Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch… An Acrostic Poem

It had to happen, I suppose.

Anita loves to write acrostic poetry, and for some reason, longer words are more attractive. So when she chose this particular word, I just smiled. I knew it would be in safe hands…

Long winding road ahead beckons
Little did I know, ghost lie in wait
Air, thick, cold with fear
Never ever bends behind fog laden turns
Fathers words of warning echo in mind
Arrive as you mean to go on
In shadow would be helpful
Rain splashed streets shine under moonlight
People rushing, bump against me
Worries rub against my own
Lost time touching unknown thoughts
Lodging in mind, memory stirs, something sticks
Gutters blocked, rain reaching my feet
Wishes held from childhood
Yearn to be freed
New wishes gather in the background
Getting harder to find space to wait
Yesterday’s thoughts stick, unused
Longing for inspiration
Lead laden boots stamp away dreams
Gritted teeth, drag out my steps
Over lightning ahead, I push on
Greetings, warm welcome greets my end
Envying those sat warm inside
Rain doubled the weight of my clothes
Yule logs burning, guests anticipated
Children wrapping Christmas gifts
Happy faces behind frosted glass
Winter eggnog raised in cheer
Yuletide carols sung by the fire
Rain, no worry to those inside
Never ending tide of water
Drowning out all comforting thought
Run now, thoughts charged
Overwrought emotions
Bumping inside grey matter
Willing my legs onward, my socks soaked
Legs cold aching to rest
Longest road I have travelled
Laden with secrets, lights shining from windows
Long lost families come to mind
Arriving unbidden, I sweep them away
Never a good thing to bring into mind
Touching yesterdays ghosts will never do
You need to think of the now
Stay with the dream, polished with wishes
In time spent dreaming
Longing for success
In long dark nights alone
Over playing your hand
Getting nowhere fast with dreaming
On long days you write them down
Getting yourself a diary full of words
On summer nights, you sigh with remembering
Great times you have planned ahead
Of time spent checking each detail
Comforted by foolish dreams
Hope springs eternal…


©AnitaDawes2021

Is imitation the sincerest form of flattery?

Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay

Is imitation the sincerest form of flattery?

It is supposed to be, but I think not. Not the way most people do it, anyway.

I have always hated imitation of any kind, for it always seems to take something away from the original. Why do we need to have substitutions when we already have the original? Why can’t they leave well enough alone?

It doesn’t seem to matter where you go, whatever field you are interested in, there will always be someone trying to copy or improve something.

My pet hate is the remakes of all my favourite films. I watched the new (and supposedly improved) Ben Hur with my family, (it was either that or revising!) But even with all of today’s wonderful new technology, it wasn’t a patch on the original film with Charlton Heston.

I love to watch all kinds of people at work. Artists, sculptors, craftspeople, even plumbers and mechanics. I think this is because my nosy brain just wants to know how things work. My favourite programme at the moment is Artist of the Year and I love watching how all the different artists go about creating original and unique pieces of artwork.

What I cannot stand about these programmes, are the so-called experts who try to tell the artists that what they have done is wrong and how they should have done it. Sometimes the thoughtless and callous way they pull the work apart is so cruel it makes me cringe.

To my mind, no one has the right to condemn or criticise a work of art. Either you like it, or you don’t, but don’t presume to know better than the artist.

As a writer, I subject my work to beta readers and editors so that errors can be pointed out and corrected. This is normally done in a constructive, helpful manner and not in a condescending “I know better” attitude.

Critics always sound so false, their remarks too self-serving and the damage they can do to any fledgeling artistic genius should carry a health warning.

I personally have had at least one scathing critique of my writing; one so bad I wanted to shred every page and then crawl away and hide in a cupboard. It is only when you realise that it is only an opinion and probably not meant to kill the tiny shoots of creativity in your soul that you can pick yourself up and move on.

I may not be a great writer or even a particularly good one, but I am trying my best. At the end of the day, that’s all we can ever do. But what we do produce, whether it is good, bad or indifferent, it is original and not some cocked up imitation…

(And before you all reach for your keyboard, I know I have just criticised quite a lot of people… my bad!)

Remembering When it all Began…

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

I have always enjoyed reading books. Mostly for the sense of escapism involved. Somewhere you can forget all about your own life and live someone else’s, albeit vicariously.

It has been a blessing, sometimes more than at other times, depending on how my own life was going at that moment.

I honestly believe that reading books has kept me sane. They have taught me practically everything I know, for if I need or want to know how to do something, I turn to books to find out. Nowadays of course, we have the internet, but in my youth all we had were books.

These days, something else has been added to my enduring love affair with the printed word. Putting it quite simply, they have inspired me to write. You could say that the art of reading could do this anyway, to anyone. But up until recently, I was not aware of this. They were my retreat, my sanctuary. Nothing else.

But everything has changed.

I was a compulsive reader, consuming anything I could get my hands on. I didn’t discriminate and read everything. Asked to list my favourite authors, I would have been hard pushed, for I loved them all.

Somewhere along the way, I seem to have developed a ‘criterion’. I no longer just read a book. My brain seems intent on sifting the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. Who knew it could have that kind of opinion?

Two pages into a book, and if it is not talking to me by then, I discard it and try another. These days I love the kind of books that inspire me and make my fingers want to pick up a pen. Not to copy or emulate, but to write down the way the author has made me feel. Sometimes I find myself with a book in one hand and a notebook in the other.

It’s as if a doorway has been opened in my mind. Artists say colours work for them, for me it’s the power of the words and the way they are used.

Something else has changed in me. I have always considered myself reasonably adept with the English language. It was my favourite lesson at school and over the years as I have said before, it has saved my sanity on many an occasion.

For the first time in my life, I have doubts, and they are growing all the time. I have helped other people edit and proofread their books and been totally convinced I was good at it. Many people (including an agent) said that I was. I have also reviewed dozens of books along the way.

But then I picked up a pen and wrote a story of my own. I never expected it to be as hard as it turned out to be, as words usually came easily to me. But I discovered a very important fact about writing a book. Not only must it have a beginning, middle and end, it must flow, make perfect sense and be interesting to read.

It also had to have a structure and sub plots; the list was endless. I discovered to my horror that I was not as clever as I thought when the pen was in my own hand! Words tend to come at me in a rush, short spasms of prose that seem quite eloquent at the time but appear quite truncated when you attempt to join them all together. So much so, I nearly gave up on Nine Lives several times.

I began to seriously doubt I could ever be a writer, that this wasn’t something I could simply learn how to do.

But I persevered, did my absolute best, and after my edits and even more soul searching, I uploaded it onto Amazon, thinking my work was done.

But I was wrong.

In my haste to achieve something that will hopefully out last me, I forgot the most important step of all. Someone else should have read it first. Someone objective, who would come to it afresh, with no desire or agenda to bin it at the first error.

I learned that it is impossible for me to see my manuscript with a subjective eye. You cannot possibly hope to really because you have lived with it for so long. I wrongly assumed the reverse would be true, that the fact you created every word would make you more than qualified.

This was so long ago and I have learned so much more since then…

Jaye’s Week…

In an effort to ignore what’s going on all around me, both in the world and in our house, (Anita has an appointment next week at the hospital) I have been trying to bury my head in the computer, trying to catch up on all the things I haven’t managed to get around to lately. In my wildest dreams, I could never have dreamed what I would be getting up to in my advancing years. Just goes to show how far you can come if you let yourself dream big.

I have always hated anything to do with computers for they are illogical, slow and complicated. I firmly believe they were sent by the devil to drive us all mad. At least, that’s what happens in our house!

But it wasn’t always this way.

There was a time when the idea of a machine with such amazing capabilities did seem like a fantastic advantage. But my first encounter with one, some thirty years ago, probably ruined me for life. This was when it was in its infancy, and you had to upload or input reams of data to do even the simplest thing. My son was playing chess on this strange looking box and I wanted to have a go. What he forgot to mention, was if you made even a small mistake in entering this data (which seemed to take hours) you would get a big fat nothing. Stubbornly, I tried and tried but failed to get it to work.

Fast forward to just a few years ago, when Indie publishing started making headlines.

Despite my earlier disappointment, I felt myself warming to the idea. I wouldn’t have to input masses of data like before, so maybe it would be easier to use. We all know the answer to that supposition, don’t we?

I still hate computers with a passion, but I do appreciate just how wonderful they are if you can learn the ropes. I still have days when I could beat mine to death with a mallet, but this is more to do with my stubborn brain than anything else. Because they can sometimes do so many amazing things, it encourages us mortals to reach for the stars.

Way back at the beginning of my blogging career, I can remember wondering if I would ever write a book, and now I have written four, well, six if you count the non-fiction ones and am close to finishing another. At the time, I was happily editing Anita’s books. I never thought a muse would bother me.

When it did, I was astonished by just how addictive writing can become. The most surprising thing was the behaviour of my characters. They became like old friends, and I enjoyed their company so much, the first book turned into a series. Even now, they are nagging me to let them loose again!

It has been an amazing and often terrifying journey, from that first ever blog post to eventually formatting e-books, paperback copies and book trailers. Learning how to publish a book was hard, but the writing was the best part, once I convinced myself that it was something I could do, after all.

None of which was easy for the biggest technophobe this side of Microsoft, someone who battles technology every single day for that magical moment when realisation dawns and I finally understands how things work.

I am well past retiring age now, but I am busier than ever and have no intentions of slowing down or stopping, for where would the fun be in that?

This journey still has some mileage, however, for there are a few things I haven’t attempted yet, and several that need improving. So I won’t be putting away my thinking cap just yet.

As they said when I was at school, “There is always room for improvement…”


Nebari Bonsai…

JBP Summer Candle-cutting time

Brian VFJapanese Black Pines July 24, 2021 1 Minute

Throughout this tree’s 12 years of training, I have photographed and documented every step in detail, to study the cause-effect response of each technique applied, as well as the timing of that response. One thing I have learned is that candle-cutting in summer should be done about 100 days before your area’s average first frost. This gives new growth time to grow and harden off before winter, but not so much time that needles get too long.

Summer candle-cutting is the removal of this year’s growth, right down to the base. It leaves last year’s growth in place, so basically it makes the tree look like it did in March before it started growing.

New growth extends past the wires

Continue reading another fascinating post from Brian at NEBARI BONSAI...

Jaye’s Days… The job I Really Hate!

This is the time of year when I cringe every time I open the freezer.

All that ice that has been slowly growing since the last time I hacked and removed the last lot. We have a Hotpoint fridge freezer, which I love, but do wish it had separate temperature controls, and separate auto defrost too, for I never have to worry about the fridge, it takes care of itself very nicely. But the freezer must have cousins in Antarctica, as its always trying to create an igloo in my kitchen.

So, today I have decided that the ice has to go, and I have developed a very clever way (at least I think so) of organising the frozen food while the power is off.

Even with the best will in the world, you can never run a freezer down to nothing, can you? And I won’t simply bin everything, just to make my life easier. So, the night before the ordeal, I root out those ice packs that you can freeze to put inside picnic boxes and stuff them in the freezer overnight.

The next morning, I simply pack all the frozen food into the (by now) empty salad bins at the bottom of the fridge, suitable laced with the ice packs, and remove all the trays from the freezer. I do use one of those de icer sprays, and it works fine, apart from the roof of the freezer. That ice is something else.

My trick for this awkward and time-consuming problem, is to find a container, a washing up bowl or baking dish that will slide on to the top shelf. Fill it up with boiling water, shove it in and wait to hear all that ice cracking. This avoids having to stand on your head to hack at the ice!

Over the years, I have discovered that if I take no longer than one hour removing all the ice, the food in the fridge will be fine, barely a change in the temperature (thanks to all my ice packs)

As I said at the beginning, this is a job I hate doing and usually put it off, but when it is done and everything safely back where it belongs, I do feel a little smug at a job well done…

Jaye’s Week ( In the garden, not the Office)

Yesterday afternoon I had planned on writing and working on a trailer for one of Anita’s books, but the sun was shining, and I couldn’t be asked.

We sat outside, drinking coffee, surrounded by all the jobs I have been neglecting so far this year. Not really my fault, for the weather hasn’t exactly been conducive for gardening lately. It’s either been freezing cold, raining, or both. So, I wasn’t feeling too guilty.

Maybe a little guilty about some of my bonsai perhaps, as there are a couple that desperately need repotting as they have used up all the goodness in their soil. There was also an orange blossom that I bought earlier in the year that has outgrown its pot.

Before I knew it, I was hard at work, and enjoying every minute.

I was also promising to spend a lot more time in the garden in future.

My favourite, at the moment

They say you are closer to God’s heart in a garden, and all I know is I am always happier when up to my elbows in rich garden soil, surrounded by all the wonders of nature.

I thought I would close with some of my favourite bonsai, the acres. Especially the ones with different colour variations in the leaves. I love the Lacy ones too and have included the one that refused to be a bonsai. It outgrew every pot I put it in, and eventually I planted it in the garden.

I hate to say this, but in a way, I hoped it would rain tomorrow so I could catch up on my writing! (or maybe not!)

#Throwback Thursday…

How to Juggle a Couch! ( or the most fun you can have without actually laughing!)

Most weeks in our house are usually a mishmash of incidents, some good and a few of the other kind. But whatever happens there is never a dull moment around here!

This past week has excelled itself, hurtling from one mini-disaster to another. At one point, I contemplated staying in bed, just to break the cycle, but as I am the nosiest person for miles, I couldn’t bear to think of anything happening without me. Seeing as how I was born with a sword in one hand and cleaning mop in the other, I could usually cope with anything!

It all started to go wrong when we spotted a fantastic bargain in our local charity shop, a two-seater couch in black leather. It was in perfect condition and a price that would n’t bring our bank account to its knees. So without thinking things through, we bought it, to be delivered the following day.

But what to do with the dilapidated broken down couch in our living room?

The local council have a collection service, so all we had to do was get it out of the house. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? In case you were wondering, it definitely wasn’t.

We are both in our 70’s and not the fittest people on the block, but we were determined. We would do this, even if it meant dragging the couch out of the house in pieces. A not so small nightmare later, two broken and bad-tempered women sat on the old couch in the front garden, swearing never again. We didn’t understand why it had been so difficult, it was a two-seater after all. We clearly remembered the day years before when it was first delivered, so either the couch had grown, or the house had shrunk.

The next day, tempers and difficulty forgot, the new couch was delivered and peace reigned once more. How I wish the story ended there.

At this point in the story, I can blame Anita for what happened next. She had seen (and fallen in love with) another couch in the charity shop, which she assured me, would be far more comfortable than our old three seater. You couldn’t make up what happened next.

To cut a long and painful story short, we bought the three seater and managed to drag the old one out. Slightly easier this time as it could be dismantled. Shame it was so bloody heavy though!

Shortly after the new three-seater was delivered, it became obvious that the blessed thing wasn’t comfortable at all, and had to go. By this time we were exhausted,  unhappy and tempers were flaring. Again!

After three days of juggling large, heavy and unresponsive pieces of furniture, I have banned the word ‘couch’ from ever being spoken of in my hearing again. The furniture we have will just have to last, for there is no way I am going to lift anything heavier than the kettle for the foreseeable future!

Another Interesting Post from Nebari Bonsai…

Hawthorn winter pruning and wiring

Brian VFDeciduous April 10, 2021 3 Minutes

This hawthorn has grown rather slowly over the last few years, and I attribute it (right or wrong) to my increased use of fungicides. Regardless, over the last few years, I have let it mostly grow, and now it’s time to sort out what it’s done.

The tree has a tendency to throw upward- and downward-growing shoots at junctions. It makes the tree look more ramified than maybe it is, but time to clean it up.

Pop over to NEBARI BONSAI for loads more info and images…