I haven’t walked to work along the canal for the past couple of weeks. Early starts and unusual weather have meant I’ve not been able to do so. But this past Friday I managed to get myself organised and headed down the hill, backpack on, looking forward to the walk.
It takes me just over half an hour to get to the office when I walk, and it’s a time for me to think and clear my head. The canal, despite being close to a main road and crossed by a major trainline, is a quiet place. Birds sing, water laps, leaves rustle. It is green and lush at this time of year, the water still and smooth.
Cows were beneath the hawthorn trees, and the tiny cygnets I’d seen only weeks ago were now almost swans (although still very fluffy).
The old tree stump seat was almost overgrown with brambles and nettles, while the roses growing up the side of the old lock-keeper’s cottage had bloomed.
There were new boats moored along the way, some of them with bright potted gardens and unusual decorations.
I also found some fragments of pottery, blue and white. Probably over a hundred years old, little pieces of history tumbled among the flint and gravel, treasure to no one but me.
Along one stretch I walk on a narrow strip of land, the canal to one side of me and, hidden beyond a hedge, an angler’s lake to the other side. It’s an interesting feeling, almost like walking on water, even though I know the earth beneath me is solid.
I also found inspiration on my walk, a couple of blog posts and some more plotlines coming to me. I’ve been missing my old freedom these past few months – while I’m enjoying my new job and all that comes with it, I miss the time I had in the past to just walk and think. So I’ll make sure to do the canal walk regularly from now on.———————————————————————————————-If you enjoyed this post and would like to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.
Keep a box of tissues at your elbow for this one! A Thousand Rooms had me red-eyed and snuffling. This is a character-driven book with a simple plot: Katie, newly dead and unfortunately overlooked in her transition from life, goes on a quest to find “her heaven” and travels through a series of manifestations (rooms) before she finds her own.
Jones draws on a variety of mystical traditions and beliefs to design the experience of being dead and the concepts of heaven, soul mates, and…
It’s Midsummer today, or Litha in the old calendar, the point where the great wheel of the year turns towards winter once more, the nights gradually growing shorter until Yule, the great festival of Light. On a hot day such as this one the thought of winter is almost welcome, to be honest.
Today is also one of two points during the year when the sun’s rising is marked at Stonehenge, the famous stone monument in Wiltshire. On Midsummer morning the sunrise aligns perfectly with the Heel Stone, and crowds gather to watch the spectacle, one of the few times in the year that people are allowed within the ancient circle of stone.
I have yet to mark Midsummer or Midwinter at Stonehenge, but it is on my list to do so. There is something about the tumbled grey stones, still standing proud upon Salisbury Plain, that tugs at me. The mystery surrounding their use, the precision with which they mark the turning of the year and have done so for millennia, and the astonishing fact that many of the massive stones came from miles away in Wales, brought to the site using technology that still remains undefined, despite efforts to replicate the feat.
I visited Stonehenge most recently in March, on a cool sunny day. Once again the stones remained inscrutable, their message like a song almost heard, dancing on the edge of sound. The light changed the shapes and shadows, and up above a small plane swooped and wheeled, coming so low that concerned staff came out to monitor its progress, worried it might perhaps crash into the stones. But it disappeared after a while, buzzing away across the plains, above the old barrows and hidden earthworks to destinations unknown.
I also visited the brand new visitor centre, set back some way so it is not visible from the monument. It is a vast improvement on the old centre. Shuttle buses take visitors to a point closer to the stones, the road that used to run past them on one side now closed except to walkers, meaning we reached the stones on foot as was done originally. The new centre is very well done, with some excellent interactive exhibits and artifacts excavated at the site – it kept the gorgeous girl busy for quite some time! There were also some replica Bronze Age roundhouses outside, the plaster walls and thatched roofs against a blue sky somehow timeless, and as though they could have been anywhere in the world.
I have wandered to Stonehenge before, and no doubt will do so again – a place holding such magic is worth more than one visit. Thanks for coming on this Wednesday Wander with me – see you again next time!
PS I LOVE this! Nothing like a Spinal Tap reference to make the day complete 🙂
Fifty-seven years ago I killed a boy. Tonight, Euart Monroe walked into my room with a Mossberg 510 and a stained hobo mattress and fired a shot into my belly. It should have killed me right off, but he didn’t want that. He wanted me to know who pulled the trigger.
I’m excited to announce that Ordinary Handsome is now available in paperback. It’s an oversize 6.69″ x 9.61″ book with a matte cover and cream pages. Pardon the indulgence, but it really is quite handsome. Weighing in at a whopping 187 pages, it’s got a spanky new cover and even a tiny author photo on the back for your mustache-drawing indulgence. Please check it out and let me know what you think. As always, thank you for reading. — Steve
This time last week my bag was packed, my outfit chosen, and I was looking forward to attending another Bloggers Bash. I’d decided to stay over this year, as in previous years it all seemed to end too quickly, conversations cut short as the day flashed by.
And I’m so glad I did. The day dawned sunny and bright, and I headed into London on the train, getting off the Tube one stop early so I could walk through the streets to the hotel. As I came into Vincent Square I was greeted by the bucolic vista of the Westminster Boy’s School cricket ground (at least, I think that was what it was called) – hard to believe I was in the heart of London.
When I got to the hotel the first person I saw was Ali Isaac, my roommate for the night. And before our squeals of greeting were finished I saw Noelle from Sayling Away… After that it was a bit of a blur, seeing old friends from previous years, including Graeme Cumming, Lucy from Blondewritemore, Suzie from Suzie Speaks and Sue Vincent, who I hadn’t seen since the Silent Eye weekend I attended last September. I also met other bloggers for the first time, including Sally Cronin, Ellen Best, Elouise De Souza and the lovely Allie Potts – such a pleasure to turn digital conversations into real ones. And of course the rest of the committee – Hugh, Geoff and Sacha – I know I’m going to leave out some names so I do apologise. Let’s just say it was a fantastic crowd of bloggers from all over the world!
The day began with awards, then we were treated to the first of two masterclasses. This was presented by Suzie from Suzie Speaks, about how to monetize your blog. Her ideas were simple yet effective, and certainly gave me food for thought. Then Elena Peters, Canadian Pinterest queen extraordinaire, gave an inspiring class on how to use Pinterest in conjunction with your blog. Both classes were well worth the ticket asking price – in fact, I would have paid more to see both as they were so informative. More awards were given out, Lucy and I managed to sneak out for a lovely chatty lunch in a cafe down the road, there was a lively panel discussion and Ritu won Best Overal Blog (as well as baking a wonderful array of cakes for the event – where does she find the time!?)
All too soon it was over and people began to disperse. But, instead of being one of the people leaving, I checked into my lovely hotel room and returned to the lobby, where the rest of those who were staying had congregated. I had a chat with the wonderfully effervescent Susie Lindau, then a group of us wandered out into the warm evening to find dinner and continue the conversation, which lasted, one way or another, into the night.
The next morning, after breakfast, Ali and I checked out and walked to Victoria Station, where Ali went on to the airport and I took the Tube to Euston and then home, getting in around lunch time. It was over, for another year… I had the most fabulous time and can’t wait for the next one (June 9th, in case any of you are planning to attend). Congratulations to all the award winners!
PS I also saw Christoph Fischer, Icy Sedgewick, Shelley Wilson, Steve Tanham, Adam Dixon, Marjorie Mallon, Sherri Matthews, Jools Lawson, Lance Greenfield… Sorry, I know I’m forgetting people – it was such a fabulous crowd!
I haven’t done a #writephoto for a couple of weeks, mainly because I’ve had a couple of quite insistent book ideas nagging at me, so have been focusing on them. Oh, and there was also the Blogger’s Bash this past weekend, where I had the great pleasure of seeing Sue, along with many other blogging friends – there is a post to come, hopefully this weekend, as it’s taken a few days for it all to sink in.
When I saw Sue’s photo prompt this week, words came to me straight away, and so here is my response to her lovely twilit hillside:
At night he comes
My lover sweet
As twilight steals across the land
As birds lie still
And shadows fall
I feel the caress of his hand
He comes in blue
He comes in gold
Like mist and smoke, a dream of rain
He stays with me
Till morning breaks
I know not if he’ll come again
I sit alone
My window wide
The sleeping hills like folds of blue
And violet deep
I hear your song
Beloved, do you hear mine too?
If you would like to respond to Sue’s prompt, you have until Wednesday June 21st to post a link or pingback – head over to Sue’s blog for more details.
It’s Wednesday, and time for another wander. This week I’ve been inspired by a book I just finished reading, Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians. When I say I read it, I mean I picked it up to read on Sunday and didn’t put it down again until Tuesday, when I’d finished. It was a delicious, decadent, funny read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was also set mostly in Singapore and so, in honour of that, I’ve decided to wander back there again.
Some of the action in the book is set in and around Orchard Road, the famous shopping thoroughfare. Thought to have taken its name from the nutmeg, pepper and fruit orchards the road once led to, Orchard Road is now home to gleaming shopping centres and the finest names in fashion – I did joke to my husband that there must be some sort of law that you have to have a Louis Vuitton store every 500 metres, because there were so many along there (not that I went into any of them). Interestingly, many of these shiny new buildings are built over what used to be burial grounds, with Chinese, Sumatran and Jewish communities all having graveyards along the road during the 19th century.
When we visited Singapore it was just at the turn of the Year of The Dragon, so there were decorations everywhere. We had a few days there, stopping over on our way to live in the UK, so we wandered through the heavy heat and gleaming buildings, eating icecream and marvelling at the variety of architecture. There was a little bit of shopping, of course, and we also visited the famous night zoo, watching elephants sleep under the stars.
Looking back at my photos of this visit made me realise the way I take photos has changed since I started blogging. Most of my older photos have people in them, so I won’t share them – I’ve chosen to mention my family only in passing on the blog, as they prefer it that way, and so do I. So now, whenever I go anywhere, of course I still take lots of photos with people in them, but I also take plenty without, making sure I capture enough images for whatever blog post I have in mind.
Anyway, I digress. This is the famous Marina Bay Sands building, with its rooftop bar and infinity pool complete with palm trees. It’s also where the final scene in Crazy Rich Asians takes place, so it seems appropriate to end this post here. Oh, and you can’t see it, but there’s a Louis Vuitton store in there, too.
Thanks for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me – see you next time!