotional and physical wellbeing.

A great way to start the day is to have a healthy breakfast.  If it feels too daunting to completely change your diet straight away then take little steps.  Try a small step and have fruit for breakfast. Simply add a piece of fruit with your usual breakfast.  A favourite of mine is porridge with a piece of fruit such as a banana or some berries.

The NHS choices website has 5 A Day tips to eat well and live well.

Try and make healthy choices which benefit you!

Vicky 🙂

Free singing event for men – Saturday 22nd September

This event described as a ‘kick start’ for possible future sessions, will be at the Yorkshire College of Music and Drama, St. Marks Avenue, Woodhouse Lane, starts at 10.00am with the option to continue until 4pm after the lunch break.

An invitation for the ‘good, the bad and the ugly’! of all singing abilities.

Contact: 0113 2560450


There is much documented evidence that singing can help relieve some types of mental distress,

Enjoy it guys if you get there!

Heritage Open Days – Leeds

The free National Heritage Open Days events take place annually over a four day period usually in September, a variety of institutions open their doors to the public, it’s impossible to get to them all during this short time so last Sunday I settled for just a couple.

St.Bartholomew’s church in Armley, a well known landmark on the Leeds skyline, the exterior of which has always struck me as  dark and imposing, but stepping into it  I saw a surprisingly beautiful interior, sunlight through the stained glass windows beamed across the vaulted ceiling and the Schultse organ which is of a  particularly impressive design and proportion.

A service had just commenced therefore it wasn’t appropriate to take my own  photographs, I sat a while enjoying the mixture of smells; polished wood pews, that slightly churchy dampness, melting candle wax, the myrrh incense with its mist hanging heavily in the chancel. Listening to the singing I contemplated if the sermon or bible  readings had any relevance to my spiritual needs.

My next destination was the Makkah Masjid Mosque in Burley/Hyde Park area, set among rows of red brick back to back houses, this exotic edifice with its bright multi coloured brickwork, domed roof and minarets gives a hint of  what may be inside,

sure enough the interior is flooded with light from the roof , crystal chandelier reflections and the numerous windows of the large circular, furniture free room, its sumptuous bright blue and gold carpets, highlight its main use for sujud prayers, they were not in session, just a few visitors were listening to a talk about Islam, a view from a rear window, with the spire of Wrangthorne, St Augustine of Hippo, Church on the horizon seemed to link the importance of the two buildings to the community.

Religious tradition is often relevant to mental well being and many people find comfort  congregating with others in ritual and prayer in their places of worship, I guess that’s why the buildings intrigue me, however I choose to find my spiritual renewal outside religious confines.

Wandering towards Woodhouse Moor I noted that other citadel of community gatherings, Hyde Park Cinema, it’s doors were open for tours of the building, pausing to preview it’s up coming programme, I considered the powerful role of  film and media in maintaining or challenging our cultural, religious  viewpoints and traditions, thankfully this cinema offers alternatives to Hollywood film representations.


If you’re feeling at a loose end, why not try a Meetup in Leeds?

Meetup helps people get together in real life. There are many groups in Leeds and it’s free!

Meetup is an online international social networking site which enables people to set up social groups in their local area. Meetup in Leeds has a lot to choose from including: Walking, Cinema, Bookcrossing and Photography groups. It’s free to join although sometimes the group owner may charge a small fee towards their subscription costs.

Meetup was set up in New York after 9/11. It was observed that during this very sad time a sense of community had developed. People began to enquire as to how each other were. This sense of community inspired a technologically minded group of people to set up a social networking site – to use the internet to get people off the internet!

A friendly chat with someone can do wonders to improve our mood and sometimes it’s really important to have some fun too!  One of the aims of Leeds Wellbeingweb is to blog about cheap or free activities and events which people can access to improve their wellbeing.

Keep checking in for more ideas,

Vicky 🙂

‘Are You Okay?’ Day

Thought this was interesting – a national campaign in Australia, which culminates in ‘R U OK? Day’ this coming Thursday.

‘R U OK?Day is a national day of action on Thursday 13 September 2012, dedicated to inspiring all people of all backgrounds to regularly ask each other ‘Are you ok?’

By raising awareness about the importance of connection and providing resources throughout the year, the R U OK? Foundation aims to prevent isolation by empowering people to support each other through life’s ups and downs.’

I think it’s a great idea. How many times do you casually get asked “Are you okay?”, and you may feel like the only response you can give is “aaahh, I’m fine,” when the truth may be a little bit different?

Encouraging people to ask the question at all is a step in itself, in our sometimes hectic, all too busy lives.

R U OK? website

R U OK? Day - tips

R U OK? Day icon

R U OK? Day website | twitter feed

Why not ask a friend, a neighbour, or a colleague if they are okay at some point today? There are lots of handy tips on the website. Then make a promise to yourself that you will ask again a little bit more often in the days ahead? It’s good to stay connected.

– Stuart

How Self Compassionate are you? Be your own best friend!

Hopefully this quick film we made illustrates the value of being kinder to ourselves especially during stressful times.

There is a field of work known as ‘Self Compassion’ which has its origins in Buddhism.  If you are interested in finding out more about self compassion I can recommend looking into the works of Dr Paul Gilbert, Dr Kristin Neff and Dr Christopher Germer.

It was our first attempt at filming on our community reporter course.  There is some background noise but hopefully the captions help diminish this.  We had a great workshop on filming and editing which was led by Jon Beech of Touchstone in Leeds.

I hope you enjoy the film