img_4589It’s Christmas Day. As you read this post I’m with family, probably eating, definitely enjoying myself. I lived away from my family for many years and missed a lot of Christmases, so now I make the most of being in the same country with (most of) them once more.

And at Christmas time I remember. I remember my paternal grandfather in his church, holly and ivy in the snowy churchyard, the old carols I knew and loved ringing along the ancient stone walls. I remember my grandmother setting up the inflatable Santa and reindeers, sitting us in a small sleigh and taking our photos. I remember my nana and grandad’s house, the tree with old-fashioned glass ornaments and glittering tinsel, the way the sky turned purple over the fields as I looked for a star each Christmas eve. I remember Christmas dinners and laughter and most of all, love, like a great golden glow encompassing us all. I remember the time we had together and I’m grateful for it, just as I’m grateful for the memories we’re creating today.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas, wherever you are.

As well as a Christmas post, this is my response to the 30 Day Writing Challenge – it’s day 25, and today’s prompt is: Remember.

If you enjoyed this post, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.

Funny Little Bird Stone

img_2260I live in a landscape made of flint and chalk, tumbled like the bones of the earth within dark soil. Huge knobbly flints show up in walls from the smallest cottage to the largest cathedral, builders making use of what they had to hand. They lie in garden beds too, clogged with soil, strange shapes looking as though they were formed by hand, though no hand but that of nature has touched them.

img_4026Inside, they hold treasure, their pale coating cracking into sharks teeth and soup spoon bowls, all shining curves and sharp edges. Colours range from palest cream through burnt gold to bright orange, silvery grey to midnight blue, chocolate and dark coffee brown – there is beauty hidden within.

img_4353Once I found a flint that looked as though a star had been caught inside, a little piece of sky fallen to earth. And, when working in our garden over the summer, we found this. A strange bird-like creature, dark eye staring, stone cradling the slender neck. Frozen in time, funny little bird stone. He sits on my desk now, keeping me company as I write, so I thought I’d share him with you too.

Happy weekend, everybody! x

Falling Star

Today is a funny sort of a day. The sun is shining (for the moment), it’s cold and the air feels fresh. Yet the world is diminished in some way. When an artist of Bowie’s magnitude, who touched so many lives for so many years, leaves this plane, you can almost feel the loss, a vacuum of space where once someone shone brightly.

People gathered in Brixton last night, singing his songs and lighting candles, trying to hold onto that aura of stardust. And he will remain, of course he will. His music, his art, will not be forgotten. While I wouldn’t class myself as a mega fan, I liked his music, his songs appearing regularly on my playlist. I liked his films, too – on a recent visit to the EMP in Seattle I gazed in awe at his Goblin King costume, it still holding a faint vestige of the spark he brought to the character.

But I guess what I liked the most about Bowie is that he lived a creative life. And he did it for himself. He wasn’t worried about what others would think – he had a vision to explore and he did so. So in many ways, that to me is his lesson, his legacy. The arty version of ‘feel the fear and do it anyway.’

And so, as I walked back over the canal bridge, rippling water and golden leaves, I thought about it. Writing is what I love to do. It’s how I express myself, how I work through things, how I convey what is inside me. To ignore it is to dishonour myself. I know I’m lucky to have the time to pursue it, but it doesn’t mean it is not hard work at times.

Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you.

Hugh’s Photo Challenge: Week 8 – Charity Christmas Tree Topper Challenge

Hugh over at Hugh’s Views and News is always good for a photography challenge. However, this week’s challenge happens to be for a very good cause as well. For every Christmas Tree Topper posted in blogland between now and January 5, 2016, Hugh will be donating £1 to The Dog’s Trust (to a maximum of £250).

I couldn’t resist adding my own Tree Top to the list, and here it is:IMG_0893

As you can see, the top of my tree features a rather glam-rock style plastic star, as well as Fluffy the Angel, who we’ve had since the gorgeous child was very small. The tree itself is about ten years old, and was a $29 special from Kmart, if I recall correctly. I refer to it as ‘the Charlie Brown tree’, because it reminds me of the Peanuts Christmas Special where the kids go to get a tree, but the only one left is small and threadbare. However, when they dress it with decorations, it looks beautiful. That’s what our tree is like as well, although this year it is shedding rather more fake pine needles than usual, making me think it might be coming to the end of its life.

If you’re interested in seeing more Tree Tops, head over to Hugh’s blog. Or add one of your own!