More Than a Simple Two-Shot Americano #shortstory #coffeetime #coffeeconvos

As some of you may know, as well as holding private creative writing workshops, I also tutor creative writing for the local council. Tutoring adults can be  rewarding (discovering wonderful writers), chaotic (my lesson plans are rarely followed – someone will inevitably take things off at a tangent) hilarious (the undiscovered comedian/ the completely unaware comedian) and thought-provoking (especially with memoir writing) Every now and then I like to share some of their work.

Here is a piece written by one of my students, Lei. He has an exceptional style of writing that is always individualistic, always has great depth.I hope you enjoy his work.

 

More than a simple two-shot americano

 How so.

 Cafe society, she says. Busy lunchtime. All tables surrounded. Custer’s last stand. Wagons, ho. People sitting angular wooden chairs. Hubub of humanity talking. So loud can hardly hear laconic Scotsman sits across from me. Something explanatory about photography and jazz. He deaf in one ear. Head twists to one side as I speak in response. Hears me but can’t.

 Cafe society, yes.

 She retired now. Bad back, you see. Watch walking. Lifts one leg, knee at right angle. Places foot down. Other repeats action of first. Ambulates carefully. Arms not move, at sides all times. Resigned. To pain. From work. Voluntary redundancy or something. Says can’t take it any more. DWP. Targets. People just numbers now. National insurance. Emphasise throughput. Taylorism. Quantity. Quality no time for. People units of movement. Everybody nice about it, she said. My leaving, I mean. Sorrow felt for those behind, sinking in statistical swamp. Interviews in windowless rooms Inexpensive polypropylene carpets stinking of anxiety and discarded skin. Consultation with job coaches to be taped, she says. So getting out now, she says. Hates sound of self on tape anyway haha. (Who doesn’t?) As if that real reason. Yes. Memorex. Purposes of staff training, not surveillance. Right. Nothing to see here, please move along. Job not under threat. Just squeezing the stone, more blood out of. (Ajahn Chah asked his followers, See that rock over there? Yes, they say. Is it heavy? he asks. Yes, they say. Not if you don’t lift it, he says.)

 Business transient. Life transient. Contemporary. Foolish. Irishman pink shirt outside jeans complaining. Englishman greeted him shop next door. Irishman angry that Anglophile mocks accent. “Top o’ the mornin’ to yer!” Irishman jigs exaggeratedly as describes moment. Surprisingly agile on trainered feet. Heels flick sideways; arms bend at waist. Head nods. Own caricature how English parody inhabitants over Irish Sea. Says, ‘So told him, “Aw, jus’ feck off!”’. We laugh. Know won’t count next time Irishman needs pop next door when runs out milk again. What a thing for a coffee shop.

 Once, said, in Boston, US. Seated in coffee bar, Tom Waits playing. Thought to self how heaven playing Tom Waits in own coffee shop. Now has. Now living the dream. Yes.

 But I know drinks white wine and maudlin increases. Accompaniment of Tom Waits, drinking songs. ‘Hasn’t drunk for twenty years,’ says. Wasn’t talking about him, almost said. Referring you. Imagine white wine. Sweet. Sharp. How after several glasses cease tasting it. Smoothness of chilled glass. Hold between index finger and thumb. Pinky outstretched. After while stop caring how look. And his eyes glaze, like a dying bird. Sees inward to own soul. Sings along Tom Waits. Duet of sorts, done remotely. Not even on same continent. Stops. Goes quiet, not like him at all.

 Then. ‘Hasn’t drunk alkhol twenty years,’ slurs. ‘Here, have sm’wine’. Holds empty bottle up to me. Looks at carafe. ‘Shit!’, says. ‘Empty!’ Like only noticed now. ‘I’m going,’ I say. ‘’Where you going?’ Rhetorical, so don’t reply. Leave two others, drinking buddies. One young with dreadlocks, smoking spliff. Other older man, squat, white beard and trilby hat. Irishman gets up. ‘No smoking ‘n here!’ declares, no direction. Followed by, ‘Wait here! More wine maestro!’ and ‘Next door, Jeeves!’ As if carbon-guzzling motor chauffered outside waiting. ‘Nxzht dzhr!’ Vowels go missing, snatched by inebriated brain. ‘Nglshz bshztrd,” says. ‘Top o’ th’ mornin’, my arse!’

 Staggers to feet. Yanks open glass door in wooden frame which warps in season. Glass shivers in situ, surprised. ‘Bldy dzhr!’ exclaims. ‘Fxsh tht!’ Follow out of shop. Watch weave next door, pushing on wall with left hand for support. Opposite direction, I, homeward. As walk away hear shouting. ‘Nglszh bshztrd!’ Perhaps refused to serve. It’s an offence, Your Honour. 2003 Licensing Act. Fine up to £1000. Or licence lose. More than my job’s worth, don’t hear proprietor say.

 Don’t know. Don’t know. Not there.

 

 

 

 

 

Tales of Our Holiday Lets. Or … Is it Really Worth it? Or … Tales of the Unexpected #ThrowbackThursday

Well, yes it is worth it – we love it, despite the unexpected. Having a holiday apartment attached to our house has brought us many friends; visitors who return year after year in the summer to enjoy the lovely Pembrokeshire coastline and all the other attractions this part of West Wales offers. We love seeing them again. And we are fortunate to meet many new people as well. But there have been downsides. Or should I say, occasions that made us think again about sharing our home.

Such as the two elderly sisters …

I watched Husband walk past the kitchen window and waved. He didn’t wave back. Because of the goggles and the scarf around his nose and mouth  I couldn’t tell if he smiled or not. I thought – probably not. He wore a helmet over a balaclava on his head, navy overalls, elbow length gloves and thigh waders. He looked ridiculous but I didn’t dare laugh. This was serious. He was on a mission… a clearing the sewers mission…

Sewer Contractor New Rochelle Husband in a hole!

The story of the sewers began  a fortnight earlier in the shape of the two ladies. They arrived late on the Saturday evening; it was already getting dark.  Despite our assurances that it didn’t matter; that we were home anyway, they  continued to apologize profusely as we showed them to the apartment. There’d been traffic hold-ups, one of them suffered from car sickness so they’d had to stop often, they’d lost their way; gone off at the wrong junction of the M4 and ended up in Swansea.

We calmed them down, Husband offered to carry their luggage in.

‘No,’ they said, ‘we’ll be fine. You leave us to it. We haven’t much.’

They were ideal guests; the type we’d  hoped for when we started this venture.

old lady twoold lady

They were quiet, friendly, pleasant to have around.. Ever ready for a chat they sat with us in the garden a couple of the evenings enjoying a glass of wine, some nibbles. They didn’t go out much; just for one or two hours each day. Most of the time they sat on the guest patio, reading. Aged around eighty, we discovered they were twins; obviously both retired; one an ex school teacher, they other a librarian. They called us Mr and Mrs Barrow and we  called them both Miss Smith (obviously not their real name!!) They wore almost identical clothes and shoes, had the same hairstyle, finished one another’s sentences  in the same refined tones. 

When we asked if everything was all right,did they need anything , we were told all was perfect. On the middle weekend they insisted I hand over the clean  bedding and towels and changed the bed themselves. 

On the last evening we invited them in for a meal. They only stayed a couple of hours; we were told they had an early start in the morning.  Later we heard them hoovering. I knocked on the door and told them not to bother, they had a long day in front of them the following day.. Despite my protestations, they persisted for another hour.

 They must have gone very early, they’d left before we got up at seven the next day.

 Which I thought was great; it meant I could get on with the cleaning before the next visitors arrived.

It was halfway through the following week when we noticed the problem. Our new visitors complained that the loo wasn’t working properly and the bathroom was smelling. By the end of the day the kitchen sink in the apartment was backing up with unpleasant water and the lavatories in the main part of the house weren’t flushing efficiently. In fact they were overflowing!

At this point I’m wondering if I should have put a health warning on this post. Hmm?

 Trying to be as delicate as possible here!!!loo

And so to the beginning of this sorry tale… 

I watched Husband walk past the kitchen window and waved …

He stopped, came back to the window and motioned (sorry!) for me to open it. ‘I don’t suppose you want to help?’ he shouted through the scarf. I closed the window – the smell was bad. Besides I thought we should have sent for the local drains/ sewage clearing people. Being a ‘careful  with money’ man, Husband thought he could “do it himself” 

 The new visitors went out for the day with a donation from us for meals.

Without going into any more graphic detail all I can say is that the blockage was… cat litter (with the evidence!). Our two little old ladies had apparently smuggled brought their cat on holiday with them (into our “no smoking, no pets” apartment) and flushed the contents of the litter tray down the loo. Which was washed by the water along the pipes only so far before setting like cement in the drains.

Six hours later – and after much shovelling and swearing – Husband conceded defeat and we sent for the specialists. 

I connected the garden hose to the outside tap on the garage and hosed him downBefore he was allowed back into the house, he stripped off.

Which reminds me. Have I told you about the Naturists who came to stay…?

c392a-tenby2bheaderTenby Book Fair is approaching 24th September (this next Saturday!) and there are six events you can attend.
All three publishers will be giving talks and taking questions —

Honno, which has been publishing Welsh women, classics and contemporary, for thirty years (Happy birthday Honno!)

Firefly, founded in 2013, and already winning prizes, is the only publisher in Wales devoted to children and young adults

Cambria Publishing Co-operative provides all manner of help – editing, graphic design, printing etc – for indie authors.

There will also be talks by three authors.
Colin R Parsons writes very popular fantasy and science fiction for young people and has given many talks and presentations at schools.

Kathy Miles is a prize-winning poet who will be reading some of her work.

Matt Johnson, ex-soldier and police officer, will be talking about how he came to write his thriller, Wicked Game.

Places are limited, so if you would like to reserve a place at any of these talks, email judithbarrow77@gmail.com

Tenby Arts Festival 2016: Day Two: Sunday 25th September.

Tenby Arts Festival 2016: Day One: Saturday 24th

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Brass Ensemble

To announce the opening of the festival with a swing, a brass ensemble will perform a medley of popular musical numbers.

Outside St Mary’s Church
High Street

11am

Free


 

Book Fair                               11998866_10152946036952132_7601875809175322308_n

For the fifth year running the Book Fair is the popular opening event in Church House for the Tenby Arts Festival. We will have twenty-eight authors and two publishers for all to chat with, who are either Welsh based or have set their books in Wal12049533_502977976546241_4653897117982364739_nes. There will be three competitions this time: an adults short story competition, one for teenagers and one for children. Details to be announced separately in May through the media.
Talks, books, relaxing music, refreshments; a morning of friendly chatter and discussion – a great morning for all.

Here is what a visitor said of last year’s fair (see picture):

“This weekend I’ve attended the Book Fair at the Tenby Arts Festival. Having seen the busy London Book Fair last year and on the other end of the spectrum some deserted halls with only two tables and four attendees elsewhere, I was pleasantly surprised to find a good vibe and a great buzz in a busy hall with lots of mingling and literary delights.”

Church House
11am – 3pm

Free


 

Sand Circles

Marc Treanor

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The essence of all you see, only exists because of a very profound order of certain repeating mathematical formulas that create the foundation of all matter, from atoms to galaxies. Sacred Geometry is the ancient science that explores and explains the energy patterns that create and unify all things, and reveals the precise way that the energy of Creation organises itself. On every scale, every natural pattern of growth or movement conforms inevitably to one or more of these geometric shapes. The strands of our DNA, the cornea of our eye, snow flakes, pine cones, flower petals, diamond crystals, the branching of trees, the path of lightning, a nautilus shell, the star we spin around, the galaxy we spiral within, and all life forms as we know them emerge out of timeless geometric codes. Sacred Geometry may very well provide the answers that you have been looking for.  (http://www.maya48.com/)

The patterns Marc creates on the beaches are all inspired by sacred geometry. The idea of ‘sacredness’ transpires from the  realisation that these patterns appear everywhere from the very small, the quantum field or the microcosm, to the very large, the cosmic realms or the macrocosm.

North Beach

Free

 

Jack Harris                          Jack Harris

Jack Harris writes and performs literate, compassionate songs, about subjects as disparate as Caribbean drinking festivals, the colour of a potato flower and the lives of great poets like Sylvia Plath and Elizabeth Bishop.
These have won him considerable acclaim. The Telegraph voted his album ‘The Flame and the Pelican’ #5 in their top 10 Roots/Folk albums of 2012. Q magazine praised his ‘unique lyrical mind’, and Maverick UK awarded the record its full 10/10 rating.
Jack is happiest when playing live. He has brought his music to a loyal, ever-growing audience, at festivals, venues and skating rinks across the world. On occasion he has opened for some of Folk’s biggest names, including Anais Mitchell, Cara Dillon and Dick Gaughan. His live show is a riveting mix of song craft and theatrical story-telling, delivered with warm voice, dry humour and nimble, string-picking fingers. Come on out and see.

Church House
8.00pm

£10

 


 

Cantemus

The Messiah

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Under the baton of Welsh National Opera chorus master, Alexander Martin, singers from all over Pembrokeshire and beyond, choir members or not will rehearse and perform Handel’s Messiah  in the beautiful surroundings of St Mary’s Church.

Born in London, Alexander Martin studied Music at St John’s College, Cambridge, and the piano at the Royal College of Music in London. In 1992 he was appointed répétiteur at the Opéra National de Lyon in France under Kent Nagano. From 1995 to 1998 Alexander spent four seasons in Germany as répétiteur at the Opera, and répétiteur and conductor at the Hesse State Opera in Wiesbaden, before returning to live in France to pursue a freelance career. He has worked as guest conductor, assistant and coach for Lyon, Marseille, Avignon, le Capitole Toulouse, l’Opéra National du Rhin (Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia), La Monnaie, le Grand Théâtre Geneva, as well as for Aix-en-Provence, Glyndebourne, and Montepulciano Festivals. Alexander also worked closely with Philippe Jordan Britten’s Peter Grimes and The Turn of the Screw (Graz), and collaborated with René Jacobs in Rome for Tancredi. Following three seasons as Chorus Master in Bern (where he also conducted Cendrillon and Dave Maric’s Ghosts), Alexander worked as Chorus Master at the Opéra National de Bordeaux from 2010-2014. During this time he also worked in Bayreuth with Philippe Jordan on Parsifal (2012). He became Chorus Master at WNO at the start of this season.

The choir will be accompanied by Jeff Howard, organist.

Jeffrey Howard was born in Cardiff and studied at the University of Wales College, Cardiff, and the Royal Academy of Music, specializing in organ performance and church music. Since graduating, he has pursued a freelance career as organist, pianist, singer, coach and conductor. He has accompanied leading international singers including Bryn Terfel, Sir Willard White, and, Rebecca Evans.

Jeff has performed throughout the United Kingdom and Europe including the Wigmore Hall, The Goethe Institute, Brussels, and St. Paul’s Cathedral, and has worked with orchestras such as The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and the Royal Philharmonic. He made his Royal Albert Hall debut in 2002 as soloist in Shostakovitch’s second piano concerto. Recent performance include performed Rachmaninov’s second piano concerto and Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto at St. David’s Hall, Cardiff with the Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra and a recital with Bryn Terfel at Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool.

Jeff frequently provides arrangements for the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales, S4C and various solo artists. He is accompanist, singer and arranger for Only Men Aloud!, winners of the BBC competition ‘Last Choir Standing’ who recently won a Classical Brit Award for their second album on the Universal label. Jeff is also involved in cabaret and music theatre having worked with names such as Michael Ball, David Owen Jones, Peter Karrie, and more informally, Dame Shirley Bassey!

For the past 18 years, Jeffrey has held a post as vocal coach at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and at Welsh National Opera and Welsh National Youth Opera.

For those wishing to join the choir there will be rehearsal before the performance during the day. There will be a charge of £10 for those taking part and in addition a refundable deposit for copies of the music/text.

St. Mary’s Church

Rehearsals will be at 3pm – 5.30pm
Performance 6.30pm – 8pm

Tickets £8 


 

 


 

Enquiries to: tenbyartsfestival@yahoo.co.uk

 Mutterings by author, Thorne Moorethorne header

This is a post copied and posted from  Thorne Moores’s website.

Fair Play – why book fairs?

 

I’ll be taking part in a small flurry of book fairs soon: The Rhondda, on September 3rd, Tenby  (which I am helping to organise) on September 24th, and Carmarthen on October 1st.

  
Tenby Book Fair 2015
 

To stand at a stall, offering my wares, might seem a very Mediaeval way of going about things in the days of internet ordering and e-books. Besides, what are bookshops for, if not to provide any book that anyone is looking for? Literary festivals like Hay, with big names addressing crowds of fans are all very well, but why bother with book fairs?

The reason is that for most of us authors, such events are the only occasions when we get to meet our readers in the flesh, to discuss our work and hear their opinion. We write for ourselves, mostly, and perhaps to please a publisher or agent, but ultimately, since we choose to be published, rather than storing our work in notebooks under our bed, we write for “the reader” out there, who will devour our polished words. It becomes a somewhat surreal situation if our readers never materialise in the flesh. We need the contact to keep it real.

A fair also allows us to meet our fellow authors, in an atmosphere where everything is all about books, and sometimes it’s very healthy to escape the private isolation of writing and remind ourselves that we are not alone. There are other people as obsessed with writing as us.

For indie authors, who self-publish, and who want to rely on more than Kindle sales on Amazon, fairs can be almost the only way to put their printed books out there, for people to see. Many bookshops simply don’t stock independent authors. An ISBN number is not enough to get you on the “List.” And for us conventionally published authors, there is no guarantee that bookshops, even their local bookshops, will pay them any attention whatsoever. If you are lucky, you might find a copy of your book, buried in a dark corner, out of sequence, while the front displays concentrate on the highly promoted big names. If you are in the hands of one of the mega-publishing houses, which sees you as a potential block-buster in WH Smiths or on airport concourses, then they might send you off on tour round the country or the world, to meet your readers. They might flaunt your book cover on billboards for you. 99% of authors don’t get that treatment, so we have to put ourselves out there.

And that’s what book fairs are for. So do come. We’re a rare breed and well worth gawping at.

Today With Phil Carradice

 

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Over the last few weeks I’ve been introducing the authors who will be at the Tenby Book Fair, http://bit.ly/27XORTh, the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival http://bit.ly/24eOVtl 

 I’m almost finished interviewing them all now.

In the next week or two I’ll be showcasing the three publishers who will be with us: http://honno.co.uk/, http://www.fireflypress.co.uk/ and http://www.cambriapublishing.org.uk/

And I’ll be sharing a post from the brilliant http://showboat.tv/ Who always video and share our Tenby Book Fair.

So far here are the wonderful authors. Please feel free to check them and their great books out: Rebecca Bryn: http://bit.ly/1XYWbtF, Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/1P6zDQh , Matt Johnson: http://bit.ly/1RUqJFg , Christoph Fischer: http://bit.ly/1svniAr , Sally Spedding: http://bit.ly/1VNRQci, Wendy Steele: http://bit.ly/1PMoF8i ,Kathy MIles: http://bit.ly/1twN3Bg , Carol Lovekin:http://bit.ly/1Y2z6HT, Colin R Parsons:http://bit.ly/1tvBc5G , Lisa Shambrook: http://bit.ly/28NMI5v:  ,Alex Martin: http://bit.ly/28VLsQG ,  Judith Arnopp:  http://bit.ly/290cJMl , Sharon Tregenza:http://bit.ly/29frGPq    Juliet Greenwood:http://bit.ly/29jylrM , Nigel Williams:http://bit.ly/29racfO , Julie McGowan:http://bit.ly/29CHNa9 , John Nicholl:http://bit.ly/29NtdtX  ,Tony Riches:  http://bit.ly/29y3a8k:  ,Wendy White: http://bit.ly/29TMCpY  ,Angela Fish:http://bit.ly/2a5qY2U  David Thorpe:http://bit.ly/2a9uG0V  and Eloise William: http://bit.ly/2aoZk1k And thanks to Thorne Moore for interviewing me: http://bit.ly/1VTvqGq 

 

Today, at last, I’m here with Phil Carradice, whose interview is a little different.

phil c

 

Hi Phil, take it away!!

 Cheers, Judith. here goes…

I began to write at school; I suppose I was around eight or nine. My father taught me to appreciate words, and also the writers I was reading at the time. And I continued to write at college.

But my real writing career began when I went to work as a teacher at a young offenders’ centre in Essex – stories and poems about them. These were published in magazines like Social Work Today and Community Care. Then a publisher asked if he could put them together in a book – unbelievable.

I moved on from there and began to write on other themes. Pembrokeshire, its topography and history, were always important to me so it was natural that I should write about them. What came out were lots of poems about the county but also a lot of history about my home town of Pembroke Dock.

 I write in my living room, in a book with a pen or pencil. Lots of noise going on around me – radio, TV etc. I transfer things to the computer later.

I’ve just been commissioned to write a series of books on Sense of Place – how writers are affected by the landscape and the places they live in. I’m also putting the finishing touches to a children’s book.

My most recent book is Napoleon in Defeat and Captivity – the story of Napoleon on St Helena.         ( http://fonthillmedia.com/Napoleon-in-Defeat-and-Captivity) published by Fonthill.

 I’ve also got a short monograph on the poet Ivor Gurney coming out later this month.

I always wanted to write books – or play rugby for Wales. That one’s looking a bit unlikely at my age!

I used to be a teacher but  gave that up to become a full-time writer – which I’ve been doing since 2000.

I do a lot of broadcasting on radio and go into lots of schools as a creative writing teacher – that’s what you have to do if you want to live as a writer.

 I have five or six different publishers, have never self-published but I think things were different when I started writing. It’s hard to get a start these days.

Thank you, Phil. A nice easy reminder of you and your books (all fifty of them …. bet there’ll be more by the time of the Book Fair!)

Links to Phil Carradice:

http://www.philcarradice.co.uk/

https://www.accentpress.co.uk/phil-carradice

 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/waleshistory/phil_carradice

http://www.gwales.com/search_basic/

http://www.literaturewales.org/writers-of-wales/i/129551/desc/carradice-phil/

http://www.gomer.co.uk/index.php/authors/philcarradice.html

 

Being Anne: The Tenby Book Fair on 24th September.

Our grateful thanks to Anne for featuring us on her page today. I’ve copied the interview below but here’s the link to Anne’s site:

https://beingannereading.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/feature-tenby-book-fair-on-24th.html?showComment=1470127579350#c8502712530969313920

Feature: The Tenby Book Fair on 24th September

 

I’ve been seeing a lot of mentions recently of the forthcoming Tenby Book Fair. Judith Barrow is running a series of interviews on her excellent blog with some of the authors who are attending. Taking place on 24th September this year, the event has its own website, and is featured on the Tenby Arts Festival website as its first event. 

I’m delighted that the organisers – Judith Barrow, Thorne Moore and Alex Martin – agreed to join me on Being Anne to tell us more about it…

L-R; Alex, Judith and Thorne

Judith, Thorne and Alex, welcome to Being Anne. I already know you all as novelists, but would you like to introduce yourselves?

Judith: Thank you Anne, we’re so pleased to be here. My name is Judith Barrow; I was born and brought up in a small village on the edge of the Pennine moors in Yorkshire but moved in 1978 to live in Pembrokeshire, West Wales. I had the first of my trilogy, Pattern of Shadows, published in 2010, the sequel, Changing Patterns, in 2013 and the last, Living in the Shadows in 2015. All by Honno. I’m now writing the prequel.

Thorne: My name is Thorne Moore. I was born in Luton but now live on the edge of a village in North Pembrokeshire. I write “domestic noir” crime mysteries and I have had three novels published by Honno: A Time For Silence (2012),Motherlove (2015) and The Unravelling (2016). I am currently working on another novel set in Pembrokeshire.

Alex: My name is Alex Martin. I live on the Gower Peninsula, in south Wales and also spend a lot of time in France, which I also love. I have written The Katherine Wheel Series, currently 3 books, Daffodils, Peace Lily and Speedwell with a fourth planned next year. They are based around WW1 and the social changes it evoked. My first book is based in France on my own grape-picking experience in the 1980’s. The Twisted Vine is more of a mystery story. I hope to publish The Rose Trail, a time slip ghost story, later this year.

Ah, I had the pleasure of reviewing Thorne’s The Unravelling this week – and yours are nearly at the top of my pile, Judith! Mmm, rather like the look of Alex’s too…

But we’re not here to talk about your books. We’re talking about the Tenby Book Fair that takes place on 24th September. How did you get involved in the organisation?

Judith:  I had the idea of holding a Book Fair five years ago and approached the Tenby Arts Festival Committee to see if there was any room in the programme for me. Initially there wasn’t and I decided to hold the Book Fair in the local library. Then they found me a two hour slot; the first event of the Festival, always held in St Mary’s Church House. Since then Thorne and Alex have worked alongside me at the subsequent Book Fairs. And we’ve been given more time.

Thorne: I joined up, enthusiastically, after attending Judith’s second fair. It was wonderful to find an outlet where authors could get together and meet the public. I’m delighted it’s beginning to feel like a permanent fixture.

Alex: I met Judith through Twitter, strangely enough! And had just published my first book, I was thrilled to attend my first book fair as an author and meet other kindred spirits. I’ve loved being involved in subsequent Book Fairs at Tenby and deepening my friendship with both Thorne and Judith has been a delight.

A little like herding cats though, maybe? What have been the particular challenges?

Judith: For me, at first, it was the sheer amount of work, time and effort it took to arrange; the publicity; getting the word out about the event, finding authors, making sure the authors were happy with their placings in the room. All sorts of little problems. It was a great relief when Thorne and Alex offered their help with future Book Fairs. I made the mistake of offering the public a choice of two free second hand books at the first Book Fair for every one of bought, author-signed new book. The idea didn’t work, either for the public or the authors.  A couple of years ago we also gave the authors the chance to give a talk about their work while the Book Fair was going on.  People who would have come into the event walked away, reluctant to interrupt. We also had a couple of authors who were, shall we say, a little long-winded and the audience became very restless.

Thorne: I think we’re getting the hang of it now. Coming up with creative ideas for the publicity has been good fun. 

Alex: I was in charge of the music and learned just how much classical music swells and ebbs in volume – sometimes downing out constructive conversation so was constantly twiddling knobs behind the stage. We’ve learned a lot too about the flow of customer traffic through the doors and how to manage it. It’s been fascinating but the footfall last year confirmed we’re ironing out the glitches nicely. 

I know this is the fifth Tenby Book Fair – how many publishers and authors will be involved this year?

Judith: We have twenty-five authors and three publishers; two traditional and one a cooperative.

Thorne: Yes, we are just about at capacity in Church House, but it’s great to have such a wide range, covering all genres, from children’s books to thrillers and biographies. The presence of publishers is a new thing this year, as we want the fair to be about books from everyone’s point of view – readers and would-be authors. 

Alex: The increasing size and popularity of the Tenby Book Fair makes the hard work very worthwhile and is increasingly satisfying. 

And what can people expect on the day?

Judith: Besides the authors signing their books and chatting about their work, we have a few talks by authors, a poetry reading and the publishers will be talking about themselves and the kind of submissions they are looking for. The cooperative publishers will be talking about the services they offer. We’ll have a separate room for these talks etc.

I notice there are a few competitions too…

Judith: Three competitions in all. A little bit of advertising here:

Children’s Competition
For entrants aged 7 – 12, an essay (one page) entitled: My Favourite Character.

Write about a character in a book that you like. Is he or she clever? Brave? Funny? Or just get to do all the things you’d like to do.

Include your name and age on the sheet and a way of contacting you – it can be your address, or your school, or a phone number – so we can tell you if you’ve won.



Hand your entry in to any library in Pembrokeshire, or post it to:
Tenby Book Fair, Saddleworth House, Carmarthen Road, Kilgetty, SA68 0XX

Send it by August 13th, 2016



Collections of books are very generously being donated as prizes by Firefly Press.
 A winner and a runner-up will be chosen from each of two age groups: 7-9 and 10-12. Prizes will be presented at the Book Fair in St Mary’s Church House.

 

Young Adult Flash Fiction Competition
For entrants aged 12 – 18, a 100 word Creepy Tale.

You could write “A Creepy Tale,” about ghosts, vampires, zombies, the supernatural or anything that might give you the shivers. But can you write it in 100 words or less? That’s the challenge in this competition. A full story, in 100 words or less.



Include your name, age and contact details (address, phone number or email address) with the entry, and post it to: Tenby Book Fair, Saddleworth House, Carmarthen Road, Kilgetty, SA68 0XX OR paste it into the body of an email to thornemoore@btinternet.com with “Flash Fiction” in the subject line. 


The closing date is August 13th 2016. 


First Prize £15 book token. 2 runners-up: £5 book token. 
Prizes sponsored by Cambria Publishing Co-operative

Short Story Competition
For entrants 18 and over: a short story, “The Bag Lady.”

Entry Fee £3. Send cheque, made payable to “Tenby Book Fair” with your entry, or pay on-line, via PayPal (link on Tenby Book Fair website).

Write a short story of 2000 words or less, entitled “The Bag Lady”. How you interpret the title is up to you.

Include name and preferred contact details (address, phone number or email address) and post to: Tenby Book Fair, Saddleworth House, Carmarthen Road, Kilgetty, SA68 0XX  or send as a Word or Rich Text Format document, attached to an email to:thornemoore@btinternet.com including “Short Story” in the subject line.

Closing date: 13th August 2016.


First Prize £25 Second prize £10 Third Prize £5.
The prizes are donated by Cambria Publishing Co-operative

All three winning stories will be published on the Tenby Book Fair website and on http://showboat.tv/

People particularly mention the good vibe and great buzz of previous years – that must be something you’re proud of…


Judith: We all are, I think. We delegate the work between us. I find the authors mainly, keep in touch with them all, let them know how we’re progressing and interview them for the website. Thorne works on the leaflets, posters and website and Alex manages the press and other publicity. On the day we set up and generally share anything that crops up. It’s a friendly and hugely satisfying partnership.

Alex: I can second that. Although commitments mean I can’t attend on the actual day this year, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being involved in the preparation.

Tenby was where I spent my childhood holidays – I had no idea it had such a thriving arts scene, or the popular Arts Festival that the book fair is part of. Where does the Book Fair audience come from? Mainly local people, or visitors?

Judith: The Tenby Arts Festival in September has been going for a long time. They mainly cover all forms of music; choirs, soloists, instrumental. They hold talks on local history and artists and have an open mic poetry session. Various things like that. They also have a children’s sandcastle competition. And, of course the Book Fair. There are also a few musical events, film-showings in a local hotel and there are always events happening at the local Tenby Museum in the summer months. We have a lot of local visitors who come to our book fair and have it marked in their diaries, but we also have many visitors from round the country, visiting Tenby for the Arts Festival.

I’m a little out of touch with the Welsh book scene too, although I do (of course) know about the wonderfulHonno Welsh Women’s Press. Tell me a little more about the publishers involved in the fair.

Judith: There are two other publishers besides Honno Welsh Women’s Press at this year’s Book Fair. Firefly is a press for children’s and young adults’ books, which started up in 2013 and is already winning awards. Cambria is a publishing co-operative, offering a range of services and help for those preferring to go it alone.

And some of the more well-known authors?

Judith: We have such a range and many of them are well-known within their own genres, like Sally Spedding, author of seriously chilling thrillers, or Colin Parsons, the children’s writer. Phil Carradice has written over fifty books. Others are new arrivals on the scene, but sure to be rising stars, like Matt Johnson, whose first novel, Wicked Game, is already soaring.

Other than the moment when the doors close on a perfect day, what are you particularly looking forward to on the day?

Judith: Meeting the authors. Some of them have been coming to the Book Fairs from the beginning and are old friends. Meeting new faces and potential friends. The buzz when people start to come in. Watching the faces of readers as they interact with the authors. It’s a great atmosphere. And seeing the video and photos of the Book Fair, taken by  http://showboat.tv/, friends of ours who always film the Book Fairs.

Alex: I shall be there in spirit with only my books to represent me, but will be willing everyone on and am confident it will be more popular than ever.

And you’ll be doing it again, next year…?  

Judith: Ah, well… next year will be different for us. The Book Fair will be part of a new venture. A group of us, including Thorne and Alex, will be forming the TenbyLitFest in June for three days 16th – 18th, and the book fair will be held on the Saturday (17th), in a larger venue, with even more authors attending. There will be a host of other events, including aMeet the Publishers day, poetry readings, plays, literary trails, children’s events etc. The motto is Everything about Words.

Alex: A new challenge will be very exciting. It’s a good feeling to bring writers, publishers but most importantly, readers together to discuss books.

It sounds like a wonderful day, ladies – and I hope it will be in every way. I’m gutted I can’t be there this year, but the dates for next year’s TenbyLitFest are already in my diary… see you there!

Presenting the Authors at the Tenby Book Fair 24th September 2016

TenbybeachB

Over the last few weeks I’ve been introducing the authors who will be at the Tenby Book Fair, http://bit.ly/27XORTh, the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival http://bit.ly/24eOVtl 

 I’m almost finished interviewing them all now.

In the next few weeks I’ll be showcasing the three publishers who will be with us: http://honno.co.uk/, http://www.fireflypress.co.uk/ and http://www.cambriapublishing.org.uk/

And I’ll be sharing a post from the brilliant http://showboat.tv/ Who always video and share our Tenby Book Fair.

So far here are the wonderful authors. Please feel free to check them and their great books out: Rebecca Bryn: http://bit.ly/1XYWbtF, Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/1P6zDQh , Matt Johnson: http://bit.ly/1RUqJFg , Christoph Fischer: http://bit.ly/1svniAr , Sally Spedding: http://bit.ly/1VNRQci, Wendy Steele: http://bit.ly/1PMoF8i ,Kathy MIles:  http://bit.ly/1twN3Bg , Carol Lovekin:http://bit.ly/1Y2z6HT, Colin R Parsons: http://bit.ly/1tvBc5G , Lisa Shambrook: http://bit.ly/28NMI5v:  ,Alex Martin:  http://bit.ly/28VLsQG ,  Judith Arnopp:  http://bit.ly/290cJMl , Sharon Tregenza: http://bit.ly/29frGPq    Juliet Greenwood:http://bit.ly/29jylrM , Nigel Williams: http://bit.ly/29racfO , Julie McGowan:http://bit.ly/29CHNa9 , John Nicholl: http://bit.ly/29NtdtX  ,Tony Riches:  http://bit.ly/29y3a8k:  ,Wendy White: http://bit.ly/29TMCpY  ,Angela Fish:http://bit.ly/2a5qY2U  David Thorpe: http://bit.ly/2a9uG0V . , and Eloise William: http://bit.ly/2aoZk1k And thanks to Thorne Moore for interviewing me: http://bit.ly/1VTvqGq 

Panorama

 I would also like to say,Thanks, Thank You, Message, Grateful

to everyone who has shared our interviews so far and spread the word. 

And don’t forget, there is still time to write a masterpiece for our short story competitions:

 http://tenbybookfair.blogspot.co.uk/p/competitions.html

And for all our visitors, here’s how to find us:

 http://tenbybookfair.blogspot.co.uk/p/where-to-find-us.html

showboat vsmall (1)

TAF vs

Tenby Book Fair – Authors and Short Story Competitions

Introducing the authors who will be at the Tenby Book Fair, http://bit.ly/27XORTh, the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival http://bit.ly/24eOVtl .  I’m looking forward to having many more such chats over the next couple of weeks. 

So far (there are more to come!!) I’ve cross-examined interviewed Rebecca Bryn: http://bit.ly/1XYWbtF, Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/1P6zDQh , Matt Johnson: http://bit.ly/1RUqJFg , Christoph Fischer: http://bit.ly/1svniAr , Sally Spedding: http://bit.ly/1VNRQci, Wendy Steele: http://bit.ly/1PMoF8i ,Kathy MIles:  http://bit.ly/1twN3Bg , Carol Lovekin:http://bit.ly/1Y2z6HT, Colin R Parsons: http://bit.ly/1tvBc5G , Lisa Shambrook: http://bit.ly/28NMI5v:  ,Alex Martin:  http://bit.ly/28VLsQG ,  Judith Arnopp:  http://bit.ly/290cJMl , Sharon Tregenza: http://bit.ly/29frGPq    Juliet Greenwood:http://bit.ly/29jylrM , Nigel Williams: http://bit.ly/29racfO ,Alys Einion:  http://bit.ly/29l5izl  and Julie McGowan: http://bit.ly/29CHNa9  And thanks to Thorne Moore for interviewing me: http://bit.ly/1VTvqGq  Over the next week or two I’ll be introducing the rest of the authors. I’ll also be showcasing the publishers who will be in attendance and who will be giving short talks and may be able to give advice to would-be authors: http://honno.co.uk/ , http://www.fireflypress.co.uk/   and  http://www.cambriapublishing.org.uk/ ,

There may also be a short chat with John and Fiona of http://showboat.tv/ who, as usual, will be filming the event.

 And then we have the competitions: Besides the prizes, the winners of all three will be posted on both the Tenby Book Fair website:  http://tenbybookfair.blogspot.co.uk/   and on the Showboat website: http://www.showboat-tv.com/

competitions

The 2016 Tenby Book Fair will be offering three competitions this year.

Children’s Competition.

For entrants aged 7 – 12, an essay (one page) entitled: My Favourite Character.

Write about a character in a book that you like. Is he or she clever? Brave? Funny? Or just get to do all the things you’d like to do.

Include your name and age on the sheet and a way of contacting you – it can be your address, or your school, or a phone number – so we can tell you if you’ve won.

Hand your entry in to any library in Pembrokeshire, or post it to:

Tenby Book Fair, Saddleworth House, Carmarthen Road, Kilgetty, SA68 0XX

Send it by August 13th, 2016

Collections of books are very generously being donated as prizes by Firefly Press.
A winner and a runner-up will be chosen from each of two age groups: 7-9 and 10-12

Prizes will be presented at the Book Fair in St Mary’s Church House
on Saturday, September 24th, 2016

Young Adult Flash Fiction Competition

For entrants aged 12 – 18, a 100 word Creepy Tale.

You could write “A Creepy Tale,” about ghosts, vampires, zombies, the supernatural or anything that might give you the shivers. But can you write it in 100 words or less? That’s the challenge in this competition. A full story, in 100 words or less.

Include your name, age and contact details (address, phone number or email address) with the entry, and post it to:

Tenby Book Fair, Saddleworth House, Carmarthen Road, Kilgetty, SA68 0XX

OR paste it into the body of an email to:

Put “Flash Fiction” in the subject line

The closing date is August 13th 2016

First Prize £15 book token. 2 runners-up: £5 book token.

Short Story Competition

For entrants 18 and over: a short story, “The Bag Lady.”

Entry Fee £3 Send cheque, made payable to “Tenby Book Fair” with your entry, or pay on-line, via PayPal,
Write a short story of 2000 words or less, entitled “The Bag Lady.” How you interpret the title is up to you.

Include name and preferred contact details (address, phone number or email address) and post to:

Tenby Book Fair, Saddleworth House, Carmarthen Road, Kilgetty, SA68 0XX

or send as a Word or Rich Text Format document, attached to an email to:

Include “Short Story” in the subject line.

Today With Lisa Shambrook

Introducing the authors who will be at the Tenby Book Fair, http://bit.ly/27XORTh, the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival http://bit.ly/24eOVtl .  I’m looking forward to having many more such chats over the next couple of months.

So far I’ve interrogated interviewed Rebecca Bryn: http://bit.ly/1XYWbtF, Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/1P6zDQh , Matt Johnson: http://bit.ly/1RUqJFg , Christoph Fischer: http://bit.ly/1svniAr , Sally Spedding: http://bit.ly/1VNRQci, Wendy Steele http://bit.ly/1PMoF8i  and Kathy MIles:  http://bit.ly/1twN3Bg , Carol Lovekin: http://bit.ly/1V4Yupr  and Colin R  Parsons: http://bit.ly/1tvBc5G:  And thanks to Thorne Moore for interviewing me: http://bit.ly/1VTvqGq  Over the next few weeks I’ll be introducing the rest of the authors and I’ll also be showcasing the publishers who will be in attendance. There may also be a short chat with John and Fiona of http://showboat.tv/ who, as usual, will be filming the event.

Today I’m delighted to introduce inspirational author, Lisa Shambrook, who recently has launched a lovely new book.

Lisa-2015-author-photo-Square-900kb (1)

 

Hi, Lisa, so good to have you here today to talk abouit your work.

 Hi Judith, Good to be here.

Please explain how you came to be a writer, what inspired you to write your book (s) and how long it took.

 

Writing, along with reading and art, was always part of my life. When I was young I wanted to be an author and illustrator, but my words came faster and stronger than my art, and writing became my passion.

It was after reading the first Harry Potter book that I thought I could do this for real, and with the birth of my youngest sixteen years ago I began to write. Within a decade I had a fantasy trilogy and one and a half more books written. After querying I realised the books were woefully inadequate and I set about learning and improving my craft. A few years of education and flash fiction really honed my words and skills, and I set about writing a new series. In 2013, 14 and 15 I released The Hope Within novels, very different from my first forays into writing, but they have been well received and taught me much.

What facets of your life, both personal and professional, are woven into your book, if any?

Beneath the Rainbow (A Hope Within Novel Book 1)

Beneath the Old Oak (A Hope Within Novel Book 2)Beneath the Distant Star (A Hope Within Novel Book 3)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hope Within books: ‘Beneath the Rainbow’, ‘Beneath the Old Oak’, and ‘Beneath the Distant Star’ have dealt with difficult subjects. These books cover grief, depression, self-harm, anger issues and bullying. It’s heavy stuff, but essential to understand the human condition. I have suffered anxiety and depression for most of my life and so the themes have been woven easily into the books with compassion and empathy. I am also a big dreamer and my imagination soars. The main theme of Beneath the Rainbow is living life to the full and reaching for those so called impossible dreams. The book’s tagline reads “It’s those silly dreams that keep us alive.” And sometimes they really do. Reach for those distant stars!

Are you like any of the characters (and how so)?

I am very much like both Meg, and her mum Martha, in ‘Beneath the Old Oak’. Meg suffers anxiety and a desire to be there for her mum, but just isn’t able to cope with her mother’s deep depression. Having been clinically depressed and a regular self-harmer I am well qualified to write about them and their effects. I am an advocate for mental health awareness and blog regularly about mental health issues alongside positivity and reaching for your dreams.

When did you decide to write in your chosen genre(s)

The Hope Within novels are contemporary and fit well into the Young Adult genre, but I have had lovely feedback and reviews from all ages and genders. I don’t think I decided to write for a particular genre at first, ‘Beneath the Rainbow’ doesn’t fit clearly, but the subsequent books do, and I feel comfortable with the YA placing. I am currently working on a Post-Apocalyptic/Fantasy series set in Wales, far, far in the future, which will be aimed at the YA market, and the wonderful thing about YA is that we’re all young at heart, so the genre is very accessible to all.

Describe where you do most of your writing. What would I see if I was sitting beside you?

I write in my living room on my laptop on my sofa with my German Shepherd close by. Though, amusingly, if I write a sad scene and weep, she wanders over and rests her head on my lap. She’s as empathetic as I am! One day when my children have left home, I plan to take over one of their bedrooms and write at a desk overlooking the garden, though I might end up procrastinating as I stare out into the wilds…

What are the best and the worst aspects of writing?

The best is allowing my imagination free reign. I write to escape. The worst is finding time. Right now both my parents are fragile and ill, and need a lot of my time, so finding those moments to write are precious. I used to love sitting and writing all day, but currently, that’s just not possible.

Tell us one odd thing about you and one really mundane thing.

Let’s go mundane first – I’m an introvert, a lot of writers are, we like to hide away and we value our own company. And the odd thing – my children joke that I’m a squirrel as I seek out acorn cups and hazelnut shells. There is a reason. I suffer anxiety and panic, and I use these cups and hollowed shells as anchors and stims. I’ve written about it on my blog as they also work as a preventative for self-harm too. When panic rises and I feel the urge to run or escape, particularly in social situations, I smooth my thumb across the acorn cup or hazelnut shell and it calms me. I carry a multitude of them, in all my pockets, and it makes my family smile.

Lastly, what are you up to right now?

I am currently releasing a Post-Apocalyptic collection with a wonderful group of authors. It began when my family did a post-apocalyptic family photoshoot and one of my daughter’s pictures garnered a lot of attention. My writing community wanted to write for her character, so we gave her a name, and a world, and something to fight for. Then we instructed those involved to write for their own characters, but somewhere in their stories they had to meet Ghabrie, our main character. The stories are amazing and the book very different to usual collaborations and anthologies out there. You get a full length epic book with stories by fourteen very different authors, which all tie together in the most unexpected ways. It’s available now in Lulu and will soon be available on Amazon too. Look out for ‘Human 76’.

Human 76 - An Unprecendted collection of Post Apocalyptic  Stories - Ghabrie

My Links: Facebook Author Page: www.facebook.com/LisaShambrookAuthor

Twitter: twitter.com/LisaShambrook

Blog: www.thelastkrystallos.wordpress.com

Website: www.lisashambrook.com

Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B005AV9M8K/ref=dp_byline_sr_ebooks_1?ie=UTF8&text=Lisa+Shambrook

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+LisaShambrook

Human 76 Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/Human76

Today With Kathy Miles

Introducing the authors who will be at the Tenby Book Fair, http://bit.ly/27XORTh, the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival http://bit.ly/24eOVtl .  I’m looking forward to having many more such chats over the next couple of months. 

So far I’ve interrogated interviewed Rebecca Bryn: http://bit.ly/1XYWbtF, Thorne Moore:  http://bit.ly/1P6zDQh , Matt Johnson: http://bit.ly/1RUqJFg , Christoph Fischer: http://bit.ly/1svniAr  and Sally Spedding: http://bit.ly/1VNRQci. and Wendy Steele:  http://bit.ly/1PMoF8i  and Graham Watkins: http://bit.ly/1UMLvLN  And thanks to Thorne Moore for interviewing me today: http://bit.ly/1VTvqGq  Over the next few weeks I’ll be introducing the rest of the authors and I’ll also be showcasing the publishers who will be in attendance. There may also be a short chat with John and Fiona of http://showboat.tv/ who, as usual, will be filming the event.

 

Today I’m really pleased to be chatting with Kathy Miles whose work has appeared in many anthologies and magazines. She was the 2015 winner of the Bridport Poetry Prize.

Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? 

I am primarily a poet, but also write short fiction pieces, drama, and non-fiction. The disciplines required for each genre are very different, but also exhilarating, and I enjoy the challenges involved in writing out of my main genre area. I think I was initially drawn to poetry as a means of expression because of an overwhelming love of words…I’m  just as happy browse-reading a dictionary or thesaurus as a novel. I particularly like exploring their etymology, how the meanings of words have changed over the centuries. So many wonderful words have fallen into disuse, or their meanings changed completely from the original: in these cases, it’s not only the words which are lost, but their associated cultural mores. I always work with a range of  dictionaries and thesauri on my desk, many of them published prior to 1950, and find it exciting when I can trace a word back to a meaning quite different from its contemporary usage. I love playing with words, as well as with the various structures and rhythms of a poem, and I think this is why I write mainly in this genre: for me, what I can do with the words is very satisfying.

COVER

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

My parents read to me when I was little: there was always a bedtime story, and the house was full of books. My father was a part-time writer, and I would go into his study and read whatever I could lay my hands on. He worked as a clerk in the local government offices, and was paid monthly. I remember that whenever he got his salary (in one of those little brown folded envelopes) he would go to the bookshop on the way home and buy me a new book. My mother had no literary aspirations, but she read magazines avidly, so along with the books, I grew up on Womens’ Own, Womens’ Weekly and The Readers’ Digest, which in those days always published a good range of short fiction in their pages.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing for as long as I could hold a pen. I have drawerfuls of poems and stories I wrote as a child, the earliest being from when I was about five. There was no specific reason for it: it was just something I always did, and which I never questioned. Other people took part in sport, went swimming, drew pictures or made things, and I wrote.

What are some of the references that you used while researching this book?

I’m very careful to research each poem thoroughly. When I’m writing I use resources which would normally include subject-specific databases and web sources as well as hard copy books, encyclopaedias, dictionaries and thesauri. I have a massive Dictionary of Mythology which is pretty much falling apart at the seams!

 

SHADOWHOUSE

 

What do you think most characterises your writing?

I write a great deal about the landscape: living in a rural area is a huge privilege. I have badgers visiting my garden at night, dragonflies skimming over my pond, and the sight of mountains and the sea in the distance, so it would be hard not to write about these things. But I dislike the idea that writers should be put into specific genres, and so I wouldn’t describe myself as a ‘landscape poet’ because that would be to ignore all the other things I write about. What I would hope characterizes my writing is the truth of what I am trying to convey: but that, of course, is for others to decide!

Links to Kathy’s books.

Amazon.co.uk:

Gardening With Deer: http://amzn.to/1XTUa3i

The Shadow House: http://amzn.to/236LaHk

Amazon.com:

The Shadow House:http://amzn.to/1tnREoA

 

Tales of Our Holiday Lets. Or … Is it Really Worth it? Or … Tales of the Unexpected!

Well, yes it is worth it – we love it, despite the unexpected. Having a holiday apartment attached to our house has brought us many friends; visitors who return year after year in the summer to enjoy the lovely Pembrokeshire coastline and all the other attractions this part of West Wales offers. We love seeing them again. And we are fortunate to meet many new people as well. But there have been downsides. Or should I say, occasions that made us think again about sharing our home.

Such as the two elderly sisters …

I watched Husband walk past the kitchen window and waved. He didn’t wave back. Because of the goggles and the scarf around his nose and mouth  I couldn’t tell if he smiled or not. I thought – probably not. He wore a helmet over a balaclava on his head, navy overalls, elbow length gloves and thigh waders. He looked ridiculous but I didn’t dare laugh. This was serious. He was on a mission… a clearing the sewers mission…

Sewer Contractor New Rochelle Husband in a hole!

The story of the sewers began  a fortnight earlier in the shape of the two ladies. They arrived late on the Saturday evening; it was already getting dark.  Despite our assurances that it didn’t matter; that we were home anyway, they  continued to apologize profusely as we showed them to the apartment. There’d been traffic hold-ups, one of them suffered from car sickness so they’d had to stop often, they’d lost their way; gone off at the wrong junction of the M4 and ended up in Swansea.

We calmed them down, Husband offered to carry their luggage in.

‘No,’ they said, ‘we’ll be fine. You leave us to it. We haven’t much.’

They were ideal guests; the type we’d  hoped for when we started this venture.

old lady twoold lady

They were quiet, friendly, pleasant to have around.. Ever ready for a chat they sat with us in the garden a couple of the evenings enjoying a glass of wine, some nibbles. They didn’t go out much; just for one or two hours each day. Most of the time they sat on the guest patio, reading. Aged around eighty, we discovered they were twins; obviously both retired; one an ex school teacher, they other a librarian. They called us Mr and Mrs Barrow and we  called them both Miss Smith (obviously not their real name!!) They wore almost identical clothes and shoes, had the same hairstyle, finished one another’s sentences  in the same refined tones. 

When we asked if everything was all right,did they need anything , we were told all was perfect. On the middle weekend they insisted I hand over the clean  bedding and towels and changed the bed themselves. 

On the last evening we invited them in for a meal. They only stayed a couple of hours; we were told they had an early start in the morning.  Later we heard them hoovering. I knocked on the door and told them not to bother, they had a long day in front of them the following day.. Despite my protestations, they persisted for another hour.

 They must have gone very early, they’d left before we got up at seven the next day.

 Which I thought was great; it meant I could get on with the cleaning before the next visitors arrived.

It was halfway through the following week when we noticed the problem. Our new visitors complained that the loo wasn’t working properly and the bathroom was smelling. By the end of the day the kitchen sink in the apartment was backing up with unpleasant water and the lavatories in the main part of the house weren’t flushing efficiently. In fact they were overflowing!

At this point I’m wondering if I should have put a health warning on this post. Hmm?

 Trying to be as delicate as possible here!!!loo

And so to the beginning of this sorry tale… 

I watched Husband walk past the kitchen window and waved …

He stopped, came back to the window and motioned (sorry!) for me to open it. ‘I don’t suppose you want to help?’ he shouted through the scarf. I closed the window – the smell was bad. Besides I thought we should have sent for the local drains/ sewage clearing people. Being a ‘careful  with money’ man, Husband thought he could “do it himself” 

 The new visitors went out for the day with a donation from us for meals.

Without going into any more graphic detail all I can say is that the blockage was… cat litter (with the evidence!). Our two little old ladies had apparently smuggled brought their cat on holiday with them (into our “no smoking, no pets” apartment) and flushed the contents of the litter tray down the loo. Which was washed by the water along the pipes only so far before setting like cement in the drains.

Six hours later – and after much shovelling and swearing – Husband conceded defeat and we sent for the specialists. 

I connected the garden hose to the outside tap on the garage and hosed him down. Before he was allowed back into the house, he stripped off.

Which reminds me. Have I told you about the Naturists who came to stay…?

Hey-Ho!! – Glorious Pembrokeshire – a County of Contrasting Weather

Two weeks ago we walked along the coastal path from Bosherston Lily Ponds, Broadhaven Beach and then on to Castlemartin. A glorious day.

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So calm …

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So warm …

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Wait for it ...

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View from the window of St Govan’s Chapel – well worth a visit

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Lovely isn’t it?

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Yesterday we had a High Tide

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 Cold and windy

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Roiling seas

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Who’d have thought it?

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 Oh, I do love Pembrokeshire!!

We Moved: A Husband’s Point of View in 1978

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It’ll be better for the children,’ the wife said. ‘Pembrokeshire’s beautiful and  has to have a better climate than at home – please, I love the house, let’s buy it.

It was a blind leap of faith. With a little bit of research we would have found out Pembrokeshire was one of the wettest counties in Britain. But there was no such thing as Google in those days – and besides, whenever we went there on holiday, the sun always shone.

And the children had been very ill with measles and whooping cough and the doctor had said we needed to move to somewhere milder, warmer.

So the decision was made.

I packed in my job with the optimistic words of the wife echoing in my ears; ‘you’re a qualified electrician; you’ll get a job anywhere,’ said goodbye to lifelong friends with my promise of keeping in touch and their promise of, ‘we’ll come and see you next summer; have a holiday with you,’ and, with much grinding of my teeth to keep smiling throughout all the recriminations of family, who insisted in declaring we were moving to the ends of the earth, we put one life behind us and looked with optimism towards a new future.

The day we moved in it pissed down all day; I remember thinking, better climate my arse. At least back home we knew what to expect every morning when we got up and looked through the window. The village we lived in on the Pennine moors was either shrouded in mist so thick you could almost taste it, or the rain was coming down in stair rods, swept almost horizontal by the wind. In summer, even though the sun shone you could be blown off your feet as soon as you set foot outside. And in winter you’d be snowed in for weeks.

So, with each mile nearer to our new home I became more disenchanted. Looking back to the day we viewed the new house I suddenly remembered  wiping the muck off the inside of  that bedroom window and looking out, thinking it wasn’t really a village; just shops and a road with houses. At least in the place we’d lived in since we were kids, there were five pubs, three churches, a Labour Club and A Con club (actually, thinking back, that was an apt name for the Conservative Club, bearing in mind today’s Government). Anyhow, as I said five pubs, three churches, two clubs – a good ratio that covered all options.

Driving along the winding exposed roads on the tops after Newtown we passed a straggling line of men.

‘I wonder what they’re doing,’ the wife said.

‘Minding their own bloody business,’ I muttered, peering through the windscreen. Forty miles back the windscreen wipers developed a judder and threatened to give up the ghost. So every now and then I’d have to wind my window down and give them a shove. With every blast of cold air the kids howled, my wife’s chin quivered with a contrived brave smile and my jacket sleeve became more sodden. A few miles further on I realised they could have been a group of poor immigrants, wearily making their way away from Wales and I was seriously on the verge of turning around and offering some of them a lift back with me  to England. I could have, squashed them in somehow.movingvan20cartoon20300x

Earlier that morning, when the removal van and the car were packed up to the gills with our life’s necessities I joked we were taking everything with us bar the kitchen sink.

When we got to the house in Pembrokeshire I wished we had brought the kitchen sink. Oh and the bath. The guy who’d built the house had gone bankrupt and he’d stripped the place before the Receiver stepped in. There was no water, no electricity, no heating – it was November and we had three kids under three. And there was definitely no telephone to let the rest of the family that we’d arrived. Which, as it turned out, wasn’t a bad thing; the babies were screaming, the toddler was throwing a right paddy because we’d lost her comfort blanket and the wife was skriking.

I put my arms around all four of them and asked her, ‘are you sorry we’ve moved?’

‘No,’ she wailed, ‘I love this house.’

Three weeks later it was still raining; boy did it bloody rain.

And then the cold weather set in and the pipes froze. And so did we.

I went to the Job Centre and was sent to the Benefits Agency. They wanted to know everything except the size and make of my underpants. ‘Sod that for a soldier,’ I said, ‘I’ll start up on my own.’

So, with fingerless mittens donned, the wife dragged out her old typewriter, typed a whole load of leaflets and, with the twins in the pushchair and the eldest balanced on the handle, trooped off to push them through letter boxes.

We’d managed to get the electricity and water turned back on the week we arrived and so while she was out I carried on installing the kitchen sink and a bathroom suite. They’d used up most of our savings. Carpets came later, much later.  So, because of this and because the house was larger than the last one we lived in and because the furniture was spread so thinly between the all rooms the place echoed emptily; the table, two chairs and three high chairs presiding in splendid isolation in the dining room, thirty foot by twenty, with no curtains.

When I could afford the petrol, I got in the car and ventured further afield delivering more leaflets. I put an advert in the local newspaper.

And then we waited – and waited.

We didn’t starve; the wife worked bloody wonders with vegetables, chicken and mince. And we kept warm with the little heater that we trailed from room to room, wherever we were in the house, and saved electricity by going to bed with hot water bottles when it got dark.

And still we waited, avoiding one another’s eyes over the of the children’s heads, refusing to put words to our fear. To failure.

And then one day there was a knock on the front door; my first job. Such a relief, I can tell you.

And, to cut a long, a bloody long story, short, it took off from there. I’m not saying it wasn’t hard, that there weren’t times when the money didn’t come in, that I didn’t have sleepless nights worrying over unpaid bills and red reminders.

Or that,nearly  thirty-seven years later, I don’t look back on that wet depressing journey, that day in November of nineteen seventy-eight and remember the sheer terror as we made that blind leap of faith.

But I what I will say, it was one of the best moves we ever made in our lives.001

PS. Thought I’d show you a few of my photos as well. Hope you like them.

PPS From ‘the wife’ – if I ever heard him calling me ‘the wife’, he’d know what for!!! (In other words he’d be packed off to his shed… where he still has that old heater!l)