Rainbow Colours of Light – Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

Flash Fiction for for Aspiring Writers is a writing challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. It 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 us to comment, constructively, on other entries, so supporting each other’s writing. If you’d like to join in with this challenge, follow the above link to see what to do. The challenge runs from Wednesday to Wednesday every week.

Here is this week’s prompt, a beautiful picture, kindly provided by Etol Bagam:

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. . . and this is my story:

Lost in his memories, Richard stood on the bridge that spanned the river as the tour guide delivered his spiel about the awesome falls. He’d been saving for this trip for two long years, and now their wedding anniversary had arrived.

Claire had always loved waterfalls. ‘There’s something magical about them,’ she’d said, so many times. ‘Imagine standing so close, small and insignificant in the drenching spray, whilst rainbow colours of light dance over the swirling plunge pool.’

Thirty years of married life had passed by in a haze of hard work and raising children. Now the four had flown the nest, leaving Richard and Claire alone.  So happy together …

The illness had taken her from him, just six months before their anniversary. Towards the end, Claire had made him promise not to cancel their holiday.

‘Just look at that rainbow, Richard!’ Claire’s joyful voice sounded inside his head.

Richard focused on the vibrant colours, blinking back the teardrops that threatened to flow like the cascading waters of the falls.

Word Count: 171

Rainbowbywaterfall. Licenced under Public Domain.
Rainbowbywaterfall. Licenced under Public Domain. This rainbow is in Iceland, but they are common in the water vapour /spray around many waterfalls.

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

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Today’s prompt brought to mind a waterfall that I’ve looked at in geography lessons with Year 8 on several occasions. I don’t know whether the picture is of the Angel Falls or not, but there’s a definite similarity. I’ve never seen a photo showing a bridge, however, so it could well be somewhere else.

For anyone interested, here’s a little bit of information about the Angel Falls,  mostly from Wikimedia, but other snippets from various sites.

View of Angel Falls in National Park, Canaima, Venezuela. Author: Paulo Capiotti, uploaded by Slick-o-bot. Commons
View of Angel Falls in National Park, Canaima, Venezuela. Author: Paulo Capiotti, uploaded by Slick-o-bot. Commons

Angel Falls is situated in the Canaima National Park in Venezuela (South America) and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is on the Guaja River (sometimes called the Kerep River or Kerepacupai). It is the highest uninterrupted waterfall in the world, dropping almost a kilometer (979 meters/3212 feet) from a cleft near the summit of table top mountain, Auyán-tepu, into Devil’s Canyon below. It is five times higher than the  Niagara Falls and three times as high as the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

During the rainy season, the waterfall splits into two:

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Angel Falls, Venezuela, in the rainy season. Author: Luis Carillo. Commons

In the dry season (December -April) it looks like this:

Salto Angel in the dry season. Author: Tomaszp.  Commons
Salto Angel in the dry season. Author: Tomaszp.
Commons

 Angel Fall was named after the American airborne gold prospector, Jimmie Angel. In 1933, he flew over the falls in his Flamingo monoplane in search of a valuable ore bed. In 1937 he returned with his second wife, Marie, on board, along with acquaintances Gustavo Henry and Miguel Delgado. Although landing successfully at the summit of the falls, the plane’s wheels became stuck in the mud and they had to walk 12 miles through the jungle, which took 12 days. News of their adventure spread and the waterfall was named Angel Falls in his honour. The common Spanish name for the waterfall, ‘Salto Angel’, was first published on a Venezuelan government map in December 1939.

The plane remained marooned at the top of the mountain until 1970, when it was taken down by a helicopter. It  can usually be seen at the Aeronautics Museum of Maracay.

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Jimmie Angel’s aircraft, exhibited in front of Bolivar airport. Photo uploaded by Yosemite. Commons

Angel Falls is one of Venezuela’s top tourist attractions, though a trip out to it is a quite a complicated one, as the falls are located in isolated jungle. It requires a flight out to Canaima camp, followed by a boat or jeep ride to the falls. Tourists have only been permitted to visit since 1990. The first visitors stayed at Boulton Camp (now known as Campamento Canaima).

These Falls also inspired the setting of the Disney film Up in 2009, although it was called Paraduse Falls. It was also seen briefly inthe Disney film Dinosaur, as well as the 1990 film Arachnaphobia.

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Panoramic, partly clouded, view of Angel Falls. Author Jlazovskis. Commons

Word of Week (WOW) – Yammer

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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).

I’m up to the letter Y this week and, as with X, I’ve had limited choice for this week’s word – and I imagine Z will be just as bad. I can’t wait to get back to starting the alphabet again.

So, here is my WOW for this week:

yammer

Word: 

yammer

Pronunciation:

yam•mer (ˈyæm ər)

Audio link:

yammer

Part of Speech: 

verb

Related Forms:

noun: yammer; yam·mer·er 

adverb: yammeringly

Meaning:

As a verb:

1. to utter or whine in a complaining or peevish manner

2. to make a complaint, loudly or persistently:  shutterstock_187060769

3. (intransitive) esp of an animal, to howl or wail plaintively or distressingly; yelp or yowl.

As a noun:

  1. yammer e.g. The yammer of animated conversation emanated from the boardroom:
exchange-of-ideas-222788_640
Image courtesy of Pixabay

2. a yammering sound, wail, or utterance

3. nonsense; jabber

Synonyms:

beef, bellyache, bitch, bleat, carp, caterwaul, croak, fuss, gripe, grizzle, grouch, grouse, growl, grumble, grump, holler, keen, moan, murmur, mutter, nag, repine, scream, squawk, squeal, wail, whimper, whinge, whine, complain, yawp/yaup, yowl.

Antonyms: 

crow, delight, rejoice

Word Origin:

Middle English yameren, alteration of yomeren -to murmur, be sad – from Old English gēomrian -akin to Old High German  jāmaron, to be sad.  First known use: 15th century

Use in a Sentence:

1. After the earthquake, the seismographs yammered for days:

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2. Maria escorted the old lady back to her house, smiling patiently as she yammered on about the old days:

Old_woman_walk

3. Chris yawned, willing the teacher to stop yammering about boring algebraic equations:

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4.  Left alone in the isolated cottage, Judith found the constant yammer of the guard dog quite unnerving:

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Image courtesy of Pixabay

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

Word Treasure

WW1 Day at Crich Tramway Museum

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Last Sunday, July 19, we headed off to Derbyshire with our 16-year-old grandson to visit the Crich Tramway Museum (the letter i in Crich is pronounced like the word ‘eye’). The museum is situated in the Crich Tramway Village, close to the town of Matlock and is an hour-and-a-half drive from where we live:

Map of Derbyshire civil parishes, highlighting Matlock Town. Author: Rcsprinter. Commons
Map of Derbyshire civil parishes, highlighting Matlock Town. Author: Rcsprinter. Commons

We specifically picked this weekend because it was a World War One weekend, and the event was attended by a number of people in period costume or WW1 army uniform. A re-enactment group were also in uniform or other Edwardian dress. Shop windows displayed WW1 foods and there were various recruitment posters about:

It’s thirteen years since we last visited Crich, when Kieran was only three. On that occasion, it was a Thomas the Tank Engine weekend, and Kieran was mad about all the different, colourful engines. His love of Thomas and friends dwindled very soon afterwards, when real steam engines took over. His passion for those has never waned. In fact, trams fall a long way short for him, but he enjoyed the day well enough.

The heart of the village is Tramway Street, a cobbled street with a shiny ‘lacework’of metal running along it, flanked by period buildings. Above, the overhead wire has been described as ‘a mad woman’s knitting’. Both the tracks and wires have been retrieved from towns and cities all over the country…

… as have the buildings and street furniture, some of which were moved stone by stone from their original destinations. There is a pub – the Red Lion Pub, a cafe (Rita’s Tearooms) an old-style sweetshop, the Yorkshire Penny Bank and the impressive Derby Assembly Rooms with its grand Georgian frontage (originally built between 1765 and 1774). It now houses the video theatre and other displays about Britain’s tramways. There is a bandstand in a little park area, and a number of old gas lamps and a couple of telephone boxes. The village is also home to the Eagle Press, a small museum dedicated to letterpress printing, including an 1859 Columbian printing press:

The Bowes-Lyon Bridge (seen above) crosses the road. From up there we could watch the trams going underneath us. These pictures give a good view of the ‘mad woman’s knitting’ design of the wires, with the tracks beneath:

There are fifty trams on display at Crich, both single and double-deckers, some from places abroad, including France, Germany, Belgium, Portugal, South Africa and the U.S. The idea is to portray each of the significant stages in the evolution of the British tramcar. The gaps have been filled in with tramcars from outside the U.K.

Several trams run through the village and visitors can ride up and down the one-mile track along the edge of the beautiful Derwent Valley.

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018 (2)

Visitors can get on and off a variety of trams at different spots to view the sites. These include a lead mine, with the rails for the trolleys, a woodland walk with some unusual wooden sculptures (several of the Green Man) and views of the quarry:

The Derwent Valley was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO due to its historical importance. The valley can rightly be described as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. The village of Cromford, only a mile away, was where Richard Arkwright built his new mill in 1771. George Stevenson, the great railway pioneer, had a close connection with Crich and the present tramway follows part of the mineral railway he built to link the quarry with the village of  Ambergate.

On their arrival in Britain in 1860 from the US (where they were developed) trams were welcomed as a means of transport that gave a far smoother ride than previous horse drawn buses. They also provided a far cheaper form of urban transport for the masses. When the electric tram arrived in 1900, it was a wonder of the age. By the 1920s there were 14,000 electric trams in Britain. The trams at Crich mostly ran along the streets of cities in United Kingdom before the 1960s, with some trams rescued and restored (even from other countries) as the systems closed.

Besides the trams constantly rumbling along the streets, there are many inside the exhibition halls to be brought out on different days, and some in the workshop undergoing restoration:

Decline of the trams came after WW1, notably when the internal combustion engine was developed. Vehicles powered that way offered reliability and perceived low cost, and were not restricted to rails. However, it took many years before buses became swifter and carried more passengers than trams. Even when the motor car was developed, public transport still thrived. But few towns invested in new trams and the cheaper buses eventually took over. By the 1950s only a handful of tramway systems were left. Blackpool closed before the 60s and Glasgow Corporation Tramways in 1962.

There has been a recent revival with new networks such as the Croydon Tramlink, Sheffield Supertram, Midland Metro, Edinburgh Trams, Manchester Metrolink, and Nottingham Express Transit being built and extended. Whether or not other cities will follow remains to be seen.

Here’s a smile inducing piece of information to end with, complete with illustration, from inside the Discovery Centre:

The Holy Island of Lindisfarne

1024px-Lindisfarne_Lobster_Pots

This week’s prompt for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers reminded me of one of my favourite spots to visit in the UK: Lindisfarne (or Holy Island). So I have TJ Paris to thank for bringing it to my mind.  This is his photo . . .

wpid-photo-20150720132321474

. . . and my story can be read here.

I would normally add a little bit of ‘extra’ information at the end of my story each week, but I thought this was a little too long for that today. So here it is, as a separate post:

I’ve always been fascinated by offshore islands, whether inhabited by humans or simply by colonies of seabirds. It has been suggested that there as many as 5000 islands in total around the coast of the UK – a number difficult to verify as it depends on a person’s definition of an island. Some ‘islands’ may be just small lumps of rock. But there are certainly more than 1000.

As for Lindisfarne, it is well worth a visit. We usually head up there when we’ve been staying around Hadrian’s Wall, just for a change for a day out. It has a lot to offer for tourists, including the requisite souvenir shops, hotels, restaurants and cafes etc. Of course, most people go there to see the historical sites.

Lindisfarne lies just off the coast of NE England, in the county of Northumberland. It is connected to the mainland by a tidal causeway, and there is a castle and priory on the island.

(Note.  A causeway is a raised road or track across low or wet ground. e.g. “an island reached at low tide by a causeway”)

Map of Northumberland showing offshore islands. Author: Nilfanion. Commons
Map of Northumberland showing offshore islands. Lindisfarne is the larger, more northerly isle. Author: Nilfanion. Commons
Simplistic map of Holy Island. Author: Fhah 4. Commons
Simplistic map of Holy Island. Author: Fhah 4. Commons

Lindisfarne has recorded history from the 6th century, although we know the Romans were in the area much earlier, and there could have been a village of Britons on the isle. In the 6th century, Lindisfarne was an important centre for Celtic Christianity under Saint Aiden, who came from Ireland and established an Irish-type wooden monastery with a small church and various huts and workshops. He eventually became Bishop of Lindisfarne and was buried there in 651. But at the end of the 9th century, when the priory was abandoned, his remains were taken to Durham Cathedral, where they still remain today. Ther is a statue of St. Aidan by the Priort ruins, which are on the site of the monastery built by him:

Lindisfarne Priory ruins and statue of St. Aidan. Author: Kim Traynor. Commons
Lindisfarne Priory ruins and statue of St. Aidan. Author: Kim Traynor. Commons

Much is written about the history of Lindisfarne and the ‘saints’ who came after St. Aidan. But the event that captures most people’s interest – most certainly mine – is that of the Viking raid on the island in 793. This event is now taken to be the beginning of the Viking Age.

Here’s the modern English version (as opposed to the Anglo Saxon one) of the raid, from the Anglo Saxon Chronicle:

“In this year fierce, foreboding omens came over the land of the Northumbrians, and the wretched people shook; there were excessive whirlwinds, lightning, and fiery dragons were seen flying in the sky. These signs were followed by great famine, and a little after those, that same year on 6th ides of January,* the ravaging of wretched heathen people destroyed God’s church at Lindisfarne.”

 (*The generally accepted date for the Viking raid on Lindisfarne is 8th June, when sailing across the North Sea would have been more likely for the Vikings. The’ 6th ides of January’ is now considered to be a translation error.)

Alcuin, a Northumbrian scholar at Charlemagne’s court at the time, wrote:

“Never before has such terror appeared in Britain as we have now suffered from a pagan race. . . The heathens poured out the blood of saints around the altar, and trampled on the bodies of saints in the temple of God, like dung in the streets.

These raids by Norwegian Vikings were not followed up. Most of the later raiders sailed north around Scotland. The 9th century invasions came from the Danes … which, of course is the topic of my books.

The Priory on Lindisfarne was built in the 11th century on the site of the Irish-styled monastery founded by St. Aidan in 636. Here are some pictures of the ruins today.

Remains of Lindisfarne Priory: 1798 by Thomas Girton. The priory's rainbow arch (which still survive) is shown truncated for artistic effect.
Remains of Lindisfarne Priory: 1798 by Thomas Girton. The priory’s rainbow arch (which still survives) is shown truncated for artistic effect.

The castle was built in 1550 by Henry VIII in defence of the realm against attack by Scotland and in pursuit of their Spanish allies.  It is said to have been constructed of stone taken from the priory.

Londisfarne Castle from the harbour on a rainy day. Author: Russ Hamer. Commons
Londisfarne Castle from the harbour on a rainy day. Author: Russ Hamer. Commons
Lindisfarne Castle. It is sited on top of a volcanic mound known as Beblowe Craig. Author: Matthew Hunt. Commons
Lindisfarne Castle. It is sited on top of a volcanic mound known as Beblowe Craig. Author: Matthew Hunt. Commons

The Lindisfarne Gospels are among the most celebrated illuminated books in the world. A 10th century inscription at the end of the text was made in honour of God and Saint Cuthbert by Eadfrith, Bishop of Lindisfarne, who died in 721. The Lindisfarne Gospels are part of a collection of Sir Robert Cotton (died 1631) in the British Library in London.

Folio 27r from the Lindisfarne Gospels contains the incipit from the Gospel of St. Matthew. Uploaded by Airump. Public Domain
Folio 27r from the Lindisfarne Gospels contains the incipit from the Gospel of St. Matthew. Uploaded by Airump. Public Domain
Lindisfarne Gospelsshowing John the Evangelist. Permission PD-Art. Public Domain
Lindisfarne Gospelsshowing John the Evangelist. Permission PD-Art. Public Domain

Echoes of Misery – Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

Flash Fiction for for Aspiring Writers is a writing challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. It 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 us to comment, constructively, on other entries, so supporting each other’s writing. If you’d like to join in with this challenge, follow the above link to see what to do. The challenge runs from Wednesday to Wednesday every week.

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

wpid-photo-20150720132321474

. . . and this is my story:

Amelia withdrew to her bedchamber, leaving Edward to his business affairs. Through the open window she watched the seagulls wheeling over the blue-grey water, their mournful dirge echoing her own misery. During their first year of marriage, she had seen little of her husband, whose business focused on London, so far away.

Bequeathed to Edward by his grandfather, the house had been built eighty years ago, in 1756, in place of a dilapidated keep, and was encircled by the castle’s towering fortifications. Enveloped by the sea, storms utterly terrified Amelia, as malevolent waves battered the defences like some ancient foe firing deadly cannon.

Despite numerous servants, she felt so alone; no babe yet swelled her womb.

Edward was suddenly beside her. ‘Amelia, I think we should move to London…  We can afford it now, and in London you’ll be close to your family –’

Amelia threw her arms round his neck, sobbing her relief.

‘We’ll spend more time together,’ he whispered, ‘raise a child or two…  And bequeath this house to the nesting gulls.’

Word Count: 174

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

I usually add a little bit of ‘extra’ information connected to the topic of my story every week. Today I thought this information was a little too long, so I’ve made it into a separate post. If you would like to read it, you can find it here.

Word of Week (WOW) – Xenolith

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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).

I’m up to the letter this week and this one was a bit of a challenge. There are relatively few words beginning with X, and many of the words that do either refer to something biological, botanical, or chemical, or are names of people or places. I ended up picking a noun that is familiar to me, and I want to attempt a couple of sentences using it in a metaphorical way, or perhaps in a simile.

So, here is my WOW for this week:

xenolith

Word: 

xenolith

Part of Speech: 

noun

Related Forms:

xenolithic: adjective

Pronunciation

xen·o·lith  (zěn’ə-lĭth’, zē’nə-)  

Audio link:

xenolinth

Meaning:

(Geological Sceience) a fragment of rock differing in origin, composition, structure, etc, from the igneous rock enclosing it.

Included fragment of granite within basalt. Near Georgeville, Nova Scotia. Rygel M.C. Commons
Included fragment of granite within basalt. Near Georgeville, Nova Scotia. Rygel M.C. Commons

Synonyms:

inclusion

Antonyms: 

None

Word Origin:

1894 – 1905; xeno (foreign, strange) + lith (stone)

Use in a Sentence:

1. (Adjective use) The xenolithic nature of the rock gave it an exotic appeal:

Garnet_lherzolite_-_xenolith_from_a_kimberlite_pipe,_Kimberley_SA
Garnet Iherzolite xenolith from Kimberley, South Africa. (Garnet – purplish-red, olivine – dark green, chromian dioxide pyroxene – bright green). Author: James St, John, uploaded by Tillman. Commons.

2. Against the dull grey of the lava flow, the xenolith of yellow peridotite stood out like the moon in the darkening night sky:

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‘Nephelinit’ by Benutzer Derhammer. Rounded, yellow, weathered peridotite xenolith in nephelinite lava flow. Kaiserstuhl, SW Germany. Commons

3. The moon was a xenolith in the indigo sky of night:

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4. The small girl in the purple dress was like a xenolith in the vast green meadow:

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Last two images courtesy of Pixabay.

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

Word Treasure

Two More Blog Awards

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I was nominated for both the Premio Dardos Bloggers Award and the Real Neat Blog Award in June. Since then, I’ve been away for a week to Wales and had a week with no Internet, so I haven’t really caught up with myself. yet.  Today I thought it was time to bring both of these nominations out of hibernation:

Pemio Dardos Bloggers Award

For the Premio Dardos Award, I am very grateful to Joycelin Leahy at Tribalmystic stories. Joycelin is a fantastic blogger, whose  posts include articles and stories set in her native Papua New Guinea as well as posts about art (her own art work is stunning) writing and environmental issues. They are fascinating and I recommend her blog to everyone.

This is the information that comes with this award:

The Premio Dardos Award acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in their effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values every day. These stamps were created with the intention of promoting fraternization between bloggers, a way of showing affection and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web.

And here are the very simple rules:

shutterstock_1527880701. Accept the award by posting it on your blog along with the name of the person who granted the award and a link to his or her blog.
2. Include the image of the “Premio Dardos” in the post.
3. Pass the award to another 15 blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgement.

There are no questions to answer or write for nominees with this award.

These are my nominees:

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Prateek Kohli

Shivangi

Tasty Niblets

Forestfolkart

Jenna M Neal

Heartafire

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Real Neat Blog Award. blog-award

I also want to say a big thank you to Francesca at A Smith’s World for nominating me for the Real Neat Blog Award. Francesca is a talented writer who does a lot of great flash fiction stories. Her work is very descriptive and often emotionally charged and I recommend you to take a look.

And these are the rules:

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

Numbers 1 and 2 are duly done, so here are my answers for Q.3.

1. What word best describes you?

There are lots of words I could use to describe myself – stubborn being one of them; impatient another – although impatience is only ever aimed at myself. The most flattering word I can use to describe myself is industrious. I always work hard and rarely give up until I’ve completed whatever I’m doing to my own satisfaction.

2. What is your greatest fear?

I’ve been paranoid about sharks for many years, and although I’m a good swimmer and love being in the sea, I’m very nervous when I venture out further than knee-deep and spend my time looking for fins. This was made worse when I was snorkelling around Lady Elliot Island (Great Barrier Reef) and there were reef sharks out there. I didn’t know that when I was snorkelling, of course. I only found out once I’d climbed back into the boat and one of the two cheerful Australian guys in charge of our day, asked me whether I’d noticed the reef shark. I’ve been snorkelling since in the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean, but I’m very nervous and keep with the group.

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Image courtesy of Pixabay

3. Why do you have a blog? 

I started my blog because everyone said that authors should have one. My blog is not quite a year old, and in that time, I’ve found that I’ve loved connecting with people from around the world. I enjoy writing blog posts and doing flash fiction challenges (although I’ve had to cut down on these recently in order to spend more time on my third book). I’ve really enjoyed writing my historical sites posts (castles and such-like) and some about travel – which are also historically themed. I rarely write posts about my books, unless I have a 5 free-days promotion on Amazon coming up. I suppose I should do more, such as sharing the progress of my new book – but that would be so boring!

4. What is your favourite quote?

baby elephant quote

I like lots of different quotes, for different things, but my favourite quote about writing is one by David Eddings, which I put on my quote challenge a few weeks ago:

5. Compose a quote about writing or the power of words: 

“Words are like raindrops pattering inside my head, giving life to gathering thoughts”. 

Not the best quote in the world, but all I can come up with at short notice.

6. What continent would you pick to be from if you had the option and why?

I’m very happy living in Europe and wouldn’t want to move anywhere else – although I want to visit as many countries as I can!

7. If you were a politician what policy would you implement

I’m not comfortable about discussing politics, although I do have very strong feelings about many issues. One policy I’d like to see implemented (in the U.K. at least) is that all new buildings are constructed with solar panels. Many people are having them installed, but they are expensive and not a possibility for any but the ‘better off’.

Now for my nominees:

point-36834_640

Snapshots Perspectives

Dave Does the Travel Thing

Skyllairae

Samanthamacaster

Hannah

Diana

As Francesca did, I’m passing these same questions on to my nominees.

Dance of the Swan – Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

Flash Fiction for for Aspiring Writers is a writing challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. It 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 us to comment, constructively, on other entries, so supporting each other’s writing. If you’d like to join in with this challenge, follow the above link to see what to do. The challenge runs from Wednesday to Wednesday every week.

Here is this week’s prompt, kindly provided by Sonya at Only 100 Words:

wpid-photo-20150714061449959

. . . and this is my story:

Alexei surveyed the solid ice block before him, considering the shape he was about to sculpt. He knew every curve of the slender neck, every line of the beautiful face. He’d marvelled at her exquisite elegance as he’d watched her glide effortlessly from one position to the next.

As the ice took on its overall shape, Alexei deftly used his little ice knife and small, flat chisel to create the finer features. He imagined those intelligent, dark eyes, gazing back at him. How close the two of them had become in such a short while. He’d never imagined he would lose her.

‘But I must go to Moscow, Alexei!’ Katerina had exclaimed at his feeble requests that she stay. ‘My life would be nothing without the Ballet. I shall be Odette, the beautiful swan. And I shall return to you once we close.’

So long ago…

Now a prima ballerina, Katerina had chosen the adoration of millions over Alexei’s love. To him she had become a beautiful, icy swan, destined to just melt away…

Word Count: 174

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

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For anyone interested, here is some information about The History of Ice Sculpture. from various sources:

Ice sculpture is the art of carving shapes out of ice, ranging from small table decorations to entire towns of ice seen at winter festivals all over the world. The origins of ice scupting are credited to both China and Russia:

In the 1600s, hunters and fishermen of the Chinese province of Heilongjiang, on the border of Russia, designed ice lanterns. They filled buckets with water to make ice, then slid it out and put a candle in the hole to make a lantern. People started hanging decorated lanterns from homes and parading them in carnivals. Here’s a pictute of an ice lantern I found that looks bucket-shaped, and how I imagine those made in China might have looked:

Islykta
Lantern of Ice. Uploaded by Eric Sylwan. Commons

In 1897, the Trans Siberian Railway was extended through the small Chinese fishing town of Harbin in Heilongjiang. Increased traffic resulted in Harbin growing into a cosmopolitan city. With below freezing winds from Siberia, and ice from the frozen Songhua river, Harbin became the home of the annual International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival. Currently, this festival features the work of thousands of artists from all over the world and holds the Guinness World Record for the largest snow sculpture. The sculpture, entitled “Romantic Feelings”, measured 115 ft tall and 656 ft long.

Harbin Ice Festival. Originally uploaded by LiYan.  Commons
Harbin Ice Festival. Originally uploaded by LiYan. Commons

The first historical occurrence of ice sculpture in Russia was in 1740 when the Empress Anna Ivanovna commissioned the building of an ice palace in St. Petersburg. The palace was intended to be an elaborate joke, but to the empress it was meant as something darker. She delighted in humiliating nobility, and Prince Mikhail Galitzine had annoyed her by insisting on marrying an Italian Catholic. After the death of this first wife, the empress forced him to marry her ugly, elderly servant woman. The ice palace was built as the stage for the wedding. Following the church ceremony, the couple were fastened inside an iron cage on the back of an elephant and paraded toward the palace in a procession of horses, camels, wolves and pigs. They were then forced to spend the night inside the frozen mansion, with guards posted outside to ensure they stayed there.

Today, there are a number of ice festivals around the world. Other than the one at Harbin, China, they include those in Japan, Canada, Alaska (USA), Belgium, Sweden, Russia and the UK.

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Ice castle during the Quebec Winter Carnival of 2009. Uploaded by Shapiros 10. Commons

 

Ai Weiweis Ice Sculpture in Stockholm, Sweden, 2014. Uploaded by Frankie Fouganthin (own work).
Ai Weiweis Ice Sculpture in Stockholm, Sweden, 2014. Uploaded by Frankie Fouganthin (own work).

 

 

Three Quotes Challenge – Day 3

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I’ve been nominated again for the Three Quotes Challenge, this time by the lovely Galit Balli, an excellent blogger whose posts are really interesting and varied. Not only does Galit write great book reviews for ‘The Reading Bud’, she also shares her experiences of writing her own book as well as doing lots of other fun and interesting posts.

These are the  challenge rules:

  1. Post one quotation a day for three days (they can be from other sources or one of your own).
  2. Nominate 3 other bloggers to participate per post.
  3. Thank the blogger who nominated you.

The last time I did this challenge I decided to do quotes about writing, so this time I thought I’d do three quotes about the weather.  So far, I’ve posted quotes about rain and sunshine. For my last post in the challenge I’ve chosen a weather-type that I don’t like… the wind. I don’t like fog either, especially the thick, persistent type that can cause so many accicents. But I can only do three quotes, so windy weather it is…

This is my Quote for Day Three:

I really couldn’t decide which of these two images to use for this quote. They’re quite different and give a different ‘feel’ to Picasso’s quote. I think Picasso intended his words to be taken as a bit of fun – but perhaps that’s just my interpretation. Anyway, I’m posting both pictures, so see what you think:

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A Windy Day (1790s). Oil on canvas, Fitzwilliam Museum. Scanned by George Morland from ‘The Dress of Peole: Everyday Fashion in 18c England’ by John Styles. Public Domain.

wind quote 1

***

This is nothing to do with the challenge, but here is one of my favourite poems about the wind – which  most people will already know. It’s a simple little poem, but so effective:


Who Has seen the Wind?

Who has seen the wind?

Neither I nor you

But when the leaves hang trembling

The wind is passing through

*

Who has seen the wind?

Neither you nor I

But when the trees bow down their heads

The wind is passing by

by

Christina Rossetti

Windy day in Killarney. Painting by John Siburt. Author: Hrhpower Commons
Windy Day in Killarney. Painting by John Siburt. Author: Hrhpower. Commons

Here are my three nominees:

1. Norma 

2. Diana

3. Christina Rose

Three Quotes Challenge – Day 2

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I’ve been nominated again for the Three Quotes Challenge, this time by the lovely Galit Balli, an excellent blogger whose posts are really interesting and varied. Not only does Galit write great book reviews for ‘The Reading Bud’, she also shares her experiences of writing her own book as well as doing lots of other fun and interesting posts.

These are the  challenge rules:

  1. Post one quotation a day for three days (they can be from other sources or one of your own).
  2. Nominate 3 other bloggers to participate per post.
  3. Thank the blogger who nominated you.

The last time I did this challenge I decided to do quotes about writing, so this time I thought I’d do three quotes about the weather. Living in Britain, the weather becomes almost an obsession, and is definitely our main topic of conversation.

Yesterday I posted a quote about the rain – which I do love (as long as it isn’t coming down in bucketfuls!). Today, I’ve chosen a weather-type that gets most people smiling.

So this is my Quote for Day Two:

sun quoteAnd here are my three nominees:

1. Norma 

2. Diana

3. Christina Rose