Places in our Memories with Terry Tyler #Mondayblogs #Memories

There are places that remain in our memories, the details may become slightly blurred, nostalgia may colour our thoughts, but they don’t fade. And how those places made us feel at the time is the one thing that remains.

Today I’m welcoming Terry Tyler, a friend I’ve known online for many years, and had the great pleasure in meeting and getting to know her in real life at Barb Taub’s writing retreat on Arran, a few weeks ago

First, thank you to Judith for inviting me to this nostalgia-fest on her blog!

When told about the feature, I immediately wanted to write about the place we used to go on holiday when I was a child.  It was a holiday rental bungalow called Barn Piece in Eccles-on-Sea, Norfolk, complete with a genuine gypsy caravan in the garden, which we loved.  We went there from about 1966 to 1976.

Behind us are you can see the dunes, leading to the beach.

The ancient village of Eccles-juxta-Mare, as it was once called, vanished into the sea over a hundred years ago, and by the time we started going on holiday there, in the late 1960s, the only indication of its existence on the map was the location of Eccles beach.  In the 1960s it consisted of a few private houses down overgrown lanes; they fascinated me, and I loved to peer through the untended foliage and wonder who lived in them.  The Pyghtle and Smee Cottage; they were the two I remember. 

Then there was a sandy track past shabby chalets to a grocery shop where Julia, Eddie and I would go to buy sweets, buckets and spades, postcards and other stuff that children used to spend their holiday money on in those days; I always spent all mine within a couple of days, whereas Julia made hers last. 

The bungalow had such a ‘we’re on holiday’ feeling about it, a home from home as we went there for many years.  By the beginning of the second week, I always felt as though my real life was there, not back at home.  Barn Piece was large and light and shabby and a bit musty-smelling, and we loved it.  This photo was taken by Dad back then; the gypsy caravan was just to the right of the washing line

Our dog was called Susie; she was with us for ten years and remembered the place whenever we arrived there, too.  She would hurtle up the sandy slope to the beach without being told where to go. 

Eddie said to me the other day that he can still remember how the gypsy caravan smelled—I can, as well. 

Here’s a picture of Julia and me cleaning it out!  Why we chose to do this on such a brilliant, sunny afternoon, I have no idea!

The last time I went there on holiday was in 1976, when I was nearly seventeen, and my best friend Ruth was invited to come with us so that I didn’t kick up about going on holiday with my parents and twelve-year-old brother!   The one of me (right) is two photos exposed together, but I’ve always liked its ghostly feel …

… which brings me to the eerie bells of the lost church, a victim of the coastal erosion so prevalent in that area.  I’ve found a couple of articles about it, which give more information than I can put here, or this post would be far too long!

Weird Norfolk: The lost village of Eccles which sometimes appears after storms and the graveyard where the dead cannot rest

The ‘lonely sentinel’ of Eccles-juxta-Mare is finally lost to the sea

Now and again we’ve gone back there to take a look—my parents went there in the winter of 1990, when the ruins of the church had become visible once more.

This photo on the dunes (that’s Mum in the grass! – Barn Piece down to the left), taken the same day, shows how wild the place feels—and you can see Happisburgh (pronounced Hays-borough) lighthouse in the distance. Happisburgh is fast becoming a lost village, too.  In 2005 I spent a weekend at a beer festival there—just a few years later, the field in which we camped had crumbled into the sea.

From 2000-2009 I lived in Cromer, further up the coast; around 2001, when my parents visited, we made the pilgrimage to Barn Piece.

I went back in 2007, too, but it had changed so much.  Smart holiday cottages and chalets were everywhere, and the new sea defences meant that I didn’t recognise the beach.  The sandy slope up the dunes that we used to run up as children, excited about our first glimpse of the sea, has gone; the dunes themselves had flattened into little more than a small hump.  Barn Piece, though, was still there.  Fifteen years on, I don’t know whether it is or not; I’ve googled it, but have come up with no results.  I’ve googled Eccles-on-Sea, too, and all those empty fields appear to have been built on.

Happy days.  Mostly, I’m so glad that my mother was like me, forever taking photographs—thank you, Mum, for all these memories!

The Author:

Terry Tyler writes post-apocalyptic, dystopian and dark psychological fiction, available on Amazon.  She loves quiet, wild places, and still gets as excited about going to the seaside as she did when she was a child.  Aside from writing, she enjoys reading, telly binges, long walks, and wasting time on Twitter.  She lives with her husband in North East England.

Places in our Memories: With D. G Kaye #MondayBlogs #Memories

There are places that remain in our memories, the details may become slightly blurred, nostalgia may colour our thoughts, but they don’t fade. And how those places made us feel at the time is the one thing that remains.

Today I’m welcoming Debby Kaye, one of my online friends whom I seem to have known forever, and who is going to tell us about one of her forever memories.

Thank you so much Judith for inviting me over today to share a fleeting memory so dear to my heart.

A memory is a snapshot in one moment of time that locks in a forever imprint engraved in our minds and hearts.

Forever moments are the forever memories that will continue to live with us long after they occurred. All memories aren’t always good ones, but they are there despite, to remind of places we have been to and mark events experienced in our lives. To live on peacefully, it’s the happy memories we choose to keep at the forefront of our minds.

Having recently lost the love of my life, my beloved husband, I’ve been working diligently to push the tragic moments of the last few months of his life from my forefront of videos playing on in my head, instead, trying hard to focus on the so very many good times in our life together. Besides the many milestones of beautiful events that stick out in my mind, sometimes it’s just the simple moments we remember most clearly that can warm our hearts.

Memories. As I sit here right now and think of him in this moment, I’m listening to the sound of a riding mower in the back park of my condo; it took me back to a simple moment of just one of our happiest times when life was good and simple where I’d drink my second cup of coffee on a Sunday morning after our breakfast together and my hubby would put on his big straw hat and Wellie boots, and hop on his big John Deere riding mower and circle the trees in our vast back yard, complete with one of his favorite Cuban cigars hanging from his mouth as he proudly trimmed his pride and joy, his green grass he laid, mostly by himself at our beautiful newly built home. He’d notice me watching as I sipped my coffee in front of the big kitchen patio window, and he’d give me his special wink full of love and acknowledgment of our perfect life. His smiling eyes could tell me so much.

Oh, what I wouldn’t give to be able to transport back to one of those what seemed ordinary Sundays that turned out to be not so ordinary, but a beautiful reminder of love and joy in simplicity. Those were the days most of us think were unremarkable, but just another day. Looking back at that snapshot of bliss taken for granted, I can see how those were far from ordinary days, but a culmination of days that were part of a patched quilt of days which became the pattern of a happy life together. ©DGKaye2022

My Review of A Killer Strikes by Georgia Rose. #FridayReads #WeekendRead #crime #Thriller

Book Description:

The perfect family… The perfect murders…

A family massacred. A village in mourning. Can anyone sleep safely while a killer is on the loose?

Laura Percival, owner of The Stables, notices something wrong at her friend’s house when out on her morning ride. Further investigation reveals scenes she’ll never forget.

While the police are quick to accuse, Laura is less so, defending those around her as she struggles to make sense of the deaths. And all the time she wonders if she really knew her friends at all.

A chance encounter opens up a line of investigation that uncovers a secret life. One that Laura is much closer to than she ever realised.


A Killer Strikes is a gripping domestic thriller. If you like character-driven action, suspenseful storytelling and dark revelations then you’ll love this exciting novel.

My Review:

Well, I wholeheartedly agree with that last sentence of the book description above, this is what is sometimes called an unputdownable read. I loved it!

I’ve long admired Georgia Rose’s writing and really enjoyed her stories ( here’s my review for one of her earlier books: (Parallel Lives: https://bit.ly/3qmQqdg ).

A Killer Strikes is a true thriller and, as I expected, it’s written in this author’s usual evenly paced writing style, with great characters and a riveting plot.

Told in first person point of view by the protagonist, Laura Percival, we are immediately thrown into her life as it begins to be revealed that all is not as she thinks, even if she doesn’t always understand the implications. We get an insight both to the way the plot is progressing and also to the subtle, inevitable changes in the protagonist.

Each character is brought too life, by the depictions of them, and by their dialogue. There are those I instantly loved, those I instantly disliked – those I wasn’t sure of; who gave me an uneasy feeling. I love character led stories, if the book also has an intriguing plot it’s a great bonus. And A Killer Strikes certainly gives both elements.

As with all of Georgia Roses’ books the descriptions of the settings give a good sense of place. In the stables I could almost hear the activity there: the snuffle of the horses – smell their coats, the straw. I could see the vaguely threatening adult club Laura finds herself in, surrounded by strangers. And I wandered through her home with her. The portrayal of the rooms shows the comfort the protagonist lives in, the place she feels most safe – (yet is she ?)

A Killer Strikes is a most satisfying read that had me emphasising with the protagonist every step of the way, with a plot that kept me guessing the whole time. This is a book I thoroughly recommend.

The author:

Georgia Rose is a writer and the author of the romantic and suspenseful Grayson Trilogy books: A Single Step, Before the Dawn and Thicker than Water. Following completion of the trilogy she was asked for more and so wrote a short story, The Joker, which is based on a favourite character from the series and the eBook is available to download for free at the retailer of your choice.

Her fourth novel, Parallel Lies, encompasses crime along with Georgia’s usual blending of genre and its sequel, Loving Vengeance, has now completed The Ross Duology.

Georgia’s background in countryside living, riding, instructing and working with horses has provided the knowledge needed for some of her storylines; the others are a product of her passion for people watching and her overactive imagination.

She has also recently started running workshops and providing one-to-one support for those wishing to learn how to independently publish and you can find her, under her real name, at http://www.threeshirespublishing.com.

Following a long stint working in the law Georgia set up her own business providing administration services for other companies which she does to this day managing to entwine that work along with her writing.

Her busy life is set in a tranquil part of rural Cambridgeshire in the UK where she lives with her much neglected husband.

Links to Georgia:

 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/georgia.rose.books

Twitter: https://twitter.com/GeorgiaRoseBook

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Places in our Memories: With Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene #MondayBlogs #Memories

There are places that remain in our memories, the details may become slightly blurred, nostalgia may colour our thoughts, but they don’t fade. And how those places made us feel at the time is the one thing that remains.

Today I’m really pleased to welcome Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene, who is going to tell us about what first occurred to her when I invited her to remember one of the places that has remained in her memory, and how it made her feel.

Hi, Judith.  Thanks very much for allowing me to participate in this series.  My mind works in twisting ways.  The kind of memory I’ve chosen to share may seem strange.  However, the first thing that came to mind when you asked me about this topic was old amusement parks.

When I was a small child there was an amusement park in the next town, which was slightly “less small” than my hometown.  To my shock, visitors from real cities scoffed at it.  I thought it was utterly magical.  Not long after that, we visited a carnival in the mountains, and even to my tween self, that one was ragtag.  Getting on the rides was… questionable to say the least.  By the time I was in my teens, back at the local amusement park, I could see the truth of how small, and how rundown it actually was.

The park didn’t create magic for me anymore.  Rather, it gave me a feeling I could only describe as otherworldly.  That sensation stuck with me and I’ve used “strange” amusement parks in two of my books.  One is a work in progress that I’ve stopped and started several times over the past few years.  The defunct amusement park is a central figure of that story.

The other is “Hullaba Lulu, a Dieselpunk Adventure.”  On that magical train-ride, one of the places Lulu and her friends land in is a “sideways” version of Atlantic City in the 1920s.  To Lulu’s surprise, admittance is paid in cheeseburgers.  Although it’s not all whimsy.  In fact, it’s downright sinister.

Here’s a snippet where Lulu and Pearl have gotten separated from their friend Rose.  Pearl found a fortuneteller automaton:

Go ahead, Lulu!  Ask it a question.  It gave me ‘the lovers’ card,” Pearl enthused.

“You always ask about love, and they always tell you that you’ll find it.  I never know what to ask,” I complained.

“Okay, then, gypsy king.  Here’s my question.  How is the Loop the Loop still here when it was taken down in 1912?” I asked in a snarky tone.

The gypsy’s flat mechanical eyes shifted to me with a click.  There couldn’t be life behind those eyes.  It couldn’t really see me… but I felt like he looked right through me.

“Did we go back in time?” I added in a softer voice.

The automaton sat motionless for a heartbeat.  Something about the sudden change in clockwork movement gave me the heebie-jeebies.

The gypsy gathered the tarot cards and spread them again.  It drew out a card with a drawing of a man hanging by his foot.  The fortuneteller moved the card so that the man was laying down.

“Sideways,” was all the automaton said.

“We didn’t move north or south, or forward or backward…” I began.

“Sideways,” it repeated with a mechanical nod.

I gave a frustrated sigh.  Why couldn’t the blasted thing be useful?  I turned to Pearl and asked her where Rose was.  My fair-haired friend shrugged, then she giggled and asked the fortuneteller the question.

“Where is our friend, Rose?”

The gypsy automaton gathered the tarot cards, spread them, and turned over the Three of Swords.  The design on the card was like the leaflet I found in the automat.  There was an image of a heart pierced by three swords.  Pearl and I both shuddered at the gruesome picture.  My worry had rubbed off on her.  She gave her long hair an anxious twist.

“Betrayal,” the fortuneteller said.

The air was split by a loud scream.  The sound echoed around the amusement park.

“Rose?” I yelled.

***

That’s only the beginning of the strangeness Lulu finds at the amusement park.  Wait until she gets to the Tilt-A-Whirl…

Sometimes memories go into our heads.  After they’ve been stored for a while, there’s no telling how they’ll come back out.  They might even get sideways.

Judith, thank you again for inviting me.  It’s been a delight.  I’m including my links.  I hope your readers will check out my blog, and follow me on my Amazon Author page.  Hugs on the wing!

I’m sure they will, Teagan. And thank you for participating in Places in our Memories.

Amazon Author Page:  relinks.me/TeaganRiordainGeneviene

Hullaba Lulu, universal purchase links:

Kindle:  relinks.me/B08JKP1RS4

Paperback:  relinks.me/B08JDYXPZM

Blog (Teagan’s Books):  Teagan’s Books – Founder of the Three Things Method of Storytelling (teagansbooks.com)

About Teagan:

In addition to the “Author Tool Chest” of non-fiction works, Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene writes whimsical and humorous stories.  She also writes high fantasy, urban fantasy, steampunk, and mysteries with historic settings.  Yes, that’s a variety of genres.  However, you will always find a sense of whimsy in what she writes.  It’s just that sometimes it takes a more serious form.

Teagan’s work is colored by the experiences of her early life in the southern states and later in the desert southwest, as well as a decade in Washington, DC.

When did Teagan get serious about writing?  She had always devoured mysteries and fantasy novels of every type.  Then one day there was no new book at hand for reading — so she decided to write one.  She hasn’t stopped writing since.

Places in our Memories: With Robbie Cheadle #MondayBlogs #Memories

There are places that remain in our memories, the details may become slightly blurred, nostalgia may colour our thoughts, but they don’t fade. And how those places made us feel at the time is the one thing that remains.

Today I’m welcoming Robbie Cheadle, someone I’ve known and admired as an online friend for many years.

Thank you, Judith, for inviting me to talk about my memories.

As a little girl I was quiet and self-contained. The oldest of four daughters, my mom was often busy with a new baby and so I spent a lot of time alone. I do believe I was a lonely child and passed my time reading, listening to Broadway musicals on my mother’s record player, and doing numerous artistic projects.

By the time I was eighteen, I’d lived in twenty-one houses and attended fourteen schools. Twelve of my school changes occurred before I was twelve and once, I changed schools twice during the same academic year.

I never developed lasting and strong friendships with other girls which may have been a consequence of all these disruptions. Instead, my sisters and I played together. Their births were the highlight moments of my younger years.

A typical picture of me as a child

My time as a baby and a toddler are grey mist to me, but the first powerful memory I have is of the entrance of my sister, Catherine, into my life. She displaced me as the only one and I wasn’t pleased about it at the time.

I wrote a short story about Catherine’s birth, she was born prematurely at 32 weeks, and the subsequent turmoil that ensued. The story is called The New Baby and is included in an anthology called Memories of Mom: Rave Soup For The Writer’s Soul Anthology, 2022 available here: https://www.amazon.com/MEMORIES-MOM-Rave-Writers-Anthology-ebook/dp/B09ZRK4L6B

The following extracts illustrate how I recall feeling about my new sister:

“I prayed: “Thank you, God, for sending me a sister. I don’t mind being an only child though, so would you please take her away and give her to another girl who really wants a baby sister?” 

My prayer went unanswered, and my mother continued to visit the hospital every morning.”

“On the morning Catherine came home from the hospital, everything started to change. I no longer went to school as my mother didn’t want to risk me picking up a cold or other illness. I stayed at home and helped Mom look after my sister.  

The baby was a disappointment. She was nothing like the baby in my nursery rhyme book. That baby was pink, with golden curls and fat, dimpled hands, and feet. My new sister was pale and almost translucent looking. I could see blue veins under her delicate skin, and she had bruises on her head from the drip. Her hands were tiny and clenched and she had no hair at all. When she cried it came out as a faint mewing and I couldn’t see how she would ever be any fun at all. She also took up nearly all of Mom’s time with her numerous feeds, nappy changes, and other needs.”

The entrance of Hayley into my life was unremarkable. We were living on a plot in Honeydew, Johannesburg, and my life was filled with exploration of the tracts of veld that surrounded our house.

Hayley was a howler and I remember my mother walking round and round the sitting room with her while she cried and cried. Her endless crying is how I remember Howling Hayley. She did, of course, grow out of it eventually and became one of my living dolls.

A defining memory I have of Hayley as a baby is one evening when I took the screaming bundle and walked her around to give mom a break. She went to sleep in my arms and Mom and I watched an episode of the television production of She (by Rider Haggard) together. It contained the scene where Ayesha goes into the fire and ages from a young and beautiful woman into a hideous, shrivelled 2,000-year-old woman and then disintegrates into ash. I have never, ever, forgotten that scene and I’ve read the book several times. It is a favourite of mine.

Laura is the youngest and she arrived when I was nine, Catherine was five, and Hayley was one.

Laura’s birth coincided with my family’s relocation from Johannesburg to George in the Western Cape. My grandparents on my father’s side had moved to George a year previously and they had persuaded dad to move to this beautiful city.

Dad drove Catherine, Hayley, and I to George. It was a fourteen-hour drive as frequent “wee” stops had to be made with three small girls in the car. We were driven to George ahead of my parents moving as Mom was heavily pregnant at the time with our new sister. The new baby would be born at the hospital in Johannesburg. We three girls would be cared for by our grandparents for two weeks until my mother was able to make the long car trip.

I loved George. It was totally different from dry and dusty Johannesburg with its violent thunderstorms and frightening lightning and thunder. George was green. There was an abundance of trees, flowers and bushes and it rained a lot of the time.

My grandparents lived in a cottage near the outskirts of the town and their tar road suddenly ended about 1000 metres from their house and became a dirt road and then a dirt track that led into the forest.

The forest was dark and mysterious. Full of huge, tall trees and thick bushes and foliage. We were forbidden from going into the forest on our own as it was easy to get lost amongst so many trees that all looked the same.

Along the sides of the dirt road were trenches where the municipality had been digging. I don’t know why they were digging there but the trenches were so much fun. Catherine and I climbed into the trenches and walked along them, hidden from view.

The bottoms of the trenches were covered in clay. It was deliciously squelchy and sticky, and we loved the feeling of the clay between our bare toes.

One dinner time, I told Granddad Jack about the clay. He said you could make things from it and dry them in the sun. The sun would bake them and make them hard.

What a delight! The very next day, Catherine and I went into one of the trenches and mined for clay. We scooped the clay into a plastic bag and hauled it out of the trench. Very soon, we were sitting on the back doorstep and making all sorts of pots and figurines out of clay. It was a happy time for me.

One morning, Granny Joan said that Mom and Dad were in the car and on their way to George. Catherine and I were excited, but Hayley was too young to understand what was happening.

Eventually, late in the afternoon, the car arrived with both my parents and a very funny looking, wrinkled, and red baby. I got such a fright I ran away. I thought that Laura was the ugliest baby I had ever seen.

Poor little Lu! She looked like that because she had become dehydrated during the long drive.

In retrospect, I was fortunate to grow up in a family with three sisters. We all still live in Johannesburg and our families spend the high days and holidays together.

Back row: Robbie and Laura.
Front row: Catherine and Hayley.

Thank you, Judith, for giving me this opportunity to share about my memories of my childhood. I’d like to close with this poem I wrote about my sisters for Catherine’s fortieth birthday.

A sister is … by Robbie Cheadle 

 a thief, stealing attention that is rightfully yours;   a port in a storm, when your house of cards falls; 
a fountain of knowledge – your problems, not hers;   a megaphone whose voice is louder than yours; 
an expert on everything you try for the first time;   a comedian who’ll dance and make you laugh till you cry; 
a cloths horse, ‘specially when she’s borrowed your clothes;   a home where your children are always welcome; 
a confidant with whom you share secrets and hopes;   a purse to help you out of a bind
a competitor who always shines brighter than you;   an advisor when your spirit is battered and bruised; 
a shoulder to cry on when life lets you down;   a beauty queen, who’s face is fairer than yours; 
a diary of shared memories, the old and the new;   a voice of reason, when yours has taken a day off; 
a provider of wine, in good times and bad;   an embarrassment who recalls your drunken antics; 
an artist, who’ll make up your face, if you beg; the best thing anyone could ask for. 

From Open a new door, a collection of poems by Robbie Cheadle and Kim Blades available here: https://www.amazon.com/Open-new-door-collection-poems-ebook/dp/B07K4RRC4W

Author CV – Roberta/Robbie Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with eleven children’s books and two poetry books.

The eight Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie and Michael have also written Haunted Halloween Holiday, a delightful fantasy story for children aged 5 to 9. Count Sugular and his family hire a caravan to attend a Halloween party at the Haunted House in Ghost Valley. This story is beautifully illustrated with Robbie’s fondant and cake art creations.

Robbie has also published two books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has two adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories, in the horror and paranormal genre, and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie Cheadle contributes two monthly posts to https://writingtoberead.com/, namely, Growing Bookworms, a series providing advice to caregivers on how to encourage children to read and write, and Treasuring Poetry, a series aimed at introducing poetry lovers to new poets and poetry books.

In addition, Roberta Eaton Cheadle contributes one monthly post to https://writingtoberead.com/ called Dark Origins: African Myths and Legends which shares information about the cultures, myths and legends of the indigenous people of southern Africa.

Follow Robbie Cheadle at:

Follow Robbie Cheadle at:

Website:

https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog
https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/

Twitter
https://twitter.com/bakeandwrite


YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVyFo_OJLPqFa9ZhHnCfHUA


Goodreads
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15584446.Robbie_Cheadle

Purchase links:
TSL Publications (paperbacks)

Lulu.com (paperbacks and ebooks)

Amazon US (paperbacks)
https://www.amazon.com/Robbie-Cheadle/e/B01N9J62GQ


Amazon UK (paperbacks)
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Robbie-Cheadle/e/B01N9J62GQ

Places in our Memories: With Carol Lovekin #MondayBlogs #Memories

There are places that remain in our memories, the details may become slightly blurred, nostalgia may colour our thoughts, but they don’t fade. And how those places made us feel at the time is the one thing that remains.

Today I’m really pleased pleased to welcome Carol Lovekin.

Since Judith invited me to contribute to this strand, I’ve spent weeks mulling over too many memories of a myriad places. A moment here, a memory there, this place briefly visited and only half remembered; this one part of the fabric of my life. And it occurred to me, perhaps I could take the premise literally and highlight ‘places’ plural.

Maggie, my mother

Many of these places and moments featured my mother. She was and remains a huge influence in my life. She was Irish, she played the piano and had a way with words. My mother held space, she had an authentic sense of the importance of place and my memories are littered with moments and memories of her.

The word ‘moment’ reminds me of the Kate Bush song, Jig of Life* and the line, ‘I put this moment, here…’ In the song she asks, ‘Can’t you see where memories are kept bright?’ I can and still do: places with moments stitched to their seams. And at the centre, my mother invariably making more sense than, at the time, I gave her credit for. These memories are in no particular order.

Memory:

I’m nine and can barely swim; riding on my father’s shoulders in a chilly stretch of the river Avon, roped off to resemble a lido. There are rocks underfoot and he slips. I’m falling, it’s cold and deep and I’m swallowing water . . . drowning. . . drowning. . .

I didn’t of course. Dad hauled me out and ‘kissed me better’ while my mother announced her disapproval. (‘I told you not to do that, Ken! What’s the point of the rubber ring if she doesn’t use it?’) And that was indubitably that. Instead of throwing me back in, they fussed, although, to my horror, my mother did suggest a swimming pool and proper lessons. Really? No way; it has a Deep End!


It wasn’t until I became a mother myself and the children were learning to swim that I made myself venture back into the water. It didn’t last. The children were soon fearless and there were too many rivers near where we lived, too much deep water. Years later – decades in truth – I started going to the local pool and discovered a real love for swimming. I’m not very good and I still don’t entirely trust deep water, but I’ve come a long way from that day when I was a little girl, tumbling from my daddy’s shoulder.

Memory

With my green-fingered mother in the garden of the house I grew up in. It’s full to overgrown perfection with flowers. A drooping rose and Mum’s pulling a stick from the undergrowth. ‘That’ll do it.’ The rose firmly staked. Weeks later, noticing the straggler has expired, but the steadying stick is beginning to throw off green shoots.
‘That’s magic,’ says my mother. ‘Gardening is magic. If you have a garden, you’ll always have a place to be peaceful.’

(My father photographed it. He rarely took photos of people which is why I have so few from my childhood.)

The rose eventually grew into a rambling, delicate pink wonder with a glorious scent. We never did identify it. Mum just called it her magic rose.

Over the years I’ve made several gardens. All of them magical, all of them with a pink rose of some sort or another. Now I am ‘reduced’ to a balcony, I’m looking for one that will work in a small space. A pink one, of course. In memory of that perfect place. And my mother.

Memory

My mother, quietly and with no drama, delivering my first, born-too-quickly-for-the-midwife, daughter.

One of Dad’s exceptions and one of my favourite photographs.


‘She’s got her eyes open already,’ says Mum. ‘That’s girls for you.’ She hands me the baby and yes, her eyes are wide open and I know she can see me.
Mum, smiling, nodding her head. ‘We’re a proper matriarchy now.’
And that’s when I became a ‘proper’ feminist.


Memory

I’m in my bedroom. Mine, at last, because Dad has given up his darkroom and decamped to the shed, so my sister and I can have our own rooms. I’m scribbling a story for ‘English Composition’ homework.
‘It’s rubbish,’ I say to my dusting, tidying mother.
She straightens the bookshelves. (She’s bought me most of the books.)
‘Read all the books,’ she says, ‘and you’ll write better stories
.’

She wasn’t wrong. Now, decades later, I find myself realising, although my mother didn’t live long enough to see me published, she is everywhere in my books. Not always obviously, but nonetheless there. I write about mothers and daughters a lot and it took me a while to understand how my own mother influenced some of the mothers I imagine. I like to think she would have approved.

So long as the stories come, I shall continue to write them, and both consciously and unconsciously place my mother at the centre of them.


* Hello, old lady
I know your face well

I’ll be sitting in your mirror…
Will you look into the future…?

One with the ocean and the woman unfurled
Holding all the love that waits for you here… 

I put this moment here…

© Kate Bush

Find Carol here:

Twitter: twitter.com/carollovekin

Website: carollovekinauthor.com/

Amazon: www.amazon.co.uk/~/e/B01ADAWMPC



Places in our Memories: With Sally Cronin #MondayBlogs #Memories

There are places that remain in our memories, the details may become slightly blurred, nostalgia may colour our thoughts, but they don’t fade. And how those places made us feel at the time is the one thing that remains.

Today I’m so pleased to welcome Sally Cronin, who has agreed to share her memories with us.

Sally

Thank you Judith for inviting me to take part in this lovely series and I decided to go back as far as I could with my memories.

Scientists have more or less established humans can remember back to at least 3 years old, but it can be 6 months earlier for many.

I know I have very strong memories of Ceylon, now known as Sri Lanka, where we lived from 1954 to 1956. I was 18 months old when we arrived, and the memories of those two years are a little bit like a kaleidoscope, creating colourful if slightly distorted patterns. They are also enhanced by the particular aromas, and the sounds associated with living in a land of spices, and on the edge of a jungle.

My father had been in based there in late 1944. Initially he was in a holding camp called Mayina in the jungle, until being transferred to HMS Woolwich in Trincomalee.

He had been based in Scotland prior to this so it must have been quite a change. There he had been part of repair team getting submarines back to sea following damage in the Atlantic. Now he was working on destroyers from the Pacific fleet using Sri Lanka as their home base.

The war in the Far East continued through 1945. Following VJ Day, my father continued working on destroyers needing to be refitted before sailing back to the UK.  He was in Trincomalee until June 1946 and then returned home to the family in Hampshire

He was honoured to receive a “Card for Good Service” presented by Lord Mountbatten the Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia Command in November 1945, in recognition of his valuable service keeping his destroyers at sea.

Earl Mountbatten inspects my father’s base in Sri Lanka @Eric Coleman

Our return to Sri Lanka

My father was posted back to Trincomalee as base radio officer in 1954. After a few weeks he was ordered to take over the RN Transmitting Station Kotogoda, fifteen miles outside of Colombo on a temporary basis. There was a lovely house for the station commander so my father arranged for my mother and the three of us to join him from England.

After a few months my father was then transferred back to Trincomalee. Having been entertained frequently at my parent’s renowned curry lunches, useful contacts had been made amongst the RAF officers at the nearby air base. A DC- 3 was appropriated and they kindly flew the family, all our worldly goods, and wonderful family cook who insisted on coming with us, back to Trincomalee. It must have been so thrilling and I do wish I had been a little bit older to be able to recall the experience.

Photograph

The Coleman family 1955

We settled in a house my father rented near the base. In addition to our cook, we had a house boy to work in the garden and an amah was employed to look after me. I was clearly getting to the active toddler stage and needed watching all the time. Being on the edge of a jungle meant that there was plenty of slithering and snarling wildlife that was fascinating for a child…she had her work cut out for her I am afraid! 

We moved a couple of times more until we eventually occupied the lower half of a large house which had been the WRNS Officers mess during the war. The garden was on the edge of the water this time and it is where my first memories really kick in.

Three sisters Sonia, Diana and Sally

I have two older sisters and whilst during the day I was in the constant care of my amah, when my sisters came home from school, I followed them everywhere, and this included into the water. They were already amazing swimmers and divers and I would be in my rubber ring desperately trying to keep up.

Things I remember vividly.

Our house came with trees and monkeys, small ones who were fascinated by glittering things and food. Their constant chittering filled the days and if a door was left open, they were in the house in a flash. Food was clearly the first priority, especially with our cook’s curries filling the air with tantalising aromas.

However, they discovered a treasure in my parent’s bedroom where the dressing table was adorned with beads, earrings and other trinkets. One night my parents came home from a party to find a troop of small thieves dressing up and admiring themselves in the mirror.

Sonia, Sally and her amah

On the subject of monkeys, a very large one found its way on to our wrap around balcony and discovered a cigarette box. He was not in a great mood and ate all the cigarettes, threatening anyone who approached. They are very dangerous, and I do remember clearly being dragged upstairs to our neighbours by my amah out of harm’s way. Probably wise as I had a tendency to be consider creatures great and small as potential pets.   

I remember getting measles when I was 3years old. I had been too young to be vaccinated before we left the UK and a wave of measles hit the island and I caught it.  The only treatment was to be kept isolated in a darkened room to prevent eye damage and kept cool and hydrated. I remember being in my cot with a fan above me in the dark for what seemed endless days, with my mother and amah applying cool flannels and chamomile lotion.

Sally aged 3 years old in smocked dress

I was soon back to mischief and particularly at my parent’s weekly Sunday Curry parties. It was open house for fellow officers and their wives, and also those on ships in the harbour at the time.

 I do recall the laughter and the attention I used to get as I was passed from guest to guest. My eldest sister was, and still is an accomplished needlewoman, and made me smocked dresses which were always much admired. She also made me underpinnings from the same material. I developed the rather indelicate habit when complimented on the dress, of lifting it waist high and announcing ‘and I have knickers to match’.  Thankfully something I grew out of sometime in my 30s.

I was rarely out of the water, but the one activity I couldn’t share with my sisters was their high board diving. One day my eldest sister was competing in a school event and completed a stunning manoeuvre off the highest board. She surfaced to what she hoped was a good score and lots of applause. Instead there was silence except from an audible gasp from the crowd.

I had followed her up the ladder and toddled down the diving board and jumped in after her. Apparently I bobbed up and shouted ‘Again’.

We were due to return to the UK in July 1956 and were leaving on a troop ship on the 30th. However on the 23rd of July, during my parent’s farewell party, his Captain arrived with the news that my grandmother and aunt had been tragically killed in a car crash in England.

My father was flown home immediately whilst my mother and the three of us left by ship on the 30th as planned. I was too young to understand the enormity of this family loss, and being one of the few children on board, was spoilt rotten. I do remember one instance in particular during a fancy dress party organised to keep us amused.

My sister Sonia made me a beautiful Little Po Peep outfit from crepe paper in lovely colours. I am sure there were knickers to match, but unfortunately it became rather too exciting and things got a little damp… Let’s just say crepe paper is rather unforgiving and absorbent….

The voyage was even longer than anticipated, as two days out of Colombo, it was announced the ship would be going via the Cape as the Suez was closed due to the war in the Middle East. This added another week to the passage and my mother became unwell.

Nothing serious as we were to discover after a couple of months as it turned out she was pregnant with my younger brother at the age of nearly 40. The village doctor initially put her symptoms down to dyspepsia but on a follow up visit she informed him that dyspepsia had just kicked her!

Today the smell of a spicy homemade curry, chamomile lotion, reminiscing with my sisters and spending time with these photographs brings back those long lost memories. We would live in Malta and South Africa over the next ten years, and those memories are obviously more clearly defined, but those earlier years are the most precious to me.

About Sally Cronin

Sally Cronin is the author of fifteen books including her memoir Size Matters: Especially when you weigh 330lb first published in 2001. This has been followed by another fourteen books both fiction and non-fiction including multi-genre collections of short stories and poetry.

Her latest release, Life is Like a Mosaic: Random fragments in harmony is a collection of 50 + images and poems on life, nature, love and a touch of humour.

As an author she understands how important it is to have support in marketing books and offers a number of FREE promotional opportunities in the Café and Bookstore on her blog and across her social media.

Her podcast shares book reviews and short stories Soundcloud Sally Cronin

After leading a nomadic existence exploring the world, she now lives with her husband on the coast of Southern Ireland enjoying the seasonal fluctuations in the temperature of the rain.

Links

Blog: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sgc58

Places in our Memories: With Thorne Moore #MondayBlogs #Memories #SlightHumour

There are places that remain in our memories, the details may become slightly blurred, nostalgia may colour our thoughts, but they don’t fade. And how those places made us feel at the time is the one thing that remains.

Today I’m pleased to hand over to Thorne Moore. These are Thorne’s memories. Well, they will be, once she’s got the following out of her system!

So, a rabbit walks into a pub and orders a pint of beer.

‘Anything else?’ asks the barman.

The rabbit checks the menu and says ‘Yes, I’ll have a toasted cheese and pickle sandwich please.’

Coming up,’ says the barman.

Next day the rabbit is back. He orders a pint of beer, peruses the menu again and chooses a toasted ham and tomato sandwich.

Third day, ‘What can I get you?’ asks the barman, presenting the rabbit with his pint.

‘A toasted beef and onion sandwich, please.’

Next day, no sign of the rabbit, nor the day after. Finally he reappears, looking very limp and wan.

‘You look rough,’ says the barman. ‘What’s up with you.’

The rabbit wipes his eyes. ‘I’ve had a bad case of mixing my toasties.’

What has this extremely awful joke got to do with anything? Nothing really, except that I was born in 1954, and when I looked up records to discover what important events happened to commemorate my birth, I discovered that it was the year that myxomatosis was introduced into Britain to control the rabbit population. Actually, it now seem to be recorded as 1953, so I can’t even claim that milestone.

I wasn’t actually aware of myxomatosis at the time. I wasn’t entirely aware of anything much for several months, if not years, but when I was, I assumed, as children do, that all around me was permanent. The world was there purely for my benefit so how it was must have been how it always had been. There was a thing called The Past, but it wasn’t real. There had been a war, but it was something black and white, literally and figuratively, that happened in films on our television. It was a fable that had nothing to do with the present that I inhabited.

I was ten when it suddenly struck me that the period between the end of the war and my arrival was actually less than the length of time I had been alive. It had been lurking all the time just behind me, almost within reach. My first real grasp of history. The past was just under my feet and nothing was permanent after all. My parents had not, as I always assumed, sprung fully formed from the earth for the sole purpose of being my parents. They had, in fact, once been ten-year-olds like me, living through a war that must have been terrifying rather than exciting.I became conscious at that time that the physical world I occupied, a housing estate on the outskirts of Luton, was not a permanent fixture on Planet Earth either. Most of the streets I walked along on my way to school, the houses I passed and even the school itself had only been built a year or two before my birth. What had existed there before was farmland, and its ghost still lingered. The huge wild cherry tree breaking through the pavement opposite our house (responsible for all the pretty but inedible cherry tree saplings in our garden), must have been growing in the hedgerow of a field even before my parents were born.

The lane, generally known as The Lane, that offered me a delightfully dirty alternative route to school, was not just a muddy connection between my road and the houses of Ackworth Crescent, but an old farm track, leading presumably to a farm house that had disappeared long ago. The very dark brooding little house near the top of the lane, in an overgrown garden full of bluebells, was probably as old, but to us it was just self-evidently a witch’s cottage. Some of us claimed to have seen the witch.

The lane was dark and unfrequented, overhung with trees and with no houses in sight, the sort of ominous place that no child would be allowed to walk alone along today. But them was innocent days and no one bothered. The lane crossed a brook on a rotting plank bridge, wide enough to have once supported a horse and cart. Beside the bridge ran a huge pitted iron pipe. I imagine the pipe was fairly recent, the sewer for the growing housing estate, but for us children, of course, it was the only possible means to cross the brook. Who would use a boring bridge when you could balance precariously on a curving pipe?

The brook wove through the estate, in several branches, channelled under new roads in culverts that you could walk through if you didn’t mind falling victim to killer leeches that were in there, just waiting to suck your blood. I don’t remember anyone actually coming across a leech, killer or otherwise, but only a few boys ever attempted it. There was a perpetual mystery about the way streams would emerge from such dark culverts, run in deep gullies between houses and then inexplicably disappear again.

Elsewhere, alleys between the new houses crossed the brooks on footbridges, which you had to run across because Coal Black Charlie lurked beneath them and would grab you if you dawdled. I have no idea who Coal Black Charlie was supposed to be, but I am sure every childhood map has a hiding place for such a character. It remained a mystery what he would do to us if he ever caught us – which he never did.

Eventually the brook disappeared into the most sinister culvert of all, round and pitch black, under the railway, to join the “River” Lea, which at that point was a marshy rivulet seeping out from the ugliest possible grating in the middle of a Neolithic campsite. No one ever ventured into the culvert under the railway.

Any illusion of the permanence of my housing estate was swept away in my last years at junior school, when the prefabs at the centre, including the one where my grandparents had lived, were demolished, the land turned into a massive building site.

There is always something sad, insulting, about the demolition of houses, even prefabs, their inner privacy and wallpaper stripped bare briefly, before being reduced to rubble. It wasn’t just structural entities that were being rubbed out, but homes, people’s pasts. The future, as it was then predicted, rose in their place. Walking to school, my sister and I laid bets on which huge tower block of flats would be finished first. They weren’t complete until I was at High School far away (well, a couple of miles anyway). One was called Hooker’s Court. For some reason the name was later changed.

If I needed a reminder that time moves on, leaving an imprint, but also forever morphing into something new, I visited the scene of my childhood many years later, long after moving to Wales, and found everything both the same and changed, the estate no longer on the very brink of town but engulfed in it, so many new roads and houses that I had trouble identifying my old school route at all. The lane is miraculously still there, surrounded by flats amidst the trees and shockingly gentrified with a pretty lamppost and a new footbridge. No one would think now that it had once been a farm track. The pipe is still there, unchanged. Do children still walk across it?

I found myself realising how differently children and adults see everything – people, places, time itself. To us children, the estate was full of secrets, possibilities, opportunities for play and sources of potential nightmare. We saw the brook and its culverts with unfettered imagination, conjuring up mysteries and monsters. Adults saw a logical scheme of town planning and drainage systems. It was that contrast that first inspired me to write The Unravelling, which is largely set in my old estate, though elements have been moved around a little and names altered.

To the best of my knowledge, no murder ever happened while I lived there, so I invented the plot, and my characters are purely fictional, but the place, through a child’s eyes, with all its sinister potential was real enough.

Thorne can be found at…

Website: https://thornemoore.com/

Twitter: @ThorneMoore

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thorne.moore.7

My Review of Her Nanny’s Secret: A compelling story of love, loss and self-discovery by Jan Baynham #familystory #romance #WW2 #RNA

I gave

Book Description:

How far would you go to save the person you loved the most?
It’s 1941, and Annie Beynon has just become the first stable girl for the most powerful family in her Welsh village. Whilst her gift for working with horses is clear, there are some who are willing to make her life very difficult on the Pryce estate, simply for being a girl.
There are other – secret – ways Annie is defying conventions, too. As the war rages, and when Edmund, the heir to the Pryce fortune, leaves to join the RAF, it seems that it’s only a matter of time before Annie’s secret is exposed. That is, until she makes a shocking decision.
It’s 1963 before Annie is able to face up to the secret she chose to keep over twenty years before. Justifying that decision takes her to Normandy in France, and an outcome she could never have expected …

My Review:

Having already read and reviewed Jan Baynham’s Her Mother’s Secret, I looked forward to reading Her Nanny’s Secret. I wasn’t disappointed

My Review:

Having already read and reviewed Jan Baynham’s Her Mother’s Secret, I looked forward to reading Her Nanny’s Secret. I wasn’t disappointed

I really like this author’s writing style, easy to read yet with a depth of narrative that draws the reader immediately into the lives of the characters and their story.

All the characters are rounded and multi-layered, and add much to the plot, but this is definitely the protagonist, Annie Beynon’s story. She is portrayed as a strong-willed and determined young woman, unconventional for her time, yet, like many during those years, she falls prey to her emotions and needs to live with the consequences. Her journey through life from the Second World War and into the 1960s is consistent with her character throughout every circumstance, every decision made.

The  privations of the era, the social divisions of the time are shown through each character’s dialogue which strengthens their personalities. I particularly liked the differences in the syntax of sentences and shown accents that highlights their social and class standing.

This is also portrayed through the evocative descriptions of the various settings and lifestyles. There is no doubt that the author has thoroughly researched the decades that Her Nanny’s Secret is set against.

There are various themes that run throughout the book: The main theme of secrets is threaded around strong elements of romance and familial love, and, crafted around those, are themes of life’s hardships, loyalty, duty, jealousy and  rivalry.

I try not to give spoilers in my reviews, but I hope the above gives a flavour of Her Nanny’s Secret. This is a well-balanced, evenly paced and well written novel and one I have no hesitation in recommending to any reader who loves romance, but also enjoys a family story.

Jan’s other book:Her Sister’s Secret: The Summer of ’66, is patiently waiting on my TBR pile

The Author:

Originally from mid-Wales, Jan lives in Cardiff with her husband.

After retiring from a career in teaching and advisory education, Jan joined a small writing group in a local library where she wrote her first piece of fiction. From then on, she was hooked! Fascinated by family secrets and ‘skeletons lurking in cupboards’, Jan’s dual narrative novels explore how decisions and actions made by family members from one generation impact on the lives of the next. Setting plays an important part in Jan’s stories and as well as her native mid-Wales, there is always a contrasting location – Greece, Sicily and northern France

To find out more about Jan, she may be contacted on:

Twitter – @JanBaynham https://twitter.com/JanBaynham

Facebook – Jan Baynham Writer https://www.facebook.com/JanBayLit

Blog – https://janbaynham.blogspot.com

Walking the Taff Trail – Well a small section of it anyway. And more of a stroll than a walk. #walks #cycling #photos

Put a lovely sunny day, with a dog desperate to go a walk, with a granddaughter who needs to be dragged from her mobile and bribed by the thought of a chocolate brownie and a drink of Sprite, and there was only one place to head for, the cafe in the garden centre at the end of the Taff Trail in Radyr.

The Radyr section of this lovely river walk is one we’ve done often

But this time we decided to meander along various smaller paths, even though we needed to retrace our steps numerous times. I was so glad we did because look what we found:

The tollhouse, once used by the Pentyrch and Melingriffith Iron and Tinplate Works in the late 1800s

Thanks to the Tongwynlais Historical Society ( co-founders,Sarah Barnes and Rob Wiseman) the Tollhouse returns to life. What was once nothing more than a few visible bricks covered in 70 years of vegetation, is now a recognisable shell complete with growing wildflower garden

I thought I’d better seek permission to add some of the photographs from the Tongwynlais Historical Society. I made contact with a very helpful chap, Jack Davies, whose fascinating website also contains an article about the Tollhouse and other history of the village: https://tongwynlais.com/history/

Granddaughter, Seren, with soulful companion, Benji, who patiently waited to continue his walk.

Seren also very kindly leant a hand to point out this lovely heart shaped stone, with a wonderful inscription:

Which immediately brought to mind (well, my mind anyway), my book, The Heart Stone, which was published by Honno, in 2021: So, never one to pass up on an opportunity…

The inspiration for The Heart Stone partly came from research for my degree on The First World War some years ago; a subject that both fascinates and repulses me. At the time I’d found my grandfather’s army records and discovered he’d volunteered to join the local Pals Battalion with two of his friends, although they were all underage.

I only ever remember him as a small man who spent his days in a single bed under the window in the parlour, who coughed a lot, and was very grumpy. He died when I was eight.

There was no conscription at the beginning of the war. The Pals Battalions were formed, to answer Lord Kitchener’s call for volunteers, by encouraging local magistrates to drum up community spirit and patriotic fervour.

 The gist of the speeches used were that young men,”…  should form a battalion of pals, a battalion in which friends will fight shoulder to shoulder for the honour of Britain and the credit of their town and villages.”

 My grandfather was gassed in 1916 near the Somme. He was also shell-shocked and was unemployed for the rest of his life. Once, my mother told me he had never spoken of his experience but had suffered nightmares for as long as she could remember. And that there were whole streets around the house where they’d lived where the men had never returned.

It’s a haunting image.

Four years ago, after my mother passed away and we were clearing her home, I found my grandfather’s army papers again.

 During the following week, whilst my husband and I were walking along the Pembrokeshire coastal path, we found a smooth stone, almost heart shaped, placed on top of a cairn amongst the Marram grass. Picking up the stone to examine it, a folded paper blew from underneath. There had been words on it but were, by then, indecipherable.

 A love note, I thought; a love note under a heart shaped stone.

 A love note, under a heart shaped stone, from a young man who had never returned.

 And so The Heart Stone started to form.

The Heart Stone was published by Honno Press in Feb 2021

And a Review of The Heart Stone:

https://amzn.to/3bCkx8w

And a buying link:

Amazon.co.uk: https://amzn.to/3hupbc1

Also available from Honno

And a little bit about me:

I’m,originally from Saddleworth, a group of villages on the edge of the Pennines, but have lived in Pembrokeshire, Wales, for over forty years.

I have an MA in Creative Writing with the University of Wales Trinity St David’s College, Carmarthen. BA (Hons) in Literature with the Open University, a Diploma in Drama from Swansea University. I’m also is a Creative Writing tutor and hold workshops on all genres.

And here I am:

https://twitter.com/judithbarrow77
https://www.facebook.com/judith.barrow.

My Review of Only May, by Honno Author, Carol Lovekin #Honno #familystory #secrets #magic

Book Description:

A young woman haunted by ghosts, magic and long-kept family secrets in a new novel from the author of the Wales Book of the Year 2021 shortlisted, WILD SPINNING GIRLS.

I give you fair warning, if you’re planning on lying to me, don’t look me in the eye.

It’s May’s 17th birthday – making the air tingle with a tension she doesn’t fully understand. But she knows her mother and her aunt are being evasive; secrets are being kept.Like her grandmother before her, May has her own magic: the bees whisper to her as they hover in the garden… the ghosts chatter in the graveyard. And she can’t be fooled by a lie. She becomes determined to find out what is being kept from her. But when May starts to uncover her own story, she threatens to bring her mother and aunt’s carefully constructed family to the edge of destruction..

My Review:.

Only May is a story that could only have been written by Carol Lovekin. Her writing style is unique, filled with poetic prose that evokes layer upon layer of wonderful imagery, juxtaposed with stories that gradually emerge to reveal fascinating plots, strong characters and atmospheric  settings.

Set in Wales in the nineteen fifties, the narrative portrays seventeen-year-old May as a young woman who has been gifted the power to recognise lies. Even so, she  becomes increasingly and uneasily aware that her family hold a secret about her past that shocks and distresses her.

Throughout the book there is a sense that the freedom that May cherishes in the natural world vies with the restriction of her home life.

The main characters are multi layered: May’s protective but hard-working mother, Esme, who, although she loves her, sometimes irritates May, Billy, her father, a man suffering from both physical and mental disability, but with whom May has a close and loving relationship. And then there is Esme’s sister, May’s unconventional aunt, who encourages her to explore the magic of folklore and the mystery of nature. All ably supported by a community of well-drawn minor characters, each with their own foibles, each adding to the revelation of the central theme – the truth of May’s life. A truth that could mean the destruction of the family. And of her trust in them.

Only May is what I always call a slow burner of a story, with a steady exposé of the plot through a narrative that is Insightful and philosophical. Therefore, this complex and spellbinding novel is one to savour. As such I thoroughly recommend it.

About Carol Lovekin:

Carol is a writer, feminist & flâneuse based in west Wales. She writes contemporary fiction exploring family relationships & secrets, the whole threaded with myth, fairytale, ghosts, Welsh Gothic mystery & slivers of magic.

Buying Links:

Amazon.co.uk: https://amzn.to/3ykGaFY

Carol’s Links:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/carollovekin

Facebook: http://bit.ly/2SVpYaR

An easy walk… I thought!. Warren Wood (beginning with a Short Visit to the Water-Break-its-Neck waterfall) @Powys #Wales #photographs #walks #holidaymemories

The sunny day disappeared as we walked through the short steep-sided gorge – following in the footsteps of Victorian tourist to the Water-Break-its-Neck waterfall, around a mile from the village of New Radnor ( Maesyfed – the Welsh name), in the county of Powys, Wales.

It was a spectacular sight. Yet, beyond the sound of the water it was strangely silent.

The water tumbled through the black slated rocks, a silvery mesmerising flow, to the small stream and creating a fine rainbow mist in the air. Yet there was an eerie and ephemeral feeling to the fallen, bare oak branches laced with lichen and boulders covered in dark green moss and surrounded by curtains of gently swaying ferns.

We made our way back along the narrow path. I thought we would be taking a slow ramble along the walking trails in Warren Wood – so named for the labyrinth of rabbit warrens that kept the locals fed for centuries, now dwarfed by towering beeches, oaks and conifers.

Husband had other ideas. ‘Let’s walk up the road to the top of Warren Wood,’ he said, pointing vaguely to the left as we left the path. ‘We could get some brilliant photographs.

‘How far is it?’

‘Not far.’

I’ve been caught out by “Not far”, before. Why do I always believe him?

If only I’d read the Nature reserve signage:

In the 1800s The Victorian landowners planted trees on the moorland, to provide a landscape of scenic beauty thus creating a forest, part of Radnor Forest which was once a royal hunting ground. In those days it wasn’t an area covered in trees but an unenclosed piece of land, legally set aside for the Norman kings to hunt deer. Today, Radnor Forest is a land of hill farming and moorlands, steep narrow valleys and hills, rising up to the highest point in Radnorshire, Black Mixen at 650 metres.

Note the words, ‘steep’, hills, and 650 metres. What we didn’t know, was that the wide concrete road in front of us was not only steep but has many twists and turns – and always upwards before it got to 650 metres.

Two and a half hours later, with stops for photographs, we reached the top… I thought. We sat on a convenient rock, drinking from our second bottle of water.

‘We could go on for a bit longer?’ Husband said.,looking around. ‘The road carries on.’

‘The proper road stops here not up there.’ I pointed to the dirt track behind us. Steep dirt track.

I’I bet we could get brilliant photos, though. I’ll go and check.’ Ten minutes later he was back. ‘Come on, it’s a fantastic view.’

We walked in silence. Well, to be honest I had no breath to use up in conversation.

Though the views were wonderful. We could see as far away as Hereford and beyond…..

‘Ready to go back?’ Husband asked.

I didn’t think I could face that road again. ‘We could try going that way?’ I point to a gentle downward sloping track.’It looks like it’s going back to the start.’

‘It doesn’t.’

‘It does.’ I insisted.

I should,perhaps have said, before now – I have little sense of direction. We stumbled/slid down walked for over an hour with the wind whistling through the tall conifers that lined the ever-steeper, downward track. I became increasingly aware of a brooding silence, each time I said cheerfully,’It has to lead to somewhere…’ and, ‘We’re going in the right direction…’. Until we weren’t… we rounded a corner- to see the road end in a turning point for the Forestry Commission. A thick forest faced us…Hmm…

Back we went,stopping every fifty paces to catch our breath. To be fair there were only a few recriminations. Although I did hear some mutterings – which I ignored. Later,we worked out that we had walked thirteen miles – seven more than we had planned.

The following day we creaked our way rambled sedately around the fields where we were staying near Bettws Cedewain, a place in a sheltered valley on the banks of the river Bechan. around five miles from Newtown. The village grew around the crossing of the river where a church was founded by St Beuno in the sixth century. I read that the name of the village is thought to derive from the Welsh word ‘Betws’ – which means a prayer house or bead house where the number of prayers had been counted on beads by the earliest church-goers in Cedewain.

My Review of Where There’s Doubt by Terry Tyler #psychological thriller


Book Description

‘I can be anything you want me to be. Even if you don’t know you want it. Especially if you don’t know you want it.’

Café owner Kate is mentally drained after a tough two years; all she wants from her online chess partner is entertainment on lonely evenings, and maybe a little virtual flirtation.

She is unaware that Nico Lewis is a highly intelligent con artist who, with an intricately spun web of lies about their emotional connection, will soon convince her that he is The One.

Neither does Kate know that his schemes involve women who seek love on dating sites, as well as his small publishing business. A host of excited authors believe Nico is about to make their dreams come true.

Terry Tyler’s twenty-fourth publication is a sinister psychological drama that highlights the dark side of internet dating—and the danger of ignoring the doubts of your subconscious.

My Review

One of the certainties about any of Terry Tyler’s novels is that there will be individualistic characters that, from the moment they are introduced, come to life. Another of her talents is that she tells a great story, whatever the genre. I can say that, in all honesty, having read every one of her books. Whether it’s sagas, psychological fiction or dystopian, it’s the strength of the plots, the characters and the relationship between the two that draw in the reader from the first page. And Where There’s Doubt is no exception, as a psychological thriller this is both powerful and complex.

I love stories told from a variety of first-person points of view; for me it adds to the narrative if it is revealed in this way. We get to know each character, through their voice, through their behaviour, through their perception of the world, of life. In Where There’s Doubt the author introduces trust and gullibility, motivations with coercions, honesty with lies, and weaves them together. All of which kept me guessing. And usually getting it wrong.  

The main characters are multi-layered, from the wary protagonist, Kate, to Nico, the smooth conman, and the three diverse women he meets on an online dating site. And, in the background, adding authenticity to the plot, there are other characters: the would-be suitor of Kate’s, the  friend whose loyalty may be questionable, Kate’s employees in the café, the unpublished and naïve authors – preyed upon by Nico and his claims to be an independent publisher.
There are many settings, but the main background, the seaside town and café, give a unsafe validity to the criminality that is a fundamental theme throughout.

This is a contemporary read, with an all too familiar aspect of deceit and misrepresent in both internet dating and vanity press. But there are always possible consequences with both. I try not to give spoilers with any of my reviews – but I will say that love, loyalty, and justice are also threaded through this book..

 I admire Terry Tyler’s writing style, ability to produce impressive stories, and this thriller doesn’t disappoint. I would highly recommend Where There’s Doubt to any reader who is looking for a fascinating read.

About Terry Tyler:

Terry Tyler is the author of twenty-four books available from Amazon, the latest being ‘Where There’s Doubt’, about a romance scammer. Also recently published is ‘Megacity’, the final book in the dystopian Operation Galton trilogy. She is currently at work on a post apocalyptic series, which will probably take the form of three novellas. Proud to be independently published, Terry is an avid reader and book reviewer, and a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.

Terry is a Walking Dead addict, and has a great interest in history (particularly 12th-17th century), along with books and documentaries on sociological/cultural/anthropological subject matter. She loves South Park, the sea, and going for long walks in quiet places where there are lots of trees. She lives in the north east of England with her husband

Presenting the Authors at the Honno Book Fair 7th May 2022 at the Queens Hall, Narberth, Pembrokeshire. Today with Carol Lovekin #Honno #authors

Introducing my friends and fellow (or should that be sister?) authors of Honno – The longest-standing independent women’s press in the UK – who will be at the Honno Book Fair on the 7th May 2022 , 10.00am until 4.00pm, at the Queens Hall, Narberth, Pembrokeshire. Over the next few weeks I’ll be introducing the each author. I’ll also be showcasing Honno, the publishers.

If you’re in the area,we’d be thrilled if you popped in to say hello.

Today, I’m really pleased to be joined by Carol Lovekin

Hello and welcome, Carol. Lovely to see you here today. 

And glad to be here, Judith

Please tell us, how many books have you written, and which is your favourite?

Four. Favourite is tough. Like my children, I love them all for different reasons. But I’ll pick Wild Spinning Girls as it’s the one everyone says they like best. And it was shortlisted for a prize: the Wales Book of the Year (Fiction Award) 2021.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

During a read through, I spotted it, almost at the end. It was a moment when one of my characters was musing on the essential nature of ‘girls’ and it was perfect.

What part of the book did you have the hardest time writing? Or what was your hardest scene to write, and why?

The opening chapter! It wasn’t until my editor pointed out, during our initial structural edit, that I’d started the story in the wrong place, I realised I had. Once she told me, ‘It begins with Ida’s accident’ (which feeds into the fairy tale element and the story of The Red Shoes), the penny dropped. I was able to draw on my own background in ballet and had the scene written in my head almost before I got home!

What part of the book was the most fun to write?

The scenes involving Olwen – my ghost. I love her. She is my role model and any hauntings I plan will be an homage to her!

If you were to write a spin-off about a side character, which would you pick?

Heather, probably. And some of my readers have expressed an interest in Roni, wanting to know more about her. This is the nature of story however – they are never finished and some threads get left to spin in the wind.

If you’re planning a sequel, can you tantalize us with a snippet of your plans for it? If not, your plans for your next book?

My next book is due out this May. Which is perfect, as the story takes places over the month of May. Only May is the story of May Harper, a girl who can look you in the eye and see your lies. As gifts go, it’s a double-edged sword; May doesn’t always want to know people’s secrets. But at the heart of her family hides the biggest lie of all, one she is determined to see. 

At what point did you think of yourself as a writer?

Before I was published, I was a scribbler with no directions. Once I retired, I decided to take my writing seriously, with a view to publication. And I had an idea I knew could work: if I could write it, it had legs, so to speak. Luckily for me, it had wings. When Ghostbird was published, that was when I knew I was a writer.

What do the words “writer’s block” mean to you?

Get a grip!? In my view and in my writing life, there’s no such thing. Sometimes (mostly) I write, sometimes I don’t. Regardless of any circumstances which may take me away from physical writing, I’m always thinking about my current story. Every aspect of creating a story is a writer’s work.

Are there therapeutic benefits to modelling a character after someone you know?

Absolutely. I did it with my second book, Snow Sisters. Allegra, the mother in this story is a narcissist. While I was writing the book, I finally said ‘No’ to a long-time friend whose narcissism had pushed me to my limit. ‘No’ is anathema to a narcissist and she instantly ended the friendship. Stealing a few of her attributes was a small but satisfying therapy. And the thing about a narcissist is, they will never guess you have modelled a character on them because in a narcissist’s world, everything is about them anyway. They are perfect, and that arrogant, self-involved, manipulative character couldn’t possibly be them!

What is the most difficult part of your writing process?

Beginnings. On every level. Sometimes, even though I know exactly what a chapter is about, I can’t start writing it. Can’t find the perfect opening sentence never mind a paragraph. It can takes hours. And don’t get me started on – well – the start! Once upon a time . . .?   

How do you use social media as an author?

Carefully!

Why did you choose Honno as a publisher?

Although, ultimately, Honno chose me, I always had them in mind. I thought they would be a perfect fit for the first book I submitted. Ghostbird has a quintessentially Welsh feel to it. Added to that was my admiration for Honno as a feminist women’s press supporting women’s voices. I got my debut break with them as a result of taking part in a Meet the Editor session with Janet Thomas. This was life-changing for me. At the age of 71 I became a published author and my fourth book is on the horizon.

Presenting the Authors at the Honno Book Fair 7th May 2022 at the Queens Hall, Narberth, Pembrokeshire. Today with Liz Jones

Introducing my friends and fellow (or should that be sister?) authors of Honno – The longest-standing independent women’s press in the UK  who will be at the Honno Book Fair on the 7th May 2022 , 10.00am until 4.00pm, at the Queens Hall, Narberth, Pembrokeshire.

If you’re in the area,we’d be thrilled if you popped in to say hello.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be introducing each author. I’ll also be showcasing Honno. 

Today, I’m really pleased to be joined by Liz Jones

Hello and welcome, Liz. Good to have you with us here today.

Glad to be here, Judith.

Please tell us, how many books have you written, and which is your favourite?

The Queen of Romance is my one and only (so far…)

How did you come up with the title for your book?

Through a long and tortuous process… My original title, The Many Lives of Marguerite was okay, but didn’t really tell the reader anything. Eventually, I came up with The Forgotten Queen of Romance. The ‘forgotten’ was later dropped… 

What inspired the idea for your book?

It all began when I visited what I thought was just her husband’s grave (that of the controversial Welsh author Caradoc Evans). Then I discovered Marguerite, this incredible woman who had been a bestselling romance author, whose book The Pleasure Garden was became Alfred Hitchcock’s first film, who had appeared in a film alongside the legendary Gloria Swanson, and had run a thriving repertory theatre company in my home town of Aberystwyth. Yet now she lay forgotten alongside her husband, without even her name on the gravestone. I had to find out more…

What part of the book did you have the hardest time writing? Or what was your hardest scene to write, and why?

The scenes about Marguerite’s childhood in India, during the days of the Raj. I have never been to India and knew little about the Raj, so I had to draw heavily on a combination of research and imagination. But I found this research fascinating. The mindset of the British in India was astonishingly racist and elitist. They were also making huge sacrifices for the sake of the British Empire, which they genuinely believed to be a noble project.

What part of the book was the most fun to write?

I enjoy visiting places and getting and writing about them in situ. Visiting Broadstairs, where Marguerite lived and ran a theatre company just before the war, was great fun, as was visiting the site of another of her homes, near Aberdyfi, high above the Dyfi estuary.   

Which of the characters do you relate to the most and why.

Marguerite as a biographical character was eccentric, endlessly fascinating and also infuriating! The men in her life were (with one exception) pretty awful to here. The character I felt by far the most empathy for was Pauline Bloch, the German Jewish refugee who was Marguerite and Caradoc’s live-in maid during the war. The poor woman was traumatised and not receiving the help and support she needed – least of all from Marguerite who was too wrapped up in her own marriage and money problems to care.  

I was privileged to read some of Pauline’s letters, written some thirty years later, where she reflected on her time with Marguerite and Caradoc. She was a strong, determined and remarkably fair-minded woman who had overcome so much.

If you were to write a spin-off about a side character, which would you pick?

Pauline, without a doubt.

If you’re planning a sequel, can you tantalize us with a snippet of your plans for it? If not, your plans for your next book?

All I can say is I’m researching another biography. It’s far too soon to reveal any more!

 At what point did you think of yourself as a writer?

I don’t think you can really call yourself a writer after just one book. Although now I do write most days – features for magazines, mostly.

 Have you ever considered writing under a pseudonym, and why or why not?

With a name like Liz Jones? Of course I have! If ever I write a book that’s completely different (a novel, for instance), I might just dream up a far more exotic name for myself!

 What do the words “writer’s block” mean to you?

Writer’s block is something I experience every day. Sometimes I can overcome it. Other times, I suddenly find that cleaning the sink or organising my bookshelf is suddenly far more pressing than writing… Yet once I’m really in the writing zone, I find it difficult to stop. If only I found it easier to get there in the first place – I’m still working on that!   

What do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?

Peace, quiet, not too much clutter and, above all, a room of my own. (Virginia Woolf said it all really…)

 Are there therapeutic benefits to modelling a character after someone you know?

As a writer of non-fiction, I’m afraid I can’t really answer this!

 What is the most difficult part of your writing process?

Beginning.

What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing?

That’s a very big question! There are so many different kinds of good writing. If I had to say, I think it’s honestly – writing where the author strips away any ‘show-offy’ bits and tells the story with sincerity and integrity, rather than indulging in writing that draws attention to itself. Having said that, I can’t resist the odd flourish or purple passage, although I try not to overdo it! 

What comes first for you — the plot or the characters — and why? 

As a biographer it has to be character! I have to feel fascinated by a character to want to write about them.

 How do you use social media as an author?

I’m on Twitter, which I’ve found pretty useful, in a low-key sort of way. I know Twitter has a bit of a toxic reputation, but it’s great for connecting with other authors and keeping in touch with Honno and the wider world of books. What I also like about Twitter is that it’s okay to promote your own work there – unlike facebook, where too much self-promotion tends to be frowned upon! 

 Why did you [choose? Honno as a publisher?

The honest answer is because Honno is based in my home town of Aberystwyth. When my idea was still embarrassingly sketchy, I contacted the lovely Janet Thomas (a member of the Honno committee and hugely experienced editor). Thanks to Janet’s unstinting encouragement, I began to feel that my idea really could work as a book. Later, as a first-time Honno writer, I felt supported by the team throughout the whole process – from the initial edits to the marketing. Becoming a Honno author is like joining a very special women’s club! 

Author Bio:

Dr Liz Jones is a prize winning writer of creative non-fiction and journalism, and a creative writing tutor at Aberystwyth University. Her book, The Queen of Romance (Honno), a biography of Marguerite Jervis (aka Oliver Sandys and Countess Barcynska), ‘the most successful author and theatre entrepreneur you’ve never heard of’, was selected for The Independent‘s book choices for May, 2021.

Twitter: @LizJonesAber