Thursday, 25 October 2012


Anna stared at the huge, forbidding face that was peering down at her. The broad shoulders and imposing male figure was waiting, impatiently, she knew; but she could not speak, she was dumb-struck. She glanced, helplessly around, panic rose in her throat and bile threatened to choke her. Her chest felt tight, constricted and she struggled to breathe, she felt as though she was going to faint. Anxiety filled her body and she turned on her heels and fled; running as fast as she could, almost hysterical, with a feeling of such foreboding that she scattered all in her path.

Ignoring cries of concern from bystanders, she flew through the open door and out into the golden sunlight of an autumn day. On she ran, gathering up the skirts of her long gown as she sped through the streets and down to the sea. Ah, yes, the sea; the beach; she would find freedom on the shore.

The narrow streets of the little, seaside town were almost deserted, the busy throng of Summer holiday makers did not care for autumnal visits, coming only when the sun was hot and the amusement arcades open. But the unusually warm weather had coaxed out a few people; retired couples, dog-walkers and the occasional solitary soul, drifted along the promenade, taking in the sea air. Anna was oblivious to these startled on-lookers as she ran across the road,

" Marine Drive ", she thought to herself and smiled at the grand name. It was just an ordinary little road that ran alongside the coast, but previous Municipal dignitaries had given it the pretentious identity, in an effort to make the town more "up-market". The same, misguided townsfolk, no doubt, who had ordered the rather garish repainting of the band-stand; an attempt to make the town "sexier", more appealing to a younger, wealthier, generation. Various colours had been tested, but some crazy person had decided on a hideous, lime green, which, over the years had, thankfully, faded to the pale, peeling colour it now wore. Pale and peeling and quite neglected, as the rich clientele had never materialised and the town had remained; unremarkable, unexciting and strangely oppressive. A little town, on the edge of the sea, surrounded by vertiginous cliffs, that seemed to threaten to fall into the briny waters at any moment.

Anna leaned over the railings and looked down onto the beach, then, glancing nervously behind her to see if she had been followed, she made for the steps, changed her mind and raced down the nearer, handier slope; the slipway for the fishing boats. The first few yards of the shore was mainly shingle and Anna hurried, unsteadily, past small rock pools that glimmered with the shells of spiral volutes, molluscan seashells and horseshoe crabs. But then the shingle and pebbles gave way to pale, golden sand and here Anna paused and kicked off her shoes. Spreading her arms out wide, she twirled slowly, lifting her face to the sun,

" Oh, how good that feels, " she sighed and she felt her spirit awake, as though from sedation. She walked to the water's edge, where the surf foamed and frothed, feeling the ripples around her ankles, then, briefly turning round to survey the beach, she watched as a lone, brightly painted, paper kite; it's tail streaming out like a banner; tugged at it's string and broke free. No longer fettered and restrained, it floated high up into the clouds, leaving the child, it's would-be master, staring, wonderingly after it.

" I will not be gaoled ", whispered Anna, " I, too, will be free. I will not be trapped."

She felt the incoming waves washing over her legs, soaking the hem of her dress; the layers of her skirt billowing out, heavy with water. Pulling at the tiny pearl buttons on the bodice, Anna discarded the garment and stood, in her silk petticoat, knee deep in the sea. She knew she must flee, find safety , they would be here soon, they would find her; take her back; persuade her, no !

Then she saw it. From the little cove, out by the headland, it galloped towards her. Faster and faster it came, until she felt it's breath on her cheek, She raised her arms and the white horse dipped it's head. Anna twisted her fingers into the pure white, silky mane and hauled herself onto it's broad back, she leaned her weary head on it's neck and whispered,

" You have saved me".

The puzzled child wandered up to the shore-line and gazed up at his kite as it drifted and glided freely in the blue sky and then he looked quizzically at the wedding dress, floating in and out on the swell of the tide, along with strands of seaweed and one pink godetia from a bridal bouquet. _____________________________________________________________________________________

This is my entry for this weeks Countdown Word Game, the marvellously entertaining game, invented by Matt Mascarenhas. If you would like to take part please visit Matt's blog at . You can write a story, an article or even a shopping list (oh, wish I had thought of that earlier !!) anything at all as long as you include the prescribed words. This week those words are;


Tuesday, 11 September 2012


The fancy-dress party wasn't really my 'cup of tea', but my cousin, Kate, had insisted that I accompany her as the '+1', the invitation had requested. Since her divorce, Kate has been rather at a loss, so I reluctantly agreed. Kate has always been a 'social climber' and, since moving to "The Close", a development of large mock-Tudor houses for the nouveau riche, she had become even more 'upwardly mobile' and was thrilled to be included in her pretentious neighbours' activities.

However, I think she was beginning to regret asking me along. There were many wonderfully lavish outfits on display; 'Henry VIII', 'Marie Antoinette', even a couple dressed as 'Anthony and Cleopatra'. Kate, herself, was dressed as a sparklingly pretty 'Titania' and was basking in the approval of her hosts ( they had settled on Tristan and Isolde ), so I suppose my 'Tigger' costume, complete with 'tiger' face-paint, was not really up-market enough ! But it was the best I could do, all the extravagant costumes had been snapped up by the time I found time to go to the costume-hire shop, it was this, 'Kermit the Frog' or 'Ghandi' and I didn't think that the sight of me, topless, in a loin-cloth, would have been acceptable !

Kate had abandoned me almost at once and so I hung around, leaning on the bar in the dining room, listening to two 'Firemen' discussing the power-nailers that they had recently purchased from B&Q. They were swiftly joined by an aging 'Elvis', who had about half a pound of pomade on his hair. He goosed me as he perched his ample back-side on a bar stool and I wondered how he could tell I was female in my all-enveloping costume, then he winked and the thought occurred that he actually imagined I was a guy !

A shrill laugh; a sound that could curdle milk, crashed through the general party noises. The laughter and clinking of glasses was coming from the direction of the conservatory and through the French doors I could see that, there amongst the expensive cane furniture, overblown, festoon blinds and reclaimed quarry tiles, our hostess, Jocasta, was holding court. I cruised through the throng, wondering what witty comment had warranted such an outburst of hilarity and took a seat next to Kate, who was still chuckling softly. Jocasta continued in her affected, cultured voice and I began to get the drift of the conversation. Some poor woman in the village was being talked about; misused and abused, verbally, by these grinning harpies. Apparently, the lady in question was of a 'certain age' and, to the horror of the snobs in "The Close", she was having an affair with a much younger man.

" Old enough to be his Mother, if not Grandmother !!" screeched Jocasta and they all tutted and shook their heads and sniggered behind their hands.

" I mean, she is not exactly discreet, either ..........." and a dozen heads leaned forward to hear the scandalous details.

I learned that Jocasta had been to the hairdressers the day before, probably for the weekly shearing of her over-bleached mop of hair and the 'Jezebel' was the sole topic of conversation. Of course, now the story was being bruited to all and sundry. Every detail had been gleaned by rumour and hearsay, but that didn't stop Jocasta. She reported that the lovers usually met in the city, but that the young man had been seen entering the lady's house under cover of darkness. I was going to point out that, to my knowledge, they were both free and single, but I held my tongue as our hostess continued. It seems that even the poor woman's laundry-line had been inspected. The lady wore the sexiest underwear. Tiny little panties, apparently, mere wisps of lace and her bras and camisoles had to be seen to be believed,

" Sheer chiffon and Belgian lace, expensive silk ! I suppose her young lover likes that sort of thing. Probably the only way she can keep him interested " Jocasta snorted, as she skewered a tiny, roasted cherry tomato from the hors d'ouvres platter.

"Mutton dressed as lamb ", added another, elaborately coiffured woman.

" I've heard he is still at University, in the city. Some sort of athlete too......" said Kate, with, I thought, more than a hint of wistful envy in her voice.

" Well I think it is disgusting" continued Jocasta, in her most outraged tone, " Not the sort of thing we want in the village, thank you very much. She must be driven out, she is not OUR type at all. We don't want our children corrupting with that sort of thing "

And they all shook their heads violently and pursed their mealy mouths as they sipped their cocktails.

I leaned back in the capacious wicker chair and toyed, idly, with my 'Tigger' tail. Glancing around, I smiled as I surveyed many photos of Jocasta's pretty daughter and handsome son. In some of the photos, displayed on the grand piano, her son was in his cricket whites, smiling happily for the camera. Ah, that smile, that slow, easy, sexy smile, that I knew so well. I sipped my drink and made a mental note to be more careful and also to avoid hanging my Ann Summers knickers on the line, I would dry them indoors instead. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ Yeah, this is my entry for the weekly Word Game ..... a cautionary little tale ! heehee This game was invented by Matt and rules and regs. and anything else you need to know, can be found on his blog at The words this week are; FIREMEN, NAILERS, COUPLE, ROASTED, CRUISED, MISUSED, BRUITED, GOOSED, SHEARING, POMADE, ATHLETE.

Friday, 7 September 2012

The Magical Pool

Gather round, children, oh and you curious adults; for fairytales are not just for the young. They are for the open-minded, the romantics, the dreamers among us. The young at heart and the free of spirit. So, are you seated comfortably ? Then we will begin, in the time-honoured way ........................ Once upon a time, in a land far away, there lived an Elf named Lyari. He was a hardworking, loyal Elf and the Elven King, Aulauther, decided to reward his endeavours by appointing him as Guardian of a magical pool. This pool bubbled up out of the ground as a spring in the middle of a beautiful glade at the edge of a small village. The spring water flowed gently outwards, forming the deep, mysterious pool. The glade was an enchanting place, surrounded by Willow trees and sweet Briar roses. Slender Rowan trees, that trembled in the slightest of breezes; Honeysuckle, clambering over Laurel bushes , the heavy scent hanging in the air. Foxgloves , wild Hyacinth and delicate Harebells grew all around the shimmering pool. Bloated frogs hopped in the damper areas of grass and tiny Sticklebacks darted to and fro in the clear, sparkling water. Lyari took his task very seriously. He tended the pool and kept it clear of any weed that threatened to starve the waters of oxygen and he ensured that the animals and plants were safe and well cared for. The glade was well known in the land and people came from far and wide, on tours, to throw their pennies into the crystal water and make a wish. It was rumoured that the pool was enchanted; that it would grant wishes. No-one knew for certain, but they were willing to take a chance and so they came and tossed their hopes and dreams into the depths and closed their eyes and wished. Lyari watched them from his hiding place and smiled his Elvish smile, but as for granting wishes, that was his secret. One day, Lyari was working by the pool, when a cloaked figure wandered into the glade. He watched from behind a clump of Bull-rushes, as the figure knelt down beside the water and removed the hood of the enveloping garment. Long auburn locks tumbled out and fell around the shoulders of a beautiful girl; the most lovely human Lyari had ever seen. The maiden then removed her cloak and the Elf gasped in wonder at her perfection. Surely she must be a faerie, no mere mortal could be so exquisite. But mortal she was and her lovely brow was wrinkled in distress, her green eyes brimmed with tears and her heart was sad. She tossed a coin into the pool and the gentle splash startled a nearby rabbit, who ran, in haste towards a transfixed Lyari, almost colliding with him. The girl sat beside the water for some time and, fascinated, the Elf tinkered about, trying to complete his tasks, but completely distracted by her beauty. Then, as suddenly as she had appeared, she rose and was gone and Lyari felt, for the first time in his life, empty and alone. To his delight, she returned, day after day and each time Lyari fell more in love with her. He listened to her whispered wishes and discovered why she was so sad. Her one true love had gone off to seek his fortune, so they could be married, but a long year had passed and Mairwen, for that was her name, feared that he would never return. She thought that something evil must have taken place and that she would never see him again, so she resolved to come to this spot every day and toss coin after coin into the pool, in the hope that the Guardian would grant her dearest wish and return her beloved Cadfael to her arms. Well, dear ones, this state of affairs went on for some time. Day after day, week after week, Mairwen came to the glade and Lyari began to neglect his duties as he sat and gazed upon her beauteous countenance. He delighted in her presence, especially when she sang love songs, her soft voice trilling and echoing around the clearing and the woodland creatures looked up from their grazing and listened to the lilting tunes. Lyari forgot about the weed on the pool, forgot the weekly dosing with Elvish dust; the magical dust that made the waters sparkle and fill the glade with a million crystals. Mairwen had taken his heart hostage and he was in no hurry to have it returned. The neglect of the enchanted pool came to the notice of King Aulauther and he was greatly displeased. He chaired an emergency meeting of the Sylvan management committee and Lyari was summoned to appear. Now, the King was very fond of this Elf and so he treated him gently, tried to understand the problem and pointed out the pitfalls of loving a mortal. But Lyari was adamant and would not be moved and so the King said that Lyari would have to think of a solution, resolve the problem, one way or another and gave him permission to use any magic at his disposal as long as the glade and the pool were restored to their former glory . Lyari flew home, full of excitement .... he could use any spell ....oh yes !! He could bewitch the lovely Mairwen and make her his. She could stay with him forever, help him tend the glade, never leave him. Oh, they would be so happy ! Mairwen was sitting by the pool when he returned and he was startled to see how thin she had become. Her hair lacked it's lustre and her beautiful eyes were clouded and dark-ringed. He had not realised that she was slowly slipping away from life, dying of a broken heart. Lyari paused and looked at her and he was torn. He could cast his spell and make her love him, forget Cadfael. What should he do, what spell should he use ? He took the velvet pouch from his silken belt and tipped out a handful of Elvish dust, then, closing his eyes, he stood behind the forlorn figure and sprinkled the dust into the air. Mairwen woke up, as from a deep slumber and there, standing beside her, was the muscular outline of a man. She shaded her eyes from the bright rays of the sun and a face swam into focus. It was her Cadfael, he had returned, his pockets full of gold. The handsome youth bent and lifted her into his arms and they embraced happily. Lyari watched from behind a toadstool, as the colour returned to Mairwen's cheeks, her hair shone in the sunlight and her eyes sparkled with joy. He had realised that his love transcended his desires, he loved her so much that her happiness was all he sought; he loved her enough to let her go. Mairwen and Cadfael walked, arm in arm, out of the glade, but just before she reached the path to the road, she turned and looked at the magical place that had granted her wish. She was sure that she saw an Elvish figure gazing after them, but looked again and it was gone. " Goodbye ..... and thank you !" she whispered, and blew a kiss. The kiss flew on the gentle breeze, flitting hither and thither, through trees and grass and sweet-smelling flowers, until it reached Lyari, who caught it and touched it to his lips. Then he dropped it into the cloudy pool. Ripples radiated out and the waters became clear once again and the sunlight sparkled and the glade was filled with a million crystals. _____________________________________________________________________________________ This is my entry for this week's Countdown Word Game, Invented by Matt. This week the rules were slightly changed and , although all the words had to be incorporated into a story as usual, the story had to be in the form of a Fairytale. The words this week are; DAMPER, DOSING, TINKERED, HOSTAGE, TOURS, CHAIRED, PENNIES, BLOATED. This was first published on on 21st August 2012

Autumn Mist.............. A Seasonal Tale

Catherine loved this time of year, when the dawn brought mists and watery sun, or sometimes crisp coolness, the leaves began to fall and the berries began to grow plump and inviting on the hedgerows and amongst the trees. Now was the time she foraged far and wide, seeking out blackberries and elderberries, crab apples and all types of mushrooms, to make her special chutneys and preserves. It was the sale of these, along with the occasional drawing or watercolour, that enabled Catherine to stay in the quaint, thatched cottage bequeathed to her by her Grandmother. Catherine instinctively felt at her throat, for the heavy gold locket that had once belonged to her Grandma. It was Catherine's most treasured possession, a tangible memory of the dear old lady who had been her strength and comfort when her parents had died. Catherine, a little 5 year old, heartbroken and forlorn, had come to live with her only remaining relative. At first she had been stubborn and resentful, not understanding why she had to live with this old lady. She missed her parents dreadfully and cried herself to sleep each night. But Grandma, who was also grieving for the loss of her beloved daughter and son-in-law , was understanding and kind and gradually they helped each other through the dark days. That was now 15 years ago and this was the only home that Catherine could remember. She had had a blissful childhood, playing in the garden and running through the deep wood at the rear of the cottage. Her Grandma had taught her all about nature and the wonderous bounty it provided. Of berries and flowers, of nuts and mushrooms and about all the creatures and the beauty of nature. Together they had walked through the woods, with their wicker baskets, picking the abundant harvest, but never taking it all. Her Grandma had taught her to always leave some for the animals and "the wood". "Look after the wood and it will look after you !" she had said. Grandma used the berries and nuts to make delicious preserves and also some sort of mixtures and medicines, which the villagers bought to cure their coughs and colds, cuts and bruises. "Tonics" Grandma called them and Catherine could picture her now, stirring the huge preserving pan and smiling her kindly smile, while rows of gleaming jars and bottles stood on the kitchen table, waiting for their magical contents. Catherine opened the locket and saw the smiling face of her dear Grandmother gazing back at her. She stroked the lock of white hair that was nestling in the lid and could hardly believe that it was now almost a year since the old lady had passed away. At first Catherine had been inconsolable and would not leave the house, but gradually the villagers had coaxed her out. They encouraged her to go foraging once more and continued to call at the cottage for their chutneys and jams and bottles of "tonic". Her Grandma, it seemed, had been well loved and respected and considered to be a "kindly witch". Of course, Catherine had laughed at this notion, but agreed to continue her Grandmother's "work", although she thought the idea of witchcraft was totally ludicrous. She gently closed the locket and tucked it under her thick sweater, pulled on her woollen wrap and, grabbing her basket, she went out into the misty Autumn morning. Taking the path round the side of the house, she soon found herself in the wood. Today she was searching for mushrooms and went ever deeper into the trees. The mist seemed to close behind her and, stooping every now and then to gather the juicy fungi, she wandered on through the trees until she found herself in a small clearing. In the centre of the clearing was a standing stone, with a flat top and Catherine placed her basket on the stone and looked around. She thought that she knew every inch of the wood, but had never been here before. She slowly walked around the grassy circle on a well worn path, people had obviously been here many times, how could she have ever missed it ? Catherine heard a rustling sound coming from the trees to her left and there, in the mist, was the outline of a figure moving slowly towards her. She fled, leaving basket and mushrooms and all. She sensed the figure was following her, floating through the mist, chasing her and so she ran and ran, in blind panic, never daring to look around, stumbling through the undergrowth until she found herself in sunlight at the edge of the tree-line. Quickly turning, she peered into the trees, but there was nothing; nothing but the glint of sunlight and the sounds of birds. It was then that she thought of her basket, full of plump mushrooms and chided herself for being so silly. It had been the mist, hanging in the trees, playing tricks on her eyes and now a whole day was wasted. She put her hand to her chest to still her beating heart and, to her horror she noticed her precious locket was missing. She must have lost it somewhere in the wood during the fearful flight. Oh, she would never find it now, in all the tangled undergrowth and dead leaves, and now a storm was brewing. Catherine went indoors and tried to busy herself, while the rain lashed down and the sky grew dark.She went to bed late and spent a fitful night, full of weird dreams and woke early, determined to try to find her locket. She set off and carefully retraced her steps, searching on the ground as she went. She could clearly see the path she had taken, in her panic, as there were broken twigs and flattened ferns and threads torn from her wrap, hanging on branches and caught up in brambles. On she went, poking with a stick, among the detritus of the wood, but failing to see the precious glint of gold. Deeper and deeper into the wood she went until, suddenly, she was in the mysterious clearing once again. There was the standing stone and there was her basket, still perched on the top. She lifted it down and, to her amazement, she saw that all the mushrooms were gone, but nestling in the bottom of the basket was her gold locket and a small bottle of something labelled "Tonic". A mist clung to all the trees and bushes around the edge of the clearing, but slowly, through the mist, two old women appeared, black hooded capes drawn tightly around their bodies and willow branches woven into staffs in their hands. They stopped about 5 yards away from Catherine and smiled and nodded. Catherine felt no fear, she sensed that they meant her no harm. Then, the wrinkled old ladies lifted their gnarled hands towards the sky and there was a flash of blue and the clearing filled with light and there, floating above the standing stone was the figure of her Grandma, smiling and nodding.

Friday, 13 July 2012


Today sees the start of the annual Skidby Scarecrow Festival .... which takes place from Friday 13th July to Sunday 15th July.

Now in it's 3rd year, this was the brainchild of Kelvin Young; the Secretary of the Skidby Village Hall Committee. Kelvin has friends in the village of Wetwang and knew of their very successful, annual Scarecrow event, which has been held for many years. He thought that Skidby had equally talented and enthusiastic residents and so the seeds of the Festival were sown.

Starting in a small way, it now encompasses the whole village and, this year there are over 100 amazing Scarecrows on display ! 62 entries are actually registered and appear on a map, in the Festival Programme, but many more pop up, overnight, and add to the fun.

Walking round this beautiful, picturesque, East Yorkshire village, I was astounded by the ingenuity and creativity, of the entries. From 'Spiderman' capturing a 'felon' in his web, to 'Peppa Pig' off to the Olympic Games and 'Grandad' with his trousers round his knees, in his 'out-house'; the Festival caters for all ages and also includes environmental 'messages', such as the tableau highlighting the need for clean water in Third World countries.

Much time and effort must have gone into the creation of these wonderful Scarecrows, not to mention the weeks, if not months, of planning. Even the ones that have, supposedly, been 'made overnight' are brilliantly executed.

There are five categories:

  1. Traditional Scarecrows
  2. Celebrity Scarecrows
  3. Unique Scarecrows
  4. Scarecrows made by a Group
  5. Scarecrows made by a Business/Trade
and a winner is chosen, in each category, by two designated judges.

However, the general public have the final say, as they have voting slips and can choose their favourite of all the entries and pop their choice into a Ballot Box. I know which one I shall vote for ..... but it's a secret !!

The Festival has become quite an attraction in the area and the three day event now has a Falconry Display on the Church Green, on Saturday. Dancing Demonstrations on both days; and on Sunday, incorporates a Car Boot Sale and a performance by the Beverly Brass Band. Tombola and sweet stalls, refreshments and souvenirs, are available in the Village Hall. This is manned by the tireless ladies of the Committee and other village residents, who have kindly given up their time to make this event such a success.

And the object of all this activity ?

Well, apart from a desire to unite the residents of the village and promote community spirit, it is the main fundraising event for Skidby Village Hall ! This Hall was originally a very small building, but in the early 1920s it became obvious that it was not adequate for the needs of the growing village. Land was kindly given to the General Management Committee and, after years of fundraising, the building was completed in 1928. Nowadays, the present Management Committee work throughout the year to maintain the Hall. As it receives no funding from the East Riding of Yorkshire Council, it relies entirely on fundraising events and bookings to raise income.

I think that a huge CONGRATULATIONS is due to both the Committee and the residents of Skidby, who have worked together and produced such a fun-filled weekend. It is so refreshing to know that such wonderful community spirit still exists and, as a new resident, I look forward to being involved next year.

If you are in the area, please do come along and join in the fun. I have included just a few photographs to whet your appetite, but I shall post some more throughout the weekend.

It just remains for me to thank Mary, Trish and Kelvin for indulging me, answering my silly questions and for being so kind and welcoming.

Saturday, 30 June 2012


The mighty Mississippi has travelled many hundreds of miles by the time it reaches Louisiana and meanders on down to the City of New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico. Many tributaries criss-cross the marshlands and small communities have grown and flourished amongst the bayous and creeks.

Cypres-Blanc is one such place, tucked away on the edge of the Creole Nature Trail. Surrounded by Olive and Pecan trees, Willow Oaks and Cottonwoods, hung heavy with Spanish Moss; the small community is almost cut off from the outside world. Here, the Creole ways and customs are strong, the modern world does not venture here. Tourists, on their way to Lake Charles or Lafayette and Baton-Rouge, never notice the bend in the river and the long overgrown trail beyond.

The creek here has provided a living for the community for many a year. The Creole folk have merely to sit on the slope of the river bank with their fishing poles and Cat-fish and Rainbow Trout practically fling themselves onto the hook. The little wooden shacks of the village come down almost to the water's edge and one or two are even built on sturdy wooden stilts and jutt out into the deeper parts of the bayou. Teaming together, the people have created a decent living, but it is finely balanced, the water is the life-blood of the community.

About 20 miles North, a fish cannery factory has opened. It provides much needed employment for the dirt-poor people in that area. It also spews it's effluence into the river that flows on down to Cypres-Blanc; contaminating all it touches. But the people here know nothing of this .... they are uneducated in the ways of the industrialised world. All they do know is that the fish are suddenly dying, and they think they know the reason why.

No-one remembers when Shelby came to their hamlet. It seems as though she has been there for years.

"Mad as a bag of varmints!" opines Eulalie, her golden, hooped earrings shaking as she adjusts her 'tete maw'e', "Poor white trash .... trailer trash" she continues and the other women, in their brightly coloured 'jupe', nod and murmur and roll their eyes and continue preparing the jambalaya.

It's true, Shelby is a little 'touched', a little different. She lives in a world of her own and appears to be oblivious to others. She has lived here for such a long time, begrudgingly accepted by these poor folk, who, at first, felt sorry for her in her tattered clothes and wild hair. She looked as though she had been wandering through the marshlands for days and when she stumbled upon their group of dwellings, she collapsed from sheer exhaustion. They nursed her back to health and could not help but notice a strangeness about her, a madness which made them a little afraid of her. Perhaps she has the 'evil-eye'. Best not rile her, let her stay, but keep our distance. And so she stayed, the mad white woman, living in a little shack and doing no harm ..... until now.

But Shelby cares nothing for this, knows nothing, does nothing. Shelby just loves to dance! She hears the music in her head and she can create a whole new world, another life, far away from the poverty of Cypres-Blanc. A distant memory of a grand house, of a white veranda, overlooking Bald Cypress and beautiful fragrant Southern Magnolias. A fiddle plays in her head and she tangoes with a handsome lover. In her imagination, she is no longer old and wrinkled and in her tattered dress. She has donned a gown of white, with lacy petticoats. She is young and beautiful, she is a bride, dancing on her wedding day.

The women watch the swirling figure as she dances across the stepping stones to the far side of the bayou.

"It's her, it's a curse, she has bewitched the river," murmurs Eulalie, "The fish are dying because of her, the old witch!"

Deeply superstitious, the Creole women nod and mutter in agreement. They know their menfolk have returned day after day, with barely a fish between them. Life is hard enough without Black magic.

Shelby's memory recalls a ballroom, music, laughter .... and she skips and pirouettes across the flat, slippery stones. But .... wait .... what is this? A candle flame, a blaze, the world is burning, orange-red ! Shelby falters on the stones and slips. Calling out, she falls into the deep water that lies under the over-hanging trees. She reaches out to the women, but they just stand, stoney-faced and offer no assistance. She sinks beneath the surface and is lost.

Twenty miles to the North, the Health Inspector closes the cannery until further notice. They are under orders to 'get their act together' or 'asses will be whupped'!

The Spanish moss drapes over the branches of the Willow Oak. The Magnolias are in bloom and their huge, cupped flowers spread their delicate scent across the emerald lawn. The large house is decorated with garlands of flowers and the white, floor-length, curtains float softly on the gentle breeze that blows in through the open French windows. Gardenias, in huge vases, fill the room beyond and, from somewhere deeper in the house, sweet music drifts on the air.

Two figures, clasped in each other's arms, dance on the veranda. A tall, handsome man and a beautiful, young woman.

"I have waited for you for so long," sighs Jackson.

Shelby smiles and twirls the skirts of her white, organza, bridal gown and they dance across the lawn and into eternity.

This is my entry for Matt's word game. Details can be found on Matt's page at
This weeks words are;
Note; I have used authentic Creole names and details of clothing. I have also used indigenous trees. The Bald Cypress is the State tree of Louisiana. Cypres-Blanc exists only in my imagination.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Going Home

Looking back I suppose it all started on Armstrongday. There had been a visit from the Valerian Ships just the day before and these wandering merchants had brought all kinds of goodies. Zarod and I had gone on a picnic. We had waited eons for permission to leave the city dome and many of our requests had failed, but this time we were lucky.

We had donned our suits and packed the buggy with the juiciest yarobs and the nuttier slices of the Valerian's nutcake, along with the usual rehydrating tablets and dessicated banyan fruit. We set off, over the bridge to the Glen Satellite-Island and erected our personal, climate controlled Pod when we saw strange lights in the sky.

It was just a few green flashes at first,
"Some sort of meteor shower !" Zarod said.
But then the whole sky was green and huge lumps of rock, weighing at least 100 lunar-pounds began to rain down upon us.

Zarod helped me into my suit and then put on his own and packed our things. It was obvious that we were  not safe in our Pod, cracks began to appear in the air-locked shell as heavy blows hit it with frightening regularity. We set the buggy to 'Mega-speed' and drove to the bridge back to the mainland. All around us there was chaos as people rushed to leave the Satellite-Island and headed towards the nearest City and safety. I could imagine this happening on all 5000 Islands around the planet. In fact, being a bit of a dreamer, I wondered if it had been like this all those years ago when the Great Evacuation  began. When our Great-great-great Grandparents had realised that their Birth Planet was dying, the life squeezed out of it by pollution and the destruction of the environment and the fragile eco-system. The Great Project began, the rush to find a refuge for the Earth- Planet's population. The colonisation of the Lunar base, the building of huge cities, contained in transparent bubbles, protecting the inhabitants from the deadly atmosphere.

There had been civil revolt and great unrest when the Earthlings had realised that there would not be room for everyone. The situation was desperate, their Birth Planet was turning brown, vegetation was withering, soil was poisoned and the seas turned to sludge. All the animals were sickly and many of the poorest nations were perishing through lack of food. Huge triage Centres were set up, where people were assessed as to their suitability for space travel and meanwhile, on the Lunar Planet, the Satellite Islands were constructed to help accommodate more and more folk once they had been triaged and shipped out.  It was an enormous undertaking, but it was truly a matter of life or death. soon the Earth Planet was left alone, just a dried up, husk of a planet, orbiting the sun, lifeless.

An loud explosion brought me out of my reverie and back to the present and our perilous predicament. A meteor had hit a section of the bridge, behind us and pieces of titanium were floating off into space. Zarod switched the buggy into 8th gear and we almost flew the last few Lunar-miles to Aldrin City.

Everywhere folk were talking about the meteor shower and also about the strange green light , that had now moved away and was beginning to envelope the Earth Planet, far in the distance.

The Info-phones were calling for all Science experts to convene at the City Forum and, as Zarod teaches Physics at the University, he set off immediately. The meeting lasted a Lunar-week. People rushed in and out, the giant telescopes were deployed ..... all trained on Planet Earth and an exploratory ship, manned by Androids, was sent out.

This all happened 6 Lunar-months ago ..... oh, I have got to get used to a new way of measuring time, haven't I ?  The meteors stopped showering down on us but the green light stayed around the Earth Planet and gradually, through some sort of Space osmosis, vegetation began to return. Air began to freshen, grass began to grow and the sea became clear and blue once more. No-one has been able to explain the change in the Earth, probes have been sent out, all returning with the same story. The Earth Planet is alive once more.  Humanity has been given a second chance !

I loosen my suit as I enter the Ark ship. Zarod is by my side as we join the hundreds of eager colonists. We are among the first wave of Lunars, going to a new world, a new life, a free way of living. Without survival Pods, without space suits, without the hard grey rock and dust of the moon's landscape.  Back to the Birth Planet of our race ...... we are going home.

This week's piece of nonsense has been brought to you courtesy of Matt's word game, details on

This weeks words are
Triage, loosen, juiciest, dreamer, revolt, pounds, blows, teaches, failed, nuttier. This was also published on my other blog page at

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Catching Up

Hello there dear readers, if , in fact, any of you are still around ! I'm afraid I have neglected my blog dreadfully recently, all my good intentions felled in one swoop by the dreaded 'house move' !!

Those of you who have been following for some time will be aware of my daughters impending divorce and the sale of the house. This meant that I would have to move as I currently reside in a 'Granny flat' at my daughters home.

It was decided that we would all go our separate ways and , as you can imagine, the logistics of such a move have been rather difficult to arrange. Urgency crept into the equation when the house sold extremely quickly and I was in danger of becoming homeless, of flinging myself on the charity and  'kindness of strangers' , but luckily OH and I found a place in a charming little village in East Yorkshire, an area with which we are very familiar.

And so it began, the packing , the dreaded packing ! I cannot believe how much 'stuff' I have accumulated ! Stuff that seems essential, that seems impossible to discard, impossible to live without ! However, the existence of such 'stuff' is brought severely into question when I am faced with sorting it and packing it and then finding room to store the boxes.. I write this, surrounded by full boxes and packing cases and the thing is ............... I can't really see where its all come from !  There  seems to be an awful lot still to pack !

I haven't even started on my clothes. OH did his a couple of days ago, managing to fill two black bags for the Charity shops in the process. Now his wardrobe and drawers contain only that which he will need for the next few days.  I have five wardrobes, twelve drawers and various boxes under beds and in cupboards, all containing clothes that hardly see the light of day but cannot be discarded ............. I may need them someday.
Doesn't everyone need over forty jackets  ? And I dare not count my skirts. Hat boxes sit precariously on tops of cupboards and as for my handbags ........................... I could re-stock Selfridges !

Yes, I suppose you could say that I have been a conspicuous consumer, but it has all been accumulated over many years and is all good quality and I can remember the purchase of almost all the items, they all hold memories.

But, I have only mentioned my personal 'stuff'.  I also have had to sort through a veritable 'library' of books and me, being me , there is the danger of discovering a long lost 'treasure' , beginning to read the first chapter and then suddenly realising, hours later, that it is dinner time and nothing has been done !

And so dear readers, I am now left with very little time and a mountain still to climb. We are down to just a couple of plates, cups, pans etc. in the kitchen . Spare towels, bed-linen , cushions and such are all packed. The spare bed has been stripped and dismantled and now the room resembles a warehouse, with packed containers piled high. My shed has been emptied of my art equipment and my easel leans morosely against the wall. and you can, I am sure, understand why I have been AWOL from Blogger.

I am about to embark on a new chapter of my life and will keep you all posted of my progress . Hopefully, once I am settled, I will be back with my silly stories. But now I must go into my dressing room and try to work my way through a life time of clothes ...................... I wonder if I should phone the Arts Council and ask if I can get funding to start a sort of  Museum, there must be quite a few of you out there with far too much clothing and a dread of throwing it away !!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

The 16.45 to Westby.

This blog post is also published on Tearose Blog.

Light as a feather, she made her way through the crowded carriages, searching; gazing into each face, looking at every passenger; he must be here somewhere.
The train was packed with commuters, shoppers, day-trippers and holiday makers. No-one moved out of her way and she cursed quietly to herself as she almost fell over a student who was sitting on his back-pack, in the middle of the aisle. Claire wrinkled her pretty nose in disgust,  the guy obviously needed to bathe more often, but he sat there , fiddling with a loose molar, totally oblivious to her presence.
Some little boy in a Western outfit, complete with toy gun and stetson, dropped the orange he was peeling and Claire watched as it rolled under the dustier of the two seats next to her. She bent to retrieve it , but a chap grabbed it and, smiling ruefully, handed it back to the lad, who pouted and threw it, ungratefully, to the floor. Then Claire observed him methodically kick the facia on the next seat, while his Mother continued reading her 'chick-lit'.
Claire pushed on, anxiously searching; he must be on this train, he always caught the 16.45, where was he ?
Carriage after carriage was searched and she became tearful and distraught. Trying to catch her breath, she sat down next to a group of business men, all discussing the pros and cons of various tyres. The man nearest to her, dressed in a smart, dark grey, city suit, was extolling the virtues of some special radials that he had recently bought. Claire touched his arm and tried to speak to him, maybe he had seen Mark. But the chap ignored her and carried on with his tale and Claire rose in disappointment.

                                 " Ponces ! " she thought, as she pushed on and on through chattering passengers, " no-one cares !! "

On she went , through carriage after carriage, some people were reading, others listening to iPods and some were beginning to gather belongings, anticipating their destination. Claire felt sick, she had to find him, she had to warn him. Tears poured down her cheeks as she came to the last carriage. She was frantic now, her red hair streaming out behind her, her eyes wild with fear as she scanned the faces of the final few passengers. The train was speeding towards the level crossing. She hadn't found him; she would have to try tomorrow .....................................................................

The 16.45 pulled into Westby, startling a pigeon, who flew up into the roof of the station, flapping in alarm. The passengers alighted and dispersed, other travellers boarded, there was a flurry of activity on the platform and then the train departed and all was calm. The ticket collector chatted casually to a couple who were waiting for their train,

                                " Oh, aye, youse want the next train, me ducks ! That were the 16.45 ", he nodded knowledgeably and sucked on a hollow tooth,  " Aye, unlucky train, that 16.45 ........ Big crash t'other month at the level crossing back there, "  He pointed with a nicotine stained finger,  " A bloke killed ... would've been ok but he were standing up to look for a glimpse o' is girl. But the worst was when't blokes girl-friend threw 'erself  off't platform th'  next day. Distraught, she were.  Threw  'erself  right in front of't 16.45, she did ..........Aye , shame, Claire Hudson were a right bonny lass "

Light as a feather, she made her way through the crowded carriages, searching .....................................

This is this weeks entry for Matt's word game and contains the words ;

          Feather, Molar,  Western, Orange, Bathe, Dustier, Ponces, Radials, Group, Facia, Pigeon.

If you would like to join in just visit Matt's blog page at for rules and links to previous entries.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

You Can't Always Get What You Want !

If you have been following my blog............ Oh, heavens, well done you ! You need a medal and a bottle of head-ache pills....... you will probably know that I lived in Guisborough in the 1950s. From the age of 5 to the grand old age of 11, that pretty, rural, North Yorkshire market town was my world. There were many delights in that lovely place, not least the idyllic location, nestled in a valley in the Cleveland Hills.
It was a wonderful town in which to grow and I have very fond memories of my childhood, full of adventure, of picnics and treasure hunts and wandering free through fields and woods with siblings and chums.
However, all the best things in life are not, necessarily, free and sometimes pleasures can be purchased in glittering palaces and come at considerable cost.

Stockelds today.

The glittering palace that held my attention was the local Toy Shop !!  Stokelds was located on Fountain Street and was a stationers and a toy shop, and to me it was heaven !
It had all the usual toys of the era; the Hornby train-sets and Tri-ang toys, bicycles and trucks. The Silver Cross, carriage built, dolls prams; perfect replicas of the 'real' thing.  Jigsaws, their chunky wooden pieces presented in sturdy boxes, with bright scenes on the lid. Dominoes in wooden boxes with sliding lids, just like larger versions of the wooden pencil boxes. Snakes and Ladders and Ludo and Draughts, all together in a Compendium of games........ perfect for Winter nights; TVs were a rarity in the early 1950s !!
Cowboy outfits with furry 'chaps' and Stetsons with braided decoration around the brim. Lone Ranger masks and Indian head-dresses of multi-coloured feathers and 'leather' holsters with silver metal guns. Ah, guns ! There were guns galore !  Sharpshooters and rifles and 'spud' guns. Guns in which one inserted  'caps' and then, when the trigger was pulled, the cap exploded with a bang and a rather satisfying little puff of smoke and the smell of burning.  Bows and arrows and swords and daggers and all  manner of weapons to satisfy even the most blood-thirsty of little boys !  Nothing was deemed 'too dangerous' in those days. " 'Elf 'n Safety" was not yet the bane of everyone's life.
There were catapults of all sizes and glass marbles, shining like jewels in little cotton bags. Skittles and roller skates and jacks. Cricket bats for the Summer, tennis rackets and table tennis balls and bats with a ball attached by an elastic 'string'. This string usually snapped after a few whacks and the ball would go flying off into someone's face and the poor victim would proudly sport a black eye and an air of fake bravado for days.

Then, at the back of the shop, was the section that drew my attention and held the object of my desire. First there were the teddies; proper, firm, solid bears, not the fluffy imposters of today and the golliwogs, which are no longer seen........ thought of as too un-PC, too racist. I barely glanced at them, but walked reverently towards .............. the dolls !!!
Ah, yes ! Baby dolls in romper suits, dolls in frilly dresses with golden ringlets,ragdolls in bright patchwork frocks, with woollen hair under their poke bonnets. Smaller dolls, dressed in pleated skirts and 'sensible' jumpers, tall  'walking ' dolls with long straight legs and a supercilious smile. Dolls whose eyes closed when one laid them on their back, dolls that said,
                                                 " Mama "
when tipped backwards and forwards, black dolls with bandanas round their dark curls. All were wonderful but ................ there 'she' was, on a plinth all on her own !!  The prize, the coveted treasure, the thing I wanted most in the whole world, the doll I christened 'Betsy' ................. for that would be her name when finally she was mine !

She stood, oh I guess, 12-14 ins high and had long black plaits, a rosebud mouth and big blue eyes. She was beautiful, rosy-cheeked perfection in her neat, powder  blue dress with white lace collar. But the attraction of Betsy was the extra item, the icing on the cake !.......................... She came with a complete collection of clothes, displayed in a suitcase that opened out to form a dinky little wardrobe. She had 4 other dresses, a darling little 'princess line' coat in bright red wool, a tartan pleated skirt and a white blouse, some beige jodhpurs and a green sweater, boots, socks and pink plastic shoes and the sweetest little cotton voile nightdress, trimmed with little flowers and scraps of lace, oh yes,............ and a beret and scarf for chilly days !
Oh, how I longed for Betsy and her generous supply of clothing, non of my other dolls were so richly endowed, but pleading and cajoling fell on deaf ears.  She was expensive and we had no money for such fripperies. Children, in those days, were told  "No" and "No" it was - No "ifs" , "buts", or "maybes" and I dare not question my parents decision.

Whenever we went to Stockelds for stationery for my Mama, or for marbles or jacks or a Birthday jigsaw or other such treat, I would go to the doll section and pay homage to Betsy and she would smile down at me and whisper of how she would love to come home with me. But, of course, we always left without her.

After a while I realised that she would never be mine and so, pragmatically, I decided to make a wardrobe of 'Betsy' clothes for my own dolls.  I was about 8yrs old by then and I had been taught to sew by my darling Nana. I told her of my plan and begged some scraps of material and Nana generously gave me an assortment of swatches and a lovely little sewing box, complete with needles, threads, scissors and such and I began. I made skirts and dresses and sometimes the clothes were too small or the necks were too tight or the dress fell off the poor doll's shoulders.  Sometimes the press-stud fastenings were far too big and clumsy for the delicate fabric, but eventually, after much perseverance, I was turning out neat little dresses, coats, nightwear, evening outfits, everything . My dolls must have been the best dressed in Yorkshire !

I then progressed to attempting something for myself, designing and drawing the pattern onto newspaper and cutting out the fabric on my bedroom floor. Then, sitting cross-legged on my bed like some little elf from  a fairy story, I hand-stitched my first 'proper' item. A navy blue, flower-sprigged, glazed cotton dress, with hand-sewn button holes down the back !  And it was perfect ............. well, perfect from a couple of feet away !!  The stitching round the neck was a little wobbly but it fitted beautifully and my pride knew no bounds - I was thrilled - I was a seamstress !!

After that I made almost all of my Summer dresses and nightdresses and my Hallowe'en fancy dress costumes.  This early success fired my lifelong obsession with fashion and sewing and design and even when I was older I made many outfits, all neatly hand stitched and was the envy of my friends, who couldn't understand why they could not find the same designs in the shops. My best friend Joan and I would buy material at the Market on a Wednesday and I would draw out our patterns on the ubiquitous newspaper and cut out the pieces, pin it all together and then we would handstitch like crazy and wear our brand new items on the Friday night. Much to the chagrin of our pals who imagined we knew of some little boutique but were withholding the location.  But I digress !!

I would like to tell you that Betsy eventually became mine. That I woke one Christmas morning and there she was, resplendent at the foot of my bed; that I obtained my hearts desire. But life isn't like that, is it ? That is only for fairy tales.
No, I was never to own Betsy, but I believe I was all the richer for that. If my parents had indulged me and bought the doll and all her finery, would I have bothered to sew things myself ?  Would I have progressed to making my own clothes, would I have been half as creative ? Perhaps, but maybe a part of me would be missing. I would not have learned a valuable lesson, I would have expected everything in life to be easy, to never try to make the best of what I had. I would not have had the fun and sense of achievement, the joy of making something unique and not relying on someone else.

In my youth, one of my favourite bands was the 'Rolling Stones'. They sang  " You can't always get what you want " and , you know, I think sometimes it's just as well !

Friday, 23 March 2012

" Lights, Camera, Action !"

She screwed up her face and tried to remember the Director's words. she began to pout with the effort and her head buzzed with the nuances of the dialogue. This was the important interrogation scene, the pivotal point of the drama. The murderer was just about to pull the wool over the eyes of the 'cops'. She had to get it right.

Filming this 'pilot' had been more difficult than she had expected and she was aware of the gossip, knew what they were saying. She had not done a TV series before, but her last two films were box-office disasters, soon the parts would dry up and she would be forgotten. No matter how famous you are, no-one misses a fading star !
It had all been going well, but then the kind, understanding Director had been sacked and replaced by some whizz-kid; one of those wailers she knew so well, forever picking on her and yelling abuse when she forgot her lines, something she did often nowadays. He was always swearing and stamping his feet if she didn't react swiftly  to his rather haphazard direction. They had to enact the murder scene sixty times and still he was not satisfied. He pointed to her and shouted,

                           " One more time, for Christsakes, you still ain't got it !"

And so she had acted out the scene again, panting with the exertion of dragging the body across the floor. The stuntman had been bound and gagged, but it didn't stop him from winking cheekily, causing her to giggle and drop the 'prop' knife and then forget her lines once more.
The Director had been furious and had dismissed the company, telling them to be in early next morning to,

                            " Get this damn scene shot !"

As they were all filing off the set, he called her over. She approached with acute embarrassment and listened to his screaming , threatening to sack her and hire some nubile newcomer. He went on and on and on ...........

The detective stood over the body and questioned the cast and crew. The Director had been discovered  at dawn, when everyone turned up on the set. He had obviously been stabbed by some madman; the detective had never seen such a frenzied attack.
Soon it was her turn to be questioned and this time she was word perfect.............. her performance was worthy of an Oscar.

The detective thanked her and moved on...............

This has been my entry for Matt's word game and you can find the details on his blog page

This week the words used are ;

                    React, Misses, Wailers, Acute, Pointed, Pout, Panting, Enact, Bound, Pilot.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012


   "Of course, it's all a terrible fraud, " she thought to herself, as she sat back down on her velvet-covered chair and once again picked up her tapestry needle. Her lawyers had just left, the documents had been novated ; everything was signed and sealed.  She had offered them refreshment, such as she had, it was a long way from Windsor. But the wine had been sour and Monsieur Carton and Signor Demo had beaten a hasty retreat, full of effusive apologies and excuses; of tales of other appointments, other clients pressing for their time.

             " Ah, time ", she thought, her delicate features wrinkling slightly, " there is never enough time."

She surveyed her handiwork, a rather colourful piece of needle-pointe depicting various historic scenes - scenes of Crusaders and Holy Grails and infidels and bloodshed.  It had proved to be a bigger task than she had anticipated and she wondered if it would ever be finished. The log fire sparked and crackled in the gloom and she placed her needlework on a nearby footstool and dozed in the twilight.
The sound of the door creaking open brought her out of her reverie and in came a group of young boys, each one snottier than the last. They bore dishes of food and a jug of wine and placed it all neatly on a huge oak dining table, then backed deferentially out of the room and left her to her solitary repast. She picked listlessly at the chicken and beef and various sweetmeats, having no real appetite for food, then , sighing deeply, as darkness fell she paced up and down the length of the room, thinking, planning, praying.

The sunlight streamed through the open window and she could hear what sounded like a riot outside.
              " Good gracious," she said, " there must be a considerable crowd out there ".

Her maid, Marie, helped her to dress and arrange her hair. Today, of all days, she must look her best, serene and hauntingly beautiful. When everything was to their mutual satisfaction, Marie handed her her gloves and they both left the room.

              " See how he foams a little at the corners of his mouth and wipes his brow ?" said Marie, "He is very nervous, this is a momentous occasion for him, my lady ."

               " Ah, he need not worry, I have only a very slender neck " was the reply.

Well dear reader, this is my rather poor attempt for this weeks Word Game . As you all know by now the game was invented by Matt Mascarenhas and details can be found on his blog page at

This week the words used were,

              Sparked, Novated, Riot, Sour, Fraud, Foams, Carton, Grails, Snottier, Wipes, Demo.

and I'm afraid I cheated a little, but , hey, I'm a rebel !!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Themed Freewrite.

I have been asked, nay challenged to do a themed freewrite. Now this is quite alien to me and I wonder if I will actually be able to get into the true spirit of freewriting when I have to stick to a topic ! Lord knows I have enough trouble sticking to the point when I am blogging normally so with the freedom of a freewrite my butterfly mind just soars . I have given myself 15 minutes for this task, let us see if I can fill that time with something worth reading !

So, the theme is coffee, that most beloved of beverages. I realise that you will not all feel the same, some people hate coffee but for me it is nectar, sheer ambrosia and I am most definitely a coffee addict. Many years ago I drank tea almost exclusively and only had coffee in the most awful form, the abomination that is the  instant stuff. Oh how I hate instant coffee, well actually i have found one instant coffee that is acceptable but of course me being me , it isn't widely available  . It's made by the ubiquitous Starbucks and is called Via , i think and is in little sachets and is really just their ground coffee , ground very finely, at least that is what i imagine it to be . I take it with a flask of hot water, to dog shows and on trips sometimes. But, there you see im  flying off on another track again . Yes, I used to drink tea but then I decided to give up full cream milk when I was on one of my healthy kicks, I tried semi skimmed and the skimmed and then gave up entirely . on one of our dog show trips I realised that horrible black coffee from a vending machine is better than horrible black tea and so that was it, a coffee addict was born. Ah, coffee, what can match that indescribable aroma , the nutty brown, chocolately wake-up call, first thing on a morning ? It fills the air and permeates my brain and starts the day. I love mine black, no sugar and strong enough to strip the enamel off your teeth,and I love all types, the glorious roasted,  toasted Brazilian and Colombian beans. The thick, gloopy Turkish coffee, The fresh African blends. It all depends on my mood. Yes moods. hmmmm, have you noticed how coffee slips you into certain moods ? The wakey, wakey, morning mood, grabbed hurriedly on the run, croissant in one hand and your travel mug in the other, flying out the door to join the traffic on the motorway. The convivial coffee, mid-morning with friends, young mums in Costa or Starbucks, leather sofas , baristas  brewing the steaming liquid, cups chinking and the low hum of chattering clients lingering over their double mocha skinny lattes. The takeaway coffees seen in the hands of the high-flyers who brandish the corrugated cups like some sort of badge which says ' i'm in a rush, I'm far to busy to stop, see how important I am ' And , of course the date coffee, the sitting face to face , the sips ,the smiles, the togetherness . Like some sort of courtship ritual , the 'Do you fancy a coffee' the air electric with sexual tension, the brief touching of hands as you reach for the sugar. Or even the ultimate invitation , the 'Would you like to come in for a coffee' with all it's connotations both innocent and otherwise ! And now my time is up.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Equality ?

Mandy dropped the coin into the slot, took the can of drink from the vending machine, chewed vigourously on her gum and then turned round to face her suitors. The eager young guys were leering at her legs, exposed all the way up to her knickers. She had hitched up her school skirt until it was just a  'pelmet',  barely visible beneath her white school blouse, which was unbuttoned to reveal glimpses of cheap black bra. She loved the power, the feeling of  adoration, she was in control like some omnipotent ruler.
The other girls sneered at her. The beautiful, poised girls who lived in their  pure white, sugar coated world. They were secure and loved, they didn't know what it was like to live in squalor, hating your alcoholic Mother, your absent Father who drove an oil tanker all over the country and never bothered to come home. But here, at school, she was popular; oh not with the female students, no; but certainly with the boys ! They hung around like flies on jam, all eager to take what she offered.
It had all started when she had been 9yrs old and had gone behind the sports hall and let Billy Smith put his hand on her breast. She understood the salient points of sex by the time she was 10, realised it was a weapon - or at least a way of getting some attention, some love. She was never short of cigarettes, gobstoppers or comics, all given to her in exchange for a quick fumble, a hand on her knickers, a look at her bare skin beneath. Of course, as she got older it had progressed to the  'real thing' , losing her virginity to a spotty 15yr old, behind the village hall at the grand old age of 13.  Now she was 15 and there were always two or three boys waiting at the school gates after school. Waiting and willing to follow her down to the allotment and the disused tool shed by the canal. There she  'earned'  £1 coins and packs of cigarettes and felt loved and wanted and needed for a few short minutes before going home to a slap across the ear, or the sight of her Mother, still in her night attire, unconscious on the filthy sofa.
Sex was her escape and seemed to be what all the boys wanted and so she obliged. She would have given it freely, she didn't ask for  'gifts', she felt popular and far superior to the other girls. The boys laughed about these female students, they called them  'frigid' and 'lesbians' and 'cock-teasers' and any manner of derogatory names .
Mandy stood in the school hall with her entourage and smiled, then , leaning against the school football hero and placing a proprietorial hand inside his shirt she gazed smugly at the virgins, with their golden curls.  Mandy knew she would never be lonely as long as she gave the guys what they wanted.....................

Mandy dropped the coin into the slot and then watched her washing spinning in the dryer. The launderette was empty except for one old vagrant, humming softly to himself as he swigged from a can of  Special Brew. Mandy hugged her thin cardigan around her shoulders and looked out of the finger-marked windows. Young mothers walked past, girls she had known , years ago at school. They wore designer clothes and pushed expensive prams, containing beaming babies. Mandy though of her own babies, little pink, crumpled wailers, that had been taken from her by the social workers. Fostered, adopted. never to be seen again because she was an unfit mother. Was it four or five, she couldn't remember, her mind went hazy and everything merged  when she tried to recall the births and  then she had to seek shelter in a bottle of anti-depressants . She lived her life in solitude now - no longer the darling of the boys. They were all grown up, had important jobs, boasted about their brand new cars and were married to the golden girls from school. These men now shunned her in the street, hurried their perfect children past the  'dirty' lady, the  'slut', the  'prostitute'.
Mandy lifted her washing out of the dryer and carefully placed it in her laundry bag .  'Where had she gone wrong ?' she wondered, all she had ever done was try to  please people, give them what they wanted. She had only been doing the same as the guys, she was still the same person, why weren't they ?
She picked up her heavy bag and wandered back to her lonely flat, as she passed the newsagents she saw the headlines,  " Margaret Thatcher, First U.K Female Prime Minister ".

This sad little piece of fiction is this weeks entry for Matt's word game and contains the words;

            Coin, Boasted, Coated, Tanker, Ruler, Hating, Suitors, Salient, Wailers, Poised, Breast.

The rules and words and any other information can be found on Matt's blog at Do try it, its great fun !

Wednesday, 29 February 2012


So, did you see it............. did you ............ that photo of  'yours truly' in the newspaper ? Oh, my stars, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry !
You see, it all happened yesterday . There I was , home alone and desperately in need of some  TLC. I had wandered into the kitchen and looked at the pile of dishes and pans that had been dumped on the worktop  (why is it no-one ever reloads the dishwasher ? ) and something just snapped.

                           " No ! ",  I thought, " I need some  'me-time'  "

It had been a hard week and I felt that I had had my ration of problems and just wanted to climb into a hole and disappear. But, of course, I couldn't do that and so I thought,

                           " Yeah, I will have a lovely, luxurious bath, with bubbles up to my chin and some music on the old iPod "

I made some toast and coffee and took it upstairs  to the bathroom, ran the bath; pouring in a liberal amount of my favourite L'Occitane bath lotion, selected two of my fluffy, sable and cream coloured bathtowels , pinned up my hair and, dropping my clothes onto the floor, I sank into dreamy, rose-scented, bubbly oblivion.
I must have been lounging there for about twenty minutes,  Prince blaring in my ears , with me singing along at the top of voice,

                            ".......... all I need is your extra time and your...... mwah, mwah, mwah mwah.....kissss ! "

when a fireman came bursting into the bathroom ! He was gesticulating wildly and saying something, but, of course, with old  'Squiggle' blasting my eardrums, I couldn't hear a thing he said.
Before I could pull the earplugs out he grabbed the downier of the two towels, lifted me out of the bubbles and the next thing I knew I was over his shoulder and he was tearing down the stairs, through my smoke-filled hall and out into the garden !  He was certainly not the puniest guy I've ever seen, I could feel his muscles through his thick uniform ....... mmmm .....*sigh*.
Oh, but sorry, I digress ! It seems that my toaster had not switched off properly and somehow  'shorted out' and caught fire, igniting nearby spatulas and some plastic mixing bowls, which had sent clouds of smoke billowing out of the open window . One of my nosier neighbours had telephoned the fire brigade and the rest, as they say, is history !
Just picture the scene, dear reader. My wonderful fireman rushed down the garden path, with me clinging on to him for dear life ( and, I have to say, loving every minute ! ) Well, the lilac tree by the gate has needed cutting back for quite some time ; the towel caught on a particularly spiky branch and ...... well....... that is how I came to be photographed and appeared on page 3 of the national newspaper !!
I was so embarrassed !! Who wouldn't be ?  I mean, there was I , stark naked in front of the world and my bloody toe-nail polish was chipped ...... !

This piece of nonsense is my rather pathetic entry for this weeks word game , invented by Matt Mascarenhas and includes the words ;

            Toaster, Said, Tearing, Ration, Nosier, Hole, Sable, Downier, Home, Reloads, Puniest.

Please do take part, the rules etc. can all be found on Matt's blog page

Sunday, 26 February 2012


Sometimes relationships are such a bitch !  Like juggling six tennis balls and then suddenly some silly bugger   flings in a cricket ball and a beach ball. Life requires the dexterity of a circus performer and the inventive skills of.......well, Christopher Cockerell at the very least.
Wouldn't it be great if you only had yourself to please and there were no repercussions, no domino effect ? 
Ah, well, no-one said life had to be fair ! Until it is I will endeavour to keep all the balls in the air !

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Dreams 3

I'm off in the dream-world again, dear reader; exploring the strange places that I visit in my sleeping hours.
Just recently I have been having a sort of  'series' of dreams, or maybe I should say a  'serial'. Each dream seems to be linked, to follow on from the previous night's dream, with a little  're-cap' at the beginning - rather like the dream world's equivalent of some weekly TV serial but on a nightly basis;    deja-vu, but not quite deja-vu !
Much is made of location, which always seems to involve some sort of searching. I always have the same main companion but the minor characters are often different and can be either people from the past or from the present. We, ( myself and my companion ) are looking for a particular house and are helped or hampered by the  'extras' in the drama ! We have tasks to do, that we almost always complete, but there is always  'just one more' , like some  'Columbo'  episode and there is always danger, a feeling of apprehension and often real fear and I wake up shaking, my heart beating fast and blood pumping through my veins and then I fall asleep again. I also seem to be completely obsessed with my appearance and have dozens of outfit changes and various hairstyles, some long some short, for the duration of the dream.
But there is something else , something that makes me very uneasy and this is really the reason for this article.
I believe that there is something that I must remember, something important that my mind is telling me while I am asleep, something my dream reveals. However, when I am awake it is so far in the back of my mind that I just cannot remember. There is no hint, no whisper of a memory , not even a shadow but I somehow know I need to remember and so I fight and fight with myself in an effort to recall this message or whatever it is , but it disperses like smoke in a breeze and it is gone. It hovers, just out of reach at the edge of my mind and I mentally reach out for it, try to bring it closer but it flutters away and taunts me and my head aches with the effort. I can never retrieve it.
So, dear reader, do you think that I am destined to keep having these  'linked' dreams until I finally manage to 'get' the message and understand it's meaning ?  Will I possibly be able to work it out for myself ? Am I going even madder than usual, or is my brain really trying to tell me something ? If so, I wonder what the hell it is !!!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

A Serious Blog Post.

Regular readers of my blog ( if, indeed, such people exist ) have probably come to expect silly stories and nostalgic tales of childhood or dog shows. I never enter the political arena or voice an opinion on current affairs. I prefer to leave the important issues to people better qualified in such matters and far more eloquent than myself.
However, I suddenly feel inspired to throw my hat into the ring and risk losing all my readers by writing a short blog post about the incendiary subject of  Racism.
This is something I abhor with a passion that borders on obsession !

I live in a very multicultural part of  Britain and the Asian culture has integrated well with white culture. There are also people of Chinese and Afro-Caribbean origins and they all add a cosmopolitan air to the area and, I think, we are all the better for it. However, I myself have experienced racial hatred and prejudice !
        " Aha," I hear you shout, " I knew it ! Trouble with Asians and Chinese and Caribbean people !!"
Well, you would be wrong ! I have never had any problems with those ethnic groups, in fact I have always enjoyed a mutually friendly relationship with all, embracing their customs, learning as much as I can, sharing recipes and exchanging dishes of food and generally  making friends.
So how can I, a white, Protestant lady, born South of  Watford have ever experienced racism or hatred ?

Well, firstly we have the North/South divide. I was born in the South of England, Brighton to be exact, but I have lived in many areas of Britain, mainly in the North. So I have experienced prejudice and distrust and bullying in every area I have lived, because I was  'different'. I had a different accent, an alternative way of doing things; my Southern  'lunch' was the North's  'dinner', my  'supper' is an informal dinner but to others it is a snack before bed  and , of course, when I go South and mention  'snickets' and 'becks' there are blank looks all around. All seemingly trivial differences but all the cause of sniggers and ridicule and insults.
I am now a sort of  'Stateless' person, belonging to neither camp, but I do slant my allegiance more to the North than the South............ so am I guilty of racism ?

However, the cruellest racism began when we moved to Scotland in the 1970s. I was so excited about moving to that beautiful country as I thought that every Scottish person I had ever met was wonderful and my surname is Scottish, as my husband's father was a Scot and was a soldier in the  Black Watch . His father before him had been in the  Highland Light Infantry, how much more Scottish could we get ? Well, my optimism was certainly misplaced, we were hated !  Many of the locals used to revert to the 'Doric' dialect whenever I entered a shop so I couldn't understand a word they were saying. We were laughed at and openly  abused verbally and my children - one of whom was actually born in Scotland - were bullied and victimised at school. My husband worked offshore, in the oil industry and also experienced racial abuse, it was all very distressing and unpleasant and so, so unnecessary.
Now I am not trying to suggest that we were treated so abysmally by every Scot, in fact I made some wonderful friends in the 15 years we were there ,and we have remained friends to this day. But sadly, it only takes a  few prejudiced people to create unhappiness and distress, just as it only takes a few people to start an inner city race riot.
And so, my wish is this; that everyone would think twice before despising the different, unusual, quirky or strange. How would they feel if they were victimised because they had blonde hair or wore red shoes. Hatred is hatred, however you try to dress it up in disguises of colour or religion. It is ignorance and fear and distrust of anyone who is 'different' and yet we are all the same under the skin. As Shylock, another victimised person, said,
             " If you prick us, do we not bleed ?"
Until we conquer the suspicion and prejudice between different areas of Britain we will never conquer the huge issues of colour and religion.

I hope I have not upset or insulted anyone in the above article, that is certainly not my intention. I still remain completely open-minded and do not hate anyone because of religious or racial differences or the fact that they live in Scotland or Wales or Australia. I just wish everyone else felt the same....................perhaps one day ?

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

White Roses.

He never sends me flowers, at least, that's what I thought, but here I am taking delivery of the most enormous, beautifully arranged, hand-tied bouquet. I thank the delivery girl and close the door, wondering what on earth to do. I had decided to end it, I just can't fight the feeling anymore, the feeling that something is wrong, that I am being fooled. The abruptly ended phone calls, the short, impersonal emails, he doesn't  seem to want to spend time on me anymore.
I bury my face in the flowers and walk towards the kitchen, drinking in the glorious scent of the white roses, tulips and lilies. The whole bouquet is white and my heart melts a little........ he has remembered I love white flowers. I lay them on the kitchen table and reach up into the tall cupboards, searching for my favourite crystal vase and I think of the last few days. He is always so busy, or so he says, never time to chat, forever flying off somewhere, leaving me alone. I fill the vase with water and untie the lilac ribbon that secures the blooms and spread their beauty out across the table top. Tucked inside is a little envelope, lilac coloured, just like the ribbon...... he's remembered I love that colour too !!  My heart melts a little more as I read the card inside,

                                   " You know there is no-one else but you, I love you "

Oh, maybe I am wrong, we have both been so tired lately. We need to get away, recharge our batteries, go somewhere where there is just the two of us. I think about last night, I hardly spoke to him ,nor him to me. His reason was he was busy, but mine was that I could not speak for fear of voicing my thoughts, the thoughts that had haunted me for weeks, the certainty that there was 'someone else'. But I was wrong !!

I begin to arrange the flowers in the crystal vase, smiling at their beauty, longing for him to phone so I can tell him everything is fine, it's all going to be the way it was before I had these strange imaginings. The flowers are looking lovely in the sparkling vase, the heady scent of the lilies fills the air, my heart sings, I was wrong !!
I pick up the last rose, to place it in the centre of the arrangement and I feel the sharp prick of a thorn, one barbed spike on an otherwise smooth stem, a little imperfection hidden deceptively amongst the other flowers. I look down at my finger as the bright red blood begins to flow and drip onto the pure white of the rose  and as the vivid stain spreads across the petal my heart goes cold and I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I am right.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Sunhats in the Isis..

It was a melancholy task for a sultry  Summers day and I felt a pang of nostalgia as I walked up the garden path in the glare of the sun. The lavender bushes on either side releasing their soft scent as they brushed against my bare legs.
I still hadn't fully digested the fact that she was gone. That vibrant, wonderful lady, so full of life, who had opened her heart and her home to two orphaned girls. We had spent every school holiday with her and during term time she had travelled up to our boarding school and taken my sister Katy and I out for the day, returning  us tired and late and full of cake , laughing at the nun's disapproval. But , gone she was and here was  I, about to clear her home and pack away her belongings. A skip was waiting at the roadside for all the discarded detritus of my dear Aunt's life, the bric-a-brac collected throughout the last fifty years.

I entered the cottage and climbed the narrow stairs up to the attic. Start at the top and work down, that was my plan. The sunlight filtered through the dusty windows of the shadowy room and lay in rainbow pools on the worn oak floor. I glanced round at the steamer trunks and battered tea-chests, each one containing memories of childhood, of happy times. I rummaged and rooted and , as I did, the past came flooding back.
Oh, there were the pair of bronzes that had once graced the hall. They were always perched on marble stands and I remembered being chided when I had sent one flying down the tiled passageway during a particularly boisterous game of  'tag' with Katy. The stand had been badly damaged and the statues really didn't look quite the same on the sideboard in the dining room, hence their exile to the attic, awaiting some new location, but long forgotten.
Sighing, I opened a huge wicker hamper and smiled as I lifted out a beautiful, wide brimmed sunhat, decorated with faded silk poppies. Aunt Sophia had worn it that day on the river at  Oxford, the day I had graduated. A slight breeze had floated up the  Isis and lifted the hat from her golden curls and deposited it in the water, where it lay like a giant lily pad. Aunt had been distraught, her limpid green eyes welling with tears and a passing oarsman, seeing her distress, had risked life and limb, swinging from an overhanging branch and grabbing it before it was lost forever, crushed beneath an approaching punt. People always rushed to her aid, she had an air of delicate vulnerability and frailty about her and her radiant smile was reward enough for even the hardest heart.
But this was getting nothing done !  I walked across the room and opened a mahogany wardrobe and , oh yes, there was the voluminous winter coat she always wore !  It was made from some luxurious type of beavers skin , way back in the days when such garments were acceptable. I believe it had been her  Mother's ; my Grandmother.....and was far too big for her tiny frame . But she wore it whenever there was the slightest chill and even wore it in the house on particularly cold days. She couldn't always afford to heat every room and so the three of us would huddle around the meagre fire in the drawing room, Aunt in her beaver coat and Katy and I wrapped in woollen shawls, toasting crumpets and teacakes and giggling as we ate them and the butter ran down our chins. She read to us, usually Shakespeare or Oscar Wilde and gave me my love for Literature. She had us memorise whole speeches, a frown creasing her brow if we dared to misquote Portia's speech or forget to say , " In a handbag ?".
I held the soft coat against my cheek and its musty smell mingled with the faint aroma of Aunt Sophia's perfume. I was going to miss her dreadfully.
Oh, but I must get on, I only had a few days to sort out all Aunt's things and then her house would be handed over to the  Estate Agent and sold.
A tear rolled down my cheek as I thought of dear Aunt Sophia on that last day. She lay on the chaise longue in the drawing room and had reached out a pale hand and held my arm,

                      " When I'm gone , take whatever you want and throw the rest away, sweetie. You and Katy are my only living relatives so sort it out between yourselves. The house will be sold and you can share the proceeds. I won't need it where I am going !"

No indeed she won't, bless her. The ten million pounds she won on the lottery will see to that. Off she has gone to live in South America and according to her last text message , sent from Buenos Aires airport, the Argentinian tango dancer she met on the flight will ensure she isn't lonely !

The above piece of fiction is this weeks entry for Matt's Word Game and contains the words;

               Bronzes, Beavers, Risked, Chided, Misquote, Oarsman, Digested, Round, Glare.

Rules and any other information you may require can be found on Matt's blog at So why not join in ?

Sunday, 19 February 2012

12 is the Magic Number for this Meme.

I have been tagged by the delightful Catherine aka @AlwaysARedhead  on twitter and also at  in this meme of 12 things. I had not heard of this before, but, having been tagged I must continue to play the game and what else would I be doing on a lovely lazy, sunny, Sunday morning ?
There are a few rules you must follow, but it will ( I hope ) all be worth it in the end , so here goes !!

Here are the Rules.

1) You must post the rules.

2) Post 12 fun facts about yourself in the blog post.

3) Answer the 12 questions the tagger has set for you in their post and then create 12 new questions for the fellow bloggers you plan to tag.

4)Let them know you tagged them.

Here are 12 Fun Facts about me.

1) I have freckles.

2) I am dreadfully bad at Maths.

3) I am tone deaf and couldn't carry a tune in a bucket !

4) I am very good at knitting.

5) I once danced in a golden cage at a discotheque.

6) I can roller skate backwards.

7) In Soccer, I understand and can explain the off-side rule.

8) I am good at  Ten Pin Bowling.

9) I cannot parallel park.

10) I have shown dogs at Crufts, many times.

11) I am still a hippy at heart.

12) I have never owned a pair of trainers.

These were Catherine's Questions.....and my answers.

1) Favourite movie ?  Well this was difficult but I finally chose  'To Kill a Mockingbird' and 'Some Like It Hot'

2) What is the last thing you ate ?    Natural set yoghurt.

3) If you could be any actor, who would you be ?  Meryl Streep or Laura Linney.

4) Where was your first kiss ? Well we are going back a long time here !! I think my first 'proper' kiss was on the school playing fields.

5) Twitter or Facebook ? Definitely Twitter !

6) Do You prefer camping or a 5 star hotel ?  The hotel !!!!

7) Your favourite sandwich ?  Prawn and mayo.

8) Would you like to travel in Space ?  Oh, yes, I would love it !

9) Ride in a roller coaster or watch ?  Ride, ride, ride !!

10) Where would you like to visit ? Goa and The Grand Canyon  ( Well, if we are dreaming, dream big !!)

11) What is your favourite TV show ?  'Frasier'....... 'Frasier'.........and 'Frasier'

12) When was the last time you handwrote a letter ?  Yesterday, I write lots of letters !!

And here are my 12 questions for the people I plan to tag.

1) What special skill do you have ?

2) What would you choose for your last meal ?

3) What is your favourite piece of music or song ?

4) Which 6 people, living or dead, would you invite to dinner ?

5) Savoury or sweet ?

6) If you had to live abraod, where would you choose ?

7) What is your favourite book ?

8) Who would be your ideal travelling companion on a trip round the World ?

9) Dogs or cats (or both) ?

10) Adrenaline junkie, beach bum or culture vulture ?

11) At school, what was your best and worst subject ?

12) How would you spend a £1000 windfall ?

And, finally........... I tag:

1)    @LucyMGreenfield

2)    @feline9

3)     @tabitca

4)     @Turtlemoongurl and

5)     @jeangenie1

6)     @lollipopdaisy

7)     @miblodelcarpio

8)     @Tactless_Claire

9)     @AliB68

10)    @SamDescartes

11)    @Supersizer1

12)    @KerrySmitty

I look forward to your blog posts !!