JOURNEY – Physical and Emotional with a Profound Effect

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Journey.”

When I was child of about 3, we lived in a tiny village that had only one shop. It seemed miles from anywhere but my cousin, she lived just around the corner and around the next bend on the same country lane lived Grandma and Grandad. For some reason I wasn’t over keen on Grandad, but I adored my Grandma. She was such a loving person and I really enjoyed being with her. I was allowed to ride my tricycle along the pavement, all on my own to visit them.

It was a delightful place to live, surrounded by wildlife, farms and an abundance of greenery. We took regular walks thoroughly indulging in the effect of the changing seasons. To this day I have a similar passion for nature, the countryside and the seasons.

We would watch the butterflies dance from flower to flower, noting which one it was and if we weren’t sure, we’d look it up in a book when we returned home. We’d breathe in the scents of the blossoms on the hedgerows, trees and the wild flowers in the grass verges. I was renowned for sticking my nose into flowers.

There was always something riveting to watch or exciting to explore. Many of the fields roundabout had small ponds in them. Here we would sit for hours just watching the dragonflies dance from reed to reed, or watch the pond skater insects whizzing over the water’s surface or catch newts with our nets, putting them into a jar so that we could get a better look at them. We would always put them back into the pond before going home. Other times we would keep a watch out for calves or lambs being born, watch the farmer plough a field or bale hay.

Big cousins would come to visit quite regularly, cycling all the way from their village miles away and we would ride our bikes or play ball games and drink cordial, something that was only available when visitors came. We were rarely indoors and my selective memory can only recall rain in April, though we must have had days when it poured.

Then one day, which for me seemed quite out of the blue, we were moving. A giant green lorry with a cavernous space at the back was taking all our belongings and we were going to live somewhere else. I can only remember horror. All the things I would be leaving behind. My Grandma would be miles away, how I would miss my dear loving Grandma. And my cousins, I would have no friends to play with.

When we arrived at our new house, it was on a straight main road and it felt as if it were on another continent. Being a new house it didn’t have the old established gardens around it so it felt barren. The whole place felt empty, the whole area felt empty. Where was the greenery?

There was a big hedge over on the other side of the road and there were some big trees but the cosseted feeling of the old village which just oozed greenery, was non-existent in this strange place.

I was told not to make a fuss, I would make friends. There was a girl next door that I was encouraged to play with, but a part of me didn’t like the feel of her. I started school and began to make some friends but somehow they never felt like the deep comradeship I had had with my cousins. My only saving grace from living in that very empty feeling place was that at the weekends my dad and I would go for long walks along the riverbank or the canal and we would observe all the bounty that nature had to offer. Those days were like heaven on earth.

One of the things that sticks in my mind was the feeling of isolation, I felt as if I was ‘out on my own’ and despite having moved from a verdant green village, I felt separated most strongly from my beloved sea. Now we didn’t live by the sea but we were probably only a couple of miles from the sea as the crow flies and less than an hour away by train in those days and whilst I have no recollection of being at the seaside when the sun went down, I can clearly remember sitting in my bedroom with my head poking through the curtains, watching the sun going down behind the hedgerow across the road and wondering just how many miles away the sea was and how I yearned to be near it. This has stayed with me ever since and must have had such a profound effect on me that I now live right by the sea and would have it no other way.


Forces of Nature

I have a passion for wild weather and especially spectacular cloud formations.

On a warm sunny day we were happily wandering along a deserted shore, well, apart from a few rogue sheep chomping on seaweed.

Then I noticed that the wind had begun to have a slight chill and the brightness was beginning to fade.

When I looked up from my obsessional pebble hunting, I noticed this beautifully spectacular weather front heading right for us.

So I got out my camera … then headed for the car pretty darned sharpish.

INTRICATE – Ancient Harbour Wall- Portsoy, Scotland

I simply love the complex and intricate design of this ancient harbour pier. In its days of construction (c 1600s) it must have been no mean feat to provide an effective breakwater and quay; one that could stand the test of time and the rigours of the harsh North Sea waves driven landward by severe gales in excess of storm force 9 that throughout the winter months would be a regular occurrence.

With such a need for functionality it amazes me how beautifully artistic it is. The illusion of smoothness of its form begs to be touched. The deep yellow of the lichens adding to the effect and giving the impression that the sun may be shining.

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Intricate.”

Writing 101 DAY 20 –The Things We Treasure

Today’s Prompt: Tell us the story of your most-prized possession.

It’s the final day of the challenge already?! Let’s make sure we end it with a bang — or, in our case, with some furious collective tapping on our keyboards. For this final assignment, lead us through the history of an object that bears a special meaning to you.

A family heirloom, a flea market find, a childhood memento — all are fair game. What matters is that, through your writing, you breathe life into that object, moving your readers enough to understand its value.

Today’s twist: We extolled the virtues of brevity back on day five, but now, let’s jump to the other side of the spectrum and turn to longform writing. Let’s celebrate the drawn-out, slowly cooked, wide-shot narrative.

It has taken me quite a long time to think about this one. My immediate reaction to the question of my most prized possession was a blank. Ziltch, Nothing.

Now even I know that can’t be true.

The most precious thing to me is my son, but I don’t own him. He is not a possession. Let’s think again …

Hours later, I had decided it was maybe my car. I love my freedom. From the age of 17 I had my own car. I scrimped and saved for eons to buy it. I had been learning to drive since I was about 14 years old. That is, I read and re-read the current driving manual which explained everything there was to know about cars and driving. The closest I got to actually driving a car was to sit in my father’s treasured Austin and pretend to drive! Under no uncertain terms was I to be allowed to drive his car until I had passed my driving test. Dream on. And dream on I did.

We lived on a country lane on the edge of a small village with the nearest bus stop over a mile away. This meant a long walk twice a day if I was going to college, or four times a day if I was going out in the evening to see a friend. Perfectly manageable when the weather was nice, a joy when the first green buds of spring appeared or when the wild flowers were in full bloom, or the autumn leaves had started to show. But when it was wet and windy or in the icy depths of winter it was a hike and a half. As I insisted on wearing fashionable clothes, which then were high heeled wedges and baggy trousers, even the slightest breeze (added to the speed that teenagers moved at) caused the trousers to wrap themselves around my legs threatening to throw me headlong onto the muddy path or at best slow me down with a gait akin to a Chinese lady with bound feet. Is it any wonder I was an angry teenager?

So becoming mobile was a must and getting my own car meant a modicum of independence.

Over the years I treasured my cars, the freedom they gave me. They became my sanctuary and a place where I tuned in to another world. Most of my questions were answered whilst I drove around the countryside taking in the terrain, indulging in the beauty.

But is it really my most treasured possession?

No, my most treasured possession is the box of photographs taken of my son when he was a baby, but that’s another story for another day.

Writing 101 DAY 19 – Don’t Stop the Rockin’ – A Little Bit of Me

Today is a free writing day. Write at least four-hundred words, and once you start typing, don’t stop. No self-editing, no trash-talking, and no second guessing: just go. Bonus points if you tackle an idea you’ve been playing with but think is too silly to post about.

Writing. A writer. Just testing out the feel of the words. I always wanted to write. No, I actually ‘fancied’ being a writer. When I was much younger I used to write things down. I was always making up poems or songs. Then one day I experienced a much larger bout of criticism from my mother. I stopped writing. One day after much frustration I decided I did want to write down the things that were flying through my head. So I got a piece of chalk and in my old toy cupboard was a small wooden piano. On the back of the piano I unscrewed the three legs and on the area left available to me I wrote in chalk all the words from my head. Now I did have to keep rubbing it out to make room for the next inflow of words. This was safe. I could write all I wanted and she would never know what I had written. Thing was, neither did I. I would love to have had a book of all the things I used to write about.

Later on in life I began following correspondence courses in writing and using it as a way to deal with childhood stuff. But again I came up against criticism. What I wrote wasn’t really marketable. Too off the wall. I fancied being a journalist at one point and began teaching myself shorthand. But when I was told I needed to embellish the story I went right off the idea. I wanted to relate fact not fiction. It seemed wrong to be leading people to believe something was different to how it ‘actually’ was.

Years later I came back to writing verse. I had been ill and was in a recovery group working through the same stuff, childhood. As each person left the group I would have a verse in my head that was poignant for them. So I would write it on a card and give it to them as a leaving gift.

When I have written things about my life, thoughts, etc, I have found it quite liberating. It seems to disengage a part of my mind that needs to be in control. As that gets out of the way, it leaves room for all sorts of philosophical stuff to ooze out. It also can connect me to another realm, a place where everything just is, a state of beingness. So if that’s the case, I ask myself why the hell is it still so difficult to sit down begin. Begin. Anagram of Being. There must be something in this.

Writing 101 DAY 18 – Hone Your Point of View – Charlie’s World

The neighbourhood has seen better days, but Mrs. Pauley has lived there since before anyone can remember. She raised a family of six boys, who’ve all grown up and moved away. Since Mr. Pauley died three months ago, she’d had no income. She’s fallen behind in the rent. The landlord, accompanied by the police, have come to evict Mrs. Pauley from the house she’s lived in for forty years.

Today’s prompt: write this story in first person, told by the twelve-year-old sitting on the stoop across the street.

Today’s twist: For those of you who want an extra challenge, think about more than simply writing in first-person point of view — build this twelve-year-old as a character. Reveal at least one personality quirk, for example, either through spoken dialogue or inner monologue.

I wonder, what am I going to do today? Pete’s gone to watch football with his dad. I hate football. All that running around, and what for, nothing. I don’t mind running around in a field of grass chasing dragonflies, now that’s fun.

“Ouch! Damn scabs!”

I thought they’d have fallen off by now; it’s over a week since I crashed my bike on Back Lane and got half the road stuck in my skin. Mrs Pauley told me not to pick it when she walked past yesterday. Said it would leave holes. Can’t see no holes.


She’s nice, Mrs Pauley, lets me cut her grass in the summer for some extra pocket money. Said I did a nice job, as good as old Mr Pauley. Liked him too, was always tinkering in his shed. Mending something or oiling something else. He showed me how to grease me bike chain. Right nice he was. Shame he died. Feels kind of dead around here now and Mrs Pauley looks so sad.

Wonder where all the kids she had are? Mum said she’d got six of them and hasn’t seen them in years.

Suppose I’d better go and do what mum said – ‘go and see if there’s anything she needs help with’.

Ah well, going to have to find some other way of subbing my pocket money. Mum says Mrs Pauley’s had no money since Mr Pauley died. Wonder what she’s been having to eat then?

Charlie wanders across the road, hands thrust deep into the pockets of his long shorts.

The grass is looking a bit longer, than yesterday, must’ve warmed up and made it grow quicker. That’s what Mr Pauley used to say.

As he was waiting for Mrs Pauley to answer the door, a car pulled up and a man got out wearing crumpled brown suit.

Who’s he, doesn’t look very friendly. Aye aye, and now plod. What do they want down here? You never see them down here with their black uniforms. Don’t want to either they look like they’re looking for trouble.

“Now then son, off you go, on your way. You shouldn’t be hanging around other peoples doors.”

At that moment the door opened and Mrs Pauley, seeing Charlie, smiled at the boy and said,

“Hello Charlie, were you coming to see me love?”

Phew thought old plod was going to arrest me then. They make me feel bad even when I haven’t done anything.

“I said on your way son.”

“I’ve got to leave Charlie. Maybe the next person who lives here will need you to cut the grass for them.”

Leaving? To go where? She’s always been here.
And why are they here, where are they taking her?
Are you alright Mrs Pauley, I can go and get me mum if you want me to.

“It’s alright Charlie, I’ll be alright. Always remember love that when one door closes you can be sure that another one always opens.”

Writing 101 DAY 17 – Your Personality on the Page – Fear. Fear! Fear?

Today’s Prompt: We all have anxieties, worries, and fears. What are you scared of? Address one of your worst fears.

Today’s Twist: Write this post in a style distinct from your own.

Fear. Fear. What’s fear?

A part of me hasn’t a clue what you’re prattling on about.

I don’t feel fear. I am. I am being. Just being. There is no place for fear. That is something outside of me. Something I could touch if I chose to stop just being. Why would I want to do that?

They say Fear stand for ‘False Evidence Appearing Real’. I’ll vote for that one.

Fear. Fear. Ah Fear. Geee. I cringe just thinking about it. In fact I can feel my self running already. Can you see the dust? Cough, cough, man, I can. Wheeze, really feel the dust! There’s lots of things I fear. But if I sit and contemplate it … and my, does it hurt to contemplate it…

… the beads of sweat are building on my brow, on the skin under my nose, my breath is quickening and there is a tension in my chest and it is beginning to raise my shoulders up, up towards my ears.

Where was I? Ah, contemplate fear… I shudder……. Long pause as I notice my breathing, I am now allowing myself to feel this, it is helping me relax…

More than anything else I fear fear itself.

When I do not think about fear I can cope with most things. But the instant my mind notices that gripping feeling, permeating deep into my emotions, engulfing my whole being, that part of me that instantly wants to know what I am dealing with quickly labels it ‘fear’. Then… It grips me like a vice. Shrinking my being into a state of frozen inertia. The only part of me capable of anything akin to movement is my breath and the blood coursing through my veins.. I don’t notice – I have disappeared into my head. I am too busy solution hunting. Desperate for a way out. The thoughts speed up. Its like I suddenly have to move at warp velocity examining every file and folder every record of every event and its outcome in existence for an instant fix. Pleeaase … just get me out of here!

Out of where?

You’re the one that needs to move. Stop reaching out for a solution.

Its not out there. It never was.

Ahh, now I understand. I have a choice. I really do have a choice.

Aahhh. I can feel the shoulders lowering very gently now, as if they had been pumped up with air and the valve has just begun to leak. My breath is quietening. A sense of peace is engulfing me. I can feel ripples of soft tingling running over me and through me all at the same time.

Yes.      I am.      Being.

What was the question?