Monthly Archives: July 2018

Tourists at Home

Recently, while my mum was staying with us (she lives a couple of hours away on the coast), we decided to spend the day in the nearby Georgian city of Bath. The weather was absolutely glorious, so instead of focusing on shopping as we usually do, we decided to act as tourists for the day and take in some of Bath’s major attractions.

20180611_130351First we visited Bath Abbey. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked past the Abbey and enjoyed various concerts inside it, but acting the tourist I discovered that it’s one of the most visited places in the south west of England, and one of the largest examples of perpendicular Gothic architecture in the country. It was founded in the 7th Century and rebuilt in the 12th and 16th Century, and has been a place of pilgrimage for hundreds of years. In 973, the first king of England, King Edgar, was crowned here, and the service set the precedent for the coronation of all future Kings and Queens of England.

After admiring the Abbey, we decided to treat ourselves to 20180611_124624morning coffee and a Bath bun at the Pump Rooms just across the grounds. Built in 1706, the Pump Rooms form part of the Roman Baths, and still retains some of the original Georgian features. While dining, visitors are treated to music provided by an excellent pianist, and there’s the opportunity to ‘take the waters’ of the hot springs still poured via the original marble vase, now over 200 years old. The waters are said to have curative powers. (sidenote: it tastes foul). 20180611_114031

The Pump Rooms were very fashionable amongst 18th Century high society.  Jane Austen mentioned it in some of her novels “Every creature in Bath was to be seen in the room at different periods of the fashionable hours”, and it provided inspiration for other notable authors, namely Mary Shelley, who wrote Frankenstein while staying nearby.

As we wandered around the city, my mum was fascinated by the living statue street performers. But on such a hot day she was very concerned that they were out so long in the sun without a  break. Knowing my mum’s caring nature, I had the impression that at any moment we would be heading along to the nearest supermarket to order a supply of water for distribution amongst Bath’s outdoor performing artists! 🙂20180611_130335

We thoroughly enjoyed our day as tourists, but we did manage to get some shopping done, too. Why change the habit of a lifetime?

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Follow Your Dream

I wonder if we all have dreams but some of us never realise them for one reason or another, a bit like bucket lists.  My husband Peter’s dream is to complete the challenge of cycling the whole length of England and Scotland alone, a challenge known by several names but he calls it LeJog.  Land’s End to John O’Groats, an approx 950 mile journey.  There are several routes but Peter is in the process of finalising his preferred route, it all comes down to stamina and strength of will to achieve this dream.  I will be logistics support in my small Skoda car!  An important responsible role but at least I am not on a bike!! I find the idea exciting but challenging and think lots of humour, as well as providing refreshments and a comfortable night’s sleep, to be part of my role.  The whole thing depends on an all clear for me in August from the Breast Clinic at my two-yearly check up. Peter also must be sure his health is up to the task too. On 4th September Peter will celebrate his 70th Birthday so this trip will be his personal fulfilment of a dream.  Many people undertake the journey but often in groups with lots of support.  My husband has always been a loner so why change the habit of many years.

Our recent trip to Cornwall was part of our research into the enterprise.  We checked out Land’s End (the start) but from a distance as it was £6 to go into the area around the famous signpost – more of that if we manage the trip.  Land’s End seems to be a theme park now but remains the iconic starting point for many such challenges.  My role is to book suitable overnight stays, meet up regularly to refresh Peter and be a general factotum.  I hope to use the time in between meetings to explore some of the areas we pass through.  I am not familiar with Scotland so am looking forward to new places, albeit fleeting visits.  I hope to update you all with our plans plus possibly raise money for a charity.  What I don’t want to do is put extra pressure on Peter.  I anticipate other challenges to be the weather, possible injuries and bike repairs so my little car will be a hub for all eventualities.  Communications may be a trial at times but we will overcome as the song says. Now Peter does daily training rides when he finishes work, usually 25 miles plus 80 mile rides most Saturdays and Sundays. Occasionally I persuade him to take a day off to recharge his batteries!  We have a family nickname OMIL for him (Old Man in Lycra!) based on a term MAMILS (Middle Aged Men in Lycra).  His outfits are quite distinctive but a necessary extra safety measure.

I realise I’ve not shared my dream, at the moment I just want him to succeed.  If any of you wish to share your dreams please do so.  I anticipate a couple of interesting months ahead! Watch this space!!

Gallery

Cracks In The Sidewalk

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This story is based on true life. The author, Bette Lee Crosby, interviewed the Grandparents extensively.  It’s an amazing story of courage, love and forgiveness.  It might not be an inspirational genre but it was for me as in the … Continue reading

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Fireworks, weather and travel

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The Pacific Northwest can have some crazy weather, but the last few weeks it really has been. We went from mid 60’s to almost 90 in a couple of days, then right back down. Last week it was hot again, … Continue reading

Sorry and Questions about Book Series

Jillian here-  Sorry I’ve been AWOL but I am back now. I had my surgery (finally!) at the end of April and I was surprised to find that even though I felt much better after about a week, I continued to be really tired and had no energy. I also had no desire to write or do much of anything. I did go back to work part time after three weeks, but took care to leave early as I didn’t want to overdo it.

I finally started a new story last week and was very relieved that my creativity was back. Not being compelled to write was an odd feeling for me.

I read a lot while I was unmotivated to work on my own stuff and read a series called The Shades of Magic  by V. E. Schwab. The first one was very good and I inhaled it. The second one was all right, but not as great as the first. The thing ended on a cliffhanger (pet peeve for me) but I already had the third one (I got these for Mother’s Day). The third one went on way too long and pretty much could’ve been merged into book two very easily- they were each over 400 pages, but two and three could’ve been merged into one at around 550 and been a better story, I think. But perhaps the author had a three-book deal. 🙂

So, my questions are, “Do you think some series are too long? Do you think there is a tendency to pad the word count to get to three books? Do they usually get better or worse as the books go on? How do you feel about cliffhangers where the book stops in the middle of the action- not an overarching plot for the series but when the book just ends abruptly? I feel manipulated when that happens.  I like a beginning, middle and end.

Share your thoughts on book series! Happy July!

Fourth of July

I hope all our USA readers had fun, safe celebrations for Independence Day. How do you celebrate? We tend to stay home.

We aren’t inside any city limits, so there’s no ordinance limiting fireworks where we live. Which means we hear them from the end of June until the Monday after the Fourth of July, sometimes beyond.

And on the actual Fourth, it’s like a war zone. I’ve actually had some issues with anxiety just from all the deafening noise. We’re pretty lucky where we live. Those around us who light off fireworks are pretty careful about it, even if the fireworks are not exactly safe and sane. Still, because things are so active around here on that day, we choose to stay home. Friends generally join us for dinner and some campfire conversation in the backyard, and we make sure the house doesn’t burn down.

It’s turned into a nice tradition, and I love traditions. Here’s a glimpse of the fireworks we got to watch from our backyard.

Have a wonderful summer! I hope you all get to dip your toes in a lake, eat a burger or hot dog straight off the grill, and soak up lots of Vitamin D (with sunscreen on, of course!)

 

Billy One Mate

Meet Billy One Mate. He (I say “he” but it could well be a “she”) is a young starling that thinks he’s a sparrow.

I first became aware of him few weeks ago when the local starling flock of descended into my garden with all their noisy fledglings to feast on the birdseed dropped by the sparrows. The fledglings were able to fly reasonable well and most could feed themselves but preferred like most youngsters to let mum (or dad) feed them. I noticed Billy approaching one adult bird, begging for food. The adult kicked him away. Hmm, I thought, obviously wrong mum. He begged from another. She too kicked him on the head rather aggressively. This treatment was metered out by every adult Billy went too. He’d been pushed , almost trodden on, kicked and clawed away. I’d never seen birds do this to young ones before.  You couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. And when the flock finally flew off, Billy was left on his own. It was obvious he’d been orphaned.

For the next few days Billy No Mates as I christened him was in the garden on his own, sleeping in the holly tree by the fence and during the day sitting on the fence in the shade. I swear every time the starlings flew over he watched them with a forlorn look on his little face. He looked so sad. He spent a lot of time watching the sparrows darting to and fro from the bird feeder. He tried to feed from it too but was unable to get the hang of clinging to the perches. All he could do was follow the lead of the adult sparrows feeding their young on the ground with the dropped seeds or chipped nuts in the bird food. He begged from the sparrows to no avail. so found what he could on the ground.

I happened to look out of my bedroom window one morning to see him flapping about in the koi pond, trying to get out. Not a good place to take a bath and Dave had to rescue him. Billy toddled off into the undergrowth to dry out, no doubt feeling very miserable and sorry for himself. The following day he sat on the fence watching the sparrows bathing in the bird bath. Ahh, that’s where I bath, he must of thought, and joined them. The sparrows accepted him, ignored him really as he splashed and drank and shook and washed.

From then on, he flew with the sparrows. Whenever they came into the garden, you could guarantee Billy was coming up the rear. He’d seemed to have latched on to one sparrow in particular and wherever that sparrow went in the garden, Billy followed, be it among the flowerbeds to hunt for mealworms, up onto the feeder, not that he could feed from it, or into the bird bath. From then on he was known as Billy One Mate. It seemed the two couldn’t be separated. Over the course of the next few weeks, he became braver and bolder, seeing off other young starlings that landed too close to “his” food or his little friend. One morning he even squared up to a female blackbird but soon learned there is a pecking order and blackbird always wins over starling.

As the days have progressed he’s never far behind his little sparrow friend, but more and more now he’s flying with several other young starlings. I’d like to think in a few weeks’ time instead of having just one little playmate, he’ll be accepted into the starling flock and have lots of big friends to keep an eye out for him.

Good luck, Billy. You deserve to do well.