Six word Saturday


Said goodbye to a dear friend


Vivienne Frances Blake

1.12.1937- 5.7.2016

We met through Six Word Saturday, and so I thought it would best to say goodbye this way.  I had no idea that, when I returned from the Algarve, the vital force that was Viv Blake had already departed this life.  I posted my six words last week and waited for the response that inevitably came, but this time it didn’t.  I can’t begin to describe the feeling that washed over me when I went to Viv in France to ‘tap her on the shoulder’, and found her daughter Sally’s message.  It was an invitation to the funeral, in Newcastle-on-Tyne, this Wednesday.

I went, with not a little uncertainty.  There I finally met warm and welcoming Jock, whose creativity Viv always celebrated on her blog. Abba played us in with ‘Thank you for the music’ and a very personal service began.  Sally read ‘The poetry of every day’, chosen from the hundreds of poems written by Viv.  I’ll share a snippet :

‘Agenda similar, routine unvaried

until I’m out there,

eyes everywhere

glorying in small shy hedgerow flowers

or exuberance of roses round cottage door… ‘

Just a fragment of the poetry that was Viv’s daily currency.  She could conjure a poem for any given situation, and that included her own epitaph. Not morbid at all, she’d had her health issues and was impatient with the frailties they imposed (especially if ‘that quilt’ wouldn’t turn out quite the way it ought, by Viv’s high standards).  It was read for her by close friend, Linda, who I know best as Tillybud.  Handel’s ‘Let the Bright Seraphim’ and then an emotional performance of ‘Send in the Clouds’ by Judi Dench brought the lump to my throat.  This is her resting place.

I met Viv only once, at Northumberlandia one bleak March day, but it’s a day I’ll never forget.  Those bright eyes twinkled at me with a fierce intelligence, but a love of laughter and of life.

Viv was a constant support and encouragement around my blog. Though she lived the latter part of her life in France, she knew and loved so many of the places I’ve written about in the north east of England.  Places like Hareshaw Linn and Middleton-in-Teesdale recalled fond memories for Viv.

I was in awe of her facility with words, and her desire to go on feeding her brain.  Music, I knew, was one of the loves of her life.  It wasn’t easy to write this but, as I did, what should be on TV last night?  ‘Strictly at the BBC Proms’.  Like myself, Viv was an enormous ‘Strictly’ fan. How Viv would have loved it!  It seemed fitting to watch on her behalf.

God bless, Viv!  RIP.  Six words won’t be the same without you.



  1. I’ll miss her so much. We met on the OU Creative writing course and kept in touch. She gave her enthusiastic support to my efforts at writing a first novel and helped choose its name, ‘Tom Fleck’. She read much of the sequel and was keenly waiting to proof read the remainder. Sadly, I was too late to send it to Viv – it is only now completed. Her passing spurred me on. I do wish that I’d been brisker. I’ve dedicated ‘The Black Caravel’ to Vivienne Blake; it is a small way of paying homage to a lovely lady.

  2. It’s a very sad news. One could have never thought she had this desease. Her blog was very beautiful; her poems like haikus. Please leave her blog on the Internet, so that we may pick up our favorite poems. I knew her as doing a MOOC, and she contacted me as a friend of the Internet. I’m French, please excuse my faults in English.She succeeded in this blog, which is unusual for a person of her generation. Thanks to her for her poems and her snaps.

  3. I have just come across this post through re reading Tilly’s comments on her blog post so apologies for not commenting before. Thank you so much for coming to Mum’s funeral and sharing it on your 6 Word Saturday. The photos of the Crem are lovely – I didn’t have time to appreciate how lovely it was on the day!
    Mum was very proud of her walk up Northumbrelandia the day we met you a few years ago – it was a big achievement for her with her dodgy heart and she also loved to meet blogging friends. Sally

  4. First I saw your latest walk and then this sad news. I did not know your friend, but I am so sorry to hear that she is no longer with us.

  5. An absolutely lovely tribute to Viv, Jo, and well-deserved. Such a wonderful woman, and everyone who knew her thought so – knew so!

    I’m so glad you and I got to meet, however briefly, and thank you for the hug, which I needed.


    1. Thanks for returning my visit, ‘Tilly’ 🙂 I’m sorry, I still think of you as Tillybud. Our paths don’t cross these days, hon, but I know you’re a busy lady, as I also knew you would be in bits when you heard the news. Your reading was wonderful and Viv would have been proud of you. I wasn’t sure how I would feel surrounded by strangers, but it was great to finally put a face to Jock and everyone was very welcoming. I did it for myself but also partly to share it with the bloggers who weren’t lucky enough to meet her. I know you’ve lost a best friend and you took such delight in each other’s company. Nothing much I can do but send hugs.

  6. I remember seeing her face on your blog, Jo. I’m so sorry to hear about her death. It was fitting that you wrote a tribute to your fellow blogger here. But also touching that you were able to meet her in person and attend her funeral.

  7. Such sad news and such a lovely tribute, Jo. It’s wonderful how friendships are formed through our blogs. I’m so glad you had the opportunity to meet Viv in person and share a special day together.

  8. Jo this is such a lovely tribute to your friend, I didn’t know her but I wish I had. Her personality is shining brightly in those smiling blue eyes, big hugs darling.

  9. So glad you were back in time to go to the funeral, and what a beautiful epitaph this post will be of Viv. Huge loss for our family, friends and the blogging/creative world.

    1. It was a huge shock, Becky! I was glad to be there to say my goodbyes, and her family were all lovely.
      I was just thinking to myself this morning that I hadn’t seen you around. Still busy with family stuff? Hope it’s working out.

      1. Hi yes life full of social and health care assessments for my mum and dad. Nipped back home last night so got today and tomorrow to catch up on things before I’m back down to Somerset on Tuesday.

    1. Thanks, Heather. It does feel very strange that Viv won’t be chipping in and commenting any more. We used to prompt each other about when Cate’s 6WS post was up to link to. Occasionally it didn’t appear at all and we’d just shrug and carry on. I’ll miss her.

  10. I know you must be feeling sad, but this is a grand and fitting goodbye Jo. Viv would have been delighted with this. I didn’t know her, but often read your chats on here. She will be missed by many.

    1. Thanks, Jude. I know your feelings on funerals but I almost felt compelled to go. Disrupted my ‘normal’ week, and I haven’t quite got it back in place yet. The cemetery is on the outskirts of Newcastle, and I’d been there once before for the Dad of my lovely friend Pam, who lives up there. I remember that day as wet and miserable. As I headed up the A19 on the bus on Wednesday huge storm clouds gathered and we had thunder and lightning followed by a terrific downpour. I smiled to myself- the Gods are angry 🙂 By the time I reached the cemetery it had ‘steam dried’ and a watery sun was out. I only knew Sally, Viv’s daughter, but everyone was very friendly and welcoming, and it wasn’t a sad ceremony. Tilly had a long way to travel and fell foul of the trains so she arrived late. I felt so sorry for her. She read Viv’s epitaph brilliantly but was in bits after. Send in the Clouds got me.
      Sorry, Jude. I just needed to share that.

      1. Sounds like it was a good celebration of her life and that’s nice. The way it should be. Do you mean the song Send in the Clowns by Judy Collins? Never understood the lyrics, but great song.

      2. Yes, and I do know what you mean about the lyrics but I still love it. This was a Judi Dench version that I’ve heard before. Very emotional.

      3. Absolutely! Floods of tears actually, but I got a grip. Thought I was Gilly there for a moment. 🙂 Speaking of whom, I know I owe you an e but it’ll be after the famed meeting. I’m cogitating. Painful! 🙂

  11. I was shocked (still am, actually) to read on her blog that she had died – she had just posted something a day or two earlier. You have written a lovely tribute to her and how wonderful it is that you were able to go to the funeral and say goodbye in person.

    1. Me too, Elaine! Because she’d not been in such good health lately, I wasn’t aware that she was visiting Sally again. It was a real shock, and I just about had time to gather my wits to attend the funeral. I was so glad that I did. 🙂

    1. It was a lovely service, Ad, with the words and music chosen by Viv herself. So typical 🙂 Lovely to finally meet Jock and have a quick hug with Tilly. 🙂

  12. I had only recently discovered Viv’s blog bit was really enjoying it. I was only just beginning to feel like I was getting to know here when I read that she was gone. This is a lovely tribute to her, Jo.

    1. I’m sorry you didn’t have time to know her better. Life is sometimes much shorter than we expect, isn’t it? She truly enriched mine. Thanks for joining me here 🙂

  13. Oh, Jo… I’ve been so terrible with commenting lately but Viv was always such a solid presence nix 6WS. I’m glad you met, both online and off, and that you shared such a beautiful tribute with us. If I didn’t have much time, her posts were often ones I favored because she had such a way with words. It’s clear she will be missed by many.

    1. Thanks, Cate 🙂 I do understand that you have a very busy life and running a challenge is hopelessly time consuming, but I owe you a lot. You brought us together.

  14. I’m so sad to hear this, and I think it is a wonderful way of saying goodbye with this very fine post. Life is but a moment, and we all seems to forget it over and over again. Sending my love…

  15. I did not know Viv but she sounds like she was a wonderful person and friend. I am glad that you had time together in this life and that you were able to be at her service to say goodbye. A wonderful tribute.

    1. We met when I was a nervous newbie, Lisa, and she couldn’t have been kinder. It was wonderful to have her friendship, and she will be missed. Thanks for your understanding and support.

  16. I’m so sorry for your loss, Jo. You gave a great homage to a dear friend and will cherish those good memories forever. I hope you can celebrate her life in the beauty of nature this weekend. I would “like” your blog, but I have a hard time doing this with sad postings. My thoughts are with you, though and I appreciate the personal and touching piece you wrote about Viv.

    1. I think so too, Anabel. I have met a few bloggers now, seldom at my initiative, but when I met Viv I was a newbie and very nervous indeed. She couldn’t have been lovelier. 🙂

  17. I didn’t know or follow Viv, but I know you were great friends from seeing your comments back and forth over the years. I’m so sorry for your loss, Jo. I’m glad you were able to attend her funeral and be there for her family and to say your fond goodbye. This is a lovely tribute too. Hugs xxx.

    1. It was a real shock, Cathy. I didn’t know if I should go or if it would be an intrusion, but Sally and Jock(Viv’s husband) were very welcoming. There was more joy than sorrow, and I suppose that in some ways death was kind. Viv didn’t take at all kindly to growing infirm, and no more would I. Thanks for the hugs, darlin. 🙂 I admired her tremendously.

      1. I’m sure they were very happy to have you there, Jo. I can understand why Viv wouldn’t have taken well to growing infirm; I know I won’t either. Again, I’m so sorry, but I’m really glad you made it to the funeral to show your love and admiration. xxx

  18. Oh Jo how very sad and how beautiful your tribute to Viv is. This explain why I had not seen her around recently – she occasionally came onto one of my sites. Thank you for paying this tribute, I am very moved indeed. Big hug, Carina

    1. I was really shocked when I heard the news, Carina. I thought that if I shared a few details of the funeral on here it would help people to say their goodbyes. Thanks for your kindness. 🙂

  19. A very moving tribute to Viv, Jo. Viv will always be in our hearts, and her presence has touched so many in the blogging community. Very nice to hear that you made the funeral and she must be watching over all us now 🙂

    1. I’m hoping she liked this tribute too, Mabel. 🙂 So often we would go to each other’s 6 words and ask if Cate’s post was ‘up’ yet. Often it was late or didn’t appear at all, but we carried on regardless. Viv said it had developed a life of its own, and she was right. (Cate was early today- too late!)

  20. I haven’t blogged in a long time, but when I did Viv was always a great supporter. Your tribute was lovely Jo and although I never met Viv in person, I had a little cry and shall miss her dearly.

    1. I was hoping Viv would like it, and I didn’t want to embarrass anyone, Georgia. We tread a thin line with blogging relationships sometimes but I did love Viv. Thanks for your support.

    1. Thanks, Meg 🙂 I would have quoted it in full but it was a long poem. She wrote some wonderful ones and you can find them on the Viv in France link. Hugs back, sweetheart. An industrious Saturday? 🙂

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