We Are Ageing Better is bringing people together to share their skills and expertise to create great projects and changes in our community. We’re open to everyone over 60 in Camden and are based in St Pancras and Somers Town, a neighbourhood in the heart of Camden.

Royal Collection Trust creative writing group

“Come on Flora” by Lester Hillman (July 2020).

St James's Park and the Mall

St James’s Park and the Mall (1745), British School 18th Century

Here in St James’s Park it is the Feast of St James. Looking southwards and towards the Thames the Collegiate Church of St Peter Westminster stands tall against the evening sky. This year, 1745, the 25th July is a Sunday. Earlier, thoughts elevated, one or two may have squeezed into the pews of the Chapel Royal of St James nearby. But no one is directing their focus heavenward now.

Flora does not need to eavesdrop the snatches of German in the lively banter and Frederick Prince of Wales is not the only royalty in the Park tonight. It is 1745 and ‘ Flora’ is a subtle reminder of the ‘Prince Across the Water’. The name of the Park offers yet more reinforcement. A pair of kilted warriors pass by, adding to the Jacobite July drama.

Flora herself is of course undisputed royalty, acknowledged ‘gold topped cream’ she is at the very pinnacle of her own realm. Yes there are others, eighteenth century London  numbers them in their thousands, but a welcome in the Park  is the stuff of dreams for all but Flora. Her presence confirms her at the very apex.

As the light fades she wearies but her acute senses sustain her. She alone senses the river Tyburn buried under foot. Its faint refreshing gurgling offers a refreshing dialogue. The hidden waters waft up a faint aroma. Sweet moisture helps Flora summon up her last warm frothy white liquid. Her followers rejoice, toasting their loyal allegiance. Flora processes majestically out, taking a dignified leave and a last walk in the park.


Royal Collections Trust creative writing group

Lester Hillman has written this beautiful piece for the Royal Collections Trust Creative Writing group.  If you would like to join, do let us know. You can join via email, phone or post.


eggEgg Timer by Lester Hillman

Perhaps the egg is about the beating of time, the time tensions creating the gift, seasonal cycles and inspiration, the surprise moment of giving and receiving, dramas playing out to a fixed deadline and public ceremonial spectacle. Perhaps there were perspectives looking decades back and focusing thoughts to a dynastic future.

What might have been Alma Theresia Pihl’s thoughts that Orthodox Church Easter Sunday morning in Russia 1914 as the egg was hatching and the surprise drama played out?  Had the inspiration came from there? Others too who had bought it to completion would have invested emotion and could hope for relief. It cannot have been a three minute creation.

The inspiration from domestic contentment, sewing by the fireside, conjures up Winter, the opening of the egg a birth, the embroidery flowers herald Spring and a good Summer. The seasons seem to be there.

Long in advance had a range of ideas been presented to the Tsar for his selection, approval and the adding of a personal dimension? A surprise called for keeping the secret yet practicalities, materials, craftsmanship, second thoughts and last minute options would call for advance preparation, judgements and assumptions with tricky, interwoven and nested time cycles.

Lastly there must surely have been generational cycles. For the Tsar’s family health, life itself and the dynastic succession were ever present concerns. The year 1914 clocked up two decades for Tsar Nicholas II. So here at a significant way marker might a family, cocooned safely, hope for a protected future with a few less surprises.











Dear members

If you are checking this website I hope that you are keeping safe and well. We have had to suspend all our activities and events for now whilst the country tackles the Coronavirus.

Please keep well and we look forward to resuming the programme when it is safe to do so.

Take care


Visit to Queens Gallery

The Roll Call

The Queen’s Gallery

20th  February 2019

The Queen’s Gallery very kindly extended ‘We are Ageing Better’ an invitation to a viewing and workshop. A group from the Living Centre led by Jess Grieve were encouraged to offer reflections on a number of paintings and objects. Several hundred years of collective Camden perspective were focused on a handful of art works, here are some of the observations.

‘The Roll Call’ Lady Elizabeth Butler (1874)

Painted two decades after the Battle of Inkerman fought in the Crimean War this depiction arrived upon an unexpecting England, it was like nothing seen before. It caused a sensation. It is the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Inkerman 5th November 1854, twenty years previous. The desolate snow scene shows ordinary guardsmen, tired and dishevelled, some visibly wounded. It is two roll calls. They  answer their names, whilst hearing the roll call of names not answered.

Inkerman Street Kentish Town is but one reminder of the Camden links to the painting. Another is the Prime Minister. In 1874 it was Benjamin Disraeli, his family homes were in today’s Camden and  he was born in Holborn. In 1874 he had just won an election and was heading his first government in his own right.

How might Queen Victoria and Dizzy have chatted observing the painting?

“Congratulations on becoming my Prime Minister and heading your first true administration. This extraordinary work by Lady Butler may soon be acquired. It has given me a rare pleasure yet twenty years on this painting reminds us Russia will loom large for you.”

“Maam, I’d wager it will 150 years from now. That Crimea fills an enormous canvas, and it has a knack of capturing public imagination. Do you know, just up the road from where I grew up, and elsewhere across your realm, whole neighbourhoods bear the names Inkerman, Alma and other battles too.”

written by Lester Hillman

More writing from some of the members:

I look at you and remember the days of my youth, where did it go, my memories are of fun and gaiety but my body says different.

The 16 year old would say to the 60 year old to remember how it was before you reach 60 years old. Life was fun, free, independent, no fear, life was great, no pain and no worries. So take these memories and let it lead you so that you can be happy. Feel free like the bird in the air.