A Key to a Room at Bancroft Manor

Back in 2014 Thalia found the key that enabled her to enter Riversleigh, a virtual retreat former members of the Soul Food Cafe remember affectionately. This key opened the door to a healing haven where she worked for an extended period.  Spend some time meditating, allow yourself to go through a portal and who knows, you may  just find the key to Bancroft Manor, the newest of  Soul Food’s retreats. It is possible that like Thalia you will establish a soulful healing haven.

A Key to Riversleigh

It was one of those lovely winter days when I was lying on a branch of a tree, content to have shifted into a small female human and be hidden – or so I thought.  Suddenly the raven flapped down beside me and squawked.   I took it to mean “hello” so I responded appropriately.  She muttered as she reached under her wing and pulled out a small key on a string with her beak.

holding out the key

Extending it forward towards me, she nodded and murmured.  I tentively reached out and she nodded in response.  A key!  Whatever for?  As if she could hear my thoughts, she replied, “It is the key you will need as you travel in a variety of ways and many places.  Use it wisely!”

I was already in this realm of Riversleigh, so it wasn’t for me to get in.  Where might I need this?  Always more questions than answers.  As I mulled this over, the raven flapped her wings and took off for places beyond my sight, so she didn’t want me to shift into a raven and join her.  I clutched the key in my palm as I fastened the string around my wrist for safekeeping.  Settling back down to once again to resume my time of being small and hidden, I pondered the nature of things appearing when you least expect.   What was next?

A Room of My Own at Bancroft Manor

When you sign up and join Bancroft Manor the choice is yours. You can work in solitude, post on the group Facebook page or join a tour such as Danse with the Macabre.

While Waiting For Godot

A room of my own at the virtual Bancroft Manor

Since settling in at Bancroft Manor, despite having heard movement through the corridors of this palatial home, a property that rivals the famed Romanov Gatchina Palace, I have mainly been happy with my own company. Mostly I am comfortable to enjoy this room of my own. When I am not on tour, Dansing with Macabre, I enjoy exploring the grounds and gardens with my dogs, going for walks around the estate.

Our host, Georgina McClure, has made sure that we have all that we are well connected to the outside world and I have loved this time of quiet solitude, enjoyed rummaging through Borrow Box. I have been happy to lay on the couch or in the bath listening to a vast range of audiobooks including my childhood favourite, The Magic Faraway Tree.

Imagine my delight when I rediscovered Alexander Mcall Smiths No 1 Ladies Detective Series and…

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A Way to Feel Less Alone

Cartoon by Jonny Sun

Being open and vulnerable with your loneliness, sadness and fear can help you find comfort and feel less alone, says writer and artist Jonny Sun. In an honest talk filled with his signature illustrations, Sun shares how telling stories about feeling like an outsider helped him tap into an unexpected community and find a tiny sliver of light in the darkness.

Being persistent and consistently trying to reach out and be heard can be hard to sustain. Listen to Jonny Sun and you will appreciate how, as a creative who spends a lot of time alone, you may benefit from joining and actively engaging, connecting with others in the Bancroft Collective.

Bancroft Manor is a tiny sanctuary where people can connect and prove that we are not necessarily as alone as we may think we are.

Check the FAQ and consider whether it is worth investing in a project designed to bring like-minded people together.

A Touch of the Macabre

Bone Church Kutna Hora

One of the tours that have left Bancroft Manor involves cemetery hopping. Some of the best travel destinations involve cemeteries such as

1. Highgate Cemetery, London

2.  Cypress Lawn, Colma, California

3. Vysehrad Cemetery, Prague

4. Protestant Cemetery, Rome

5.  Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris

6. Swan Point Cemetery, Providence, Rhode Island

7. Sunset Hills Cemetery, Flint, Michigan

8. Zoshigaya Reien, Tokyo

9. Sleepy Hollow Cemeteries, New York

10. Waverley Cemetery, Sydney

I have visited Montparnasse and Vysehrad and can testify to the benefit of using cemeteries as one focus when you travel. Certainly, my day visiting the Sedlec Ossuary in Kutna Hora in the Czech Republic and another exploring the historic cemetery in the old Jewish Quarter of Prague will be etched into my memory as absolute highlights of my time in Prague.

Loren Rhoads has worked extensively in this field and her Cemetery Tours site provides a wealth of insight into the creative work that simply visiting cemeteries can generate.

Danse Macabre is a site that is a receptacle for some of the work that emerges. If you are interested in joining Bancroft Manor you will find details on this site.

The Hiker and Her Dog

In

In response to a prompt in the Bancroft Manor Facebook Group, Anita Marie went for a walk and found interesting hands reaching out to her.

At The Crossroads

I went on a hike

deep in the woods

I went on a hike

with my dog.

I went on a hike to see a little of the world.

I thought I was so quiet, a shadow among so many others.

I thought nobody knew I was there-

except for maybe some birds

a poet looking for inspiration

Did he really see me?

I didn’t think he did, I did not think anybody did.

I would have sworn to it.

But I was wrong.

They saw me,

the trees

I didn’t see it until later there in the pictures I took the the trees were reaching out towards me,while I was looking through my camera

unaware, preoccupied, vulnerable-

They were so close to catching me

with their dark and twisted hands.

They didn’t hook me with their claws but they followed me home.

I’m looking at them right now.

Just pictures…

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A Writing Residency in Castlemaine

It’s a dream of many writers: to spend time at a quiet colony or residency where they can focus on their work. But all too often the only writers’ residencies we hear about are prestigious and only accept a tiny percentage of applicants who are charged to even apply.

It is true that there are lots of other wonderful writers residencies to choose from, many of which are less competitive, so you’re more likely to get accepted.

Alternatively, you might consider taking advantage of my offer to provide a ‘room of your own’ and mentorship in the heart of Castlemaine, Victoria, Australia. Castlemaine is a town nestled in a region well known for its artistic vibe. My aim is to provide short term residency and to make available a supportive environment which provides writers or artists with space in which to develop their ideas.

Members of the Bancroft Collective and those who were active at Soul Food are eligible for residency. Other applicants will be asked to take the time to communicate and check conditions, expectations and availability. They will also be asked to

  • provide a short biography which provides some background of their creative endeavours
  • present a short project description, describing what they intend to do during the residency, and why
  • a statement outlining the benefit of the residency to either their professional development or the successful realisation of a project (or both).

There is a standard accommodation fee of $50 per person per night, with a minimum stay of 4 nights or $200 for a seven-night stay. 

Making the most of an active imagination

Residents at Bancroft Manor obviously have active imaginations or they would never have signed up and taken up residence in this virtual Manor. Some of them, like members of the Writing for Wellness course in Castlemaine, will be working with effective techniques to make the most of what Jung coined ‘Active Imagination’.

The Greatest Little Show On Earth

If I had the skills I can imagine setting up space at Bancroft to establish a studio where I could patiently make miniatures. Alas, I am a big picture person and often miss the finer detail. I confess I was in awe of the stunning miniaturist exhibits featured here. Aside from the whole scene, there are so many stories to be told in fine detail. I may take some time to examine the detail in this Enchanted Realm.

At The Crossroads

When I was little, one of my favorite museums to visit was  Miniature World in Victoria, BC Canada.

I would spend an eternity in front of each display with no fixed idea in my head about what I was seeing. I would just imagine the little figures actually dancing, or running or sitting or riding horses.

Of course, I was a little on the macabre side as a child so I assumed that spirits and ghosts and maybe even a curse or two were involved because WHY NOT.

Here are some pictures I took of a couple of the exhibits- I think that after all of these years I should put some thought into what is happening here and why.

Photo A.M. Moscosoi

Photo A.M. Moscoso

Photo A.M. Moscoso

Photo A.M. Moscoso

Photo A.M. Moscoso

Bancroft Miniaturist

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Bancroft Miniaturist

Old Gardeners House Bancroft Manor

Inspired by the work of this miniaturist, the work involved in creating the worlds most expensive dolls house and the TV series, the Miniaturist, I am giving some thought to how I might attract a Miniaturist to join us at Bancroft Manor. I love the idea of a shadowy figure leaving mysterious little bundles of careful crafted minatures on my doorstep.

Meanwhile, the old gardener’s cottage at Bancroft Manor has been calling me and, with the view of restoring it, I am moving from the Manor into this  much loved old residence.

I am looking forward to refurbishing this space as a place to spend time enjoying the birdsong, savouring the cheerful song of the creek as it rambles over weathered granite boulders and to scattering fresh seeds in the old wild garden that surrounds the house.

There is plenty of space on the estate! Perhaps you will come, share your special creative perspective and help breathe life into the place.

Developing Character Archetypes

Archetypes were first discussed in the time of Plato in Ancient Greece. Carl Jung firmed up and popularized the concept in the twentieth century.

Archetypes are part of everyone’s psyche. They may sit passively and come forward to make you aware of danger or dangerous behaviors or they may drive your life.

Whether you have come to Bancroft Manor to write fiction or a memoir residents are learning how  a set of Carolyn Myss’s Archetype Cards will help you.

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