27 March 2015


After a melancholy day induced by marauding hormones I was suprised, even after all these years of T'ai Chi, how even a short session of flowing, vigorous connected partnerwork, in this case The Dance, can transform my energy and lift my spirits. Thanks to Colin and Jonathan particularly at Thursday class for their good humour and high kicks. 

Hackney news

Sorry for the delay but I should have the update re the new Hackney venue by Monday or Tuesday. 

26 March 2015

It's not us vs them
It's us and them

Tao Teh Ching translations

Whilst researching some good translations and versions to recommend to a student, I found this document, with 7 versions side by side for comparison. I hope you will find it useful.

Cleary's is by far my beloved rendition.

This week's photos

Had some good hang-out time and excellent foraging at the weekend with Fergus Drennan, aka Fergus The Forager.

Ashdown Forest from Windy Ridge.

There were incredible rainbows and hailstorms over Hampton Court on Tuesday.

Thanks to Mark for an excellent Sabre workshop on Sunday, and well done to the new beginners too who all made a great start.

Tuesday class was really busy last night, new, new beginners arrived, and the dance group was also great, where we attempted a new posture complete with flying step. We now need many more tea cups for tea break. Luckily they are on the way today - thanks to Paul.

New Aberdeenshire weekend schedules

This will be the new schedule for Aberdeenshire weekend workshops with me until the end of term in June. We will see if we prefer it this way round.

Friday 7-10pm Dance

Saturday 1-4 Short Form
Saturday 5:30-8:30 Partnerwork

Sunday 1-4 Weapons
Sunday 5:30-8:30 Long Form


...to David who took the Hackney class last night at short notice. I shall be back next week for our last class of term, and for the last class in that hall. Details of a new venue should become clear today or tomorrow, I hope.

20 March 2015

Not the Moon

Eating the Sun

A colander full of partial eclipses.

19 March 2015

Back Heart

Janet wore this fab sweater at class tonight

Congratulations and good luck

Congratulations to Phil on his marriage! Also good luck to Rachel for an easy and timely delivery of her baby in the next few weeks. We shall have two more weeks of classes at the Round Chapel, last class being held fittingly on 1st April. There will be a new venue from 22nd April, possibly very nearby after all. I am currently in talks with two local venues, and we have a great standby venue near Plaistow and Stratford stations should they fall through. I will keep everyone posted. 

Last night: the whole Long Form study group, plus Gabriele from the Dance study group, in front of the wonderful organ pipes. 

Thursday Long Form sessions - March to May

Here's the rota for the next block of Thursday sessions. We'll be in the Small Hall 7-9pm and Large Hall 9-10pm at Monymusk as usual except where shown. The cost is £30 or £4.50/week.

19-Mar   Janet

26-Mar   Marie   
2-Apr     Neil   

9-Apr     Paolo
16-Apr   Sandy
23-Apr   Scott

30-Apr   Anneke   
7-May    Davina
    Fetternear Hall
14-May  Janet
21-May  Marie

If you can't make the session that you're due to lead then please contact someone on the list to arrange a swap.

17 March 2015

Yellow Submarine

Just now I saw this vessel on a nearby waterway. She appears to be called 'Common Sense'. Hurrah. 

Bad Things gig 21 March

New sword tassel

Thanks to Davina for the lovely fringe tassels to add to the Chinese knot I made a few years ago. Added to the heavy die-cast beads I found at my local bead shop in Kingston, I now have a good weighty addition to my home wooden sword (I have another one in Hackney, and maybe that one needs a tassel too...) 

16 March 2015

Thanks to all for a wonderful weekend of T'ai Chi in Aberdeenshire. We even had time for a little known variation on 'listening hands' - sticking with spoons. See you all again soon. 

12 March 2015

Spring is here - all change!

Hawthorn bush on the lock island.
This is a time of change and growth for all creatures in nature, and it's no different for me. Soon there will almost certainly be a change of venue for the Hackney Round Chapel class, after over 8 years there with me teaching, and another 5 years before that with teachers from our T'ai Chi family. This is due to the hall hire prices becoming too high for us to absorb, without making fees prohibitively high, or starting a brand new beginners course, which I do not wish to do. there are already two excellent groups at the venue, the Short and Long Form group, and the Senior students studying the Dance. We could not compress that all into a shorter class either, which has been suggested, as we are barely fitting all the goodness in already. I will give details at class next week, and will post it all on the website, Taichifinder and here after I have spoken with the students in person. We have a great new venue that I am looking forward to sharing with folks.
Upcoming events for T'ai Chi (I will produce a flyer for all classes next week)

Sabre - St Mary Magdalene Church Hall, 2-5pm Sunday 22nd March - all welcome including beginners, £20.

An Introduction to simple Taoist Meditation - at my place, details in person, 7-8.30pm Monday 23rd March, free. Session will be repeated on a Saturday in next few weeks for those who can't make it. all GR and TCC students are welcome. Tea will be served.

Heartwork, Sword, Sabre and Staff workshops continue all year as usual after that, details on blog already, but will update and repost shortly.

I am looking forward to working with the Scottish students from tomorrow and all weekend in Aberdeenshire. See you soon.

09 March 2015

Aberdeenshire Workshops 13-15th March

This month's Aberdeenshire workshops with Caroline are this coming weekend, 13-15th March. Great River students of any level are particularly welcome to the Saturday sessions.

Please note the changes to the usual format: the weapons workshop is now on Sunday afternoon at Millbank Hall. All other sessions are at Balvack.  We'll return to the usual schedule next month (24-26th April).

Friday 7-10pm: Dance at Balvack
Saturday 2-5pm: Short Form, and related study
Saturday 6.30-9.30pm: Partnerwork
Sunday 2-5pm: Weapons at Millbank Hall
Sunday 6.30-9.30pm: Long Form, Heartwork, One Posture

The price is £15 (concs available) per 3 hr session. Please bring food to share on Saturday and Sunday. Get in touch with your instructor if you need travel directions or feel free to contact me with any other questions.

All the dates for the 2015 workshops are here

Recent good things

The Tao Te Ching says that to the Tao humans are like straw dogs...

I just re-read John Gray's excellent book Straw Dogs, which was even better on a second read. Also last week I found an article by him in the Guardian. I highly recommend it.

On an arts front I also have to say how much I loved BBC2's adaptation of Wolf Hall. However I am already a huge Mark Rylance fan, and have seen him on stage three times in the last few years. To be honest I would happily pay folding money watch him do nothing in particular. This would also apply to the superb actor Tilda Swinton. If the filmic and televisual gods are listening - please pair them both in something fabulous soon... (Interestingly, both have said in interviews that they did not speak for about five years as children...)
There may always be cut-throat men of power in the world, sadly. 
If only they dressed, moved and stood as well as this nowadays.

Today I am having a complete day off after looking after two of my lovely nieces for 22 hours, during which I slept for about 4 hours.

Classes this Spring

All Great River and The T'ai Chi Centre classes and workshops continue as normal until Easter break, last class Thursday 2nd April (the day before Good Friday). Weekends sessions, weapons dates and timings can all be found on the blog or on our websites. I will soon be producing the invitations for the 10th Annual Weeklong Intensive. I am looking forward to teaching in Aberdeenshie at the weekend. a full timetable will follow from Davina soon.

06 March 2015


This shows some of the incredible variation of colour in the cross-sections of huge wooden nineteenth century weir suports that have recently been replaced with modern steel girders. As they are being chopped up, the saw dust varies from indigo to burnt sienna via stoney pale cream. It's like being in the pigment section of a giant art supplies shop. 

27 February 2015

The Living Mountain

This lovely programme from BBC Scotland about the book by Aberdeen-based Nan Shepherd was repeated recently on BBC4. It's available here on iPlayer for 28 days.