Passing 5,000!

Wow! I’ve passed 5,000 views!

That’s 5,000 wondrously curious, literary minded people popping in to read some poetry, short stories, travelogues, diary pieces, to read about my upcoming debut novel, White Mountain, and the creative journey it has taken me on…or to simply to check in and say ‘Hi’!

Whatever your reason for visiting, pull up a chair, relax and stay a while! 😛

It’s funny – I’m sure such things may be ‘run of the mill’ to others, but I am continually surprised and very humbled that my little unassuming blog has attracted such numbers. I can’t believe it, especially given my shamefully sporadic postings.

So I really must take the opportunity to say a MASSIVE and genuine thank you to every single visitor!

Whatever this little blog may be or may become, any success it has is entirely down to YOU!!!!!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

😀 xxx

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Olympic farewell! The cynic concedes…

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m not exactly a sports fanatic, far from it. In fact I often joke that we have a non-sport zone in the house! But despite my cynicism and initial misgivings, especially after what I considered to be a very confusing and convoluted vision from Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony, I have been utterly blown away by the Olympics!

Without meaning to, I have found myself on many an occasion watching completely spellbound by the rowing, sprinting, pentathlon, swimming and the cycling…wow…the cycling!

What has made the greatest impression, more than our incredible sporting achievements, which for such a small nation have been monumental – who would ever have guessed that our little isle would be third, beating mighty powerhouses like Russia, Korea and even our sporting rivals Australia in the medal haul! – but the greatest impression has been the sheer infectious optimism which has pored over our country, unifying all of us. The power of the human spirit, eh? A strange and wondrous thing…

So yes, I have thoroughly enjoyed these Olympics despite my jaded tendencies. The cheer of the crowds, don’t we do that well? I’ve often been to concerts in the past when the bands have declared that British audiences are the best for our sheer level of manic enthusiasm and the way we throw ourselves into the spectacle with wild abandon. No stiff upper lips here, just joy and full participation. Now, I’ve never been a flag waving nationalist, but I have felt myself brimming with national pride on many occasions over the course of these Games. Well done Team GB!!!

Somehow, despite the terrible economic situation, the wars, the strifes, the conflicts, the disappointments…we’ve all grown a little taller over these past few magical days. I guess that is what sport in the Olympic tradition really means, a bringing together of nations in peace, away from politics, religion and all the things that divide us. We are one nation, one people under the sun.

And so, after sixteen days of optimism, national pride and sporting excellence we bid a sad farewell to the London 2012 Olympics, which should really be renamed the Britain 2012 Olympics, as every city, town and community has been involved or touched in some way by these Games.

Farewell and thank you for a wonderful sixteen days of drama, achievement, laughter and tears and yes, I must say…amazing sport!

😀 xx

Make Hay not war! …A tribute to Hay, Ray and Sir Terry!

I’ll admit that my expectations of the Hay Festival were high…and I was NOT disappointed!

Returning home last night, at nearly 11pm, utterly exhausted and elated with a boot full of books, I found myself in a blissful state of delirium. What an experience! Not just the festival itself, with its Tibetan-like rainbow flags (perhaps fluttering in homage to the God of Books), its eco credentials and bohemian artsy feel, but the whole town and how each compliments the other. The entire vibe of the place…this little idyll, this heaven for book lovers nestled amongst the most breathtaking landscapes. Just bliss!

In a time of grim realities, economic meltdown, political confusion, conflict and war, to be immersed in such a haven is nothing short of magical. There are so few places where the written word is so celebrated. The minute my writer friend and I stepped foot in the town, you could almost feel a palpable tingle in the air. Everyone was there for the same reason…an unbridled love of books.

The rain, thankfully not as heavy as predicted, couldn’t dampen our spirits. So with twitching debit cards we started our foray into Hay’s wonderfully eclectic bookshops.

My advice for any visiting Hay-On-Wye? Bring a backpack…you can squeeze more books into it and leave your hands free to hold more!

Heading from one bookshop to another, via a cappuccino and slice of coffee cake, my growing rucksack and I quickly learned the ‘squeeze-squeeze-side shuffle’ needed in tight spaces and stacked shelves.

Amongst my prized buys of the day – a beautiful first edition 1866 green leather-bound collection of Lord Tennyson poems with gold-edged hand cut pages, gold ‘Arts & Crafts’ embossing on the front and back AND…(discovered only this morning as I took delight in placing all my books on the correct bookcases)…gorgeous illustrations by Hunt, Millais & Gabriel Dante Rossetti, the founders and geniuses of the Pre-Raphaelite Movement!

Wow! I can’t believe I’ve found such a treat for the senses for a mere £6.50! What a find…now you don’t get that from a kindle!

My other highlight? Well, after some serious trawling round Hay, we headed back to the festival and its billowing tents for the main event, an hour-long talk from Sir Terry Pratchett! What a thrill! We jostled our way into the Barclays Pavillion and settled down to watch and listen to a master of the fantasy genre. A real privilege.

Terry spoke candidly about his work and life. Poignant but always humourous and sharply witted, the hour regrettably flew past, despite the continuous munching of the man mountain sitting in front of me and the irritating fidgeting of the teeny girls next to me whose constant moving kept rocking my chair and making me sea-sick!

Of course, during the course of day, the news also broke of the sad passing of another great author, the astonishing Ray Bradbury, whose seminal novels including Fahrenheit 451, have been incredibly influential and inspiring to readers and writers alike. Terry Pratchett himself commented on the sad event, saying what a wonderful writer and what a lovely person he was.

Together with the loss of Anne McCaffrey earlier in the year, it has been a time of literary loss, particularly in the fantasy and science fiction genres, but the legacy such writers and their astonishing body of work leaves behind, ensures their immortality in the pantheon of great writers and artists.

After the fabulous talk, we inevitably took the shuttle back into town for some more book grazing. Hay, rather splendidly, leaves many of the bookshops open into the evening.

We wandered over to the castle, a beautiful ruin of a place, and poured over yet more shelves of delights before reluctantly having to say goodbye to a truly wondrous little place.

May the sun never set on you Hay. I shall definitely be returning for a longer stay!

I raise a glass to the glory of Hay, Ray and Sir Terry…marvels all!

See you next year! 😀

****

Tragically, Sir Terry Pratchett lost his long struggle against Alzheimer’s on the 12th March 2015, he will be greatly missed by all. I for one, shall think of him when I visit the Hay Festival again this year. A literary giant in his own life time, one of our brightest lights has been extinguished, may he shine on in the heavens and give Death a run for his money! xxx

😦