Friday, 27 September 2013

Sometimes I can, sometimes I can't . . .

Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t . . . take good photos that is and then I ask Barry, who is patient and knows what he's doing.

We picked a lot of apples from our trees. 
These look rather ghostly . . .
. . . and these look as though they've been dancing.

 These are better
Frodo approves - he approves of all things edible
Just two of the many containers of apples

What to do with them all? We shall give some away and we shall eat some, of course, raw, on their own, with cheese, cooked in stir fry or added to curry, roasted with chicken, pickled to make chutney with onions, partnered with blackberries and currants to make pie and crumble. We shan't be making wine with them. We shall make apple sauce but mostly we'll just look at them and wonder at the bountiful harvest.

The crab apples are not quite ripe yet but we shall make crab apple jelly with them - the colour alone is a joy to behold.

We have a handful of quince - maybe enough to make a thimbleful of quince jelly.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI)

The RNLI is an entirely voluntary organisation dedicated to rescues at sea. There is an average of 22 call-outs a day.

You can learn more here

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

For all the dog-lovers . . .

I love hearing the owner chuckling as he videos his dog.

The Challenge

Words for Wednesday

Delores from ‘’Under ThePorch Light’ offers twelve words this week to inspire. We may mix and match as we wish – the words are spasm, uneventful, trek, early, limestone, felt and bland, curious, reeks, indefinite, morning, fulminate.
Why not visit her and see what other writing has been prompted?

The Challenge

Her life was bland and uneventful compared to others or so she felt. That was why she had decided to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Writing that in capitals in her journal had the curious effect of galvanising her into action. Her husband laughed at her, not unkindly, but his reaction caused her to fulminate at his attitude.

‘I’m serious,’ she said. ‘I’ve thought hard about this and I’ve volunteered to go on a climb to raise money for charity.’

When he realised she was serious he rearranged his expression to one of solemnity and offered to accompany her.

‘Thank you for your offer but this is something I need to do on my own.’

This caused her husband to guffaw once more. ‘You won’t be on your own,’ he pointed out with maddening logic between spasms of laughter. ‘It’s a trek up a limestone mountain with a group of experienced mountaineers.’

 ‘You know what I mean,’ she countered. ‘I shall be leaving early next Thursday morning.’

‘I’ll miss you,’ he said.

‘I’ll miss you, too,’ she replied, ‘But it’s not as though I’m going for an indefinite period.’

‘How long will you be away?’ he asked.

‘I expect to return the following Wednesday.’

On the day she left he drove her to the railway station where she was to meet the rest of the group. He didn’t know, and neither did she, that it would be the last time he would see her. When the news came of her fatal fall from the mountain he wept. His wife’s life had become far more exciting than she had intended.

The Consequences of Idleness

Thanks to Josie of ‘Two Shoes Tuesday’ who hosts this writing meme. Her prompts this week are ‘Distraction’ or ‘Tears’. Participants may choose one or other or both of the prompt words.
I didn’t know where I was going with this one – and as you can see, I’m not convinced I ever found out . . .
        The Consequences of Idleness
I was drowsy with inaction -
Neither seeking a reaction
Nor requesting satisfaction,
I admitted an attraction
Which provided stupefaction
Though I wanted no transaction –
It was simply a distraction.
I intended no infraction
Or similar abstraction
From another’s tender traction.

BUT it led to jeers and tears
From relatives and peers
Who asserted their worst fears,
Repeated through the years,
Had reached their outraged ears.

I took the quickest action
To calm the angry faction
And wrote a stiff retraction
To abandon a protraction –
My character’s contraction
Caused me dissatisfaction
And all because inaction
Had allowed me a distraction.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Nature's Wingèd Beauties - Mag 187

Thanks go to Tess Kincaid who organises and hosts this meme J To read more entries please click here.
The Moth and the Lamp by Cesar Santos

Nature’s Wingèd Beauties

I’ve never enjoyed fancy dress parties. The best I can come up with is wrapping myself in a sheet and saying I’m a Roman. I know, inspired . . . Anyway, when the invitation dropped through the door and the theme was Nature’s Wingèd Beauties I knew I had to make a determined effort. There was no possibility of declining the invitation – it was the annual company shindig and my attendance was expected. I knew most of the people who would be there apart from the all-important and influential guest of honour and his glamorous and illustrious wife.

Accordingly, I made an appointment with the director of one of the largest costumiers in the UK, explaining what I required. Having been persuaded into hiring an outfit I would never have considered in a million years, I drove home hoping that the evening of the costume ball would be warm otherwise my wings would be fluttering all night from cold.
My husband reacted with gratifying appreciation when I twirled in front of him, so much that we were almost late. (By the way, he was dressed as a magpie and the long tail caused him some difficulties getting in and out of the cab. In the ballroom he cut a swathe through the company as he turned to greet friends and colleagues.)

I began to wish I’d stuck with my original choice of the blue tit outfit. It would have been warmer and certainly less revealing. Nevertheless, the skimpy moth costume was flattering and I was receiving a lot of attention. My husband’s chest was swelling with pride as he strutted beside me and I must say we made a striking couple – he, so tall and broad, resplendent in black and white with iridescent sheen, me so slight and fine-boned, in soft pastel shades.

A fanfare announced the arrival of the special guest and his consort and the assembled crowd turned as one to the grand entrance. I craned my neck to catch a glimpse. I saw a large man in black and white – a penguin, maybe, I hoped, or a puffin – and next to him a small woman in pastel colours. As they advanced into the room I realised with alarm that they were sporting the same costumes as my husband and me. Swiftly I drew my wings over my shoulders and wrapped them around myself, hoping I might pass as a cocoon. Simultaneously my husband pulled his tail over his arm. He told me later he wanted to give the impression of a crow gathering sticks for its nest. We were not convincing but the VIPs laughed and congratulated us on both our impeccable taste and our quick thinking. What could we do but smile and nod our heads in agreement?

Perhaps we would have been better advised to dress in our usual fancy dress garb. In white sheets from head to toe I could have been a White Satin moth and my husband a Snowy Owl. Were they around in Roman times?

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Quality time

I spent a couple of days this week with one of my favourite people. 
Frankie was rather under the weather and not quite his usual chirpy self.
Generous to a fault he shared his cold with me.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Great Expectations


“A kiss, when all is said, what is it? 'Tis a secret told to the mouth instead of to the  ear.” ~ Edmond Rostand 
The wonderful Cecilia Robert and Christine Rains would like to invite you to the MORE THAN JUST A KISS blogfest!
sweet, sizzling, fiery, awkward, mind-blowing. We want to read your kissing scenes.
The rules are simple:
1. Sign up on the linky list and post the badge on your blog.
2. On one of the days of the week of September 9th, post a kissing scene on your blog. It can be either fiction or non-fiction.
3. Please do not exceed 250 words.
4. This is a blogfest, so visit the other participants and have fun!
But wait! This is more than a blogfest. We're offering prizes!
The scenes will be judged by these amazing romance authors: Cecilia RobertLaurelin Paige,Kyra Lennon, and Christine Rains. We will choose three posts to win these awesome prizes.
Prize 1 - A critique of a kissing/intimate scene from your WIP (not exceeding ten pages). Critiques will be done by Cecilia RobertKyra Lennon, and Christine Rains..
Prize 2 - A critique of a kissing/intimate scene from your WIP (not exceeding five pages). This critique will be done by Laurelin Paige and Christine Rains.
Prize 3 - A critique of a kissing/intimate scene from your WIP (not exceeding one page). This critique will be done by Cecilia and Christine.

Cecilia, Kyra, Laurelin, and Christine Rains. will each choose one of our favorites to give out some fantastic ebooks.
Laurelin - FIXED ON YOU 
Christine – All six volumes of the 13th Floor series.

Great Expectations

Jenny had admired Geoff for a long time. Every time she saw him her stomach tightened and twisted with delicious pangs. She closed her eyes, imagining him kissing her. He would hold her, so gently, his lips would brush hers and then, as she gasped with pleasure, his tongue would slip into her mouth. His tongue! She shivered at the idea. Her heart had literally skipped a beat when he had asked her out – in fact, she had felt quite faint for a moment until it resumed its normal rhythm.

And now the moment she had longed for had arrived - he really was going to kiss her. Should she shut her eyes? Would he close his? What did they do in films? He put his arms round her and bent his head. A tremor went through her and then his mouth was on hers. His tongue was probing, questing, until she opened her lips and then it was in her mouth, filling it, trying to snake its way down her gullet. This was not how it was supposed to be. Geoff seemed to be enjoying himself - his hands were all over her and she was batting them off - and it was funny but she’d never noticed the smell of him before, an unpleasant odour of unwashed body and clothes. She extricated herself from his embrace, made her excuses and left. He gazed after her, scratching his head. He’d never understand girls.

The Gift

Words for Wednesday

Delores from ‘Under The Porch Light’ offers six words as a writing prompt – flirtatious, blurred lines, headstone, vixen, discerning and fish. Once again she is testing our numeracy as well as our imaginationsJ. Why not visit her and see what other writing has been prompted?

The Gift

Fishing was a pleasant pastime at any time but today she had added purpose. Her hair shone rich and red in the late afternoon sun as she hastened to the water’s edge. There were fat river trout basking in the shallows and she was adept at capturing them.    She was discerning in her choice – she wouldn’t take just any fish. No, it had to be perfect for her swain.

Soon she had her prize and hurried off to their meeting place. The cemetery was an ideal rendezvous – peaceful, secluded. He was already there, studying the blurred lines on the headstones. Shyly she presented him with the shining fish and looked under her lashes at him. His white teeth gleamed as he took the gift. ‘How handsome he is,’ she thought, watching as he bit into the firm flesh, the scales silvering his black nose.  He left a little for her and she rubbed her head against his as he murmured, ‘I love you, my flirtatious vixen.’

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Little White Lies

Thanks to Josie of ‘Two Shoes Tuesday’ who hosts this writing meme. Her prompts this week are ‘White’ or ‘Lies’. Participants may choose one or other or both of the prompt words.

Little White Lies

Are you a liar? Do you tell fibs or whoppers? Are you an inveterate liar, involved in big business where lies are par for the course? After all, the ends justify the means and profit is king and one must think of the investors and their pensions - and one’s own bonus. Got to keep the little woman (or man, mustn’t be sexist and isn’t the glass ceiling a thing of the past now?) and the little dependants happy in their cosy designer nests and their independent educational establishments where money buys privilege and those oh-so-important contacts, and with their private health schemes where queues can be jumped and, with luck, a few years added to the allotted three score and ten. Such lies, or circumlocutions of the truth, are necessary to keep the wheels turning and the wealthy smiling as riches are accrued and taxes are avoided – it’s legal to avoid tax, not so to evade it. (Any thesaurus will show that these two words are interchangeable and a common synonym for each is dodge.)

No, we do not lie, not on that scale, but we may tell ‘little white lies’ – you know, the sort we all tell to avoid embarrassment or pain, to ourselves or others. ‘You look wonderful,’ we may say to someone who is obviously ill or overweight or under stress. ‘I’m fine,’ we lie to those who inquire after our health as we excuse our delay in seeking medical intervention because we were too busy looking after everyone else – nothing to do with a slight hint of martyrdom, of course. ‘Of course I’m not angry, I’m disappointed,’ we claim through ferociously gritted teeth as exams are failed, a colleague is promoted in our stead, money is overspent into debt, confessions are made of infidelity.

Sometimes we excuse our little white lies as kindness and thus some may grow up in the mistaken belief that their mispronunciation is ‘cute’ when speech therapy might have excused them from outsiders wondering why they still say ‘troof’ for ‘truth’ or ‘pray’ for ‘play’. Sometimes, oftentimes I think, we lie to ourselves. ‘It was a perfect marriage,’ says the bereaved widower, conveniently forgetting the acrimonious arguments or everyday irritations or the sidestep into adultery. ‘I don’t drink much,’ says the lonely businesswoman, justifying the bottle of gin she drinks every day or the too-frequent visits to the local bar where happy hour extends into near-oblivion. ‘He’s forceful, he knows his own mind,’ says the mother of the spoilt boy-adult who tramples everyone in his quest to have his whims and wishes fulfilled. ‘It’s just puppy fat, he’s got big bones,’ says the protective older sister of her little brother as he pants, struggling to lumber after his playmates.

Should we ever lie and if so, when? If telling the truth would lead to someone’s torture or death, as in war-time espionage operations, it is clear that a lie or lies must be told and upheld. If withholding the truth, or at least part of it, defends a country’s security procedures, particularly where terrorist threats are concerned, then surely most citizens would agree that secrecy must be maintained. At a more personal level, the complete truth should be tailored to take account of a vulnerable person’s state of mind at a time of considerable pressure. A bereaved parent does not need immediately to hear that her dead child was a bully. A son grieving for his father should be spared the knowledge that his behaviour was morally reprehensible. Truth will out eventually but life is not a court of law where the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth should be uttered.

Monday, 9 September 2013


Thanks go to Tess Kincaid who organises and hosts this meme J To read more entries please click here
Mag 185    Calculations
Boy in Dining Car by Norman Rockwell, 1946

The artist’s ten-year-old son, Peter, was the model for the boy in the painting. It describes a young boy’s first experience of calculating a waiter’s tip.

Peter said, ‘I wish I’d paid more attention when we did percentages.’

The waiter said, ‘Don’t worry, son, I can wait. It’s what I’m paid to do.’

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Penguins Three

File:Emperor penguins (1).jpg

Emperor Penguins
Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Mass mourning: Scores of Emperor penguins in an act of communal grief after the deaths of their chicks in Antarctica

Image copyright Daniel J Cox
I decided to research penguins and death and came across this extraordinary image, captured by cameraman Daniel J Cox. It shows a colony of Emperor penguins bowed down in grief after their chicks died.
Distressing: The bodies of the chicks lie on the Riiser Larsen Ice Shelf in Antarctica
Image copyright Daniel J Cox
The chicks' bodies lie strewn across the Antarctic ice
Penguins have relatively few predators and can, unusually for wild animals, die of old age. They can live for many years, up to 15 years for Adelie penguins, and remarkably, 40 years for Emperors.  Dead penguins are consumed by scavengers like skuas and petrels. Those few that die on land not covered by ice do not decay but dry out. Eventually thy are ablated by strong winds and become dust. Occasionally penguin fossils are found.

The oldest penguin fossils, from 10 million to 12 million years ago, have been discovered in South Africa. Of the 17 species of penguins found today 13 are threatened or endangered, with some, like the Galapagos penguins, on the edge of extinction. You can read more about penguins here and here.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Penguins Two

It seems that penguins are the theme for me today. Some penguins, like the Adelie penguins, mate for life while others, like the Emperor penguins, are serially monogamous. For some penguins, the Humboldts for example, there is a degree of same sex activity, even though there may be sufficient partners of the opposite sex to choose from.

The following video clip shows Adelie, Gentoo and Chinstrap penguins in Antarctica. Some sections have been speeded up.

The second video is an information animation designed for children but we can all learn from it;-)

There are many collective nouns for penguins: colony, creche, formality, huddle, parade, parcel, rookery and waddle. If I had to make up a collective noun I'd choose 'a perfection of penguins.' What would you choose?

I've just read the following in a recent copy of our Community magazine.
Do you ever wonder why there are no dead penguins to be seen in Antarctica? If a penguin is found dead, members of the colony dig a hole in the ice, using beaks and wings. When the hole is deep enough the dead penguin is rolled into it and buried. Then the penguins gather round in a circle and sing, 'Freeze a jolly good fellow, freeze a jolly good fellow . . . '

Don't believe everything you read . . . ;-)


My daughter Susannah is working with Humboldt penguins today.
File:Humboldt penguin.jpg
File:Asahiyama zoo Humboldt Penguin.jpg
File:WPZ - Humboldt Penguin 04.jpg
Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
This started me thinking about penguins in general. Susannah's younger sister Bethan has always loved penguins and used to draw them all the time when she was about seven. 
This is a Christmas card Bethan made for her grandmother, my mother.

Bethan reminded me that she used to sing a song called, 'I'm a penguin.' I've searched for it but can't find it. However, I found the following clip from 'Happy Feet' and it's fun so I thought I'd share it here.

Helen Keller

When you are overcome with despair or grief listen to this remarkable woman and count your many blessings.
'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement; nothing can be done without hope.' Helen Keller, 26.06.1880 - 01.06.1968

Friday, 6 September 2013

The Regretful Ecclesiastic

'Fireblossom Friday' at 'Imaginary Garden with Real Toads' invites participants to create a title using one word from two lists  - one of adjectives, the other of nouns - and write a poem. The words were terrifying, regretful, miniscule, inebriated, envious,
reincarnated, obsessive, lovestruck, studious, unexpected and  sherpa, ecclesiastic,
 docent, incubus, Gypsy, zookeeper, CSI, zombie, stripper, prodigy. 

The Regretful Ecclesiastic

His sermons were chilling, his flock afeared
As he threatened penances drastic,
And many young folks foreswore worldly goods
And took to the life monastic.

He stood in the pulpit, raised arms and voice,
And declaimed in tones bombastic,
‘Be assured your sins will find you out,
Judgement Day will be fantastic.’

The years rolled past and his audience shrank,
He saw and waxed more sarcastic,
Then mellowed and his lessons became
Gentler and more scholastic.

At the end of his days as he looked back
On his life ecclesiastic
He wished he had smiled more as he preached
And been less enthusiastic.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Words for Wednesday Soul Mate?

Words for Wednesday

Delores from ’Under The Porch Light’ offers six words as a writing prompt – crystallize, morbid, fragrance, cling, instant, blueprint. Why not visit her and see what other writing has been prompted?

Soul Mate?

It was a blueprint for disaster. She should have known that from the beginning. For an instant, when he said he wanted to buy her some perfume, she found herself clinging to the hope that this time he would buy something she liked. Short of writing a list of her favourite fragrances or, worse, buying one herself and giving it to him to give to her, she could think of no way of persuading him towards the scents she favoured.

Never the most cheerful of companions, he was becoming daily more morbid and sadly she realised that their relationship was never going to crystallize into the long-term partnership she had envisaged. She would have to look elsewhere for her soul mate.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013


Resting . . .
Togetherness, canine style
Bertie and Gus
Feline togetherness
Isambard and Herschel
A bright light woke us up. Is it supper-time?
Jellicoe and Isambard

Creature of the Wild

Thanks to Josie of ‘Two Shoes Tuesday’ who hosts this writing meme. Her prompts this week are ‘Creature’ or ‘Wild’.

Creature of the Wild

She felt like a Creature of the Wild, living on her wits. Daily she faced her demons with courage, a smile hiding her fear. She addressed them quietly, almost apologetically, in case she incited their derision. The hollow memories of scornful laughter from her earlier days remained with her and informed her current behaviour. She used her cunning to short-circuit their route to discovering her weakness. She digressed, tricking them into focussing on objects beyond her. She amused and entertained them and sometimes sensed a certain camaraderie but as soon as she allowed herself to relax the supposed amity vanished and they were united against her once more.

Each morning she rose and set out, a sick feeling in her stomach, her mouth dry, her pulse racing. Every evening, going home, she congratulated herself on surviving another day. How long would this persist? Could she escape?

As the years rolled by she began to look at her demons through different eyes. It was they who were the Wild Creatures, not her. With greater experience she was able to circumvent their more atrocious behaviour but realised with sadness that her joie de vivre was dying, shrivelling through lack of oxygen, bludgeoned by the relentless repetition of harsh blows. The cudgels were verbal but nonetheless painful.

On her last day she felt triumphant. The demons had never managed to slice through her armour and discover her frailty though some had come close. She listened to the voice of her employer. ‘Today we say farewell to Miss Thomas. She has been a well-loved and respected member of staff and will be greatly missed.’ Polite applause followed.

For years afterwards Miss Thomas had recurring nightmares of her demons rising up against her. They stood and advanced, chanting, ‘No, no, no – we won’t and you can’t make us.’

Why had she ever thought teaching might be an enjoyable profession?

Monday, 2 September 2013

Mag 184 Free as a bird

Artwork by Jeanie Tomanek

Thanks go to Tess Kincaid who organises and hosts this meme J To read more entries please click here. I’m also linking to Open Link Monday at Real Garden With Imaginary Toads.

Mag 184   Free as a Bird

A bird
In a tree,
I’d rest among leaves,
And I’d perch on swaying branches,
I’d take flight and seize my chances,
Wheel and swoop and dive -
Life unbound -
And thrive