Winter Weekend West – Part Two

Most of us find places to stay for holidays or mini breaks on line and a good way to choose is to pick a bed and breakfast that looks interesting and will make good photos for Instagram, Facebook, your website and your WordPress blog – though my WordPress gallery of pictures is chockablock full now…

We picked Primrose House in St. Ives, Cornwall. February is hardly peak season, but the weatherman promised fine weather. It was half term and we were booking at the last minute, but we got a room.

The journey down was thick fog all the way, as you will know if you are one of my three followers on Instagram or Facebook. Our breakfast stop turned out to be a Macdonalds; in the fog we just saw a sign for Services, no HGVs and a white house shaped building. We decided its proximity to Poundbury, Prince Charles’ life size toy town near Dorchester, was the reason for the absence of the usual bright red and yellow sign. Inside it was bright and clean and packed with customers and more staff than I have ever seen; we later heard from one of the staff they were expecting an unexpected visit from the big boss. That explained the enthusiastic clearing and wiping of tables.

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Although the fog cleared just before we got to St. Ives it was impossible to find Primrose House. Like lots of West Country towns St. Ives was built for fishermen and real people walking about their business, not for tourists. We knew there were steep narrow winding lanes, that’s why we wanted to stay in the town and walk everywhere, but we still had to get to our accommodation in the first place. Sat Nav’s directions made no sense. The place is right by the branch line from St. Erth, how handy it would have been to arrive by train; except that journey involves five trains ( four changes ) and takes over nine hours from our home.

We stopped in the car park of a big hotel we had stayed in once before and phoned the B&B. We had missed the tiny lane that was the road to Primrose Valley. It was so steep we could have turned the engine off and free wheeled down. At the bottom were a couple of sharp U turns under, then back under the branch railway line. ‘We’re not moving the car again until it’s time to go home’ I said when I opened my eyes again – I’m not the driver…

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Luckily Primrose House lived up to my expectations. It was within yards of the beach if you walked under the branch line. Run by friendly young proprietors who have made the spacious 1908 guest house bright and attractive, it is all white walls, timber and minimalism. The only criticism being that it might be described as a touch too minimalist. Our big room had lots of floor space, but not a single chair to sit on or many surfaces to put anything down. The bathroom was good with a lovely big shower. Anyone who knows the saga of our bathroom will appreciate that a powerful shower is part of the holiday treat.

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There was lots on the breakfast menu, freshly cooked and plenty of fruit, cereals etc to help yourself. On the first morning there were lots of guests, but Sunday and Monday nights the owners told us we were alone; literally as there were no staff staying overnight. Possible inspiration for a story! The other strange thing that happened was our room didn’t get serviced due to a mix up, but they gave us a bottle of champagne and deducted money off the bill to make up.

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Did we ever manage to get the car back up the hill? Find out next week.

https://www.primroseonline.co.uk/

https://www.visitcornwall.com/places/st-ives

 

 

 

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The Game of Life – 42

Warning: Do you dare to play the game of life? If you don’t want to read about illness and death or you dislike dark humour please avoid this blog, but I hope you will continue to visit my Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday blogs.

The Number Game

Fans of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy will know Douglas Adams said 42 was the answer to the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. Geeks everywhere are still trying to prove that. But it is the number of our wedding anniversary last week and also a multiple of three. Three can be viewed as a significant if you want to play the number game; for Christians there is the Holy Trinity, for artists there are three primary colours and for photographers a picture of three is viewed as superior to a picture of two. Three colourful boats in a harbour are more satisfying to look at than two boats.

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My parents both came from families of three siblings, had three of us and we had three children, though our children have no intention of continuing this trend. My mother was 93 at the weekend, thus making four generations with ages in multiples of three. Mother, sister, three children, four grandchildren ( if you count 0 ), great niece and myself are all in multiples of three – for a few months at least. I’m twice the age of my youngest child, eleven times the age of my granddaughter – WHAT! My mother can’t believe she is 93 and 31 times as old as two of her great grandchildren… where is all this leading? Absolutely nowhere, I’m just leading you up the garden path…  though you could try working out my age…

There are numbers and patterns throughout nature; scientists like deciphering patterns and mathematicians love making sequences while the rest of us just get on with life.

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The Bridge Between Life and Death

The second dose of the second type of chemotherapy has not interfered much with Cyberspouse’s life, so with the weather forecast springing optimistic we ventured west to St. Ives, Cornwall – 198 miles, another multiple of three – our first away of the year, for three nights. It was thick fog all the way down, but our two full days there were fine weather. Day two was devoted to old mine and coast landscapes already visited by Cyberspouse with his photography friends. Beautiful scenery with black jagged rocks, turquoise seas and snow white surf, but he didn’t tell me about the walk of death. To him it was a wide footpath he and his mates had crossed before, to me it was a perilous bridge too far with a lethal drop either side likely to result in a major operation by the coastguard, air sea rescue ( yes the one Prince William used to fly with ) lifeboat, mountain rescue and Devon and Cornwall Police to record the major incident.

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The photograph doesn’t really do justice to the danger. I don’t like heights so I stayed back to dial 999 and anticipate how I would explain to police, press and family – no he didn’t want to end it all dramatically,  he just wanted to take a photograph. There was much precarious playing around with the tripod, but no incident. I have to confess that when we walked round the cliff on a safer path the grassy ledge he had been standing on looked bigger than from the bridge view.

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You can read more about Cornwall in my Wednesday blogs.

 

https://tidalscribe.wordpress.com/2019/02/20/winter-weekend-west-part-one/

 

 

Silly Saturday – Stream of Consciousness

Today is another in my occasional series of guest blogs by family members. This is a stream of consciousness written on a mobile phone on a plane – prepare for take off!

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Ladies and gentlemen there will now be a break in the service to allow the crew to have a break.

The crew need a break do they? I need a break as well!

This is going to be a whinge. I don’t whinge that often but I’m about to right now, so get ready.

This time last year I was still chuckling to myself about the Guild of Master Sunbed Arrangers while flying back to Blighty. I say Blighty because of a recent commitment to watch every series of Dad’s Army on dvd. The language of your current binge watch TV programme can rub off on you in a big way if you don’t watch anything else. I also learned that they said TTFN ( ta ta for now ) back then, which surprised me as I thought it was a 90s yuppie thing.

Before I digress, I was about to discuss flying back from holiday. It’s a five hour flight, which is probably about my limit for a little winter holiday on this type of airline. I recently went on a big long haul plane and let me tell you it was a whole different experience (Good).

So you take off and the second the seat belt light goes out they send out the first trolley. I have visions of the cabin crew waiting behind the curtain checking the tyres and oil, rubbing their feet on the carpet like a raging bull about to be let loose on a rodeo clown. The trolleys come out from both ends of the plane, rushing towards the centre, crushing any poor soul who thought they might use the toilets (which are at either end).

I will now list the order of the trolleys and my objections in full.

  1. Duty free that has been ordered on the flight out.

This should be made available to collect upon landing. Why the f#@k are we flying bottles of Johnny Walker round the world so people can take them back to Britain? I mean there really isn’t any need for any spirit manufactured in the UK to travel thousands of miles on an airplane, only to end up in a glass drinks cabinet of a retired couple from Dudley who will just refill it with gear from Aldi when it runs out.

  1. Teas, Coffees, Beers and wines in proportions that would leave The Borrowers thirsty.

I get that people might need a drink or some nibbles, but can’t they just flog it from the gate or have a man with a tray on the sky bridge. I like beer, honestly I do, but I like it enough to not do it the disservice of consuming it in quantities of anything less that 500mm. Don’t forget about the deals! The people in front of me are discussing how four little beers for just £12 is a very good deal indeed. I can only imagine they get all their shopping from the farmers’ market and their holiday books from the Radio Times mail order book club.

  1. Ad hoc duty free that hasn’t been ordered already.

Can you believe that people still buy cigarettes on planes! We just came from a country where they cost £1 a pack. Maybe it’s because they must have their brand that can only be bought in the UK and on planes! I don’t know about you, but I don’t mind where my slow inevitable death comes from cos its coming and where it was made ain’t gonna make a difference.

Imagine if you will, a hypothetical crackpot dictator in some warm dusty land, sometime in the 70s, sitting upon a throne made from water melons at the end of a long walkway with a giant light up piano on the floor ( as seen in the  film Big). Why watermelons? Because I leke them that’s why. Let’s call him Charles or Charlie to his chums at Eton (All good dictators have been educated in Britain).

One of his generals walks casually up the piano whilst trying to maintain an even step and not tread on two keys at once (doing so would be a capital offence).

‘General, where are my bullets’ barks Charles in an impatient tone.

‘We have been shopping around great leader’ says the general confidently. ‘We wanted to get you a good deal and get the most bullets for your money.’

‘I want British bullets, they are the best’ says Charles in a dismissive tone.

‘British bullets are like any other your highness, they have much the same effect as the others we’ve looked at.’

Charles is miffed. ‘Look at the empire they built with those bullets, they must be the best.’

The general is becoming worried about his position and not just his position in the government. His position on the floor has changed and he is in serious danger of drifting off the piano key he stands on.

‘Ok great leader, we will get you British bullets. I’ll put the order in when the HMS something or other next docks for a cocktail party.’

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I may have gently slid off the programme for a moment there, but I’m sure you get the point. People like their brand.

  1. Drinks and snacks again

Same shit same trolley. Now this is the bit where they very proudly announce that there will be a break in the service of around 40 mins… 40 mins out of 5 hours. Less than 20% of the flight will be spent in peace! Thankfully I managed to shoot out and use the toilet before the next gauntlet was set. Then they have the audacity to announce that now everyone has had a nice rest they will be resuming the trolley service. Aghhhhhhhhh I want to scream!

Can’t we just shut our eyes and wait till it’s over, why must I look at all the wonderful deals you have. I don’t even know what’s going on any more I feel like a poor lost animal stuck in the centre of a dual carriage way surrounded by f#&king trolleys whizzing by.

It’s at this point that I feel I must end my observations as my silent rage may boil over into me writing a sternly worded email.

Safe travels and happy holidays.

By   Alastair J Gogerty

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007tlxv

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Borrowers-Puffin-Book-Mary-Norton/dp/0141354860

 

Friday Flash Fiction 725 – The Skies Above

I never tired of watching the skies above. Living close to the airport the sky was never empty. At night I counted the lights, four in a row coming into land, no room for error. On winter mornings as I got up early for work I was never sure which were stars and which the passenger planes circling, waiting for their turn to land.

But this morning something was different, a shape dropping gently, slowly; higher than the other aircraft, lights unfamiliar, not a helicopter. As the night sky turned to indigo the shape became a luminous jellyfish floating in the deep blue of the ocean, the world turned upside down and inside out. I was transfixed, not afraid, not afraid at that moment.

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As the sky lightened I discerned a darker shape beneath the rainbow coloured dome; still so high in the sky it was hard to tell if it was ascending or descending. But even as I blinked I saw it becoming larger. I rushed through the house to the back garden to get a better view, all thoughts of getting to the bus stop in time for work forgotten. The feeble early morning light disappeared as a giant canopy blocked the whole sky. I hardly dared allow my eyes to follow the heavy cables that hung below what I now realised was a giant parachute. The cables twisted and jerked as they were manoeuvred by the dark shape attached to them. The shape took form as it slowly descended, legs and arms flailing. The garden security light came on to reveal a human shape; I hoped it was a macabre joke, a giant inflatable doll, strung to a parachute that was about to cover the whole of my large back garden.

Saucer eyes stared at me, a gaping mouth uttered a sound that caused the ground to tremble beneath me and a hot wind, tobacco scented, blew me backwards. Before I could attempt to recover and retreat indoors there was an almighty splintering of glass as my greenhouse was crushed out of sight by a giant boot. And even as a tiny part of my brain urged me to get indoors and save my family I felt a rush of wind on my cheek and the other boot flattened my house as if it was cardboard.

I fought to escape as the canopy that had looked like gossamer high up in the sky now crashed around me with its deadly weight. As the breath was about to be squeezed out of me, my paralysed brain seemed to revive and make time stand still. I observed the hand that raised up the canopy, each digit the size of a tree trunk, a hand that could rescue or crush me. Hysterical laughter shook my body for a moment as I pictured myself telling the boss ‘Sorry I’m late, but a giant landed in my garden.’

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What was he, a giant of legend? Or perhaps an alien; we imagine them as either strange monsters or green coloured humans, but why not a distant planet populated by homo sapiens who just happen to be ten times our size? For a bloke who wasn’t a great thinker I was doing a lot of thinking, there was a strange silence that was comforting. The hand was not touching me, joined by the other hand it lifted the crumpled structure clear so I was staring into the face, but it was too vast for me to discern its expression.

It had been the titanic parachute shielding me from the noise; now the air was filled with the shrieking of sirens and the shrieking of my neighbours. How many seconds had passed since the boots destroyed my home and woke all the neighbours? The control tower must have been tracking him before I even left my front door. What would the emergency services do, call in the army? I almost felt protective of my giant, I hoped they wouldn’t harm him. As another hot wind blew me backwards and the ground vibrated I realised the deafening rumble was the word sorry. I knew then that he must have intended to land on the runway and as his hand stretched out to pick me up I hoped he didn’t mess up the next part of his plan.

Winter Weekend West – Part One

February may not be thought of as a holiday month in England, except for going abroad for sunshine, but there is plenty to do on a long winter weekend. We headed west through three counties and thick fog to reach Saint Ives on the north coast of Cornwall, nearly at the most westerly tip of England. A three night stay gave us two days of fine weather to enjoy photo opportunities, a blogworthy bed and breakfast establishment and too much inspiration for just one blog.

Cornwall has its own language, flag and nationalist movement. In the past it must have been very remote from the rest of England and in 2014 Cornish people were granted minority status under the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. But if you are in a holiday town you are more likely to be continually bumping into Londoners and others seeking the good life. Perhaps the locals are busy going out in their fishing boats rather than sampling fish restaurants.

Incomers are not new, Saint Ives famously has attracted artists since the nineteenth century with the quality of light and beautiful blue seas. Now the town is also well known for its Tate Gallery, squashed between housing association flats on the promenade. Inside, the light and airy building comes into its own, with a beautifully framed view of the beach, which my photograph doesn’t do justice to!

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The town has layer upon layer of higgledy piggledy old buildings and narrow lanes clinging to its steep hills; a tourists’ delight. When we see modern tiny houses being built we think them ridiculous, but minute old dwellings most of us find irresistibly cute. Wandering around the maze of lanes we saw  a door only two foot wide at the top of steep steps and one building where a few steps took you below ground to two tiny front doors crammed at right angles; they were holiday lets.

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Out on the moors there is plenty of space; the attractions for visitors include the old mine workings and the rocky coast where unbelievably blue seas with snow white surf pound black rocks. Fans of the Poldark books and television series will be familiar with the Cornish scenery and it is as fantastic as it looks on television. Winston Graham the author was not a local by birth, but did live in Cornwall for thirty five years from the age of seventeen.

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https://www.visitcornwall.com/places/st-ives

Silly Saturday – How to Cheat at Photography

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A hundred years ago this girl and her cousin managed to cheat at photography, even Sir Arthur Connan Doyle was taken in and was convinced these were real fairies.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cottingley_Fairies

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With the advent of digital photography everyone can have a go at cheating, not just the enthusiasts lurking in the dark room.

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The experts and enthusiasts are still around; they like playing with big lenses and buy expensive software to digitally manipulate their images – sometimes beyond all recognition.

http://www.photogog.com/inmymindseye

Visit Cyberspouse’s website to see some creative work.

 

39982808_671374146565963_2316413924456529920_nBut those of us who only point and shoot with compact cameras and smart phones can still produce strange pictures.

I don’t actually phone anybody with my smart phone, I just use it to put pictures on Instagram and send photos to family and friends on messenger. One day I discovered you can write on the pictures. On Instagram you can turn your picture black and white or brighten it up, share on Facebook, then download to your computer and use it for your WordPress blog. On WordPress you can crop pictures, reverse them or turn them upside down.

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We bought an ipad to Facetime two continents, but I discovered you can take photogaphs with different effects.

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A saucer of floating flowers.

 

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The hot summer of 2018.

 

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But you don’t have to rely on magical equipment – this is the Odeon cinema taken through the bus window on a rainy night.

 

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…and this is not my nice tidy garden shed, but a picture of the side of the garden centre’s truck.

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A puddle.

Visit my picture gallery to see more pictures or spot some cheats.

https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/chapter-three-picture-gallery/

 

 

 

 

Friday Flash Fiction – Reach for The Stars

 ‘Why have you waited till bedtime to announce you have to present a project on infinity tomorrow? When did the teacher tell you about it?’

‘I can’t remember, it might have been at the beginning of time, or was it Tuesday, but does time have a beginning?’

Sometimes Helen wondered if her son had been here before, he didn’t seem to be like other eight year olds, but then she hadn’t had an eight year old before, or a younger brother, though she did recall being eight and thinking all the boys in her class were stupid.

Sebastian was in the enrichment group at school and the teacher had taken the project to heart; perhaps he was running out of ideas to challenge the half dozen children, who were not allowed to be called clever or cleverer, but had extra interests. Helen’s scientific knowledge was confined to listening to programmes on Radio Four such as the Infinite Monkey Cage, but she had gathered enough to know that even scientists freaked out at the thought of infinity. They could cope with the thought of the edge of the observable universe being forty six and a half billion light years away, but not with the uncertainty of infinity. Sebastian’s Dad was night shift at the soap factory, so it was no use waiting till he got home to help them.

Instead of a bedtime story she tucked Seb in and they Googled infinity on her smart phone.

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Mr. Struthers was hoping for great things from his group, especially Sebastian, as he was hoping to get material for his blog Help, my Child’s a Genius.

Sebastian stood in front of the class.

‘The good thing about infinity is you can write endlessly about it and you can’t get it wrong as nobody understands it, including my teacher. But I do understand the universe as my mum helped me last night. Professor Stephen Hawking said the universe is growing, therefore at one time it must have been smaller and long ago so small it was nothing, one minute it was nothing and the next minute there was a big bang. But theory two, I’m not sure if this was mine or Mummy’s idea, if the universe is infinite it will go on forever so it must have always been here forever.

But how big is infinity? The edge of the universe we can see with a big telescope is 46.5 billion light years away, but we can’t see if there is an edge to it or what is outside it and that makes us go all shivery. But the third theory which I think my mum got off the radio is supposing the universe curved round on itself, then it wouldn’t have an edge and maybe it wouldn’t be infinite.

And that would probably mean time goes in a circle and if we crossed the circle with a diameter, or crossed a small part with a chord we would be in a different time, so that means time travel could be possible. I think grown ups do time travel because they are always saying things like I don’t know where the time has gone. The other possibility is that time is an illusion and that’s how magicians do magic.

The other thing I discovered, though Mr. Strutthers didn’t ask us to do this, there’s lots of space between atoms and inside atoms; if you took all the empty space in the atoms that make up a human being, I would be a lot smaller than a grain of salt. If you removed all the empty space from the atoms that make up all the humans on the planet, we could all fit inside an apple. If we remove the spaces between and inside all the atoms in the solar system it could fit it inside a thimble, though I’m not sure what a thimble is. But it means the rest of the universe is not that big after all, it just has lots of space in it.’

‘Well done Sebastian’ said Mr. Strutthers ‘and you said it all off by heart. Have you written it down to hand in?’

‘Not on paper, but it is written on the blog Mummy and I just started.’

 

Thoughtless Thursday – the antidote to Valentine’s Day

Forgotten it’s Valentine’s Day, can’t be bothered with all the hype? All you need is scissors and glue and old greeting cards to cut up. Make your own card then copy these verses. No need to buy a gift as it will be obvious from the words of the poem that the loved one won’t be expecting any.

 

 

I never buy you flowers in a bunch,

Or your favourite box of chocolates to munch,

I always forget to take you to lunch.

 

But you don’t need those things to know

You’re the one to whom I go

When my heart is full of woe.

 

I never tell you how much I care.

To make up poems I do not dare.

Expressions of emotion are rare.

 

So I made this card

To explain how hard

It is to say I love you.

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Into Infinity

Writing about infinity presents endless possibilities. Most of my scientific understanding comes from listening to BBC Radio Four while doing the housework or cooking. The Infinite Monkey Cage is a programme combining comedy and science which I can understand, then there was the serialisation of Professor Stephen Hawking’s last book Brief Answers to Big Questions; if I didn’t take that all in I blame it on domestic interruptions or a noisy washing machine.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00snr0w

Here is my handy guide to the universe. I think Stephen Hawking said the universe is growing, therefore at one time it must have been smaller and long ago so small it was nothing; one minute it was nothing and the next minute there was a big bang. I prefer my theory that if the universe is infinite it will go on forever, so it must have always been here forever.

But how big is infinity? The edge of the observable universe is 46.5 billion light years away, but we can’t see if there is an edge to it or work out how much more of it there is. Apparently even clever scientists, who can cope with the thought of billions of light years, still find infinity a bit creepy. They are no different to young children ( or was that just me? ) who ask ‘Who made the universe?’

‘God’ the parent replies and then they ask

‘But who made God’ or ‘What’s outside the universe?’

Another theory is that the universe could curve round on itself, making it both finite and infinite. Could that mean time goes in a circle and if we crossed the circle with a diameter or a chord we would be in a different time, thus making time travel possible? But is time merely an illusion? If so, time travel is still on the cards…

Talking of space, there is a lot of space between atoms and inside atoms; if you took all the empty space in the atoms that make up a human being, a person would be a lot smaller than a grain of salt. If you removed all the empty space from the atoms that make up all the humans on the planet, we could all fit inside an apple. If we removed the spaces between and inside all the atoms in the solar system it could fit it inside a thimble, so perhaps the universe is not so big after all.

Whatever the truth, authors who enjoy writing about time travel are never going to concede that time travel is impossible. Science fiction writers in general vary from those who are scientists to those who make it all up and who can prove them wrong if they set it in the future; unless a book reviewer travels to the future to check…

If you want to stretch your mind and go somewhere different why not dip into Someone Somewhere.

 

The Sunshine Blogger Award

Stevie Turner is a blogger I follow regularly, here she answers the questions I posed for the Sunshine Blogger Award. I hope she gets to meet the Queen.

Stevie Turner

Thanks to Janet Gogerty at Times and Tides of a Beachwriter who nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award.  Below I’ve answered her questions, and nominated some bloggers who make me laugh with their posts and/or comments.  First of all …

Here’s what to do!

1- Give a big thank you to the person who nominated you so others can find them!

2-Answer the questions from the blogger who nominated you.

3-Nominate other bloggers and ask them your own set of questions!

4- Let the nominees know about the nomination in one of their posts (I’ve added their names in this one)!

5-List the rules and the Sunshine Award nomination on your own site.

6- Let the fun begin!

Janet’s questions and my answers are below:

  1. If money and responsibilities were no problem where would you like to live and write?

In a house by the sea on the Isle…

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