About Me

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On the bright side of the road
Lover of the written word, always writing and dreaming of that coveted book deal.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

What does it mean to hope?

It's over a year since my last blog post. Over a year since I wrote 'Days Like These'. Over a year since I seriously wrote, although I've had stabs at it and churned out pages of emotion that were destined for the shredder.


A lot can happen in a year. A year ago I was hopeful.....and then hope left me. To hope means that your hopes can be dashed, the rug pulled from beneath you. And so I learnt to live without hope, and to live with acceptance. It was a strange time.


Super Sleuths

Burgh Island, Devon

It hasn't all been bad over the last year. Life is never 'all bad'. I had a wonderful time at a murder mystery dinner at The Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate, had a productive day's writing with the London Lit Lab, spent a full three days at The London Book Fair. I had a glorious family holiday in Devon and have spent evenings laughing with friends.


I also had a course of counselling and CBT. And a stint on antidepressants. I needed this, for I needed to be stronger than I've ever been before. I needed to hold it all together for it felt as if my life was unravelling.


It started with a nasty diagnosis for someone very close to me then moved on to Lovely Daughter's illness progressing to a state where she needed CPR and hospitalisation for over a month. My life changed dramatically from paid employment in a role where I helped others, to taking on the role of full-time carer at home.


In the last few weeks my father passed away unexpectedly and my mother-in-law passed away after suffering for many years with Alzheimer's.


I was in a good place when I wrote about my purple greatcoat. I wonder if I was aware that life was to become more difficult. That my life was to change beyond comprehension. That my life wouldn't follow the path I'd thought it would.


I don't know. But I do know that I'm more able to cope with the weight of the coat. I know that not every day will be heavy and laden with sorrows. On many days I get to wear a cape that is gossamer light and butterfly free.


Lovely Daughter is getting better - small steps, but we're moving forward. The nasty diagnosis I spoke of is still there, it's not going away, but it's stable at the moment. I went to two funerals in eleven days but was able to renew connections with relatives and family friends on both sides. Friends have been wonderfully supportive and so many people have been so kind.


And hope? Yes, I do recognise it at times but it has changed. My hope is not the frantic hope of longing and despair. Now I take one day at a time, managing the coat of the day. Words of hope sometimes whisper in my mind, and while I'm not ready to grasp them, they do give me a strange sort of comfort.


I have found peace.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Days like these.....an illustration






Isn't this artwork amazing? It's by Kerry Rawlinson and I was wowed when it was chosen to illustrate my Ad Hoc Fiction piece Days Like These (see previous blog post).

Kerry (kerryrawlinson.tumblr) is a talented artist and several of her pieces have been used to illustrate Ad Hoc winners, my favourites are Just a Crisp by Alison Wassell (@lilysslave) and Blue by Alva Holland (@Alva1206) - both incredibly moving pieces of writing.

Ad Hoc Fiction is a great place for writers and artists to flex their muscles and showcase their work - and free to enter! If you haven't seen it, take a look @AdHocFiction

Kerry kindly sent me her biography to share - do please check her out. Amazing!


Burgeoning Poet, Artist, autodidact and bloody-minded optimist, kerry rawlinson emigrated decades ago from sunny Zambia skies to solid Canadian soil. She now follows her Muses, barefoot, wherever they lead.
In writing, she’s the Winner of Postcards, Poems& Prose's “drawkcaB” Fiction Contest; 2nd place winner of Geist’s Postcard Story Contest; Finalist in Ascent Aspirations; Mississippi Valley; Malahat Review Open Season and Hawai’i Review Poetry Contests; and long-listed for 2015 National Poetry Contest of the UK. Poems, some with original artwork, have been accepted by various lit-mags, e.g. Minola Review; right hand pointing; WAX poetry and art; Main Street Rag; Unshod Quills; War, Literature& the Arts; CanLit; Codex; ditchpoetry; 3Elements Review; Section8 Magazine; three cover editions of Prospective, A Journal of Speculation; and soon in an anthology of Forgotten Women, by Grayson Books and pioneertown literaray journal.

Photo-artwork appears in litmags or online, e.g. Qwerty; Adirondack Review; AColorProject; Five on the Fifth; AdHoc Fiction; The Centrifugal Eye; The Peachland View’s front page, Nov. 14, 2014; as Finalist for Fusion Art’s Red, White & Blue Contest, and exhibits in the Peachland Art Gallery; and with SWAC at Kelowna airport.
Visit: kerryrawlinson.tumblr.com, or tweet @kerryrawli.





Saturday, 30 July 2016

Days like these



I'm really chuffed that I recently won Ad Hoc Fiction's (http://adhocfiction.com/) weekly competition - voted for by readers. I love Ad Hoc Fiction and look forward to reading and voting each week. Each week a new 'key word' is given and I'm always wowed by the diversity of the stories - gosh, how that word sparks imagination in so many different ways.


The key word for my winning entry was fold - I hope you like it:



The cloth of my life is purple. Each morning when I wake it waits for me. On good days I wear it lightly; a cape woven from the finest Merino wool patterned with innocuous swirls and swoops. If I am lucky, the cloth will remain soft but those days are rare. Each fold traps the day’s stresses within and the pattern becomes an angry jangling mosaic of migraine and despair. On bad days the cloth swells into a huge greatcoat, sopping with troubles that hold me tight and I breathe shallowly, desperately, longing for the day to end.

 
I dream of leaving this loathsome purple cloth behind. I will no longer carry the weight of daughter, sister, wife, mother: the tags that define my life. One day, just for a while, I will wear peach: cobweb light and butterfly free. One day I will return to me.






Wednesday, 2 March 2016

World Book Day and The Inky Imaginarium


World Book Day is almost upon us and I love watching children on their way to school
dressed as their favourite characters. I’m sure their parents have spent hours sorting out costumes to keep their little ones happy – what a great way to express their love of books. It’s a brilliant idea and a lovely way to promote reading.
 

Tomorrow will be World Book Day’s 19th year. I would have loved to have participated in this event but my children are in their twenties so we missed it. And obviously I’m way past it! But this year I’ve been thinking about where my love of books started and I can’t remember a time when I never read. My nickname as a child was ‘bookworm’ and my dad even built in a shelf above my bed for my favourite books.
 

Lovely Hubby enjoys reading, too and naturally we passed this love onto our children. We are a family of readers – usually our tastes are very different but sometimes we come together on a particular book. That’s what I like about reading: it’s a completely personal experience and is as individual as each individual.
 

So I wonder about this generation; they have so many electronic gadgets. Are they enticed by old fashioned physical books? Lovely Daughter and I own Kindles but we still prefer to hold a book in our hands. Do the children of today like to visit bookshops? Or do their parents order books online? I hope they choose bookshops – I still get a thrill from browsing the shelves and letting my instinct and curiosity guide me. The Kindle has its uses, especially for commuting and I’m not knocking it if that’s how someone prefers to read, but does a child get the same thrill from holding a book, feeling its weight and turning the pages? I know I’m old fashioned but to me it’s a joy I couldn’t bear to lose.
 

Most bookshops have a dedicated area for children, which is much more fun than the grown up sections. There may beanbags to chill out on, games and toys associated with the books, stickers, felt pens……it’s wonderful. And there are some bookshops completely dedicated to children. Most are called The Children’s Bookshop or something similarly bland. I like the ones that conjure the magic of reading and here are a few of my favourite names:
 

  • Bookworm
  • The Owl and the Pussycat
  • The Alligator's Mouth
  • Chicken and Frog Bookshop
  • Pickled Pepper Books
And my absolute favourites:
  • Tales on Moon Lane
  • The Yellow Book Road

Don’t they make you want to find out what’s inside? Surely you can't get the same excitement from ordering online. One of my fantasies is to open a bookshop and if it were for children, I would call it The Inky Imaginarium. I have all sorts of plans in my head: birthday parties, author events, story time, make your own book, huge beanbags and swinging chairs......not forgetting World Book Day events! Well, I can dream, can't I?


And if we had World Book Day in my time, I have no doubt about which character I would be: tomboy George from Enid Blyton’s Famous Five. And although I won’t be dressing up tomorrow, I will be George in my imagination.


Are you dressing up in your imagination for World Book Day?

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

A footie rematch 100 years on

Grandma didn’t talk much about her past but sometimes I could get her to reminisce and I love the stories she told of times gone by. I’m slowly putting together a family memory book to pass on to my children because although we can read about the past in history books, to me, it’s the personal little memories that are so important. They give me a sense of who my relatives are (or were in the case of my grandparents, sadly all now gone). One of my favourites of grandma’s is the tale of when her parents decided to have electricity in their home. They could only afford to convert one room – the parlour. Can you imagine? It must have been so exciting to have light at the flick of a switch – but in one room only!


Another story that grandma told me was about her father, Alexander Charlesworth. He was the eldest of eleven brothers (and he had sisters, too!). His father must have had a great sense of humour because he placed an advertisement in a local newspaper challenging any other families with eleven brothers to a football match.



Charlesworth Brothers (top)
and Coverdale Brothers








And surprisingly, a family responded and the match was arranged. On the appointed day the Charlesworths made their way from Scunthorpe to Hull to play against the Coverdale family. This was just a few months before World War I broke out and sadly their world was to change as all the brothers of both families went to war but not all returned.


Charlesworth Team
The historian, Rick Glanvill discovered the story and I believe he brought it to the attention of the BBC. For me, the story was family folklore and I never really thought much about it. But obviously it was quite extraordinary and The One Show thought so, too. They kindly arranged a rematch in October last year at the Airco Arena in Hull and all descendants of the Charlesworth and Coverdale families were invited to play. This time it was a five-a-side game with players alternating regularly so that everyone who wanted to play had the opportunity. It was great fun with young and old all joining in and the camaraderie of the day was wonderful.

Me with Alfred and LD
I got to meet relatives I didn’t know about and discovered the lady who lived next-door-but-one when I was growing up is a Charlesworth descendant, too – we had great fun reminiscing about the old street and neighbours. And I met one of my grandma’s cousins, Alfred, who told me all he knew about my great-grandfather, Alexander – more snippets for my family memory book.
The Brothers' Cup

At the end of the day, the BBC presented the teams with their very own cup: The Brothers’ Cup and hopefully we’ll have regular rematches. Well, we need to! The score in 1914 was 3-0 to the Coverdales and this year we did a little better but still lost with the Coverdales scoring 7 goals…….and the Charlesworths…….6 goals. But it was a great match – the best I’ve ever been to.




The piece was aired on The One Show on 19th January and my claim to fame is a shot of me exclaiming: ‘It was amazing!' If you'd like to see the clip, you can find here on the BBC's The One Show programme: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b06wd8dj/the-one-show-19012016



 
 
 


Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Happy New Year....and remember to breathe


Happy New Year!

 

My first blog post of 2016 is to wish you all peace, love, happiness and good health for 2016. And remember to smile…..a smile does wonders for your own good health and spreads a little sunshine to those around you  :o)

 

And if you made New Year’s resolutions – good luck!  I hope you manage to keep them and I hope that they fulfil you and bring you peace.

 

I don’t tend to make solid resolutions: just the usual, eat less and exercise more…find time for writing. But this year I’ve gone a step further:



  • Remember to breathe, and

  • Remember to be kind.

 

Breathing sounds simple, we do it automatically, but my resolution is to consciously breathe. Not all the time, obviously! But at some point in each day I am focusing on my breath and on my surroundings. I tune in to how I am feeling and really connect with how my body is interacting with the world around me. I hear birds singing, the rush of traffic, the swish of the trees in the breeze, the clatter of a bottle being thrown into a recycling bin. This is my world and I acknowledge that I am part of it: I am here, right now.

 

And being kind? Well, I consider myself to be a kind person, most people do. Here at home we’ve had a hellish eighteen months coping with a family member’s dreadful illness. And I’ve been too closed in to think about being kind – to myself or anyone else (although I hope I  have been kind). All focus has been on getting through each day as best I can and finding ways to support everyone in my family. We’re all adjusting now and we’re in a far better place than we were this time last year. I am hopeful that I can say the same again this time next year.

 

And so my resolution is to be consciously kind: not only to myself but to all those I meet or interact with. A smile, passing pleasantries, picking up a dropped piece of paper, opening a door – all small acts of kindness that help me feel connected again and hopefully make a small impact on those around me.

 

I’m enjoying this new year so far. With so much sadness in the world and so much terror and hate, I am at peace in my own little corner, consciously rejoicing in life.

 

 

But to spoil the mood a little, when I signed into Blogger today, I had a notice to say that some changes will be being made over the next few weeks and that people will need a Google Account in order to follow blogs…….so if you don’t have one and would still like to connect with me…..a Google Account is free and easy to set up…..good luck, and happy New Year!



 

Friday, 7 August 2015

A warm and fuzzy feeling


I’ve become part of something amazing! Of course it was totally unplanned and unexpected so it’s all the more wonderful.

I belong to a lovely group of readers on Facebook. We exchange tips on books, share photos of our reading spaces and chit-chat about anything book related. It’s a lovely, supportive group and it gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling (and you can’t beat that).

It was last Friday that the amazing thing happened. One of our members posted a comment about how difficult it is to access books written in English in her country. She loves fiction and she loves physical books but just can’t get her hands on them. Most books that are available are written in Arabic and are educational – and, of course, censored.

It wasn’t a ‘feel sorry for me’ comment; it was simply a statement of longing, much like I might say: ‘I’d love to be eating a gelato while reading in the garden.’  Her post made me want to reach out to her, to share what I have. In England we are so fortunate: books are everywhere. I can choose to go to the library or spend time in my favourite bookstore. I can browse the books, borrow or buy. I give books as gifts, I attend author events and get them signed. I pretty much take books for granted and never give their accessibility a second thought. What if we didn’t have books? (And yes, I have a Kindle, too which is great for certain things – but you can’t beat the smell and feel of a book in your hands.)

Now, I have said that the Facebook group is lovely but what I didn’t expect is that so many of us want to help and how many of us have pledged to send a book or two! The flurry of activity over the weekend was amazing. There are so many of us wanting to help and to stop our friend from being bombarded by parcels, a rota has been put together and the first books are already on their way. Once received, our friend will let us know and the next person on the list will send theirs. I’m thirteenth on the list and can’t wait for my turn!

I’ve heard of charities that send books to other countries but this experience has got me thinking and I’d like to do more. Usually I give my books to charity shops – what do you do with yours?