Friday, 18 November 2016

Swans

Big birds, snowy white, graceful with the stooping neck - beautiful. 
Often in pairs,  they  paddle, feed and tend their fluffy grey cygnets with calm serenity.
Take off, on the other hand, requires valiant effort. The massive birds walk on water until they're aligned for flight. Landings are splashy concluding with tidy wing folding and the assumption of an immediate regal poise. 
But it is when they fly with the neck outstretched straining forward that the wings beat a wild sound that cries freedom. 


Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Reflection

Walking in the Quantock hills I glimpsed a pool from the path - dark, peaty, almost black. 
Autumn leaves released from the trees above floated on the mirrored surface banking up in the mud.
Leaning in from the edge to avoid wet feet. I couldn't see myself, but saw a perfect reflection of the world above.
The warm, late October sunshine, smell of earth and decaying chlorophyll complemented the vapour-trail blue sky and created a canvas of stillness.
A child might test the surface of the water and disturb the fragile balance of perfection - I held my breath.
Wendell Berry's poem The Peace of Wild Things comes to mind.

Monday, 26 September 2016

What Are You Reading at the Moment?

I'm reading Iris Murdoch's A Word Child. A dark, tangled psychological tale of love, infatuation and betrayal. Beautifully written and timeless with its tragic tropes and analysis of the misery of love. It can't end well.

My writing self in the Many a Moon series, created a very happy ending for Marielle and Peter in the first book of the series which features as the Romantic Sunday read on Christine Young's Goodreads website:https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1087334.Christine_Young/blog this week. May by Alicia Stone.

Take a look and pick a book.

What are you reading at the moment?

Sunday, 18 September 2016

It's All in the Clouds

A moody photograph. Caught at a junction waiting for the lights to change - as a passenger, I add hastily. No mobile phones while driving.

A portent perhaps. Taken a month before the referendum on UK's membership of the EU. The United Kingdom and Ireland above the tree line, with the land mass of continental Europe to the east.

The mood is brooding, the sun casting no light. The traffic lights are on red in warning. Animal eyes watching and waiting - there is danger here.

In the aftermath of Brexit emotions and feelings of pain and shame in equal measure. Letting down our neighbours in Europe, turning away from peace and prosperity, inward looking...

Looking for a green light.  

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Underneath Clevedon Pier

A porthole looking at the engineering of a seaside pier - from the underside. Not the usual perspective.

Couple that with a sailing ship add some imagination and feel the pull of the sea.

Where would you like to go?

Friday, 2 September 2016

Under the surface

A service road in Northampton in 2016. Just under the surface cobbles, well laid, durable and with a history that goes back to the Romans. 

The first cobble stones were found in rivers and streams already rounded by nature, selected for their form, set into sand or mortar. A permanent surface for feet, hooves and wheels creating a stage for our dramas of travel and necessity. 

Market day, a festival, visiting relatives, moving house, attending a funeral, looking for work, courting, begging... stories in the stones hidden under our feet. 

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Colours and Curves

We were on the road the other evening and took a detour to a seaside town to let the rush hour traffic die down. Stretching our legs we walked across the old golf links keeping away from the promenade where high winds and high tide were beating the coastline. 

Cars had gathered and holidaymakers wrapped up against the wind searched the skies. The sky was overcast and grey threatening rain. What was everyone waiting for? 

As if on cue the Red Arrows streaked along the coast in an almost lazy performance of brilliant aeronautical acrobatics. Team GB were totting up the medals in Rio while here in a little sleepy town in Devon we were treated to a precision spectacular from the RAF. 

As the jets screamed and wheeled overhead the sun came out and the clouds parted. The crowd duly marvelled at the show. I enjoyed the shapes and colours trying not to think about fighter jets in other parts of the world where the sound brings terror and death. 

A clean image - a white rainbow.  

Friday, 19 August 2016

Editing

Chewing gum is one of my vices. This polymorphic edifice is growing day by day as the process unfolds. Not pretty but interesting as two entwined lovers have become a seated baby elephant - with a little imagination. 

This is the nature of the editing process. All the creativity and magic of storytelling settles into shape.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

The Scarlet Pimpernel

Out for a walk yesterday, I came across this flower. Enid Blyton called it: Poor Man's Weatherglass as it closes to foretell bad weather.

This flower is also the device used by the dashing hero created by the writer Baroness Orczy over a century ago. Sir Percy Blakeney - scourge of French revolutionaries, is a romantic figure of disguise, wit and brilliance risking his life to free the French aristocracy from Madame La Guillotine for mere sport. The scarlet pimpernel is his symbol.

A humble plant. Tiny, insignificant, yet beautiful. In the moment that I saw the red orange petals I was in the armchair next to my grandmother's bookcase, passing my fingers over the embossed flower-studded cover, aged ten about to read one of my favourite stories. An old friend.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Waiting

I seldom get irritated about waiting when I am not in a hurry. Unexpected, the small parcels of time are happy gifts and opportunities to think. I can scribble, read, listen to the radio, do some people watching or just let my mind be fallow for a few minutes.  

The perimeter of the car park changes with the seasons; at the moment, with all the rain, the colour is predominantly green and the growth is prolific. I was waiting for someone and spotted this sparrow fledgling. I caught him bouncing up and down on a briar.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Field Boundaries and Blurb

I was out for a walk yesterday and noticed spiders' webs alongside the edge of the field boundaries. Today I am grappling with the blurb for my next book in the Many a Moon series - June, and have used the image.

Living a lie in a web of deceit, Cassandra finds the courage to challenge her controlling husband. She sets in motion a tragic chain of events that leads her across Europe from the medieval city of Tallinn to the showboating glamour of Nice. Cast aside and the victim of cruel revenge, Cassandra fights for her future and discovers that she is not alone. Tested to her limits, events conspire to show her that where love is concerned there is always a reckoning.

Not sure about the size of those spiders.  

Looking forward to the publication of June in March 2017.


Friday, 20 May 2016

May

Norwegian friends have celebrated their national day; there are two bank holidays here in UK - it must be May.

The chestnut trees are resplendent in green, the five-fingered leaves and candle flowers are just perfect, and these pretty white may flowers with their delicate pink stamens are perfuming the hedgerows.
While the nights are cold and the wind chilly, there is a sense of promise as young shoots push up through the drills in the farmers' fields. 

I have just finished the most amazing course. Free, available to all and part of the lifelong learning programme of MOOC (Massive Open Online learning Course) part of an international community of courses promoting civic engagement. The last seven weeks have been a delight and a challenge as I signed up for the Open University Start Writing Fiction course delivered by FutureLearn:

Re-energised through discussions, exercises, giving and receiving  feedback and with some great tools to go away and try,  I am off to write my next story.    

Thursday, 21 April 2016

 Stories Myths and Legends

Legend has it that Joseph of Arimathea, Jesus' uncle, brought his nephew to England where they visited Glastonbury. 

William Blake's poem supposedly marking the event, became the rousing and patriotic hymn of quintessential Englishness sung by Elton John at Diana, Princess of Wales' funeral, watched globally by millions: 

And did those feet in ancient time.
Walk upon Englands mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!

Followers of the Arthurian legend believe Glastonbury is deeply connected to Avalon, mythical land of the Grail myth. Some say that Arthur was buried in this place and is  sleeping, ready to wake in a time of great need.  Street names, shops, goods and services in the town are free with their usage of the mythological players and place names.

Yesterday was a sunny and springlike with the countryside all decked out in  green, so I went on my own pilgrimage. I followed the footpaths and narrow lanes crossing field and track, admired the new lambs and sheep grazing the pasture and climbed the Tor as many have done before me. Having lived abroad for a while, this was a great way to plug into my heritage and culture. Sitting on a bench with my book and a flask of tea I was amused to hear chattering French voices. A school party, lost, their teachers unsure of the way to go. I directed them across the fields enjoying the connection between my country, its stories and the wider world. 

Thursday, 24 March 2016

A Photo and a Moment

Going into my bedroom to fetch a book, I noticed a bee on the window ledge. For minutes I watched, fascinated, as the tiny creature groomed himself. The fur, if fur describes the hairy coat of a bee, was smoothed and combed, followed by a thorough job on the wings - a compelling ritual. The bee on one side of the glass I on the other. When he had finished the bee turned and posed. Clearly not a wildlife photographer, but with an iPhone to hand, I recorded the moment.
Earlier that day I read that Edward Thomas, nature and WWI poet, made a journey by bike from London to Somerset in 1913. Sheep grazing in pasture, church towers rising above thatched cottages over a hundred years ago provide a pastoral record of a time and way of life never to be recovered.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-35727382
The snapshots have a fascination and sense of a moment in time. Found whilst browsing on the BBC website among stories of global horror and Man's inhumanity to Man,I seized my moment with the bee as respite from all that I cannot influence or change. 
William H. Davies - twentieth century Welsh poet writes about having the time to stop and wonder.
Leisure
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this is if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare. 

This is my homage to World Poetry Day - 21 March.   

Monday, 14 March 2016

It's all in the Detail

Out and about yesterday I noticed this door. Small, I should say bigger than hobbit size - not for modern Europeans or basketball players.

Doors, portals, thresholds... a way inside. A barrier offering shelter, peace, space and protection. An interface between general society and your own.   

Handles, locks and keys...latches bolts and bars. Note the incongruous yale lock top right. Was this an after thought? Was there a time when a key wasn't needed. How then, was the door locked from inside? Who nailed the horizontal piece of wood to the top of the door? Why? What purpose does it serve? There is no letter box. Was there no expectation of a letter? Were there other arrangements made for post?

How old is the door? Who built the cottage? Was the door ever slammed in anger? What storms battered and punished the wooden studded panels? What quarrels, reconciliations, births and deaths occurred within? Is there a lintel hidden under the pink icing-sugar render? What secrets are kept by the door?

Tuesday, 8 March 2016


A Pear Well-Travelled

I picked this pear out of the fruit bowl because there was a tiny spot of decay no bigger than the nail of my little finger. I don't like waste and don't mind blemishes or imperfections, they add character.  When I eat a pear, or an apple for that matter, I eat the lot.  All that is left at the end is a stalk - where the fruit clung to the tree. Even the calyx, the little black gritty bit - remnant of the flower, is consumed. 

So I put the fruit into my rucksack encased by a plastic pot which offered some protection, but my companion for the day was jostled and disturbed, an unwitting follower of events. Bruised, aged and some might say spoiled, the pear came home again, uneaten. 

With a knife to hand I sliced off the deeper decay and was still able to enjoy the sweetness and taste. 




Thursday, 4 February 2016

























The Train Ride

Trains pass my flat but I never get on them. From Penzance to London. At night I see the lighted windows, empty seats and the buffet car.
I thought I would use them as a marker of time, but they appear at random – there are too many.
So I am a voyeur. I watch other people’s journeys. I imagine their stories.  Change at Bristol Temple Meads. No interpersonal connections.
Agatha Christie -  the cast assembled in 1930s plush velvet, faded wall lamps of pink silk and Hercule Poirot stirring his chocolate. James Bond on the roof grappling with a villain.  Robbers in the mail car. Perhaps they will glimpse the scrap of red material waved by three children long ago.
A faint smell of oil, there’s a rhythm about it.
Where’s the romance now – a meal deal in the buffet car.