Remembering Past Places in our Memories: Roundup of November 2022 #Memories #MondayBlogs #houses #families #childhoods #Holidays

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.

This is a round-up of the Places in our Memories posted over the last few weeks. There have been some wonderful memories shared.

Phil Rowlands gave us a very poignant account of the many special memories he has of Newgale in Wales. https://tinyurl.com/wkevacw6

Liz Hines brought to life her memories of growing up in a house that was once a public house (called Albert House, her childhood home has, unfortunately, been in a state of disrepair for some time now), and told us what it was like to live in a strong matriarchal family. https://tinyurl.com/2anfptxb.

Marjorie Mallon talked about her love of botanical gardens, recalling, in particular, her admiration for Cambridge Botanical Garden in the United Kingdom, and her respect for sculptural/artistic and wonders of engineering science. She also shared one or two of her poems with us. https://tinyurl.com/yc325da8

And finally, Jane Frazer told us us how, although enjoying a wonderful holiday in… she missed her homeland of Wales… and how it brought other thoughts: https://tinyurl.com/msnchysx.

This month, in the lead up to Christmas, we’ll only have one post in December, on the 19th, but I can guarantee it will be a fascinating Christmas memory. I hope you enjoy reading it. In January 2023, we will begin another round of Places in our Memories.

Places in our Memories: With Jane Frazer #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 Jane Fraser to Places in our Memories. Jane is a a Honno author like myself, I’ve known her quite a while, and know how much she loves Wales. Here she tells us how, although enjoying a wonderful holiday in… she missed her homeland… and how it brought other thoughts.

Hiraeth

Home Thoughts From Abroad

I am in the elevator going up to the condo on the 6th floor. It feels moist: a stale smell of sweat and coconut sun-oil cloying the cramped space I’m sharing with my husband and another couple. We’ve all rushed off the beach because of the squall. The sign with the palm tree on the wall tells me to have a nice day.

         “Where you guys from?” asks the man with the baseball cap.

         “Wales,” I say.

         “Oh, part of England – we passed through it on our way to Ireland when we did Europe a couple of years ago, didn’t we Jo? he says to his wife who says: We sure did. It’s where Princess Diana was from.

         I don’t bother to even try and explain but say, Bye, enjoy your day as we make our way back to our little rental overlooking the Atlantic which is now stewing, a nasty grey, with white spume peaks whipped by the wind as far out as the eye can see. I sit on our balcony, my mind’s eye can see far across this ocean, as far as the wet west coast of the home I’ve escaped this Christmas.

         “You homesick?” my husband asks.

         “A bit,” I say. “The weather, probably.”

         “Least it’s hot rain. Won’t last. They’re not there anyway.”

         He’s right. My daughter and the kids are in Australia to see the in-laws; my son is happy with his girl-friend in the north of England. My parents are sorted going to my brother’s for Christmas lunch in Cardiff and I know they’re OK as I see them all year, living just a couple of miles away. I’m guilt free. I haven’t left or abandoned anyone. No person I love. It’s just my house I see empty and forlorn; standing unlit and unloved, in the place that tugs at my insides.

         “Don’t you miss our house? Our beach?” I ask my husband.

         “It’s just a place, “he says. “C’mon. We’ve worked all year for this.”

         I continue looking at the ocean, listen to its constant churning. It sounds the same as home. And it’s beautiful. But at 27 degrees north 80 degrees west Hutchinson Island is not 51 degrees north and 4 degrees west in Llangennith. The tide hardly budges here between high and low water, no vast expanse of sand exposed on the ebb. When my wind blows from the south west it is mild and wet, it cakes my windows with salt and browns and bends everything I try to grow in my garden. Everything here is back to front: the north-easterly brings the rain, steamy and sticky; and when the wind blows from the south-west, it’s off the land, hot, dry on the skin, giving respite from the humidity. When my sun rises it is behind me, comes up over Llanmadoc Down and when it is done at the end of the day it falls into the sea just to the left of Burry Holms. I just cannot come to terms with the sun coming up over the ocean and going down over the land.

         “You’ve got no sense of home, have you?” I snipe at my husband.

         “What Merthyr Tydfil? London? Gower?”

         “You don’t belong anywhere, do you?”

         “No. Happy in a camper van, me. Don’t need that stuff.”

         “What stuff?”

         “Roots.”

         “Running away all the time, you are.”

         “Nothing to run from.”

         “No place you see yourself dying? Spending your last days?”

         “Jesus. We’re supposed to be on holiday.”

         I see myself in my own bed at home. I am lying propped up on pillows, looking out through the sash windows at the expanse of ocean. The window is pulled up slightly at the bottom and fresh air rushes through the gap, making the silk curtains billow, and cooling my face which is warmed with the sun in my south-facing house. If I had a choice about the last thing I’d like to see in life it would be the view through this window: the bronzed burrows, the conical dunes, the limestone island of Burry Holms which when the tide is high rises like a turtle out of the sea.

          But it is beautiful here in its own way. Now. The scale of the views astounds: big skies; big seas; but too much sea if there is such a thing. Sea that is not broken up or interrupted with headlands or coves or churches or castles that run down to the water’s edge. There is but one long, straight continuous ocean’s edge strung out along the rim of the pan-handle. I long for things to shrink, for the familiar littleness and quirkiness of my peculiar patch of earth.

         I’m in the tropics in a flat right in the dunes and I am happy and grateful for what life has dealt me. But they are not my dunes. My dunes are golden and soft-sanded, carpeted with marram grass, sea holly and thrift and all manner of orchids and blackberries when autumn comes. Here the sand is greyer and grittier, a flat colour pitted with holes where ghost crabs burrow. Where blue and pink-bubbled Portuguese men of war with foot long tentacles lurk ready to sting at the tide’s drop line. Here everything grows quickly, too quickly; it is hard to keep things under control, to hold back the mangrove to prevent the railroad vine choking. Here the dunes sometimes cannot hold back the hurricanes. Here there are signs that say evacuation route.

         My husband goes back inside the condo to the chill of the air-con, sliding the door behind him. Even though it is raining, I am covered by the popcorn roof of the balcony and shielded from the wet by the sliding concertina-folded shutters. The heat is sapping the life out of me. I consider life’s evacuation route. When and how my end will come. There have been a few near-misses to date and again, I am grateful that I’ve still got a few lives left. My mind wanders and I hope I will have what my grandmother used to call a ‘good death’. A death that is in old age, that is relatively pain-free. One where there is time to say goodbyes.

         I open the sliders and go inside. The air-con confronts me like a fridge.

         “Do you want to be buried or cremated?” I ask my husband. But he cannot hear as his earphones are on and he’s on the iPad catching up with latest episodes of ‘London Spy’.

         “What?” he shouts, taking out one of his ear-pieces.

         “When you die. Buried or cremated? We need to make our wills.”

         “You need to see someone. Seriously.”

         “I want to be buried. In the church. Near the wall. Gets the sun all day. And I can keep an eye on what’s happening in the pub opposite!”

         “Just feed me to the birds. Or drop me overboard near Burry Holms.”

         “I was thinking Burry Holms to start with too: though sprinkled like your mother. Then I changed my mind and fancied the crem. But thought, no. Production line. So it’s to be burial. But not in Llanrhidian with my mother’s lot. Too dark. Damp.”

         “Long as I know.”

         “Don’t you want to be buried with me, then?”

         “Don’t believe in all that tosh.”

         “Is it ‘cos we’ve got different names? Shall I change my name to Griffiths?”

         “You do what you like. I just want to go back to nature. No fuss.”

         “That’s great. Buried alone. That’ll give them something to talk about.”

         “Who?”

         “Villagers.”

         “Well, you won’t hear them, will you?”

On Christmas Eve the sun has decided to shine again. It is in the high eighties. The checkout girl in Publix tells us the weather here is Bipolar. My husband tells me he thinks I am too.

         We hit the beach again with our striped canvas chairs, turning away from the sea to follow the sun as the day progresses. We watch fisherman landing croakers and pompanos, their rods bent like arcs over the sparkling ocean along the water’s edge as far as the eyes can see. One man is sweating with the effort of reeling in a big fella that’s been taking line for over an hour as far south as Miami. Must be a shark or a stingray his friend says who stands at the ready with a rope to help him when the time comes. But the line snaps and it was the one that got away.

         The sun is high even in mid-winter, searing the crown of my broad black-rimmed hat which I notice is fading so fast. I look at my watch. 3pm. Eight o’clock back home. It’ll be dark and raining and the teles will be blaring and the pubs heaving. At this precise moment I’m not missing it at all.

          But at six o’clock, when the light goes yet the heat remains locked in, I’m out of kilter again. The condo looks bare even though we’ve tried out best with potted red tulips and white lilies and red and gold baubles which are too glitzy for my liking. The Christmas cards we’ve bought each other in Barnes and Noble are too schmaltzy and shmucky: like the apples and the vegetables in the supermarkets, too big and shiny and perfect that look lovely but don’t actually taste of anything.

         The tele goes on but it’s all American Football and medical adverts every few seconds with lists of alarming side effects of certain medications. It’s Fixer Upper then, nothing but edition after edition of Fixer Upper and houses that are transformed in Wacko Texas for under $80,000 including land. Next is Chopped which I tell my husband is a poor imitation of Bake Off and even worse than Australian MasterChef.

          I turn to my iPad for comfort and start googling Llangennith. I get the Gower Webcam from The Worms’s Head Hotel looking across Rhossili Bay. But it’s dark there, the sea hardly visible just an eerie rippling. It will restart live at sunrise tomorrow morning the message promises. Apparently it’s been a great day for surf. Overhead and light winds from the south west. I go to Wikipedia: pictures emerge of a village on the Gower peninsula near Swansea in Wales. It has an 11th century church dedicated to St Cenydd. It is the largest Church in Gower and the only one with a lych gate. I know. We were married there. I am suddenly in its nave, in its chancel, standing among the choir stalls with a bouquet of lily of the valley, taking our vows. It’s where I’ve recently told my husband I’ll be buried. I can see the unkempt grass, though not onscreen, see the weathered tombstones, tottering at all angles, see the names of generations of Taylors and Groves and Bevans and Beynons. I think I’ve made the right decision about being buried there, I say to my husband but he’s engrossed in Dallas Cowboys v Pittsburgh Steelers. I can smell home through the ether, pine and Christmas pudding.

         “You umbelicalled to that thing?” he shouts from the sofa.

         I’m on Google Earth now, I’ve keyed in my postcode SA3 1JE and I’m being taken from the beginning of Cock Street following a white arrow like Hansel and Gretel’s breadcrumbs, past Gill and Paul’s at Bullen’s Well – I can see the spout from the well, taste the spring water I always taste in cupped hands when I’m finishing up my daily walk. The camera takes me on along the single track lane – there’s Cock Street Farm with the gate with the two horses’ heads and the Land Rover parked in the yard. Must have been taken a few years ago as Joe Grove has changed it now for an Isuzu Trouper. And it must have been early summer too as the gorse is out, a blaze of yellow and the ferns at the lane’s edge are hip-high. I press the arrow with a compulsion, I’m at Long Offing now, and then the old barn in the field next to mine – Steve Taylor’s Fiesta is parked outside the gate – probably watering the plants in his polytunnel. And then there’s my gate. From 5,000 miles away right in front of me is my five barred farm gate and my drive with the car parked in it. CF13 MFU – all my personal things there for me to see, but not to touch. I can hardly bear it. I zoom on to the front of the house. It’s white and lime washed and perfectly symmetrical. Surrounded by newly ploughed brown-earthed fields it looks like it’s growing there, like it belongs there, like it’s been there for all time.

         It looks sad without us there. The windows at the front look as though they are crying. The wooden loungers are in place on the patio, perfectly positioned to take in the views of the ocean and the full sun. But they are empty. The stone pots of lavender are in full bloom but there is no one to smell them or water them. The seeds I must have planted back then are sprouting in the raised beds and the olive trees standing tall in the terracotta pots on the plum stoned driveway. They say all roads lead home at Christmas, I tell my husband. But he doesn’t reply.

About Jane:


Jane Fraser is an award-winning fiction writer, based in the Gower peninsula, south Wales. Her debut novel, Advent, was published by Honno, the UK’s longest-standing, independent women’s press, in January 2021. It was Book of the Month at Books Council of Wales in February 2021 and in June 2022 was announced as winner of the Society of Authors’ Awards – The Paul Torday Memorial Prize for a debut novel in English. Her first collection of short fiction, The South Westerlies, was published by Salt, the UK’s foremost independent publisher of literary fiction, in 2019 and her second short fiction collection, Connective Tissue, in October 2022, and also published by Salt.

She has been widely published in anthologies and reviews including New Welsh Review, The Lonely Crowd, Fish Publishing, TSS and The London Magazine. Her fiction has figured highly in major international competitions: in 2017 she was a finalist in the Manchester Fiction Prize (and has also been highly commended eight times), and in 2018 was a prize winner in the Fish Memoir Prize. She has also long and shortlisted in the Cambridge Short Story Prize, the ABR Elizabeth Jolley Prize, the Rhys Davies Short Story Competition and Retreat West Short Story Competition. She is winner of both the British Haiku Society and Genjuan International Prize for haibun. Her work has been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 as part of its ‘Short Works’ series.

She is a Hay Festival Writer at Work, a prestigious creative development award for emerging writers. She has a B.Ed as a first degree, and an MA (distinction 2013) and PhD in Creative Writing from Swansea University.

Jane Fraser is proud to be represented by Gaia Banks, Literary Agent at Sheil Land Associates Ltd. http://www.sheilland.com

When she is not writing, Jane Fraser is Co-Director of NB:Design a brand and digital agency along with her husband Philip Griffiths, a designer and photographer. When she is not working or writing, she walks her home patch of Gower and tries to be a good grandmother to Megan (13), Florence (11) and Alice (8).

Find Jane on:

Twitter @jfraserwriter

Instagram @janefraserwriter

@jfraserwriter@mastodonapp.uk 

Website www.janefraserwriter.com

Email: jane@nb-design.com

Our Walk Around lake Vyrnwy (With a bit of History Thrown in) #photography #walks #memories #humour #MondayBlogs

‘Let’s go to Lake Vyrnwy,’ Husband said. ‘Take some photos.

“Take some photos”, is a phrase that has been used many time down the years of our marriage. Sometimes it makes my heart sink; it often means I carry on walking along a chosen trail, before realising I’ve left Husband behind, oblivious, and capturing, “just the right shot” and have to retrace my steps. I have complained that this means I have walked miles more than him, but he, (“quite reasonably,” he says) means I’m burning more calories off. I ignore the implication of this… normally… but make sure I eat his chocolate bar as well as my own, when we stop for lunch.

Anyway… Lake Vyrnwy...

Just on the edge of The Snowdonia National Park and south of Lake Bala, Lake Vyrnwy is set amidst the remote and beautiful Berwyn Mountains. With spectacular waterfalls, and unspoilt open countryside. Except that, although the scenery is, as always, fantastic, the waterfalls are sadly depleted. As is the reservoir. However, since these photos were taken in August, and we’ve had such downpours, with fingers crossed, an inch or two may have been added to the water level. One can but hope!

We parked in a designated area that was supposed to be on the edge of the lake. It wasn’t; the water was so low we could have walked quite a few metres on shingle that should… would … in ‘normal times’ be submerged. It reminded us that, underneath, was a village, lost many years ago.

Llanwddyn was a village on the hillside next to the Cedig river. There were thirty-seven houses, three chapels and a Church of St John, and, in the surrounding countryside, ten farmsteads. Farming was the main occupation of the people in the valley, they ate simple food, such as mutton broth, porridge, gruel, and milk and burned peat from the moors in their fireplaces.

But, with expanding industries in the the Midlands and the north-west of England, and the prospect of higher wages, many people left. To make matters worse for those still trying to make a living from the land, in 1873 the local vicar,Reverend Thomas H. Evans published a report that the area was useless for agriculture, because it was waterlogged for much of the winter.

Seeing this, made us realise how many streams must has poured down the hills. Imaging the rush of water, I suppose it’s easy to understand the Reverend’s statement. Yet it has left me wondering why he wrote the report. Was he paid? Were the villagers aware of what he’d done? If they did find out, what was the reaction? I haven’t been able to discover that. The writer in me is itching to research that time. It did coincide with a time when the authorities of Liverpool were exploring the country for sites to build a new reservoir to cope with the growing population on both sides of the Mersey. So who’s to say!

Various sites were under consideration in northern England and Wales, but in most cases there were snags By 1877 a group of engineers arrived in Llanwddyn. Their visit was to look into the possibility of damming the river Vyrnwy. A survey revealed a large area of solid rock, just where the valley narrowed, two miles south of the village, which could act as a base for creating a large, artificial lake that had the potential for holding many millions of gallons of water.

It brings a feeling of awe, of sadness, almost, to be walking on land that is normally submerged under water, on land where a village once stood, where people once lived.

Driving further around the lake we pass a sign at the side of the road – “Track to impressive hillside view. Not to be missed”. Well, if ever there was a challenge to a photographer, that was it. Husband got out of the car and disappeared for a few minutes, soon to return. ‘It doesn’t look too bad. Come on.’

And indeed the first few steps were not too bad. And then we turned a corner… to be faced by an almost vertical path, a rocky vertical path. I stopped; why do I always let myself be fooled?

‘Come on, it’s not far!’ He said that numerous times for the next ten minutes. Hauling me from bend to bend. ” Think of the view!”

I couldn’t think of anything, except how to get my next breath.

But I had to admit, the view was worth it. The coniferous forests planted around the lake by the Forestry Commission are impressive.

On the way back, Husband found two stout branches to use as walking sticks, to scrabble down between mossy rocks and sliding muddy stones. It was either that or an undignified descent on my backside.

In 1880 the Liverpool Corporation Waterworks Act was passed by Parliament, and received the Royal Assent. Preparations were at once put in hand to gather the work-force and equipment necessary for the construction of what was to become the first large masonry dam in Britain and the largest artificial reservoir in Europe at the time. Work on the site began in July 1881.

The stone for the masonry was obtained from the quarry specially opened. All other materials were brought by horse and cart from the railway station at Llanfyllin, ten miles away. Stabling for up to 100 horses was built in Llanfyllin. The labour force topped 1,000 men at the busiest stage of the work on the dam. Many of them were stone masons working in the quarry, dressing the stone which was not easy to handle.

In a very short time the dam was completed. The village of Llanwddyn, and all buildings in the valley that were designated to be covered by the water, were demolished.

©Martin Edwards

St Wddyn’s church was built on the hill on the north side to replace the parish destroyed by the flooding of Vyrnwy valley. Many of the graves were relocated from the graveyard of the old church to St Wddyn’s before it was flooded. It was was consecrated on the 27 November 1888, the day before the valves were closed. It took a year before the water reached and spilled over the lip of the dam.

On a previous walk, some years before, we witnessed a wedding procession coming from the church, led by a chimney sweep in all his glory. Apparently it’s considered lucky to see a chimney sweep on your wedding day, the belief being they bring good luck, wealth, and happiness. The bride and groom did look joyous. I would have loved to have tagged onto the procession, but, that day, we were looking for “a good view of the water”, further along the road.

On the same hill as the church a monument was erected in memory of ten men who died in accidents on the site during the building of the dam and another thirty-four who died from other causes at the time.

Stone houses, matching the stone of the dam, were built on either side of the valley for the people whose homes had disappeared under the lake. I suppose there must have been a lot of opposition to flooding the valley to provide Liverpool with water at the time, and since, but records have apparently shown that it brought prosperity and stability to the area.

Our final excursion on our walk was to the waterfalls.

One of the highest is the Rhiwargor waterfall at the northern end of Lake Vyrnwy. From the car park I was relieved to see the relatively flat path along the valley of the river Eiddew. There was a trail leading up and up along the side of the falls. Despite much attempted persuasions, I declined, and opted for a coffee and a picnic at a nearby picnic table. And I ate his chocolate bar! Well, after that impromptu climb earlier, I thought I deserved it. Who said I hold grudges?!!

N.B. The Lake Vyrnwy Nature Reserve and Estate that surrounds the lake is jointly managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the Hafren Dyfrdwy (Severn Dee). The reserve is designated as a national nature reserve, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Protection Area, and a Special Area of Conservation.

Places in our Memories: With Marjorie Mallon #MondayBlogs #Memories #Gardens and Sculptural Treasures

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 am so pleased to welcome MJ Mallon. I have known Marjorie through her great support of other writers, especially with her work as poet, a blogger, and a book reviewer. She is also founder of the Authors Bloggers Rainbow Support Club. I have long admired her work.

Welcome, Marjorie.

Thank you so much to Judith for inviting me to talk about my places in our memories.

There are so many precious memories in our lives gathered from childhood to adulthood and beyond. In this series,  I would like to talk about my love of botanical gardens – in particular Cambridge Botanical Garden in UK, and my respect for sculptural/artistic and wonders of engineering science.

In particular, nature has been a wonderful inspiration in my writing… I visited the Botanical Gardens in Cambridge often, working nearby – and being in the lucky position of having a free pass from my work!  My employer encouraged us to attend an in-house mindfulness course which further enhanced my sense of awareness, allowing me to utilise all my senses on my daily walks.

I am a visual writer gaining ideas from immersing my consciousness in the world around me. I remember our first task in Mindfulness training was simply to eat a raisin slowly, savouring it, and noticing any sensations as we did!

The mindful magic of the garden kept me enthralled, with the leaves of the trees gently rustling in the breeze, or shedding, or colour changing their welcome celebrating all the seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter, the changes in colour delighting me.

Let me introduce you to some of the  unexpected animals and birds who greeted me there… one day I spotted a ginger cat who became one of the inspirations in Mr. Sagittarius Poetry and Prose as did the cute robin and the dragonfly.

Here are some poems and photos from the collection…

Red, Devil’s Needle,

Or luck bringer with kind eyes?

Ancient, sweet fellow,

Secret magic bestower,

Change tumbling on fragile wings.

© M J Mallon

Bench,

A bird,

Red-breasted,

So, tame you rest,

Beside me robin,

Two friends on a park bench,

One human, one of nature,

I appreciate your kind time,

Until you away… exploring far,

Hinting at possibilities you go. 

I wonder what you notice in your world.

And why you choose that ground to explore,

When you could have stayed here with me,

In mindful meditation.

Maybe you’ll visit me,

Christmas day, perhaps?

To bring good cheer,

Until then,

Peace to,

You.

Tree and nature poems are also the focus  in my latest poetry collection: The Hedge Witch and The Musical Poet and nature will also feature in my soon to be published Do What You Love.

I have to say I miss the gardens now I’ve moved away from Cambridge. I am currently spending time in Portugal in a long stay holiday residence and the rest of the time in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Whilst  I was in Edinburgh I was delighted to be asked to provide copies of two of my poetry collections: Mr. Sagittarius and  Prose and Lockdown Innit Poems About Absurdity to prestigious libraries in the UK: National Library of Scotland, The Bodleian Library Oxford University, National Library of Wales, Cambridge University Library, The Library of Trinity College Dublin, and The British Library in London. And… my Curse of Time fantasy series, (which is with a Japanese Publisher,) are now held at my old school FP library at George Watson’s College, Edinburgh. It’s nice to know a little piece of me is to be kept for posterity for people to read in the UK!

So, with regards to poetry, my botanical delight has served me well! Giving me a chance to explore a happy place in my writing.

Further memories… sculptural and artistic in nature… drew my attention and captured my heart in Cambridge, England… the Corpus Christi grasshopper clock in King’s Parade and Juniper Artland’s Anya Gallaccio’s crystal grotto provided the initial inspiration for dark fantasy The Curse of Time series, Bloodstone and Golden Healer which are published by Next Chapter Publishing. And… I was so lucky to meet and be invited to lunch with the world renowned inventor of the clock, Dr. John C. Taylor, OBE  in Cambridge, UK, which was definitely a highlight of my life in 2017! There was such synergy in the meeting as he loves clocks and crystals too! Talking to him has given me such a respect for the wonders of engineering innovation.

More about the three clocks on his blog – the grasshopper, the midsummer fly and the dragon! https://www.johnctaylor.com/the-chronophage/

Just to add – exciting news on Marjorie’s behalf. Her next new book is out to preorder.

Blurb

Do What You Love Fragility of Your Flame Poems, Photography & Flash Fiction is a personal poetry collection celebrating how the fates may have a part in all that we do.

With special poems and short reflective moments inspired by family, flowers and nature, love, scrumptious morsels, places I’ve visited, lived and intend to live in, the friendships and hopes I have for the future.

The overarching theme is to live a life well lived… And to do what you love.

float along with me

create clouds of sweetest joy

to do what you love

hold fate’s hand as we venture

near and far on life’s journey

Release Date: 25th November 2022, able to preorder via the following links.

Until we meet again… sweet robin, dragonfly, cat and scary grasshopper… and all the other creatures both real, created or imagined… Goodbye, adeus, tchau!

Next Chapter Publishing

Acclaimed YA Fantasy series, The Curse of Time:

Bloodstone and Golden Healer

For details of publications please visit:

https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/mj-mallon

Kyrosmagica Publishing

Acclaimed Poetry and Flash Fiction

Poetry and Flash Fiction: The Hedge Witch and The Musical Poet

https://bookstoread/u/mv1oev

Poetry, Prose and Photography: Mr. Sagittarius Poetry and Prose http://mybook.to/MrSagittarius

Pandemic Poetry: Lockdown Innit Poems About Absurdity

http://mybook.to/Lockdown Innit

Pandemic Anthology: This IsLockdown

http://mybook.to/Thisislockdown

Kyrosmagica publications are available on Amazon kindle, Kindle unlimited and paperback.

Short Stories in Anthologies:

Bestselling horror compilations

Nightmareland compiled by Dan Alatorre

“Scrabble Boy” (Short Story)

Spellbound compiled by Dan Alatorre

“The Twisted Sisters” (Short Story)

Wings of Fire compiled by Dan Alatorre

“The Great Pottoo” (Short Story)

Ghostly Rites 2019 compiled by Claire Plaisted“Dexter’s Creepy Caverns” (Short Story)

Ghostly Rites 2020 compiled by Claire Plaisted

“No. 1 Coven Lane” (Short Story)

For all my publications and contributions to anthologies please refer to my Author Blog: https://mjmallon.com and my Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/M-J-Mallon/e/B074CGNK4L/

All my links are available via: https://linktr.ee/mjmallonauthor

Author Bio

MJ’s favourite genres to write are fantasy YA, Paranormal, Ghost and Horror Stories, various forms of poetry and flash fiction. She celebrates books, the spiritual realm, love of nature and all things magical, mystical, and mysterious at her blog home: https://mjmallon.com

She’d describe herself as a reading, blogging and photography enthusiast!
M J Mallon was born in Lion city Singapore, a passionate Scorpio with the Chinese Zodiac sign of a lucky rabbit. She spent her early childhood in Hong Kong. During her teen years, she returned to her father’s childhood home, Edinburgh where she spent many happy years, entertained and enthralled by her parents’ vivid stories of living and working abroad. Perhaps it was during these formative years that her love of storytelling began bolstered by these vivid raconteurs. She counts herself lucky to have travelled to many far-flung destinations and this early wanderlust has fuelled her present desire to emigrate abroad to Portugal. Until that wondrous moment, it’s rumoured that she lives in the UK, in Edinburgh. Her two enchanting daughters have flown the nest but often return with a cheery smile to greet her.

She writes fantasy/magical realism because life should be sprinkled with a liberal dash of extraordinarily imaginative magic! Her motto is to always do what you love, stay true to your heart’s desires, and inspire others to do so too, even it if appears that the odds are stacked against you like black-hearted shadows.

ABOUT M J Mallon

My favourite genres to write are Fantasy YA, Paranormal, Ghost and Horror Stories, various forms of poetry and flash fiction. I celebrate the spiritual realm, love of nature and all things magical, mystical, and mysterious at my blog home: https://mjmallon.com

I’d describe myself as a reading, blogging and photography enthusiast!

M J Mallon was born in Lion city Singapore, a passionate Scorpio with the Chinese Zodiac sign of a lucky rabbit. She spent her early childhood in Hong Kong. During her teen years, she returned to her father’s childhood home, Edinburgh where she spent many happy years, entertained, and enthralled by her parents’ vivid stories of living and working abroad. Perhaps it was during these formative years that her love of storytelling began bolstered by these vivid raconteurs. She counts herself lucky to have travelled to many far-flung destinations and this early wanderlust has fuelled her present desire to emigrate abroad. Until that wondrous moment, it’s rumoured that she lives in the UK, in the Venice of Cambridge with her six-foot hunk of a rock god husband. Her two enchanting daughters have flown the nest but often return with a cheery smile.

I write fantasy/magical realism because life should be sprinkled with a liberal dash of extraordinarily imaginative magic! Her motto is to always do what you love, stay true to your heart’s desires, and inspire others to do so too, even it if appears that the odds are stacked against you like black-hearted shadows.

Places in our Memories: With Liz Hinds #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 Liz Hines to Places in our Memories. She brings to life her memories of growing up in a house that was once a public house, and living in a strong matriarchal family.

Home

It took the builders three days to knock through the wall of my bedroom to put in a window. Day after day, they chipped and hammered and swore until the hole in the four foot thick wall was big enough to let in the sun, but bigger than the view of Polly Garter next-door’s garden deserved.

The slate steps that led up to the always-open front door featured in countless family photos

My bedroom was at the back of the house in the part that had already withstood eight generations. In my great-great-great-grandfather’s day it had been a public house. Years later, when it was finally rid of the smell of ale and gin, my great-grandmother wanted the front, which at that time still bore the legend, ‘Albert Inn’, fashionably pebble-dashed. The work had scarcely begun before the local bigwig, Harry Libby, came thundering to the door, ‘What are you doing, woman? This is sheer vandalism, destroying the heritage of the village.’ My great-grandmother didn’t give birth to twelve and raise eight children to be told what she could or couldn’t do with her own home — especially not by an upstart village boy — and she told him so.

That house, the place of my birth and my home for twenty-five years, stands in the middle of a terrace in the heart of the village. It was a matriarchal household: throughout my childhood there were four generations of women living there, my grandmother being the dominant force. My grandfather was a quiet gentle man, content to sit in his chair by the window, listening to the wireless and smoking his cigarettes. The room he sat in we called the kitchen, though all cooking, and washing of clothes, dishes, and bodies, was done in the scullery under the corrugated tin roof.

The kitchen was a low-ceilinged room where the light was always on and the fire always lit. The one window looked out onto a limed wall, eight feet high and three feet away. It was a small room crowded with furniture  – a settee, two armchairs, a bureau, and a dining table with assorted chairs. Shabby but clean and polished.

I see my grandmother now, bustling in.

“Put some more coal on, Jack, the fire’ll be out in a minute.”

Her husband chooses to not hear her.

“I suppose I’ll have to do it myself. Wait till I see that coalman, giving me this English rubbish, I’ll tell him.”

She rakes the fire and shovels on more coal. Standing up she wipes her hands on her pinny and then stops in her tracks. She picks up a candlestick from the mantelpiece and tuts.

“I’ll have to clean these tomorrow.”

It will take her all morning to polish the candlesticks and horse brasses and souvenirs of trips to Tenby, and when she’s done, the house will smell of Brasso for the rest of the day.

It is she who is largely responsible for my upbringing, my mother having to go out to work in order to keep me fed though I was clothed in hand-me-down dresses from my conveniently six-month older and much richer cousin.

My grandmother’s father had died the year before I was born leaving a legacy of legend. He – almost single-handedly if family history is to be believed – built Ford’s first factories in America. When the hiraeth became too strong, and he returned home to Wales, Henry Ford himself – again, the stuff of family myth – came to our village and begged him to return, offering to transport the whole family back to the States. But the women wouldn’t go and a good thing too else my story would be completely different.

 As I said, my great-grandmother had eight surviving children and her presence in my growing-up home meant a constant flow of visitors. The encompassing of me within this extended family provided a shelter, the walls of which were stronger than bricks and mortar, and it was easy to ignore the non-existence of one person, to have only a vague awareness that something was missing but that it didn’t really matter much. I was surrounded with love and its Welsh synonym, good home cooking. When there were lots of us, the family, there for dinner we would pull out the table and I would squeeze onto the bench next to the wall. This was my favourite place, where the bricks I leaned against were warmed by Mr Shires next door’s fire. I sat quietly in the glow of conversation and knew that here I was safe.

Back in the late 1920s, two of my gran’s sisters were married from Albert House in a double wedding.

In 1964 I passed my eleven plus and the door to the another world, to Glanmor Grammar School, a more precarious world of Latin and physics, was opened to me. There was one other fatherless girl in the class but her father had had the decency to die. I lied to those who wanted to know that my father worked abroad. The summer of love was still to come and, in any case, free love only applied to the beautiful people out there, not the parents of good grammar school girls in South Wales.

My French teacher was called Miss George. She was soft-spoken with a gentle face and greying uncontrollable hair. In her lesson she asks around the class the question, “Est ce que faites votre pere?” Thirty three girls sitting in rows waiting for their turn, or in my case, praying for the bell to ring, please, before Miss George gets to me, please don’t let her ask me. Shall I lie, make up an answer? “Il est un medecin. “”Tres bien,” where does he work? No, I’d blush, stutter, be caught out. “Mon pere est mort.” Convenient but they all know. The bell rings, the problem goes away for today, and I go home to steak and kidney pie and rice pudding.

 So was that it? The worst I had to bear? It stands out in my memory but when I stop and think, try as I might, I cannot recall one unkind comment, not one slur on my parentage through the whole of my childhood and adolescence. If that was as bad as it got, then surely the family did its job well.

When I enter the house that is now my home, I breathe in the same sense of security that my first home gave me; I hope my children feel it here too.

Albert House has been in a state of disrepair for a few years now

I was the last of the family to be born in Albert House and I linger over the link with the past. I’ve looked on old maps, tried to locate the public house that was to become my home. I’ve never been able to find it.

About Liz:

Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/3njxzep4

https://www.facebook.com/liz.hinds1

Twitter: @LizHindsAuthor

Remembering Past Places in our Memories: Roundup of October 2021 #Memories #MondayBlogs #houses #families #childhoods

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.

This is a round-up of the Places in our Memories posted over the last few weeks. There have been some wonderful memories shared:

Georgia Rose lived in several different houses as a child but here she told us about the one she loved and thinks about most frequently; the one she and her family moved from when she was around four years old: https://tinyurl.com/y2u3anvt

Darlene Foster told us about the time her baby brother was born during the blizzards at her near Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada: https://tinyurl.com/mr2us8tb

Jan Baynham was transported back to her happy childhood growing up in a tiny village, Newbridge-on -Wye, in mid-Wales, where her family lived with her lovely grandad: https://tinyurl.com/44phx2z3

Jane Risdon told us how, shortly after she was born, her father left for the Korean War and so she and her mother moved in with her paternal grandfather — a former British Indian Army Major: https://tinyurl.com/mtdcrdkp

Today we begin another round of Places in our Memories. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I do.

Places in our Memories with Jan Baynham #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 hand over to Jan Baynham. Jan and I first met in 2014 at a book event, and she’s been a friend ever since. We meet up every now and then to talk writing and she’ was always been a great supporter of the Tenby and Narberth book fairs. Jan is going to tell us about her childhood memories

When I began to think about what I was going to write, I was immediately transported back my happy childhood growing up in a tiny village in mid-Wales. I was born in 2, Beech Cottage, Newbridge-on -Wye.

2, Beech Cottage

And for the first few years, we lived with my lovely granddad whose house it was. I vaguely remember standing behind a wooden board slotted into grooves in the front door posts he’d made to stop me escaping onto the street. No elaborate safety gates in those days! Granddad worked on the Llysdinam estate and although I don’t remember it myself, I recall Mum telling me she’d been embarrassed when Lady Delia came to see him and I’d invited her to ‘Step your leg over and come and see Grandad’!

My grandfather was very keen gardener, and we always had an abundant supply of fresh vegetables and soft fruit. I remember spending hours playing in his garden, especially watering the plants with a large metal watering can.

By the time my sister was born, we’d moved to 3, Pendre, another terraced house just a few doors away on Crown Row. I still spent a lot of time at Beech Cottage, though. One memory I have of that time is playing in the large shed at the top of granddad’s garden. In there was an old wind-up ‘His Master’s Voice’ gramophone and lots of brittle seventy-eight records no longer considered good enough to stay in the house. For me, Wit provided hours of fun. I can remember winding the handle as fast as I could and then listening to the music slowing down as it needed winding up again. Another memory I have is when my mum and sister had an appointment in Llandrindod, Granddad looked after me. We had Lyons cupcakes as a treat and I can still taste the thick solid chocolate icing on top as I peeled back the silver foil cake case.

Newbridge-on -Wye

Looking back, I realise that Beech Cottage must have been a tied cottage because when he retired at the age of sixty-five, Granddad came to live with us. By then, we were living at the other end of the village. I remember going for lots of walks with him. He made a swing for my sister and me and when friends came to call, they would always keep themselves amused on the swing if we weren’t ready. Now I was a bit older, my granddad taught me to play Whist. I still love playing cards but now it has to be Patience as no one else is interested in playing. I knew I’d made it when I was able to attend the local Whist Drive in the Reading Room as his partner.

The village school was small and often we would have the same teacher for a few years. Miss Lewis was my favourite. Many of the children lived on farms or in hamlets outside Newbridge. I learned to ride my bike on the village green in front of the school. I can see it now. It was a maroon Raleigh with straight handlebars. My dad taught me to ride. When I thought he was till running behind me holding the saddle, I was actually riding independently. That bike gave me complete freedom, enabling me to cycle anywhere. At weekends and at holiday time, I remember setting off for the day on my bike to call on friends to play. The church bells chiming six o’clock would be my signal to go home.

If I saw a phone box out in the countryside, I would often ring my dad at work. I can remember the receptionist’s voice on the tannoy at Auto Palace where he worked. ‘Five, telephone, please’ would echo down the phone. I can’t imagine I’d be as patient as my lovely dad if I was called to the telephone just to have a chat about where out on the Common I was.

Fields, woods and riverbanks formed my playground. Picnics by the rock pools at Llan Cam and swimming in the river at Black Bridge in the summer, as well as lighting fires in the tunnels to the side of the bridge over the river Ithon, are all memories that resurfaced while writing this piece. We had to walk along the railway line to get to Black Bridge, something that would be frowned upon as highly dangerous nowadays. My first ever published short story was entitled ‘Sledging in Mansell’s Field’ and recounts a true story of how we used to sledge down the hill in a field close to where I lived to see who could clear the stream at the bottom and not land in the water.

Laddie

After coming home by six o’clock, I would be ready for bed by the start of The Archers and go upstairs when it finished at seven. Our cocker spaniel, Laddie, had worked it out that when the Archers’ music started that would be the time that Dad came through the door and would bark loudly. Often, we would see the orange headlights of my dad’s car coming along the lane behind the house. I’m still a huge Archers fan to this day.

I very much enjoyed looking back on these early childhood memories, grateful for the freedom I had to explore and make my own fun. A big thank you, Judith, for inviting me to take part in your series.

About Jan:

About Jan Baynham

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. Her first three novels look at the bond between mothers and daughters as well as forbidden love. 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. Her next books will involve secrets and sibling relationships; the first set in 1945 and 1964 takes the reader back to Sicily where two sisters work together to prove their father’s innocence of a wrongdoing.

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

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