Three Quotes Challenge – Day 1

shutterstock_155992808I’ve been nominated by my favourite travel blog thesnowmeltssomewhere to take part in one of the many Three Quotes challenges circulating at the moment. The Snow Melts Somewhere is a great blog for anyone who likes to see photos and read about beautiful places around the world. Posts are about a variety of countries worldwide and are very informative, often with nice little snippets about personal experiences during the trips. I understand that the quotes can be on any subject, and could be a different theme on each of the three days. The ‘golden whisk’ referred to is only figurative, but I’ve added my own little image (even though it isn’t exactly golden) courtesy of Pixabay.

The challenge:

Post a quote for 3 consecutive days.

Rules:

~ Thank the person who nominated you

~ Pass the “golden whisk” on to 3 people

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I took a while to decide whether to choose quotes about history, writing, or even travel, because all of those are important to my blog. I still haven’t decided whether or not to ‘mix and match’ …

My first one is a quote about writing:

moon's light

I find this quote particularly inspirational, and wonderful advice for anyone involved in creative writing. In this image the moon is glinting on the water, not glass, but the same idea applies.

Now here are my three nominees:

Norma at Emovere

Suganiya at Infinite Passion

Jack R. Cotner

Hope you can all accept.

The Pearl Diver – Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

Flash Fiction for for Aspiring Writers is a writing challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. The challenge asks us to write a piece of fiction from the photo prompt provided in around 100- 150 words – give or take 25 words. It encourages participants to comment, constructively, on other entries, so supporting each other’s writing. If you’d like to join in with this challenge, follow the link in the title of PJ’s, blog: Beautiful Words to see what to do. The challenge runs from Wednesday to Wednesday every week.

Here is this week’s prompt, kindly provided by Sonya:

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. . . and this is my story:

At fifteen, Baktu was the best pearl diver in the village. Everyone said so. He loved the ocean, and once submerged, he became one with its cushioning depths. He could hold his breath far longer than the other boys, and knew exactly where to search for the pearl oysters his people craved …

‘Look, Grandpa,’ Joti said proudly, rousing Baktu from his memories as he surfaced and dropped his harvest into the bucket hung over the side of the little boat. ‘It’s almost full!’

Baktu smiled, and the boy dived again into the shallow water, landside of the reef. Edible oyster beds were plentiful here, and there was little threat of sharks – unlike beyond the reef where village boys still dived for pearl oysters in the deeper waters. Just as Baktu had once done …

‘Shark, Baktu!’

Baktu grabbed the side of the boat, but too late…

He was eighteen when the shark had taken his right leg, ending his diving days. But Baktu would never forget the sensation of the ocean’s cushioning embrace.

Word Count: 175

If you’d like to view other entries, click the little blue frog below:

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For anyone interested, here are a few points about oysters, pearls and pearl diving from several sources including Wikipedia:

Oysters are bivalve molluscs found in temperate and warm coastal waters in all oceans. But not all species of oysters produce the shiny, costly pearls. True oysters are found naturally in shallower waters, very close to the coast, and have been cultivated for food for over 2,000 years. Pearl oysters are found in deeper water. Pearls form inside oysters from the accumulation of nacre (mother of pearl) the material lining the oyster shell. Pearls formed inside edible oysters are lustreless and of no value.

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Inside shell of Pinctada margaritifera. Two views of the same shell. Photographer: Didier Descouens. Commons

Many thousands of years ago, humans probably discovered the first pearls along the seashore, while they were searching for food. It is also probable that they wouldn’t have taken long to realise that the gems had come from the sea.

Before the beginning of the 20th century, the only way of obtaining pearls was by divers gathering large numbers of pearl oysters or mussels from the ocean floor, lake or river bed. These were brought to the surface, opened up and the tissue searched. More than a ton of them were searched in order to find 3-4 pearls. Pearl divers were trained to stay under water for at least 90 seconds, often descending to depths of over 125 feet in a single breath.  Many tied baskets or nets to their bodies to collect their harvest.

Pearl diving has been practised for over 4,000 years, from the Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean, the South China Sea and the Sea of Japan. Native Americans also harvested freshwater pearls from lakes and rivers like the Ohio, Tennessee and Mississippi, while others obtained them from the Caribbean and waters along Central and South America. In the time of colonial slavery in northern South America (along the coasts of Columbia and Venezuela) an occupation among slaves was that of pearl diving. In shark-infested waters this was extremely perilous, but any slave who discovered an extra large pearl could buy his freedom.

In Japan, pearl divers were traditionally women called Ama, which means ‘sea women’. Women are considered better pearl divers by many because they conserve heat better in the severe cold of the ocean.

In the early 1900s as pearls became harder to find, new pearl diving techniques were developed. Diving suits and breathing apparatus allowed for deeper and longer dives. It is estimated that 2000 people worked as pearl divers at this time.

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Old Kuwaiti dress used during pearl diving. Author: Kuwaitsoccer. Commons

Mother of pearl was used to make buttons for shirts.

Today, pearl diving has largely been replaced by cultivated pearl farms, although a few island nations undoubtedly still continue the practice.

*****

Roses, Book Promotions and a Trip to Wales

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This is another of my ‘mixed bag’ posts, with no particular theme. I’m also in the middle of writing a story for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers at the moment, so I’d better make this quick so I can get back to it and leave this evening for writing my book. Well, that’s the plan at the moment.

June is always such a glorious month in the UK (although many days this year have given me cause to doubt that!). Now that the spring flowers have died off, the summer blooms are opening and the garden is becoming more colourful by the day. The fruits on the trees are also beginning to swell and it looks as though we’ll have some bumper crops this year.

Roses are such beautiful flowers, although I know of a few people who are’t keen on them. Being from Lancashire (land of the red rose of the Wars of the Roses) red roses have always been a particular favourite. When I had our first child in 1973, my parents sent two dozen red roses to me in hospital. Nowadays, of course, flowers aren’t allowed on hospital wards. But I love roses of any colour and we have lots dotted around our garden. The rambler over the pergola, shown above, is not far from our back door, and the fantastic scent hits you as soon as you open the door.

For anyone interested in getting free books on Amazon, today is the first of my five free days for ‘Shadow of the Raven‘, Book One of my Viking trilogy. I decided to try all five days together this time, although I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing. I usually split the five days into two throughout the three-month period. Some people prefer to just have five separate days, which I have’t tried yet. Perhaps I’ll try that next time.

Shadow of the Raven (Medium)

Next week June 18 – 22 (Thursday – Monday) the second book of my trilogy, Pit of Vipers, will also be free. This is the first time I’ve had this book on the Select programme, so I’ve yet to see how well that works. I can’t imagine anyone would want to read Book Two without having read Book One, although it does stand alone, according to the editor of the Self Publishing Review, who has now reviewed both of my books (both reviews are in my side bar).

Pit of Vipers Final (Medium)

I’m still toying with the idea of taking my books off the Amazon Select scheme so that I can put them with other online publishers as well, like Barnes and Noble. Amazon Select demands exclusivity, which has its pros and cons. I’ve heard so many arguments regarding the best thing to do, but I’m still unsure. If anyone has any sound advice to offer here, I would be very grateful to hear it.

I’m off to Wales next week for a break – just Husband and me. We’ve decided to stay in Chester, a lovely old town, convenient for travelling into Wales or North-West England. My brother and his wife and family still live in the north-west, and my aunt and uncle live in North Wales. We’ll be spending some of the week visiting people, but the rest of the time, we intend to head out to visit three of the castles along the North Wales coast – Conwy, Caernarfon and Beau Maris – so that I can do a couple of posts about them. The last of these is on the Island of Anglesey, so I’m not sure we’ll have time to get to that one. I also want to do a post about Roman Chester. They’ve now opened up an ampitheatre just ouside the town, which was still being excavated last time we visited some years ago.  But my priority will be the castles – which I’ve visited several times before.  Here’s a photo of Caernarfon Castle we took a few years ago. It’s an awesome place…

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I hope to have plenty more photos by next week.

 

Creative Blogger Award x 2

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I’m thrilled about being nominated for this award (two different versions of it) because, as a writer, creative is what I aim to be. To produce work that is interesting, entertaining or beautiful to look at, is what anyone who ‘creates’ tries to do – whether it’s prose, poetry, art, photography, or any other activities like pottery, woodwork, dressmaking and knitting.

My two nominees are – in the order in which I received the nominations – Nitin Nair and Aquileana. So it’s a huge thank you to both of these wonderful bloggers for thinking of me.

Nitin (or NN) at his blog Nitin Nair Writes takes part in several writing challenges, including the Daily Prompt, Sunday Photo Fiction and Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers and Poetry 101. The logo for Nitin’s nomination is the one above, and the one for Aquileana’s is lower down the page. Neither of these awards posts are long ones, so I’ll take one at a time, in the order I was nominated.

So here are the rules for NN’s nomination (above logo):

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  1. Acknowledge and thank the blogger who nominated you with name and URL (done)
  2. Disclose 5 facts about yourself
  3. Further nominate 15 bloggers

Now here are five facts about me:

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  1. Although I’m not a great fan of most T.V. programmes, I adore BBC dramas. The ones I’ve particularly loved in recent years have been The Musketeers, Call the Midwife and Poldark. I watched the fist series of Poldark in black and white (!) in the 1970’s and was hooked on it then. This new series has been fantastic. And what can I say about The Musketeers… ? Great fun, swashbuckling, and handsome men! How can the BBC make us wait a whole year between series! Call the Midwife just brings back so many memories of my 1950s childhood – although I wasn’t in London, or involved in delivering babies!
  2. I was a very naughty little girl (so my aunt, who is six years older than me, told me last year). Her memories of some of the things I did brought those awful recollections crashing into my head. One incident was when I was about four. I had fallen out with a neighbouring friend, and I spitefully pulled up all the flowers in her front garden! Needless to say, her mum wasn’t pleased and came charging round to see my mum. I hid in a wardrobe for ages, and my mum was going frantic, thinking I’d run off somewhere. Double trouble.
  3. I hate shopping, especially for clothes and shoes for myself. I know this is unusual in a woman, but it really bores me to tears. By the time I’ve been in a couple of stores I’m ready for home. If I could buy everything by mail order, I would.
  4. I love living in a small village. The countryside is all around us, and I just need to step outside and walk. I miss out on many of the amenities of a town, of course, and we always have to drive to do any shopping at all. Worst of all, our Internet connection is abysmal.
  5. I adore castles! We have so many of them in Britain, in various states of repair, but I find all of them fascinating. I live only a few miles from both Lincoln and Newark Castles, and before we moved here, we lived in a village in Leicestershire where we could see Belvoir Castle through our bedroom window. Next week I’m going to North Wales to visit the aunt who reminded me how naughty I was. There are three awesome castles I want to visit – again!

Now for the Nominees:

Jack R. Cotner

William Leeone

A Smith’s World

I of July

The Wordy Rose

Irina’s Poetry Corner

Toast and Teas: Twists and Turns

Alex F.

TEG Diez

The Snow Melts Somewhere

donwolfordwriter

Tribalmystic

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I was nominated for this award by the wonderful Aquileana at he blog, La Audacia de Aquiles. She is an amazing and inspirational blogger! Her posts are dedicated to Greek mythology and I find them fascinatiing. I have learned so much from reading her thorough and detailed posts. The illustrations are awesome!

So here are the rules for Aquileana’s nomination. (As you see, for this one, the post will  be much shorter, and quicker, as there are no questions to answer or facts about yourself to write):

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1. Thank the person who nominated you for the award.

2. Add the logo to your post.

3. Nominate 10 bloggers of your choice and tell them about the nomination.

Here are my nominees for this award:

Emovere 

Tastyniblets

Latest Stories by Shivangi

The Creativity Cauldron

lifehomeandaway

meghdeb

I love all the blogs I’ve nominated, and find them all ‘creative’. If I’ve nominated anyone whose blog is award free, please accept my apologies in advance.

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Word of the Week (WOW) – Somnolent

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Word of the Week (WOW) is a weekly challenge created by Heena Rathore P. It’s a fun way to improve vocabulary by learning new words every week.

To participate, simply do a post with your word and leave the link as a comment on Heena’s WOW post for this week (above link). It’s a nice post to do and will give you some practise with a dictionary, of which there are several online. Illustrations are by no means necessary, but it’s up to you.

I’m up to the letter S this week, so I’ll be looking for a word beginning with  T next week.

So, here is my WOW for this week:

somnolent

 Word: 

Somnolent

Pronunciation:  

som·no·lent  [som-nuh-luh nt]

Audio:  HERE

Part of Speech:

Adjective

Noun: somnolence; somnolency

Adverb: somnolently

 Meaning:

1. Drowsy; sleepy (e.g a somnolent river, or a somnolent person)

2. Inducing or tending to induce sleep or sedation; soporific (e.g. a somnolent lesson)

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Synonyms:

sleepy, drowsy, tired, languid, languorous, heavy-eyed, dozy, noddding, half-asleep, asleep on one’s feet, yawning, lethargic, sluggish,  inactive, enervated, torpid, comatose, slumberous (or slumbrous) soporific.  Informal: snoozy, dopey, yawny

Antonyms:

alert, awake,conscious, wakeful, wide-eyed

Word Origin:

1425-75; late Middle English sompnolent < Old French < Latin somnolentus, derivative of somnus (sleep).

Use in a Sentence:

1. After feeding him, Katherine laid her somnolent baby in his cradle:

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Sleeeping male baby with arm extended. Author: PinkStock Photos, D. Sharon Pruitt

2. Once we’d crossed to the island, we passed through a number of somnolent villages:

Shanklin old village, isle of Wight, UK. Author: Christophe Finot. Creative Commons
Shanklin old village, isle of Wight, UK. Author: Christophe Finot. Creative Commons

3. (Noun  use) The warmth of the summer’s afternoon, combined with the good food and wine, induced a degree of somnolence in us:

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Picnic. Courtesy of Pixabay

4. (Adverb use) The waves lapped somnolently against the shore as we took our evening stroll.

Beach sunset in Cuba. Author: Aaron Escobar. Creative Commons
Beach sunset in Cuba. Author: Aaron Escobar. Creative Commons

If you’d like to see more interesting words, visit Heena’s page:

Word Treasure

It Happened Like This – Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

Flash Fiction for for Aspiring Writers is a writing challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. The challenge asks us to write a piece of fiction from the photo prompt provided in around 100- 150 words – give or take 25 words. It encourages participants to comment, constructively, on other entries, so supporting each other’s writing. If you’d like to join in with this challenge, follow the link in the title of PJ’s, blog: Beautiful Words to see what to do. The challenge runs from Wednesday to Wednesday every week.

Here is this week’s prompt, kindly provided by Ellespeth’s friend:

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. . . and this is my story:

Hot sun, golden sand, warm sea…  What more could a guy want for a week with a gorgeous blonde who just oozed sex appeal? Those curves were enough to send any man crazy.

And ‘crazy’ just grabbed hold of me – and I grabbed Doreen a little too amorously as we frolicked in the surf.  Her bikini top somehow came undone, and pink polka-dots were suddenly floating out to sea.

Doreen’s shrieked profanities needed no amplifier and, not satisfied with that, she proceeded to hammer me with her fists!

Jeers and hoots halted her swings. Belatedly overcome with modesty, Doreen bobbed down, neck-deep beneath the brine. I stared at the group of school lads, their muscles flexed, mocking our one-sided brawl.  But their eyes were fixed on Doreen, waiting to ogle her wading to shore.

Realising her predicament, Doreen’s rage soared. Another swipe knocked me senseless before she swam after her polka-dot top.

The lads were my saviours that day – and I never saw Doreen again.

My bruises faded in a couple of weeks.

Word Count: 175

 If you’d like to view other entries, click the little blue frog below:

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For any one interested, here are a few facts I found ( mostly from Wikipedia) about the bikini:

A bikini is a woman’s two-piece swimsuit. The design is simple: two triangles of fabric for the top and two triangles for the bottom. The size of the bikini can range from full pelvic coverage to a revealing thong or g-string design.

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Although we think of the bikini as a relatively recent design,  two-piece swimsuits actually existed in classical antiquity:

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Bikini girls mosaic, Villa del Casale, Piazza Armerina, Sicily, Italy. 4th century CE. Author unknown. Photographer Yann Forget. (Considered the most valuable image on Commons)

The modern design first attracted public attention in Paris in 1946, although a fuller, two-piece swimsuit was not completely unheard of prior to this time:

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Jayne Wyman in 1935. Los Angeles Times. Public Domain

The actual term, bikini, was coined by Lois Réard, a Parisian mechanical engineer who took over his mother’s lingerie business. He named it after Bikini Atoll, where the testing of atom bombs was taking place. Due to the controversial design, the bikini was slow to be adopted in many countries and was banned from beaches and public places. The Holy See declared the design sinful, but it became part of popular culture when film stars like Brigitte Bardot, Raquel Welsh and Ursula Andress began wearing them on beaches and film sets. I’m sure most of us know of, or have seen, Raquel Welch in One Million Years BC and Ursuala Andress in the James Bond movie, Dr. No.

OCT 9 1977, MAR 21 1980, JUL 23 1995 Below, Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello as they were during the Beach Party era. Right, Elleen Mintz, one of seven Annette look-alike contestants, screams as the audience votes her the winner.
Frankie Avalon and Annette Furnicello at Beach Party in the 1960’s. Annette Furnicello was not permitted to show her navel. Public Domain.

By the 1960s, the bikini design had become common in most western countries as beachwear, swimwear and underwear. By the late 20th century it was also used as sportswear, e.g. in beach volleyball and body building.

Semi final of Women's beach volleyball at the Beijing Olympics. Author Craig Maccubin. Commons
Semi final of Women’s beach volleyball at the Beijing Olympics. Author Craig Maccubin. Commons

Various styles are common today, from skimpy thong designs to fuller, skirted ones. It’s not unusual on beaches worldwide to see women wearing them with pride – whatever their size.

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Strutting: Women on the beach in bikinis. Author: Priomos, Sydney, Australia. Creative Commons

Real Neat Blog Award

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I’m delighted to have been nominated for this award by the lovely Izzy on her blog Izzy-grabs-life. Izzy writes beautifully, contributing to several flash fiction challenges, and does photography challenges, too. She’s a great blogger whose exuberance seems to burst from the page, and I recommend everyone to take a look at her blog. Thank you so much, Izzy, for nominating me.

So, here are the rules:

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  • Put the award logo on your blog.
  • Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs.
  • Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs.
  • Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog, etc.)

 Here are my answers  to Izzy’s seven questions:

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Q.1 Can you describe the four seasons in sounds? Good! Now, please, show us what you came up with. ^_^

For this interesting question the only thing I could come up with was this short story. (It isn’t really that long, but if you’re pushed for time, you could just skip this answer! lol)

Song of the Seasons

Monsieur DuPont, conductor and maestro of his art, stood poised before the orchestra, arms before him, the baton in his right hand unmoving. Silence descended over the packed theatre and the baton gestured to the percussion group to the rear of the violins.

Tambourines softly rustle, rousing the sleeping land from its winter sleep…

Mallets strike the xylophone, brisk, tinkling notes reverberate round the hall: winter’s snow and ice beginning to drip: drip, drip, drippety-drip; drippety-drippety-drip … Mallets sweep the keyboard to and fro, the trickle becoming a steady flow. The flute’s melodic notes gush forth: hillside streams hastening their descent to the valley below. Timpani boom, loud and determined; streams uniting with rising rivers; cymbals clash as waters burst their banks; farmland, village and town consumed. The repeated springtime curse…

Gentler now, the piccolo mirrors the dance of butterfly, blackbird and bee; warm sunshine on blossoming land. Violins soar, heralding summer’s intensifying heat, darkening greens, and roses, marigolds and hollyhocks bright. The strings are in full burst as midsummer blooms… slowing and softening as the ripening wheat sways in the breeze and fruit swells on orchard trees…

Mellowing all too soon, violas deeper tones mirror autumn’s golden hues, broken at times by bursts from piccolo and flute: laughter from children at conker fights; adults celebrating harvest home. Sweeps of the xylophone signify the whirr of combines in the fields.

The horn’s soft, slow tones herald the advent of winter and darkening nights; the cello in sombre mood reflects life’s sedate pace. Jack Frost shows his face, the sharply plucked violin depicting his efforts to penetrate home and hearth.

January’s soft snowfall is the gentle harp’s delight. Snow blankets the earth, muffling and protecting all beneath.  The tambourine rustles a little, glimmers of February’s wan sunlight holding promise of spring.  But loud bursts from the trumpets tell us that March winds demand to be heard … quieting as gentle April draws nigh. Spring once again.

Note: If anyone out there is screaming at my inappropriate choice of instruments for these sounds, I confess, I’m no musician.

Q.2  Who is your favorite fictional protagonist? Antagonist? Why?

My favourite protagonist just has to be Francis Crawford of Lymond. He features in the series of six books known as ‘The Lymond Chronicles’, by the brilliant Scottish author, Dorothy Dunnett, who sadly died in 2001.

Lymond, as he’s generally called, has to be the most complex character I’ve ever come across. He has so many admirable qualities, most of which lie concealed beneath the veneer he chooses to show to the world. He’s a nobleman, who lives by his wits and swordsmanship; a scholar, a poet and a musician. For much of Book One, he comes across as someone with a careless attitude to life, and his motives for doing things are often misunderstood by others, who see him devious and scheming. But as the book progresses his true character emerges – a sad, sensitive and troubled person, fiercely loyal to his family and country. He is also desperate to prove himself innocent of the crime for which he was framed: treason towards the Scottish crown.  Overall, it’s the complexity and depth of his character that works for me.

As an antagonist, Graham Reid Malett, also from the Lymond Chronicles, really appealed to me. He appears in Books 3 and 4, as a member of the Order of St. John on the island of Malta. He is initially portrayed is as a Godly character, generous, beautiful and fair-headed. In other words, he is truly angelic – the reason why he is referred to as Gabriel. But in reality, he’s the most evil person anyone is ever likely to meet. I won’t describe some of the things Gabriel does, but he is Lymond’s arch enemy in Books 3 and 4 – though his effect is felt for far longer and sends Lymond to the depths of despair.

Q. 3 What do you feel most proud of this week (so far)?

I’m not feeling particularly proud of doing anything right now, I’m afraid, other than getting on with my writing. I’ll  have to try to do something to be proud of next week.

Q. 4 What did you want to be when you were little?

The first thing I ever wanted to be was a nurse, after I’d got a nurse’s outfit from Father Christmas when I was four. I used to subject my little sister, then two, to being bandaged up and lying on the settee covered in blankets while I pretended to dose her with medicine. Poor child! Fortunately, that phase didn’t last too long and, like most kids, I wanted to be various things, including a train driver, a librarian and eventually, a teacher.  At first I wanted to be a P.E. teacher, because I was always the sporty type and adored gymnastics. I didn’t settle on geography until I was doing my ‘A’ levels (age 16-18).

Q.5 How do you spend your free time (even if it’s a few minutes)?

If ever I have any free time, I read. If I really do have a lot of time, I might go for extra walks. or go swimming. But the odd half-hour, or even waiting in the doctor’s or dentist’s surgeries, is spent reading. I always take a book, or my Kindle, with me.

Q. 6 What skill would you like to learn and why?

I would love to play the violin, and regret never having learned as a child. Unfortunately, my parents didn’t have spare cash to pay for such things. Life was hard for working-class families in post-war Britain. I suppose it’s never too late to learn. If only I had the time.

Q. 7  What does being strong mean to you?    

Not an easy question to answer, because strength can be interpreted in so many ways. It can be seen in people who are willing to stand up for what they believe in. It can be seen in families, or friends, who support each other through difficult times. It can be seen in people suffering great hardships who persevere and refuse to give in. I could give several more examples but that would result in a very long answer.

7 questions for my nominees:

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  1. Which is your preferred way of expressing yourself creatively, either on your blog or elsewhere (e.g. art, poetry, photography etc.)
  2. What do you like best about blogging?
  3. What is your favourite genre in books and films/movies, and why?
  4. Which three qualities do you value the most in a good friend?
  5. Are you a city-loving person, or do you prefer the quietness of country life? Give your reasons?
  6. Is there any particular time of year where you live that you like the best, and why?
  7. Do you have a favourite flower? If so, what is it you particularly like about it?

Now here are my nominees:

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Apologies in advance to anyone whose blog is an Award Free one. I have looked on everyone’s, but I could well have missed something.