The Poetry Takeaway

Being grateful for the gift of a poem:

To celebrate our connection with the Romantic poet Lord Byron – who’s buried in his family’s vault in our Parish Church of St Mary Magdalene – our town is hosting the Byron Busk mini festival.

With art, music and of course, poetry, I was feeling well enough to check it out and took a gentle walk down into my town centre.

I was looking forward to seeking out The Poetry Takeaway, described as a place where: “The poet chefs will write, perform and personalise a poem for you to wrap and take away for free.”

How fabulous.

After weaving through our town’s Friday market, I found ‘the world’s first purpose-built mobile poetry emporium’ already in full creative flow.

Poetry Takeaway.jpg

During the short wait, I chatted with Michael Bolger, the creative brainpower behind The Poetry Takeaway. He described how the burger-turned-poetry van travels all around the country, its talented poets and performers gifting poetry at festivals and private functions.

I was soon paired with the effervescent Michelle Madsen. I didn’t know this at the time – only discovering her impressive credentials on her website afterwards – that Michelle has been performing her poetry around the UK and the world for almost a decade. She’s founder and host of London’s Hammer and Tongue which is part of the UK’s slam poetry network. Oh and she’s also published a selection of her poems in a book. I was in very safe hands 🙂

Michelle Madsen.jpg

I decided to ask her to write a poem for my lovely mum, who was at that very moment at the hospital bedside of her younger sister, who passed away only a few hours later.

I wanted it to be a gift for my mum, to bring her some comfort during this sad time, and to remind her how much she is loved and appreciated.

I was expecting to be asked a little about my mum, but not the in-depth questions about her life, loves and passions. Covering all things like her favourite colours, season, flowers, her sense of style, what makes her laugh, her music of choice, her ideal day out, and oodles more.

I have to confess the questions I most enjoyed were those that were deliciously thought-provoking on how to describe her laugh, what season she most resembles, her outlook on life, her presence.

I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of our 15-20 minutes chat, it was really wonderful to think about my mum in this way.

But I have to admit I was pretty wiped out afterwards! My CFS induced brain fog protested after so much hard thinking!!

As Michelle set to work, I was asked to return in 30 minutes so I nipped into our library. I wanted to spread a little kindness and also find a quiet corner so I could meditate and recharge a little energy.

Eager to hear the poem, I couldn’t wait to return to the creative hub.

And it definitely didn’t disappoint.

As Michelle performed her poem to me – which I really wish I’d recorded as it sounded sooooo much better when she read it out loud – I rollercoastered through emotions of delight, tears, joy, laughter, surprise, happiness and “oh no, mum’s going to kill me for telling you that” fear!

Seriously though, I absolutely love it.

This truly is the perfect poem for my lovely mum and demonstrates just how well Michelle had taken the time and the effort to get to know her through me.

And I couldn’t resist giving her a big hug as she finished.

Here’s the poem:

Happy Chrisday!

Chris, let’s make this YOUR day (as they all should be!)
And with garlands of lilacs and pinks around your neck
We’ll day trip to Whitby! And maybe Tahiti!
And write in pearls in the sand, YOU ARE LOVED!

That your kindness is spread as thick as strawberry jam
sandwiched between two freshly baked sponge cakes
Their round vanilla scent tickling bellies,
sustaining even those that can’t bite into their sweet riches

BUT FIRST! Our outfits must impress
To Debenhams – Nottingham’s magnetic fashion superstore
And from racks of lovingly stitched cotton and floaty lines
you’ll be dressed fresh as the summer breeze that you are.

Home-maker, lady magician of the kitchen,
Crafting joy from ordinary things, laughing out Mama Mia hits
Smile bigger than Ronan Keating’s bank balance
as you hide clothes pegs under fern leaves

Hucknall’s queen of generosity
Let’s make every day one for you
Best friend, best mum, best you

When I gave mum the poem,  it brought tears to her eyes too. She really loves it and continues to thank me for this beautifully unique gift of words.

Thank you so much to Michael, Michelle and all at The Poetry Takeaway – you gave us the gift of a smile during such a sad time, and for that I am eternally grateful.


Now, this is not intended to spoil this lovely tribute, but I feel inspired to write a little ditty of my own (apologies if anyone from the poetry world is reading this… you might want to look away now!).

Ok, here goes…

My Ode to The Poetry Takeaway

Oh Poetry Takeaway in a lovely van
created by one very clever man
My poet was the lovely Michelle
and I instantly gelled with this effervescent belle

I wanted a poem to cheer up my mum
unlike chocolates or flowers, this gift she could hum
To make her smile whenever she felt blue
a gift that says: ”Mum, I really love you”

Michelle asked me questions about my mum
all kinds of things that made my brain go numb
Mum’s life, loves and passions, her ideal day out
she got to know her well, of that there’s no doubt

The finished poem Michelle performed out loud
I enjoyed it so much, I really was wowed
My mum loved it too, it bought tears to her eyes
this gift from The Poetry Takeaway, the perfect surprise


Act of kindness #4: Flowers for mum

Being kind by buying my mum a bunch of flowers:

My lovely mum is going through a difficult time at the moment.

And as you’ll know, it’s really hard to see someone you love upset.

So as well as keeping her in a constant supply of heartfelt hugs, I bought her this bunch of bright cheery flowers to lift her spirits a little and to remind her how much she is loved and treasured.


Day 74: Quality mum time

Being grateful for spending a lovely day out with my mum:

I love spending quality time with my lovely mum.

We don’t get to do it too often, which may sound a little strange as we see each other every day (I’m living back with my parents while I recover from CFS). But there’s something really special about making nice plans to spend the day together.

Months ago, when we heard the new James Bond film, Spectre, was due for a November release, we agreed to see it together and would top it off with a yummy lunch. Mum is a huge Bond fan, and while I don’t normally go for action films, I’ve a penchant for a good Bond adventure.

After what has seemed like a long wait, the latest 007 installment has finally opened in our cinemas. We set off for the first showing of the day, and were quite surprised to be joined by a good few other cinema goers: 10:30am on a Monday morning!

And it didn’t disappoint.

I think Daniel Craig is incredible as James Bond. This may be controversial to die-hard Bond fans, but for me he’s taken over Sean Connery as my favourite ever 007. And his fourth outing was an action-packed 148 minutes and we left feeling exhilarated (and dying for the loo!!).

Time for lunch.

I’ve been looking forward to going to George’s, a new-ish fish restaurant in the city. I’ve been dying to sample their Fish Chowder in a Sourdough Bowl – which is one of the most memorable dishes I’ve ever eaten, courtesy of the infamous Boudin Bakery in San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf.

fish chowder sourdough with top

Again, it didn’t disappoint.

We loved the restaurant, especially these cute little beach huts and the newspaper-esque menus. And we happily devoured our delicious Fish Chowders, yum yum.

George's beach huts

Mum then went off to do a little shopping, while I headed straight home, tired but very happy.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being grateful for spending a lovely day out with my mum.

Day 62: Everyday kindness

Being kind by bringing home a library book for my mum:

My mum recently borrowed a book from our local library, but a few pages in she realised she’d already read it. Mum decided to continue with it until she could go back to the library and choose a new book.

This was on my mind as I popped into our library today.  I looked for and checked out a book I thought she would enjoy.

When I gave mum the book, she was really touched and said it could be my kindness act for the day.

I was quite surprised because it didn’t feel like an act of kindness; I haven’t really considered thoughtfulness as an act of kindness before.

But when I think about it, they do go hand-in-hand.

I’ve been focussing on the bigger acts of kindness, especially those that take me out of my comfort zone. But it’s also about the thoughtful everyday little gestures. Especially to those who are part of our day-to-day lives.

Today has been a lovely reminder that all acts of kindness, big or small, showy or low key, deserve to be acknowledged and celebrated.

Hooray 🙂

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being kind by bringing home a library book for my mum.

Day 17: My mum

Being grateful for my lovely mum:

My mum is such a superstar.

She is one of the most caring, thoughtful and all round loveliest people I know.

And she’s my mum. I know, what a lucky girl I am.

She’s always been there for me and we’ve always been close.

And I’ve come to appreciate her even more since I’ve been living back in the family home due to the ME/CFS.

I’ve found it incredibly hard giving up my independence and having to rely on mum to look after me. But she has made this transition much easier thanks to her kind, graceful nature.

And I appreciate that it can’t always be easy for her.

On bedrest days like today, she pops in to check on me, brings me cups of tea, and kindly prepares my meals. She has never once complained or made me feel like it’s too much.

I’m so grateful that she takes the time to understand my symptoms and triggers, and how she steps in to look after me when I’m not feeling well enough to look after myself.

She listens to me when I tell her how I’m feeling. She hugs me when I’m feeling down. She shields me from visitors when I’m too exhausted to be social.

She even helps me when I have to do something requiring some thought and my brain is too foggy.

She supports me no matter what, without judgement.

I tell her as often as possible how much I love her, how amazing she is and how grateful I am. And I do my best to help out whenever I am feeling well enough.

I hope she knows that I think she is simply the best. Because she is.

She’s my mum, my confidant, my best friend.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being grateful for my lovely mum.