The Gallery is Open

Kezzie had the idea of a virtual “art gallery” where people shared some of the art in their homes – “art” being interpreted however one felt it appropriate.

Unfortunately, despite having several days notice I left it until the morning of the Opening to do anything about it…and I have to go to work soon(ish) so my pictures – taken on my phone, because my camera is being temperamental – are not very well staged or taken. I do apologise. This will seem like a very amateurish art gallery! THe pictures are small too, being taken on the phone, but I hope that if you click on them you can biggify to see more details.

I have a lot of pictures and bits ‘n’ bobs in the house. Here is a photo of the wall behind my computer

As you can see it’s an eclectic mix of photos, cards, and other bits and bobs. It rather sums up my home!

So, due to my lack of preparation, I rushed around, randomly snapping what has turned out to be very blurry photos of various pieces of art around the house…

The reflections made this hard to photograph, but it was painted by the father of a friend of mine. His name was Eric Kilner, and Alison has been my friend since our University days. I admired the pictures she had in her home, painted by her father, so he gave me this one. It’s an abstract piece that makes me think of water weeds and ponds. I really like it. It hangs on our first floor landing.

Another reflection tricky picture is this one:

We bought this limited edition print of the Great Orme, Llandudno, in Frome, with Alison (friend mentioned above) & her OH, Kit. Unfortunately I can’t read the artist’s signature as I love this and would like to get more by the artist. We were wandering around Frome arts market and saw his stand. Mr FD & I decided there and then we wanted one of the pictures, and chose this one for its moodiness and for the fact we were in the area of Llandudno for our honeymoon. This was a wedding anniversary purchase, so it seemed appropriate.

This is in our living room.

Also with a connection to my friend Alison, we come to this picture, which hangs in our dining room:

She sent us this print for Christmas, a few years ago, and when we had adopted our big ginger boy from the street, we were searching for the right name…I looked at him sleeping, in this pose, looked at the picture and knew we had his name!

This is a corner in our living room – again, showing the eclectic mix of “stuff” (is it art?)

There is yet another link to Alison and Kit – now he’s retired, Kit makes Shaker style boxesand other lovely stuff. Please go and look at his items (and maybe even buy something!!) – they really are art! You can see the little box at the front, which was a gift. The wooden vase was made by another friend, and the thistly flowers within were given to us by Michel, a friend who died a year or so ago. The embroidery        “Home is where the cat is” was made by yet another talented friend.The cat in the photo is Manda, our first cat that we owned together – she lived until she was nearly 20, with her last five years as a diabetic. We adopted her when I won a competition, with 354 tins of Kit E Kat as part of the prize – and we didn’t have a cat!

The collection of tin and pottery stars was inspired by (yes, you’ve guessed it!) Alison & Kit…They have so many beautiful things around their home, and I always liked their collection of bells, hanging up the stairs. When we moved out here, to our home on Boulevard de l’Astrée (“Starry Boulevard” – or so we thought) I named our house Maison des Etoiles. Then I started to collect little stars. These are a few. We found out that in fact the street is named after the novel “L’Astrée” by a local author, but never mind…

Here’s an appropriate song by one of my favourite groups…

Moving into our guest bedroom we have some more pictures:

again, appallingly photographed!

The “sampler” I made in 1989 for Mr FD’s granny’s 90th birthday, and as her initialsare the same as mine, I was happy to take it as a gift after she died. The black polar bear I adore – he is Hornsea pottery, and was a gift after my grandmother died. Here he is in a complete state…

 

Unfortunately mine is broken and mended, after being knocked over by a cat. Probably Pomme who was remarkably clumsy in her youth.

The tiny picture is a Kate Greenaway print

(again, apologies for the photo!) This was a present from my sister on my 16th birthday – I remember I was thrilled to be given something “grown up” as a present! It has followed me round to every home since!

And the piece of calligraphy reads:”Every act of kindness and nurturing I show to myself impacts those around me: something “just for me” is in fact a gift to my whole inner circle who benefits in turn” This is by Angela, who ran a workshop I went to. This is another piece of her work

and this is the piece I created at her workshop

This hangs in my study. It reminds me sometimes to dare a bit more….

Just popping back to the living room, there is this picture

a print of a Heaton Cooper. This blog post tells you more about it.

And here is another blog post about this picture which hangs in my study

https://fatdormouse.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/img_0172.jpg

 

and finally another blogpost about this picture:

https://fatdormouse.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/img_0069.jpg

which is a sketch of a scene in “Nicolas Nickleby”

I do a lot of art myself – zentangles particularly, but I dabble in other things too – here is a link to the “artwork” part of my blog should you be interested.

A Rockhopper penguin zentangle, by Yours Truly

If you visit Bev’s “gallery”,  open today, you’ll see a couple of other zentangles that I’ve done. If you go to this page you’ll find the links to all participating galleries

Also, anyone who is on the list of participating “galleries” and would like me to do a zentangle for them, leave me a message in the comments saying who you are, your site and what you’d like a zentangle of. I can’t promise when it will arrive, but I hope it might be before Christmas 2021!!

And if you are just visiting, as they say in Monopoly, thank you for coming! I hope you’ve enjoyed my blurry photos, and please leave a comment! As Kezzie says:

Art galleries like to keep a track of visitors so it would be lovely if you could comment on the posts of those you visit- even if it was a ‘Thanks for sharing’, let’s make the effort to show our appreciations, even if the art was not to our taste. Of course, more detailed appreciative comments are also welcome!
Also, I don’t need to say this as everyone who accesses this blog is kind (except for stupid people who share their random spam links- you can get lost!), but even if you don’t consider something to be ‘art’, perhaps don’t say so!

Any Questions…

The writer of the blog A New Life in Lillewhich I enjoy reading, was offered one of those awards that come wioth questions to answer, which he passed on to his readers. As I am devoid of inspiration, but have time to write a blog post, I thought I’d answer them. I think I’ll do it in two halves though (giving me another blog post from it!!)

Why did you start your blog? At the time, a lot of people from Ship of Fools (a website I enjoy) were blogging, using a site set up (I think) by one of the moderators. I enjoy writing, and I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon. You can read some of the posts if you go to the section “Some dregs from the other Teapot” up above. My first blog post was on August 24th 2009, and I managed to make a mess up of that first one what with usernames and so forth.

And so it has continued – sometimes with more inspiration than other times, but I enjoy blogging. I see it almost as my “scrapbooks” for the internet age. When I was at University I kept physical scrapbooks, with things stuck in, and the odd journal type entry. This is the updated version of that, I suppose, although this one rarely (if ever!) has my innermost secrets in.

What do you enjoy most about blogging? It has to be the interaction with other bloggers! I love getting comments, and if a new person comments I’ll go to their blog, if I can, to read what they’re up to. If it’s “my kind of blog” then I’ll add them to my bookmarked blogs. I try to comment too, but I’m less good at doing that . I especially appreciated the support from other bloggers, and readers, through my cancer treatment.

Getting “likes” doesn’t mean much, as that’s too easy to do & therefore doesn’t mean much, and I feel that it’s mostly done to get “likes” back. I was horrified when I followed one “like” back to its source and found a conspiracy theory site with disinformation about Covid-19 on it. If I could have taken down the “like”, I would have!

But the writing itself is also a pleasure. I like writing, I love words, and so it’s not a chore to blog. It might be a chore to read my blog however!!

Which is your favourite blog post you’ve written? I really don’t know!! I enjoy reading back over posts, but I don’t really have a favourite one.

Maybe this one written after a trip to the UK is special, because it reminds me of what a joyful weekend I had, even in the midst of cancer

What do you hope the world will learn from the coronavirus? To be more kind, to be more thoughtful and to slow down. The most important things are not to do with money.

Also that the Tory government shafts the ordinary people every step of the way.

(Sorry, is that a bit political?!)

If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why? Again, really difficult to answer. We are happy here in St Just, and will probably stay here…but, for the sake of argument, somewhere a little further south, on one level, traditional exterior but modernised interior, with an infinity pool overlooking mountains & trees…but not far from a village with all amenities. Not much garden (or garden, with a gardener) but room for a donkey and a few goats. And cats too.

Yes, that’ll do!

 

Pause.

Today is a fast day (we’re back on the 5:2 regime, after I was told my cholesterol was getting a bit too high) so I’ve only had orange juice, coffee and tea up till now. It’s 12.30 and my poached egg on toast is calling me.

 

Post Isolation Fantasies…

This is from Kezzie’s choices over here, but I’m afraid these are not terribly interesting!! I think it’s indicative of how unexciting my life is normally, that I haven’t been fantasising about getting back to “normal life” through the Confinement!!

But here you are:

1. Restaurant you would go out to: Probably the Hotel de la Poste round the corner. We have a voucher, which Friends Alison & Gerome gave us for our birthdays. It was supposed to be used within 6 months, but that came and went during March, when we were confined.

We have been doing quite well for food though, as the restaurant next door is doing takeaways to keep afloat. I had a delicious pizza yesterday.

2. Friend you would meet up with first: Probably Friend Alison, for a real apero, not a virtual one. We have been chatting from time to time, keeping 2m away from each other if I pass by her house and she’s outside. Also Louis and Odette, who are good friends too.

3. Place you would go:Back to work?! I’m not sure where I’ve missed…I suppose it’s the freedom to go anywhere that I’ve missed, rather than somewhere in particular. So possibly just for a walk that’s more than 1 km from the house!

4. Shop you would go to: Noz!! And Lidl…Our shopping has been expensive because we’re using the little Carrefour Extra in the village, which isn’t as cheap as Lidl, or the bigger supermarkets.

5. Food item you would buy/eat: We haven’t really missed anything too much. It’s been harder getting fresh fruit and vegetables, including my favourite Pink Lady apples, so that would be nice. We have missed a few ingredients that the little supermarket doesn’t stock, but nothing springs to mind!

6. Cake you would eat: Again, not missing cake, as we can buy stuff quite easily. And the restaurant next door does the odd “Dessert du Jour” which is very nice! Lemon tart yesterday!

7. Show you would go to see/Concert you will go watch: We hadn’t planned any concerts/ shows – there’s not many that come to our corner of France that we want to see. I think Mr FD is planning a Big Big Train concert, but I’m not sure where that is.

8. Relative you will hug first: Apart from Mr FD (and we’ve shared a good amount of hugs during confinement) it will be whichever of my relatives I see first!

9. Holiday you would go on: Possibly the one that we should have been going on at the end of May! We’ve deferred it till September, and we were supposed to be going with my MiL, my mum and my brother. We don’t know what restrictions will be still in place in September for elderly people in the UK, so we’re waiting-and-seeing. It was to a lovely looking place in the Cantal area.

10. Other activity? Going to Church. It will be lovely to see people face to face again! I actually think that being apart has brought us closer together as a congregation. It’s been lovely that people who have left and live elsewhere have been able to join us – that’s been an unexpected bonus of this lockdown – but I look forward enormously to taking communion again. And we will be much closer to finding out about a new Priest in Charge…the closing date for applications is coming up at the end of May, I think.

11. Thing you would do at work: While I have been enormously grateful for the fact I’ve been able to work from home, by phone or by computer, it’s not been the same! Face to face teaching is easier, and more rewarding. But, much as I’m looking forward to going back to work, I won’t be first out of the door on 11th May…I definitely want to wait at least another 2 weeks, in order to (hopefully) avoid a second wave of the virus.

12. Item you would buy: There’s nothing I really want now – before yesterday it would have been plants for the balcony, but the little local garden centre is now opening just in the morning, so I was able to buy a rather random selection of plants. The balcony is looking less bare now! So just the chance to have a browse around the shops…for nothing in particular!

 

Do let me & Kezzie know if you take part!

Who let the dogs out?

A few months ago, Julie, one of my Dear Readers, asked me if I could draw a zentangle of her mum’s dog as a gift for said mother. I agreed (not knowing what kind of dog it was) and Julie sent me a photo of the dog.

I can’t find it now, but it was a terrier of some kind (Sorry, Julie! I can’t remember what breed now!)  I think it might have been a Border Terrier

the most famous of which is Eccles, from “Coronation Street” as pictured above

Anyway, I searched t’Internet and found a drawing of said terrier breed. And I started my Zentangle….But it was difficult. I was worried I was getting too much Zentangle and not enough dog (if you see what I mean…) So, discouraged, I put it in a drawer and forgot about it. Then last week, I was looking through my old blog posts for something, and came across my offer to draw a zentangle for anyone, and Julie’s request for a dog for her mum. So, rather guiltily, I dug out the half finished drawing and searched t’Internet for some inspiration…which I found in this Zentangle Shih Tzu

So off I went, Zentangling mojo back, and I finished the terrier in a matter of days. Julie has it, and will be giving it to her mum, so I can show you the finished article (click on the picture to biggify it):

Finally I was pleased with how he turned out. I hope Julie’s mum likes him too!

If I’ve promised anyone else a Zentangle please do remind me in the comments…Or if you’d like one doing. Please say – I seem to be ready to do another…

Support a new kid on the blogging block

Some of us have been blogging for ages – I started in 2009 OOOH! I’ve just realised I passed my 10 years’ Blogiversary on 24th August. What a shame I didn’t realise on the day. It would have made for a blog post!!

Anyway…some of us have been blogging for a long time, some of us not so long.

My nephew-in-law has started his blog “The Stay Abroad Dad” He & my niece, Ruth, and their two Littlies are living in Malaysia at the moment. Ruth is working in a new school, and Dave is the Stay At Home Abroad Dad. He writes quite engagingly, so please trot over to say Hello and encourage him in his blogging efforts. I look forward to reading more about their adventures.

Book Review: The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles: Skelly’s Square ****

NetGalley did not send me this free of charge. I paid good folding-cash-money for it (well, click-and-buy on Amazon, actually. Which is a very dangerous thing, and needs to be used with caution!!)

The blurb reads:

They want him to save the world. But, first, he must save himself.

Kirkwood Scott is having a bad day. Languishing in a dead end job and recently dumped by his girlfriend he struggles with a crippling form of OCD which manifests itself in the form of Colonel Augustus Skelly, a phantom voice from Kirkwood’s childhood who controls his every waking moment via a series of tortuous routines, ‘The 49’.

Kirkwood has little to look forward to, bar a weekend of drunken oblivion in Belfast with his equally deadbeat friends. All that changes when he meets Meredith Starc, a young homeless woman struggling to survive on the streets and come to terms with her own troubled past. Kirkwood realises Meredith may hold the answer to him finally being free of his mental demons.

But what if Skelly is more than just a voice? Kirkwood and Meredith join forces to unearth a supernatural battle raging on the city’s back streets between ancient forces of good or evil, the outcome of which will decide the fate of the planet. Between them, they hold the key to saving mankind from a new Dark Age but can they survive long enough to do so as Skelly unleashes a legion of vicious ghost soldiers upon the unsuspecting city?

‘The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles: Skelly’s Square’ is a fast paced and darkly humorous supernatural fantasy guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.

My review on Amazon reads: I found the book engaging and well written, giving me a “just one more” feeling when I reached the end of a chapter. The story is enthralling – in the sense that I was enthralled, I wanted to know what happened next, how the characters fitted together, what the outcome would be. While certain descriptive passages jarred a little, and some of the scene setting went on a tad too long (in my opinion) I felt “secure” in the hands of the author. I look forward to the next instalment.

To add a bit more to the review, I did find the first third of the book dragged in places: the description of Kirkwood’s banal life became a little too tedious. I got that he went to seedy pubs, drank a lot, and had hangovers, and then went out drinking again: I know that the author was trying to emphasise the change in his life, when Meredith entered the scene, but I felt the point was a bit too laboured.

I didn’t always get on with the humour, or understand the cultural references either. While this didn’t exactly spoil my enjoyment of the book, I did get a bit irritated. In fact I emailed Stephen, (I read his blog) to ask about something that I thought was a typo, but which was, in fact, a reference to a song lyric. Should it matter if your readers don’t understand your cultural references? I don’t know – but from time to time something jarred with me, and I had to pause and “get over myself” before continuing.

HOWEVER I loved the actual story, and warmed to the characters I was supposed to warm to; the descriptions of OCD and mental health issues were sensitively handled. Despite it being a fantasy, I found it eminently believable, and I await the next in the series with interest and anticipation.

I gave it four stars, because of the problems with the humour/cultural references, but don’t let this put you off. It’s a great read!

Thank you Kezzie…Part III

Kezzie  has provided the inspiration for the last two posts, and finally for this one too! Answering 60 questions about oneself. Here’s the last 20

41. Cooking or baking? Hard to choose as I enjoy both (although the everyday cooking gets a bit boring!) (Hence the reason for my answer 40) If I had to choose, I suppose it would be cooking, as one cannot live on cakes alone.Baking is more pleasurable however; I don’t “do” yeast though. It rather disturbs me.

42. Favourite Baked goods? Oh, how to choose?! I think flapjacks – so easy to make but so delicious!! Note that is UK Flapjacks not US flapjacks (which are pancakes. What’s that about?) Recipe here, should you wish to try it! If you can’t get golden syrup, then honey or Agave syrup can be substituted, but the quantities & cooking time may need adjusting.

43. What is something you wish you could be good at? Gosh, there are so many! A not-particularly-useful thing is singing. I’ve got a loud and serviceable singing voice, but I wish it was better. A more-useful thing would be being organised, or as Kezzie said, not worrying about stuff. There’s an envelope saying “Important Information Included” waiting to be opened. I worry about what’s inside it, so I don’t open it. Stupidstupidstupid.

44.  Skiing or surfing? Like Kezzie, neither. I never took to skiing, and surfing seems just as difficult with the added “bonus” of getting seawater up every orifice. I have wobbly ankles and no balance.

45. First celebrity crush? As far as I can remember it was Ben Murphy, from “Alias Smith & Jones” I had photos of him stuck onto the lid of my desk at school.

 

Then…and now (I actually prefer the “now”!)

46. Most recent celebrity crush? Alan Rickman, always Alan Rickman. But actually Ben Murphy has just surprised me!!

47. What colour was your prom dress? Proms didn’t exist when I left school. We had a Leavers’ Meal and Disco, somewhere in Liverpool city centre – very grown up! I have no idea what I wore!! I do remember that for my 21st birthday party, held at college (university equivalent) – which I shared with friends Diane and Lynne – I wore a cream knee-length dress.

48. How do you manage stress? I don’t! As a result of my hormonetherapy, I get stupidly over anxious.

49. What do you do to relax? Blog, read blogs, art “journalling”, zentangling, reading.

50. Shoes or bags? If the question is asking what do you have more of, then I guess it’s shoes. I’m always on a quest to find comfortable shoes, that are also elegant. I haven’t found them yet. Especially as I can’t walk in heels of any height. I like bags, but don’t buy a lot of them (handbags, that is. I have myriad tote bags, but I’ve not bought many of them. They’re mostly gifts) I am very frugal buying handbags though – the ones I like are usually far too expensive to buy!

51. How do you know if you’re in love? Crikey! How to answer? I like Kezzie’s answer (more borrowing!) Worrying about that person, wanting to make things better for them, still loving them even when they are mean to you or drive you mad.  Not sure really.

52. Who do you turn to when you’re sad? Usually I turn in on myself. I’m not very good at sharing sadness. Mr FD only wants to try to “fix” it, or rationalise it, and that doesn’t really help.

53. What are you most enchanted by? The night sky.

54. What is your biggest strength? No idea. If we ask what am I good at – teaching, preaching, Some have said I’m a good listener, and am empathetic. I don’t know if that’s so. I like to think I’m usually kind, but I can also be very ungenerous.

55. What is your biggest weakness? I’m very lazy. And disorganised. And a worrier/panicker. Mr FD says I panic first and ask questions later, and that’s becoming more and more my default position. I don’t think I’d be very good in a crisis.

56. What are 3 words to describe living in your city? I live in a small town/big village. Quiet…humdrum…pleasant…

57. Cutest thing on planet Earth? Probably something with baby animals, especially kittens

58. Favourite colour? I honestly don’t have one! It rather depends on my mood.

59. Favourite time of day? The moment of silence when I turn off the car ignition outside my house after a long day’s work. Especially if I know Mr FD has cooked dinner!

60. Favourite band? I don’t have one – but here are a few that I really like: Elbow, Rend Collective, Big,big Train, The Divine Comedy.

Stealing from Kezzie: Part 2

Here’s the second part of the series of questions that I’ve borrowed/stolen/copied from Kezzie

21. How do you start your day? It depends on whether it’s a work day or not, but it usually involves some cat wrangling! I prefer to be showered and dressed before I have breakfast.

22. Would you ever live anywhere beside where you do now? Yes, quite happily. Now we have lived in France – which had always been a dream – I would be prepared to move back to the UK….though I think we’d be looking at Scotland, rather than England. Depending on what happens with Brexshit we may have to move back, but probably not.

23.  What is your favourite dessert? I don’t really have one. Although I love chocolate, I wouldn’t usually choose a chocolate dessert; I prefer fruity ones.

24.  Is there a dessert you don’t like? See above: anything too chocolatey-and-cream-laden.

25.  It’s a brunch! What do you eat? Full English breakfast, please, followed by toast-and-marmalade. And lots of good coffee.

26.  Where was the best vacation you’ve ever taken? Ach, there’s too many lovely holidays to remember, all of them special for different reasons. I couldn’t choose!

27.   Favourite Disney animal? Don’t really have one. Maybe Puss in Boots from Shrek. Is that Disney?

28. What is a book you are planning on reading? “Iris & Ruby” by Rosie Thomas. “The Last Runaway” by Tracy Chevalier – I came across both of these as I was clearing my bookshelf and thought I needed to re-read them.

29.  What did you read most recently? I read “The Virgin Blue” by Tracy Chevalier while on holiday, as it was partly set in the region where we were staying. And also “Skelly’s Square” by Stephen Black as it’s by someone whose blog I read. Both were very good.

30. Favourite solo artist? I don’t have a favourite, but among those I like are…Hafdis Huld, Sting, Paul Carrack, Richard Hawley….

31. What is something you’re tired of? Brexshit. ‘Nuff said. And joint pain.

32.  What is a city you want to visit? I’d like to revisit Amsterdam. I’d like to vist Copenhagen, Rekyavik, maybe New York, Prague…

33.  Heels or flats. It has to be flats. I can’t walk in heels of any height.

34.  Where does one go on a perfect toad trip? Anywhere that appeals! The French countryside is hard to beat!

35. What do you do on a rainy day? It depends on my mood, but often it’s blogging or art work of some description.

36.  What is your favourite exercise? I’m afraid that’s an oxymoron to me!

37.  What was your worst subject at school? I was no good at maths – Up to the last year in Primary school I loved maths, but then we were taught Binary numbers, which I couldn’t understand. It put me off for the rest of my life (except for a brief spark of interest with some kind of graph) When I found out I’d passed maths “O”level, I told my maths teacher, who responded with “Well, Alison, life is full of little surprises!”

38.  Which animal do you identify with most? Cat – I love sleeping and eating.

39.  What do you usually eat for breakfast? On a work day I have a big glass of orange-juice-and-water, egg on toast, and coffee. I’ve just started having a pro-biotic yoghurt too. On a non-work-day, it’s the juice combo, toast and jam, and coffee.

40.  What do you usually eat for dinner? I don’t “usually” have anything. In fact Mr FD sometimes complains that I’ll cook something nioce and then we never have it again! I’ve got loads of home-created recipe books with different recipes in. If we have the same thing twice in a month it’s unusual! I’m trying to have fish once a week, vegetarian twice a week, and less meat on the other days…but it doesn’t always work out like that.

 

 

 

Stealing from Kezzie…

…or maybe, being inspired by Kezzie!

Not sure what to blog about (now I’ve finished the epic My Holidays posts) I thought I’d borrow/steal Kezzie‘s recent posts, which she borrowed/stole from Bev, which she borrowed/stole from… and so on!!

So here we go: 60 questions Part 1

1. What’s the best thing that happened to you this month? This has to be my holiday, I think. Though a friend offering to pay for a cleaner to come in to clean the house comes a close second!! (And, yes, I’m taking her up on the offer!)

2. What’s your favourite game? I don’t play many games, to be honest. I like Cribbage – we took the crib board away with us, but didn’t play – and I’m currently playing a lot of Simon’s Cat “Pop Time” on the phone, but I’m not much of a game-player.

3.  When are you most inspired? Not often….I suppose nature quite often “does it” for me, or sometimes a few words from a Bible verse or poem.

4.  If you could teach one subject at school, what would it be? I wouldn’t want to teach any one subject, as that implies we’re teaching in secondary school, which I certainly don’t want to do!! If I was teaching motivated, well behaved people then maybe it would be back to Religious Studies, which is what I specialised in at University. Or drama…but I don’t think I’m good enough to teach it.

5.  Favourite beverage: red wine. Or maybe single malt whisky. No, I think red wine.

6. What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received? I honestly don’t know. The one I remember (though not word for word) was one from a parent at the end of a difficult school year with her son. He had been extremely tricky to work with, but we’d persevered, and for the first time ever he’d received his green certificate (they went green-blue-gold) for merit points. She wrote me a poem to say Thank You.

7. What is your favourite birthday cake? Any birthday cake I’ve not had to make for myself!

8. What is one thing you still have from childhood? I still have Pooh Bear – he wasn’t actually my bear, but I rather took him over. And I still have the blanket my grandmother crocheted for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the blanket, and Pooh Bear. If you’re wondering about the strange blue hat, this was my (failed) attempt at crochet! Instead of being flat and square, it came out round and hat shaped. So Pooh and Shaun are modelling it. And Shaun is sitting on the blanket crocheted by Nana.

9. What is your favourite film? Either “The Princess Bride” or “Truly, Madly, Deeply” Both fabulous in their different ways.

10. What is something you can’t do? Crochet (as demonstrated above) Or roll my tongue.

11.  Window or aisle seat? It depends if there’s anyone sitting next to me. But usually aisle, as I need to stretch my legs out after a bit, as my knees start hurting if they’re bent for too long.

12.  What is something that makes you laugh no matter what? Not sure, really. There must be something, but I can’t think what.

13.  What are your favourite lyrics of all time? As Kezzie said: Not a clue!! There are lots of lovely lyrics by talented writers. I couldn’t pick just one.

14.What is your favourite holiday? Presumably this means “public holiday”…both Easter and Christmas, for their religious significance. Christmas for the rest of the “trappings”. I like presents!

15. What’s heavily played on your music play list right now? I don’t have a “playlist” as such, but I’ve recently listened to a lot of Big,Big Train and Hafdis Hult.

16. If you could raid one woman’s closet, who would it be? Aargh. No idea! If I was the right shape, maybe it would be Hazel, over at World of Joy who always looks so well put together. But she and I are different shapes!!

17. Must have purse item? Keys…purse…phone…painkillers. If I’ve got them with me I feel OK.

18. What did you want to be when you grew up when you were 12? An archaeologist. This was my dream until I was told I couldn’t be one as I’d not learned Latin at school. Which is a load of rubbish, but as it was the Careers Officer at school who told mer this, I believed her.

19. What is something you will not be doing in ten years? Working? I’ll be 69 by then, but who knows what the pension age will be! Maybe I’ll have to work!

20. What is an important life lesson for someone to learn? I think I agree with Kezzie who said: That you do not have to follow what everyone else is doing? You can do something you feel very strongly is morally right, even if it makes you unpopular. If you do it, others will start to get it eventually. But, to try and be kind when doing it. Also to trust in what you believe.

I think this is important. But, put simply, maybe those words from Micah are a good lesson to learn…that one should Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our Lord.

 

Slightly jealous…

One of the blogs I read on a regular basis is “Fractured Faith“, written (mostly) by a guy in Nor’n Ireland, recounting his family life, thoughts, ponderings on living a Christian life…a well written blog. Sometimes his wife, or children, chip in with a post, but it’s mostly Stephen’s words.

One of the themes of the blog has been Stephen’s struggles writing a book, and then getting it published. He writes honestly about his difficulties, the sacrifices made and how it seemed to take over his life at times. But, very quickly,(it seems – but I might be wrong on the timescale) it was snapped up by a publisher – testament to its great writing, I feel.

Each time I read an example of Stephen’s writing I feel a bit downcast – how could I have thought my novel good enough to publish? But then, I remember that I haven’t really tried… Stephen worked, and rewrote, redrafted…contacted people…looked for agents… and didn’t give up. Whereas I bleat a bit about not knowing how to set about getting it published…and then put it back in its (metaphorical) drawer. Basically I’m a lazy so-and-so, and Stephen isn’t. I even had two kind people read my novel, make suggestions about it, and I carefully kept their notes and did precisely sweet Fanny Adams about them.

So maybe I’m not so jealous of Stephen’s talent (though there is that!) but rather of his tenacity!

Whatever it is, I wish him (through slightly gritted teeth) every success with this book, and the ones that follow.

The blurb from Amazon for his book reads:

They want him to save the world. But, first, he must save himself.

Kirkwood Scott is having a bad day. Languishing in a dead end job and recently dumped by his girlfriend he struggles with a crippling form of OCD which manifests itself in the form of Colonel Augustus Skelly, a phantom voice from Kirkwood’s childhood who controls his every waking moment via a series of tortuous routines, ‘The 49’.

Kirkwood has little to look forward to, bar a weekend of drunken oblivion in Belfast with his equally deadbeat friends. All that changes when he meets Meredith Starc, a young homeless woman struggling to survive on the streets and come to terms with her own troubled past. Kirkwood realises Meredith may hold the answer to him finally being free of his mental demons.

But what if Skelly is more than just a voice? Kirkwood and Meredith join forces to unearth a supernatural battle raging on the city’s back streets between ancient forces of good or evil, the outcome of which will decide the fate of the planet. Between them, they hold the key to saving mankind from a new Dark Age but can they survive long enough to do so as Skelly unleashes a legion of vicious ghost soldiers upon the unsuspecting city?

‘The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles: Skelly’s Square’ is a fast paced and darkly humorous supernatural fantasy guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.

It doesn’t sound at all my cup of tea – I generally avoid fantasy – but it has a feel of Phillip Pullman about it, and I really enjoyed the His Dark Materials trilogy (well, most of it) and this one is written from a Christian pen, rather than Pullman’s staunchly atheistic pen. So, let’s give it a go, I thought, and downloaded it onto my Kindle. If you are looking for a new author to read then why not give Stephen Black a try. I’m going to…

My holiday reading makes strange bedfellows:

“Skelly’s Square”…and “In this House of Brede” – about a successful businesswoman who enters a Roman Catholic convent!

And the last word goes to enviousness:

…just because it made me smile!