Blog Your Block

This is what came to mind on a pretty bleak, rainy walk along the beach where I live.  Written for The Daily Post writing challenge called “Blog Your Block”: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/blog-your-block/ 

The grey pebbles turned and twisted under her sturdy shoes. It wasn’t a pretty beach, she thought. Although there was a kind of pre-historic peace to the place, as if it couldn’t be bothered with day trippers looking to build sandcastles. Only a few fishermen and foolhardy sea gulls clung to the shores of the channel trying to catch a bite for dinner. The coastguard was watching like an ever present guardian angel and a few local inhabitants always had their kitchen windows focussed on the waterfront.

Strange plants grew which had developed around this harsh, salty, barren landscape. Nothing else grew but scrub plants. There were no trees so the wily, quick witted birds had built their nests in the stones and the scrub trying to avoid the footsteps of people and foxes.

When the wind blew people walked at a 45 degree angle and when the sun shone they lay flat out on the uncomfortable stones in bathing suits which were quite inappropriate for the area – more suited to a Caribbean island somewhere.

The rain was penetrating every layer of clothing and she kept her eyes fixed on the pebbles.  Occasionally a crushed shell came into view: a strand of mangled seaweed; discarded ropes; broken lobster pots – the plethora of driftwood which came ashore after a storm.   The tides changed with every minute bringing a new wave of stones and shingle but the landscape never changed.

Weekly Photo Challenge – A Work of Art

I did a post not long ago about how there was a distinct lack of creativity in architecture these days – we no longer seem to put in the effort and time to decorate our buildings as used to happen.  There are a few very talented people that keep traditional crafts alive but not enough.

My response to the challenge this week is from a trip to India that I did – my first one.  I was overwhelmed by the beauty and the colours everywhere.  In an abandoned palace in the middle of nowhere there were some amazingly colourful mosaics which caught my eye.  The walls were crumbling and there was nobody to prevent rot and destruction setting in but the mosaics still shone…that’s what I call a work of art!  Something that can withstand time, the elements and still be inspiring.

 http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/work-of-art/

 

On the Move

As part of the Daily Post photo challenge entitled “On the Move”, I looked into the past.  I have been collating my family’s history and inherited the photographs from various people.  One common theme running through the photos is that we were a family of boat lovers – in fact my great great grandfather was a boat builder on the census lists.

The photos I have chosen show a different time when leisure time still had standards – even if you were on a boat!  The table-cloth and tea-pot came out; ladies wore pretty dresses and headscarves and you had a proper afternoon tea.  Very “Famous Five” with lashing of ginger pop for the children!

The first three are c. 1950’s with my grandmother looking the part of the “Famous Five” mother.

This lovely lady is my Aunt Win enjoying tea on the River Wey with her friend Polly c.1930.

Tea party on the Wey

Tea party on the Wey

And this is her husband showing us how to survive whilst “On the Move”…I think I prefer the ladies’ way of doing things!

Written for the Daily Post “On the Move” photo challenge. http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/on-the-move/

Going Obsolete

I was going to write a blog about the technology side of things, but that seems to be the main theme already.  For my part I miss record players and tape recorders!

So how about the talent of building beautiful buildings going obsolete?  We have such beautiful churches, villages, thatched cottages, castles and country houses in the UK and yet when you pass a building site it’s normally a multi-storey car park or identikit houses on a soulless complex.  Do you think people will marvel over these in 200 years time?  Probably not because they will have blown down or been washed away within 50.

On that note here is a marvellous building which has lived through its fair share of war, fire, rebuilding etc so it must be worth investing in beautiful buildings!  St Paul’s Cathedral, London built by the fantastic Sir Christopher Wren who obviously agreed.  He rebuilt over 50 churches after the Great Fire of London in 1666, many of which you can still admire today.

Image

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/going-obsolete/

 

Great Expectations

We are given 2 different messages in life: don’t expect too much (because you’ll be disappointed).  But then we are also taught to hope and dream – to expect great things.

They are both generally things we are taught by our parents.  You get told not to expect too much at Christmas and birthdays when you’re little because your parents are trying to protect you from disappointment (Grandma’s present normally.  You always hoped that this year wouldn’t be a knitted sweater.  The disappointment when it wasn’t a tape or a computer game cartridge – showing my age!)

The other message is that you can be whatever and whoever you want.  This is a great message ! You can! But we get restrictions put on us at school with exams and choices.  We have to do what we get good marks in, not necessarily what we want/love to do.  A lot of us end up drifting because we follow the choices that school made for us.  That is probably why a lot of people get to their thirties and have no idea how to do anything else.

If you were lucky and were taught as I was that Grandma made you that sweater out of love and she thought of you with each stitch.  (You realise this about 10 years later!).  If you can get through school and get out into the world you can do whatever you like.  Even if you get to your thirties and are slightly disillusioned.  Change is always possible.

One of my favourite sayings is “shoot for the moon, if you miss you’ll be among stars.”  I love this – it says dream big and it doesn’t matter if you don’t make it – at least you will have tried.

Written for the Daily Post “Great Expectations” –  https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/great-expectations/

An attempt at conversation…after 40 years of marriage

Crow’s feet fanned silver eyes which registered disapproval and disappointment. Her mouth was ringed with lines which if they were spread into a smile would make her seem twenty years younger. She lifted a delicately polished finger nail up to her crow’s feet as if to wipe away a tear. The lace thinness on the back of her hands showed veins and arthritic joints keeping the diamond ring and golden wedding band which still shone after 40 years of wearing them.

Her hand trembled slightly and she self-consciously forced it back into her lap and clasped hands to stop them shaking. She stopped herself reaching out to pick up her cup and saucer. The trembling grating of bone china on bone china would wake him up.  He needed his afternoon nap.  She reached up to smooth her hair gently, barely even making contact. She knew it would be perfect. Her pearl necklace hung perfectly over her twinset which was in an inoffensive beige colour. Beige went with everything and it suited her to be non-descript – to blend in and be as unobtrusive as possible.

She sat upright in her armchair staring at her husband of 40 years. Her silver expression didn’t waiver. Her face was composed; her hand steadied and she grasped the porcelain saucer firmly. Not a tremor. She sipped on the weak infusion of tea with half a slice of lemon (pips removed). Her eyebrow raised into a perfect arch, as her husband snored in his armchair opposite.

He felt her gaze on him from under closed eyelids and could almost hear her eyebrow raise in that supercilious manner. He kept his eyes closed, shifted in his pretend sleep, attempted a snore, relaxed his neck so that his head lolled against the arm chair. He let his jaw fall slack. He just had to wait until she finished that damned ditch water that she called tea.

His cardigan was a focus of disappointment – always done up wrong, worn over the elbows and a day old handkerchief in the pocket. He preserved that look with care and recreated it every morning. He made sure that he blew his nose loudly into the hankie before putting in the pocket. His trousers bagged around his waist. He didn’t believe in belts. Perhaps he should invest in a nice pair of braces? Nice spotty ones. Her expression would be priceless. Socks and tartan slippers completed the image.

His silver hair was brushed back from his forehead with Brylcream – a style that he’d worn for 65 years. He couldn’t break that habit. But he did go unshaven now whenever possible – he couldn’t get his face to align with his razor. It seemed to sag in all sorts of places. His eyebrows straggled down to twist into his eyelashes and God knew what was going on with his nose and ear hair. The overall impression was of an unkempt, slightly dotty old man with a great head of hair.

He heard his wife silently put her cup and saucer down on the tray; equally silently stand up, pick up the tray and glide softly across the pile carpet. And still he faked sleep. She’d turned, as he’d known she would at the doorway, to check up on him. He froze: neck loose, jaw slack, a bit of drool making its’ way down his chin. He heard her eyebrow raise again as she carried the tray out.

One brown eye opened and checked the empty room. He didn’t move his body just incase he needed to fake sleep again. Also it took him a moment to get everything in gear to move. He peered around his nose and tried to straighten his neck. He’d got a crick in it from “sleeping” for so long. She obviously had something to discuss with him and he wasn’t sure how long he could keep her at bay. 77 minutes was his record.

She carried the tray into the kitchen; snapped on rubber gloves and washed up her cup and saucer, the teapot, tea strainer, milk jug, sugar bowl and sugar tongs; threw the doily into the bin and stored the tray in the slot specially designed for trays between the cupboard and the dishwasher. She snapped her Marigolds off and hung them over the tap. She needed to talk to him. She could wait until he stirred himself. His naps were getting longer and longer.

He yawned and stretched. He could hear her washing up the tea tray. He had a couple of minutes to get to the French windows and down into the garden. If he timed it right he could be in the potting shed by the time she hung her gloves up. He moved smoothly to the door. His wellies were waiting outside. In less that 7 seconds slippers were off, feet into wellies and the door shut behind him with a soft click. He kept to the hedge away from the kitchen and circled around the back of the greenhouse and into the potting shed.

Another Short Story

A faded, grey shadow of a girl stood in front of the check in desk. He looked up from the racing pages with a start. “Didn’t see you there. Can I help?” She didn’t speak, just continued staring through vacant eyes. He couldn’t see any spark inside her. The greyness was all consuming. The fluorescent sign flickered bright pink and yellow across her face. “Vacant”. The sign was right about her. Definitely nobody home. He tried again. “You want something?” Her lips moved but no sound came out. He didn’t know but it had been days since she had been allowed to use her voice. Nobody had wanted to hear what she had to say. Nobody had noticed her. They had left her in the background. The greyness had consumed her entire life. She’d left and nobody had noticed. Nobody had asked her opinion about anything for years. She didn’t know how to respond. She mouthed the words. Her throat constricted with the sudden movement. She felt like she was going to be sick. The words were stuck. She needed to get them out. This was the first step. Wrong – she had left. That had been the first step. She needed to find her voice now.

“I need a room.” It came out as a hoarse whisper. It was barely audible across the desk.

“What’s that?”

“A room.” She swallowed. Saliva was lubricating her throat. She cleared it and swallowed. “I need a room. Please.” She was determined that her new life would be full of pleasant manners and kindness now. No more demands, name calling or swearing. She was starting afresh.

How the Grinch Stole Grammar!

Stroppy Editor

(With apologies to Dr Seuss)

Every Who down in Who-ville liked English a lot
But the Grinch, who lived just north of Who-ville, did NOT!
Whenever he thought of the language, he’d languish
In horrified anger and furious anguish!
But the funny thing was that beneath all this hate
He somehow believed, well, that English was great.
But it wasn’t the English the Whos wrote and spoke –
No! THAT made him scowl! Made him fume! Made him choke!
Made him choke!
Made him choke!
Made him CHOKE! CHOKE! CHOKE! CHOKE!

So what on earth was it the innocent Whos
Were doing so wrong with the language they’d use?
If you were to walk into Who-ville one day
You’d see lots of people with fine things to say.
They’d joke and exclaim and they’d promise and sing,
They’d chat and debate – yes, they’d do anything
That this wonderfully versatile…

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