Book Review – Sorrow Hill

This is the first review of this book that I have read and I think it looks like a great read. If you are into historical fiction, give it a go.

Byrhtnoth

Today I am taking a look at Beowulf. Not the television series that has been aired recently – I quickly gave up noting the errors and accepted it as a fantasy, using some of the names from the original poem. Although since the original was a story loosely based on historical figures, I suppose any interpretation is valid.

I have found that it is uncomfortable to review books set in my own period, so this time I have gone back to the sixth century.

Sorrow Hill, coverSorrow Hill is the first book in the Sword of Woden series by C R May. I soon started getting echoes of my own book. Take a hero from a famous Anglo-Saxon poem, whose name begins with B and imagine his early life from about the age of 6 or 7 until he becomes a man. I must confess that reading this book almost made me want to…

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The children of Youth Foundation Uganda Care come from the streets.

This is a group I support. The young man running it is only twenty and he has been trying to feed 20 – 30 poor children for three years with no help from government or other charities. These children don’t ask for much, only to be able to live.

youthfoundationugandacare

The children of Youth Foundation Uganda Care come from the streets. Some were rejected by parents and abandoned because they are handicapped. Others came from homes with no father or mother or parents who simply could not provide for them.

Many of the children at Youth Foundation Uganda Care have little or no use of their limbs. The deaf have never been taught to communicate. The handicapped and poor children of the low caste system in southern India grow up scorned, despised and uneducated, with no chance for a decent life. Often, they are exploited as street beggars for others to obtain food and money. These are the children Youth Foundation Uganda Care takes in.

These children have little or no access to government aid, education, job training, health care, food, shelter or even hope. By providing clothing, food, medical care, shelter, formal education, vocational training, spiritual sustenance, and…

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Ba Humbug or…?

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Autumn is in full swing and even as the shops have had shelves full of plastic pumpkins, spiders and webs, witchly cakes and boxes of sweets for Trick or Treats at the door, our thoughts are being dragged towards Christmas.

The plastic ‘tins’ of Cadburys Roses, Miniature Heroes (my favourites), Quality Street and Celebrations magically appeared in their mountains before the end of the summer holidays. Christmas cards, wrapping paper, labels, decorations, lights and artificial trees are now lining the aisles in the supermarkets, not to mention a whole aisle dedicated to other chocolates, biscuits and other goodies that seem to be necessary to the enjoyment of that winter holiday season. All conspire to pull us unwillingly towards that time of excess and spending lots of money – they hope.

Whilst I admit that I have bought a tin of Heroes and one of Quality Street and stashed them away (sshh, don’t tell anyone!), I am reluctant to get into the full swing just yet.

This morning my hubby said his usual piece, that he wants all the presents bought by the beginning of December (who’s he trying to kid, it’s never happened in the 31 years we’ve been married!) and I told him that I’ve already bought some presents (well, I have!).

When we had all our children at home, I would buy ‘stocking’ gifts all the year round if I found them. They would come from all sorts of places – from seaside holiday shops, markets, craft fairs, school fairs, anywhere I found unusual and interesting small things. I loved it, it was my favourite thing about Christmas and I not only enjoyed finding the things, I enjoyed seeing their faces as they unwrapped all the small gifts packed into their stockings on Christmas morning. It was worth all the searching and marathon wrapping sessions. When I only had two children, the wrapping could take place after they had gone to bed on Christmas Eve but as our family grew larger, it was impossible to do it all in one evening. Then they had ‘main’ presents in the afternoon.

Now my family has largely flown the nest, except for our youngest daughter, and have nests of their own, I no longer have stockings to fill, no longer have to make the magic work for my family the way my mum did for us when I was a child.

My husband hates Christmas (bah humbug) because he hates all the commercialism and disapproves of Christmas trees and decorations. I, too, hate the commercialism but I like all the other things and I have stood firm for years in my love of this special time in which the Christian world celebrates the birth of the Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Now that I no longer have to create the magic for my children, I am even more free to rejoice in the greatest magic of all; that of knowing that I can be partaker of that Heavenly Gift of Eternal Life that is offered to all mankind if they believe in the Christ and follow him. And that celebration that comes around every year, which is often spoiled by the commercialism and the fact that too many people spend too much money which they haven’t got and indulge too deeply into the spirit that comes from a bottle, is really a simple affair, that of being reminded of the humble beginnings of the greatest man who ever lived.

I am not ashamed that I believe in Him and I will always celebrate Christmas, not a ‘winter holiday’. So there.

Pause for Thought

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With my own laptop still being repaired, I am being hampered and frustrated in having to use my husband’s old laptop. This is fine for facebook, twitter and other internet things. However, for writing it’s no good because it doesn’t have Word and refuses to open my external drive which has all my current WIP on it and all my photos. I didn’t think I was going to be without it so long but I’m trying hard to be patient.

In the meantime, I’ve spent almost two weeks fighting tooth pain and have had a few wakeful hours in the night which could have been usefully spent in writing. I think, if something doesn’t happen soon, I’m going to have to resort to writing the old-fashioned way – you know, on paper with a pen or pencil! Strange as it may seem, I can actually write…

Not having my laptop ready to hand has caused me to wonder how I ever coped without it. Of course, I didn’t become a writer until I actually had a laptop, although I have always enjoyed writing. I never seriously thought I’d ever actually write a book – and now I have written six of them, four of which are published. It just goes to show that you never know what you might achieve in life and the opportunities to take up new challenges even in older age are abound in these modern times. How different to our parents’ and grandparents’ time when most people stuck to the same job all their lives and retirement meant they were too skint to delve into new ventures in later life.

So, even if I only have a devoted following of seven readers, I count myself lucky I can do this. Right now, I only have two great wishes – that my tooth pain can be finally removed from me and that my laptop will be returned to me so that normal service can be resumed as soon as possible.

I just popped this in so my blogging friends don’t forget I’m here! And hopefully, things will soon be back to normal and my frustrations will be over. In the meantime, the stories continue to be ‘baked’ in my head…

So long, folks!

Helping The Tiger

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final Tiger

This past week, Hubby and I have been in Chorley. It has been a working week, as we work in our temple there, doing an eight-hour shift every day, starting at 8 a.m. or sometimes 7.30 a.m. depending on what we have been asked to do. We enjoy our week there; it gets us away from home and all the demands upon us when we are at home. We stay in a beautiful room that has all the amenities that we need to cater for ourselves for the week. The peace we feel in the temple is something very special and it helps to fortify us for taking up the reins of our ‘normal’ lives.

Only trouble is, we have limited access to the internet and also Hubby likes more attention from me which means I have little time for writing or trying to promote my books. I realise that if one doesn’t carry on making one’s presence felt, one is very soon out of mind – anyone’s mind! Meanwhile, my little tiger is floundering around cyberspace being totally ignored and getting quite sad about it. All he wants is for someone to notice him and give him some reviews on Amazon. When he gets about twenty reviews, he will be able to cope on his own.

If there are any of my nice blogger friends who would be willing to help my tiger in this way, I will send them a copy of his story to them by email. He would be really thrilled and ever so grateful, as will I be.

Releasing the Tiger

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final Tiger

Well, it’s out at last – ‘The Sixpenny Tiger’ is now published on Amazon in paperback and on kindle.  If you read my post called ‘Fighting the Tiger’ you will know it is actually the first book I wrote, even though I have published three other books before it.

I found it very hard to rewrite and edit for a few reasons. Because it is my first book, it is partly biographical, based on my memories of working in a Children’s Care Home in the late nineteen sixties. It describes my desperation to work caring for children and my fears at the interview because of my ‘delicate’ state of health. The matron saw that I needed a chance to prove myself, which I did. I also include details of my life with my parents in the beautiful black and white farmhouse and allude lightly on my ill-fated first marriage. It’s not completely accurate to my life because I was married for five years, not three and I had two children, not one and life with my first husband was considerably more difficult than in the story. I only used my background on a surface level because I did not want to detract from the main storyline about Davey, the boy hated by his housemother at the Home and who suffered terribly at her hands when she married his father and there was no matron or ‘Aunty Sally’ to protect him from her.

Now, I do not know why I wrote such a story; it was not my intention. But this was a story determined to be written, for it flowed into my computer as if it had already been written and I was copying it. I hasten to say that I did not copy it!

Imagine my distress, then, not that long after I had finished writing the book, to discover that there were, in fact, three children in one family, two girls and a boy, who had been in that very situation I had written about: a housemother at the Home where I worked (thankfully, not someone I worked with, she was there a few years after me) had married their father and when they were living at home with her they were subjected to terrible cruelty, much worse than Davey in my story. I was very upset and I told one of the ‘girls’ that I would not go ahead with my story. She replied that she wanted me to go ahead with it. They were in a situation where some believed them and some wouldn’t believe them because certain people wouldn’t believe it of the woman concerned. As I didn’t know the housemother, I couldn’t begin to make a judgement from her point of view. However, I have to say that I did actually believe the ‘children’. I was extremely upset that the situation I had written about had actually happened – and to children that I had known and cared for – and had absolutely no knowledge of it whatsoever.

I realise that the outcomes of my story are perhaps unrealistic; I know that it’s very hard to ‘get over’ abuse, especially childhood abuse. It is not easily erased, probably never can be. But I did want to show that victims of abuse can often follow a behavioural pattern not easily explained or understood by them; often they need help, not condemnation.

‘The Sixpenny Tiger’ may well make you angry; it will almost certainly cause you to shed a tear or two. It will, hopefully, make you think. I hope you will read it and spread the word.

Thank you.

Rediscovering the Delights and Drawbacks of Using a Bus

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When I first started to write again, the first poem I wrote was about my car.

I have all sorts of reasons why I loved my car; it wasn’t just a means of getting from A to B. I may tell you about that at a later time. I don’t want to dwell too much on that just now. Just to say that my car has been the means of our last three children being able to learn to drive because the insurance for it was considerably less for new drivers than my husband’s more powerful car. This was fine until we got to our last child, our daughter Rachel.

Rachel used my car more and more until she has become its main driver. She needs it to get to her work, some twenty minutes’ drive away but a bus ride of two buses and about an hour and a half each way. Now that I’ve finished work and my mum has died, I no longer really need a car – so Rachel says.

I have reached that enviable status of O.A.P. As such I am the holder of a coveted card – a free bus pass. Rachel reckons that, as it’s now free for me to travel by bus, she has the greater need of the car – my car, which until now I have paid for the upkeep and insurance of. As of the 23rd of this month, the car will become hers, the insurance for her to pay and the upkeep her responsibility. And I have to once again share my husband’s car, or travel on the bus.

On Thursday, I did just that – I went to Derby on the bus. Actually, I went to the hospital to meet a friend there who needed someone to speak for her and give her some moral support. However, that is another story.

So, I got on the bus and I have to say I do rather like being able to see over the fences and hedges into gardens that you can’t see when driving a car. Unfortunately, I choose a seat behind a woman whose perfume, with an underlying hint of B.O. soon hit my nose. That, with the addition of a gale blowing upon me from the open windows, in spite of the fact that it was a much colder day than of late, made it not such an enjoyable journey than it might have been. About twenty minutes into the journey I began to feel that I would be glad to get off the bus because the pungent smells coming from in front of me were inducing the threat of a headache.

Not having to be concerned about watching the road meant I could drift off into my own train of thought and enjoy the scenery before me and indulge in my habit of people-watching without seeming to. As we got into Derby, a young girl sitting next to me took me to the stop that I needed to get to the hospital, which I thought was very sweet of her.

Thankfully, my return journey had much sweeter air and I was able to enjoy it much better. I sat next to another young girl who was also quite friendly but we didn’t talk that much.

When I got off at my home end, I reflected upon my journeys and I thought how pleasant it was to once again have the time to be able to enjoy a trip to Derby on the bus without having to be concerned about being back at a certain time because of children coming home from school or having to see to mum. Apart from having to endure a few minutes of a maniacal ride along a country road, it was pleasant and worry-free. I remarked to the young girl by my side that I thought our driver (who was female!) was having a moment of power-craziness because she had a big vehicle and we had a giggle as we hung on for dear life.

All in all it was an enjoyable experience really and no doubt it’s something I shall be doing more often – courtesy of Rachel. And I know that the time will come when I’m too old to drive; I hope I will have the sense to know when to stop. Having said that, I know that if I ever have the choice to go by bus or in my car I shall still choose to do what I love – drive my car.

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Cafes and Kindnesses

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Little kindnesses go a long way, in my opinion. So much is complained about these days, so many people suffer at the hands of others. It seems that everyone is out for all they can get with as little effort as possible.

Last week I had two incidents where I experienced the kindness of others. The first time was when I left my sunglasses at a place where my husband took me to have lunch. When I realised I had left them behind, he said that I could get them the next day when I went there again with my friend. Fintons is a family-run, fairly newly opened café in a nearby village that specialises in gluten-free foods, which I have to have. When my best friend Chris comes over to visit from near Newark we go there for a cake because they do both gluten-free and normal so there is something for us both and hubby knew we would go there. However, when I asked about them, I was told that the owner had taken them home, thinking they might belong to her daughter and she wasn’t working that day. However, they called her and I gave them my number to give to her. The next day she messaged me to say that her husband was going to bring them to me. Now, I would have happily gone back to the café to fetch them; he didn’t have to deliver them to my door but he did and I was very grateful for his act of kindness. The sceptics among us might say they only did that to encourage me to come back again to their café, but the plain fact is they know I will come anyway.

The day after that we had our three small grandsons for the day so their mum could go to work. We took them to a ‘soft play’ place in the next town. It wasn’t very busy but the boys had a lovely time climbing and playing. However, the eldest one, Jacob, who is about to turn seven in a couple of days, lost his wallet on the apparatus somewhere. I sent the two older boys back on to search but they came back without having found it. Naturally, Jacob was upset because he had almost ten pounds in his wallet which he had been saving up.  In an effort to try and make him feel better, we went over and ordered some food and while I was there, I asked if the wallet had been handed in. The woman said ‘no’ but wrote down my name and contact number. As she did so, a young woman came up and said that she’s handed the wallet in because her little girl had found it on the apparatus and brought it to her mum. When I thanked her and said I’d like to give her daughter something for giving it in, she replied that wasn’t necessary because she wanted her children to learn to be honest without expecting reward.

I thought that was wonderful, particularly as I’ve worked in a school and seen what some parents expect of their children and it isn’t what that young mum was teaching hers! Having said that, I knew many more decent parents with children that they were bringing up in a good way.

Amongst all the bad in the world there are many little pockets of good, seemingly insignificant, but actually they are so important. There are so many lovely people amongst the authors that I’ve met over the years that I’ve been writing; so many have helped me willingly and without asking anything in return. I do what I can, I buy their books and post reviews and I help others who don’t know as much as I do. It is a lovely place to be and I am grateful that every day I can grow and develop because of all of you.

Your Story Is Your Story- What will you write next? 

I’m reblogging this because I think these words are wonderful; a lesson to us all

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I used to feel ashamed of my story. I felt like other people’s past chapters were titled things like, “Skipping Through Fields with a Happy Golden Retriever” and my chapters were like, “Crawling Through Darkness with a Bunch of Scary Monsters..” I also kept trying to find someone ELSE to write my story for me. I let other people write weird things that made me sad. I let people write things that didn’t resonate with me… Then one day- I took my pen back. (Also, I made friends with those monsters and now we are skipping through fields together and we are fabulous!)

I wrote the words below to myself to feel better about my story and what I will write next. What do you want to write next in the story of your life?

Your life is a book

and it’s time for you

to take your pen…

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