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

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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.

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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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Silly Saturday – How to Cheat at Travel

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Visitors from all over the world come to visit this place, Windsor, Royal Berkshire. What to some is the holiday of a lifetime is a train trip of six minutes – if you happen to live near Slough railway station. You cannot get lost because there is only one stop, the train travels all day long between Slough and Windsor and Eaton Central, curving round to cross the River Thames. The elegant station was built so Queen Victoria could come by train to Windsor Castle.

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The station is busy with tourists and has plenty of restaurants and designer shops, so you will feel as if you are on holiday. Windsor Castle lies before you as you step outside, but perhaps you will be having so much fun on holiday in the station you won’t bother.

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But if you consider it is not a proper holiday unless you cross the sea, why not sail to Southampton.

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Take the ferry from the little town of Hythe in Hampshire. Check first on line to see if there are any ocean liners in dock, you will get a great view from the little ferry and it is much cheaper than going on a cruise.

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Hythe Pier, 1881 A strong, light iron pier, 2,100 feet in length…

The railway is the oldest continuously operating public pier train in the world. You can walk, cycle or take the train to the end of the pier and the ferry takes only ten minutes. Stroll out of the ferry terminal and you can explore parts of the old city wall or walk up the road into the centre of Southampton. If you want to shop or go to the cinema there is the Westquay centre with Ikea close by. There are large parks, museums, a university, the lovely Mayflower theatre and a concert hall.

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But if you want to feel as if you are abroad ( and you are not lucky enough to already be Swedish ) just stay all day in Ikea and stroll amongst the wonderful ‘rooms’ pretending you are visiting your Scandinavian friends. Buy all sorts of things you didn’t know you needed and have no idea what they are, but just like reading the interesting Swedish labels. When you tire, visit the restaurant which also has views over Southampon Water and the ocean liners. Soon it will be time to embark for the return trip across the waves.

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Enjoy more travels at my website.

https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/chapter-five-beach-writer-s-blog/

Flash Fiction Friday – One Thousand

The Last Job

It was Oliver Twister’s last job. His family, those who were still speaking to him, thought he was going straight. Well robbing a betting shop was not theft, the punters had already given their money away.  His family and the probation officer thought he was clean and he was more or less, given that he could no longer afford to pay the drug dealers. Money was short; hence his latest plan. Nobody would stop him, who would risk their life to save the bookie’s money? Not that they would be risking their lives, but if they believed they were about to be shot or gassed they would flee the shop.

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It was Bill’s last visit to the betting shop, that’s what he had vowed to himself. He was supposed to ring his ‘Gamblers’ Anonymous Buddy’ if he got the urge. But this was not gambling, it was a certainty; he had followed the horse since she was a filly and everything was in her favour for the ‘three fifteen’ at Ascot. The jockey had notched up several wins with her, the wet weather made for the soft track that she loved and Ascot was her ‘lucky’ course. When Bill read in Racing Times that the favourite was out of the race with a tendon injury, he knew he must place one more bet.

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It was Samuel’s first visit to ‘The Bookies’. He had won ten pounds when he bought himself a lottery ticket for his eighteenth birthday, that in itself had been an act of rebellion against his Exclusive Brethren parents. A bloke at work assured him this was a good omen and gave him an excellent tip for the ‘three fifteen’ at Ascot; there was no reason why his parents or the elders of the church should find out. The only problem that he could foresee was that he had not a clue how to place a bet. When he walked into the shop trying to look casual, the first person he saw behind the counter was Lara, the beautiful girl he had worshipped from afar when she was in upper sixth and he was in fifth year.

‘Is it young Sam? I bet you don’t recognise me,’ she trilled ‘don’t tell the elders you’ve seen me working here, my aunty goes to your church. I need a part time job, my student loan isn’t enough.’ She helped him place the bet. ‘Just in time, you can watch it live on the telly in five minutes.’

There was only one other customer in, who looked like a regular, but their cosy chat was suddenly interrupted.

The door burst open and a gun entered, followed by an outstretched arm belonging to a large man wearing a contraption on his face that looked like a gas mask. They could not hear properly what he said, but they got the general idea when he waved his gun at Lara and Samuel. As Lara screamed, another primeval cry came from Bill the regular punter. He launched himself at the masked man, catching him off balance, but it was not enough. For a split second Samuel was paralysed with fear, but he focused on the dangerously waving arm and pistol.

Somehow the robber was face down on the floor. The older punter was sitting on him and Samuel had the arm pinned to the floor.

‘Don’t touch the gun,’ said Bill ‘it might go off.’

Samuel knelt on the robber’s wrist to make sure the weapon stayed at floor level, pointing away from them. A muffled cry came from the robber.

‘Shall I press the alarm’ said Lara, rather belatedly.

‘Not yet love, the race starts in two minutes.’ Bill pressed down heavily on the robber’s shoulders. ‘Nobody robs our bookies, no one threatens our Lara.’ He felt like a cowboy.

A faint gurgle was the only reply.

It seemed a long wait till the race started, but in seconds it was over. Bill cheered, while a confused Samuel asked which horse had won. Lara pressed the button.

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The police were quick to arrive and Lara was thrilled to be surrounded by hunky officers, who seemed more interested in her welfare than the prisoner.

‘I pressed the alarm button straight away’ she said.

‘Well done.’ They turned to the men on the floor. ‘Okay chaps, don’t move till we’ve got the handcuffs on.’

The prisoner did not try to resist; when Bill and Samuel struggled to their feet the prisoner did not move at all. The officers turned him over and with difficulty removed the fake gas mask.

‘Bloody hell.’

Suddenly all hell did break loose, one officer was urgently calling on his radio for an ambulance, while the others whipped bits and pieces out of their first aid pouches. Something was put on the robber’s blue face and a policeman started blowing, while another pressed on his chest.

Just as Lara kissed Sam’s cheek to thank him for saving her life, he looked down at the body and realised the full implications. He fainted.

Bill raised his feet while Lara patted his cheek.

The paramedics shook their heads, but soon had the man on a stretcher with an oxygen mask where the gas mask had recently been.

As the sirens receded into the distance the remaining officers chatted for a few moments in a surprisingly light hearted manner. Bill thought he heard one say ‘Oliver Twister’s finally got his come-uppance then, he won’t be missed.’

They put on more serious expressions as they turned to the two men.

‘We have to arrest you for murder of course, but it seems like a clear cut case of self defence, the CCTV will prove you saved the young lady’s life. You don’t need to worry about being charged with murder.’

‘CCTV,’ groaned Bill ‘I’m not worried about the murder charge… my wife will kill me when she finds out where I’ve been.’

‘We won’t be on the news will we?’ said Samuel ‘How am I going to explain this to my parents and the elders?’

‘At least you both won some money’ said Lara sweetly.

 

 

Sunshine Blogger Award Nomination

Thanks to Cheryl of The Cornucopia Allotment for nominating me. Here are my answers to Cheryl’s ten questions, followed by bloggers I have nominated and questions I have chosen.

https://thecornucopiaallotment.wordpress.com/home-page/

1.What is your favourite Flower?   Very hard to decide as I love so many, but perhaps the humble nasturtium, relative of the cabbage; their simple citrus colour flowers zing even on a grey day. I scatter seeds and when other flowers are past their best they pop up.

2- What landscape instils calm on a chaotic day?  The sea or a high hill looking down, what may be noisy below is reduced to a pleasant hum or complete silence.

3- What is your strongest practical skill?   Probably anything to do with needles.

4- What is your favourite craft?   Knitting and crochet, they are relaxing sharing with friends or watching television, but I would love to be able to create beautiful textile pictures.

5- What is your most unusual food craving?  Not sure, but I do love traditional mashed potato and roasted red peppers.

6- What if anything, is on your learning bucket list?  Vastly improving my digital age skills.

7- Have you a favourite author for a rainy day? Tim Winton, Australian novelist, born in Perth where I spent my teenage years, his books transport me back to a hot country.

8- To me sweetcorn tastes of summer! What is your sunshine food? Home grown cherry tomatoes taste of sunshine.

9- If you had the chance to learn to grow anything what would it be? Sweet peas, they smell so divine, but I have never had much success.

10- If money was no object what type of garden would you design? A sunny hillside; near the house would be the walled garden full of abundant herbaceous borders and raised vegetable beds. Descending to the winding river below would be narrow paths among trees and then a grassy spot to sit by the river. Everything would be planted to attract wildlife. As money is no object I would have a head gardener training youngsters and I would just float around dead heading and cutting sweet peas for indoors.

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The bloggers I am nominating are just a few of the bloggers who make me laugh, take me to new places or help other bloggers. No pressure, if you want to have a go answer some or all of the questions. If any other bloggers want to join in you are very welcome.

Anita Dawes and Jaye Marie

Beetleypete

Biff Sock Pow

Bluebird of Bitteness

Life and Soul Magazine

Notes From The UK

Stevie Turner

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!

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

6- Let the fun begin!

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  1. If money and responsibilities were no problem where would you like to live and write?
  2. Many writers have pets draped over their keyboard or under their desk. If you could choose one creature to be your pet what would it be? You can opt for anything from a spider to an elephant.
  3. If you were invited to talk about your book on television or the radio which programme would you like to appear on?
  4. Which famous person would you be thrilled to have following your blog?
  5. You have decided to go on an adventurous expedition to achieve fantastic sales for your book. Where would you go?
  6. Number five didn’t work so you must fake your own death to boost sales, what sort of demise would you choose?
  7. You have been invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace. You are most excited because A. You will meet the Queen. B. A loved one accompanying you deserves a day out. C. You like cake. D. You like looking round other people’s gardens. E. It will make a good topic for your blog. F. Excellent research for you novel.
  8. Research is hard work so you decide to use a time machine for your historical or futuristic novel. Which time will you travel to?
  9. Number six went drastically wrong, who did you leave your manuscripts and intellectual property to in your will?

 

 

 

 

Why people shop online

Here’s a laugh for anybody who goes out shopping – from Bluebird who always brings us something musical or amusing.

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Despite the name of the channel, this is most emphatically not “a southern thing.” I’ve lived my whole life north of the Mason-Dixon line, and this explains why I shop online whenever possible — and why, when I must shop locally, I always use the self-checkout lane.

(Thanks to my friendmindful webworkerfor this one.)

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