Finding Jane at ‘Thumbnails’


I’m feeling really privileged to be able to share, in poetry, some of the stories in the life of Jane Pugin, the brave and charismatic widow of Augustus Pugin – from the young bride ‘Down from London’ and full of hope, to the Pugin family matriarch and pillar of the local community that she became in old age … this ‘Grand Old Lady of Ramsgate’.

So, 170 years after Jane’s first meeting with Augustus, I’ll be at The Tom Thumb Theatre, Margate, on the 20th June, bringing back to life some of what is known about Jane.  I’ll be joined by five other talented and entertaining poets, all with their stories to tell, in poetry.  Do join us … I hope to see you there. 🙂






Last weekend a walk through damp sunny woodland … and how you suddenly come across a clearing, a shaft of sunlight slicing the wet, the smell of blossom everywhere, everywhere. The hawthorn’s stunning show, and the scent of summer-on-the-way, the ready to sing and yet, underneath, the slightly sickly uneasy note of decay, the rot beneath the life. And how, that walk through damp sunny woodland made me see the joy – and need – for life, for life, for life.

This is an old poem, amended, a nod to a woodland dawn – and hope –




As Easter approaches, our clocks have sprung forward for British summertime, and life comes back to life I was really impressed to see that Thanet Coast: NE Kent Marine Protected Area are organising, for children and families, an EGGCASE SCAVENGER HUNT on a number of our beaches this coming weekend/school holiday. So much better, in my opinion, for us Thanet folk than the traditional Easter Egg hunts that abound at this time of year….

The hunting will apparently focus on the strange shaped eggcases of shark and rays, these gloried treasures on our tideline. Yesterday, while wandering on Ramsgate’s main sands I saw an abundance of what I think are whelk eggcases …. and, with this in mind, I penned some thoughts ….

whelk egg case march18

Happy Easter all.  x



This one is an excerpt from a poem entitled ‘Tortoiseshell’ which I have written for my ‘Finding Jane’ collection. I’m exploring, in poetry, the life of Jane Pugin – Augustus’ widow and a courageous, inspiring, Ramsgate woman, well-known and respected in her time, now largely forgotten and subsumed by the shadow of her husband. (whom she survived by over 50 years.)

tortoiseshell in our garden april 17

I’ll be running a poetry workshop on Jane Pugin, followed by a reading of my poems exploring her Ramsgate life.

Finding Jane

Do come ….




The ebb of the year sees me trying to find Jane Pugin.

I am wandering the area of The Grange and St Augustine’s, and wondering what she saw, and knew, this ‘Grand Old Lady of Ramsgate’ so sadly forgotten now, eclipsed, of course, by Augustus Pugin’s genius.

As we’ve just passed another winter solstice and the days begin to grow their light once more I am recalled of the day – 22nd September 2017 – when I watched the sun slide towards Pegwell, the autumn equinox.  I had a sense of her watching the watching.

Fanciful, yes. Poetry is.

So here’s a snippet of what is to become the poem ‘Equinox’ – as I try – want to  try – over the next few months – to bring Mrs Jane Pugin back to some sort of life amidst the difficult glory of her / our times ….


from ... equinox


Emin’s Bed

I have to confess it does fascinate me. And in my opinion now looks particularly magnificent with the three JMW Turner masterpieces on the wall behind it.


I saw it years ago, in London, and realise now that I hadn’t previously taken much notice of the chained and bound luggage. Apparently the distance of the luggage from the bed changes. When I saw it on Wednesday it was very obviously placed at a distance. I found it compelling.

On looking back at the photos I took  (and what a treat indeed to be able to take away some captured moments) I am particularly struck by the ‘accidental’ camera-shake effect of my attempted close-up shot of the bedside table ….


Perhaps there is something in the need to blur the whole, fuzz out and blend the doubled edges when seeing becomes too much. The unconsciously conscious, the narrowing-it-down when it’s all just too big to grasp, to care.


I cannot conceive of all this world

I dare not tarry near its edge
nor think the dawns to yet unfurl

I cannot conceive of all this world
where drowning nights lie yet uncurled

along the crumbling sea-swamped ledge
I cannot conceive of all this world

or dare to tarry near its edge


It’s only a draft …. but ….


There’s a prickling of thumbs
in this feel of snuffing day
the pumpkin’s sightless stare
and sliced-mouth dumbed-down shine
of emptied pity paid
to don the mask and bait the fool
to shake the nightmare’s hold with bites
of sneer and cheer
to laugh the mad the cruel the gone
with Poundland jibes to haunt
the profit-margined aisles,
the Primark’d fix for pining souls
to pour the pounds
to swell the propagandists’ purse
and ne’er to question why.

Alas poor Paul, I knew him.
Still had to kill him though,
an eye for an eye etcetera-ha-ha.

Blindingly obvious, don’t you think?

There’s a bright gallows smile
in this feel of dusted day,
the holes to fill with fear
and smear the pounce of dark
to rip the good we can’t believe
and glee the way
to mock the sad the broke the gone
with the paraphernalia’d scoff
to ghost the phantom light-parade,
the round-up call-up pied-pipe props
to grow the pumpkin miles
with cashed-up callous ego-wiles
and ne-er to question why.

Alas, poor Paul,
who only yearned for love
so I had, of course, to kill-the-joy
of party-pooping Paul who wouldn’t join
the freakshow curse

who dared to question why.



The Ramsgate Seadog likes Scallops

After the Seadog Festival, July, I put the Seadog poems away.

No doubt without my slashing pen and critical editing mind the Seadog has flourished. It is clear he knows our harbour so much better than I.

For example, when I’ve been looking at the gloriously reborn Pavilion building my eye was drawn to an iron post on the harbour wall that I’d never really even looked at closely, despite so many strolls past it. (And dogs, even Seadogs, I’m sure, do see far more uses for a post than I?)

It’s a beautiful post. And after taking some photo’s I walked home and took out the Seadogs poems again –  the time now feeling right for a reshuffle, an update, another song …. ?