Friday Flash Fiction – 1K

Two Minutes Later

 It was one of those perfect moments that are rare; my body still tingling from the sea and soaking in the warmth of the sun, I wrapped my white finger tips round a mug of fresh coffee. In the blue skies above, vintage aeroplanes soared and swooped. While others stood on the crowded cliff tops in the baking sun, I enjoyed the privacy and comfort of my little shady window box on the world. The four figure beach hut rates for a six by six wooden box, one tier above the promenade, were worth it for this moment alone.


I looked at my watch as I polished off my sandwich, 1.30 pm; another hour and I would plunge back into the sea. In the meantime it was inevitable that I would drift off to sleep… the sunlight was red through my eyelids, the planes and waves together made soothing background music.


Two minutes later a chill on my skin prompted me to open my eyes. I looked at my watch, 1.32pm and closed them again. But a voice penetrated my oblivion.

‘You’ve let your tea go cold.’

‘Geoff, I thought you were on the cliff top taking photos, no peace for the wicked.’

‘What… I thought you’d be in a panic to get ready for work.’


‘You’re late shift…’

Reluctantly I opened my eyes, wondering if my husband had gone mad. He was sitting next to me and peering over the top of his newspaper.

‘Good thing we didn’t move to Bournemouth, look at all those crowds on the beach for the Air Festival.’

‘But we did… and we’ve got a beach hut…’

He carried on talking as if everything was normal ‘…and as for getting your dream beach hut, long waiting list and much too expensive apparently.’

Something was wrong, very wrong and I could not avoid the evidence of my eyes. We were sitting in the garden of 29, Mildred Crescent, Harmonton. I recognised it even though the trees and shrubs had grown a lot in the seven years since we moved away; this was turning out to be a very vivid dream, a nightmare. I looked at my watch again, 1.34pm. If I closed my eyes I could finish the dream and wake up at the beach hut.


We had both taken early pensions from work, I loved working at Heathrow, but I did not intend to spend the rest of my life living in Harmonton, Middlesex; the sea beckoned. Geoff was equally determined not to end up like his boring parents living in the same road all their married lives, round the corner. We had never regretted the decision.

The sun must have gone behind a cloud, I felt chilly. I should have changed out of my wet swimming costume, my beach towel must have fallen off. I looked down at my lap and saw my old skirt, I turned my head to see my old pink blouse.

‘Are you okay,’ said Geoff ‘shall I phone in and say you’re sick.’

‘Er… I’m fine, I had this strange dream we were still in Harmonton.’

‘Ha, ha, very funny… was that the door bell, is Marion giving you a lift to work?’

I shook my head in disbelief; Marion who I felt sorry for, guilty even, when I handed in my resignation and she realised it was true, I really was going. We’d worked together for years, lived close; I had been an aunty to her children. She was never going to leave Harmonton and I was never going to stay. We popped up to visit at first, but their seaside holidays with us never materialised, we made new friends, she wasn’t on Facebook…


I looked up and there she was, hair different, a few more lines.

‘Don’t blame you for dozing in the garden, that’s what I hate about late shift, I’ll admire Geoff’s vegetable beds while you get changed, don’t be long, we can’t both be late and don’t forget your ID pass this time.’

If I stood up I would wake up and stop my past playing out in my dreams. I walked towards the back door, the scent of Alyssum tumbling over the edge of the patio was so real I bent down to pick a sprig, I crushed the tender stalks in my fingers. I reached out for the back door handle, it was solid and very real. I walked through into the old kitchen I’d been a little sad to leave behind. Then it had been stylish, now it looked very tired compared with the fitted kitchen in our Bournemouth flat.

Now there was a cold feeling in the pit of my stomach. This house was no dream; I dashed frantically up the familiar stairs into the bedroom; yellow and blue, what had happened to the dated eighties pink flowered wallpaper? My work uniform was hanging up on a strange wardrobe…

I stumbled down the stairs, I didn’t want to face the truth, there was still a chance to wake myself up. Out in the street we got into a strange car, not strange to Marion though.

‘Marion, remind me why we’re doing this, still working at the airport?’

She laughed. ‘We’re not getting our state pensions yet and you said you would go mad with boredom staying at home now Geoff’s retired.’

‘I had this vivid dream when I was dozing in the garden, I was sitting in my own beach hut, we lived in Bournemouth.’

‘That was a dream for sure, you’d never get Geoff to move, remember when you suggested it years ago?’

I certainly did and now I knew the unthinkable had happened, I had slipped into my alternative future, a future where nothing had happened except our bedroom being redecorated. Geoff had become his boring father, not the new man who hiked in the New Forest and followed tide timetables for his photography. Boring Geoff was happy with his vegetable beds and fish pond and would never move away while his parents were still alive, or when they were dead. Now I remembered the alternative past seven years, the mortgage paid off and money kept sensibly in the bank. Geoff would not even contemplate a caravan. I let out a silent scream.


For more short stories, open the book and have a look.


Into Infinity

Grand Prix, everyday traffic – noise and pollution, I hate it, bring back the horse.

…but put big fuel guzzling engines up in the skies and I love them, carbon footprints forgotten.

I don’t fly often, perhaps if I did the novelty would wear off, but for me a trip abroad begins the moment the cabin floor starts to slope upwards and the engines blast into full power. A window seat and clear sky provide the fascination of identifying landmarks, but if the plane ascends through heavy cloud cover there is still the fun of being up in a fluffy heaven.


My first ever flight was across the world, when we emigrated to Australia. My novel ‘Quarter Acre Block’ was inspired by our experiences; in that story none of the Palmer family had flown before, but in real life my father had been a flight engineer in WW2. He was determined we would fly rather than sail out. I have flown across the world a few times since then, but perhaps more exciting was my shortest ever trip, flying in a light aircraft from Jandacot, Perth, Western Australia across twelve miles of Indian Ocean to Rottnest Island – real flying.

But mostly I have been on the ground looking up. At Farnborough Air Show, as children, we would marvel as jets flew silently by, followed several moments later by their sound.


Years later, living very near Heathrow Airport, we would spot four planes in the sky at a time coming into land, at night like ‘UFO’ lights. But the aeroplane we never tired of watching or hearing was Concorde. If many Concordes had been built and flown the noise would have been unbearable, but the two flights a day were an event; teachers in local schools would stop talking at eleven a.m., working in an airside passenger lounge with a great view of the runway, we watched her take off like a graceful bird. On winter evenings I would dash out of the kitchen into the garden to see her glowing afterburners soaring up. Alas poor Concorde…


The end of August brings the Bournemouth Air Festival, now in its eleventh year. If you don’t like the noise, are not interested in aeroplanes and live near the cliff top, there is no opting out, unless you go on holiday. Roads are closed, there are diversions, daily routine is disrupted as over a million visitors come over the four days. But this does not affect me. With visitors coming I have no intention of going anywhere except the kitchen, local shops and the sea front.


The longer the journey your visitors have made and especially if it is their first visit to the Air Festival, the more likely it is to rain. But with the festival spread over four days there is always some good flying weather. The cliff tops make ideal viewing and the beach is crowded. You can book a place on board a boat, but if the weather turns rough you are stuck out at sea! There are hospitality tents and deals at cliff top hotels with balconies.


It all starts tomorrow, so in next week’s blog I’ll fill you in on the highlights and weather, with hopefully some photographs.

Smorgasbord End of Summer Party – Sunday Lunch with guests Annette Rochelle Aben, Stevie Turner, Jaye Marie, Balroop Singh, Lisa Thomson, Janice Spina, Dolly Aizenman, Ritu Bhathal, Jacquie Biggar and Sharon Marchisello.

Sally rounds up her end of summer party with a delicious sunday lunch, a good place to be as it is rainy and windy here. Meet some very different authors, find out more about the ones you know and perhaps discover bloggers new to you.

Silly Saturday – Finding The End of The Rainbow

Reginald loved painting

Adored colours

Inspired by what he saw

Never stopped trying to create

Beautiful pictures

Of all the colours in the




RED ladies dancing gracefully

ORANGE  shades of autumn trees

YELLOW downy hair of his baby son

GREEN turbulent seascapes

BLUE skies with Constable clouds

INDIGO flowers in his garden

VIOLET vivacious surrealist shapes




Robert took photographs

Anytime, anywhere, anything

Integrated technology

New digital camera

Beautiful images

Of the real and unreal

Wonderful colours created by the computer

Salisbury Cathedral

RED balloons in the sky

ORANGE flowers magnified

YELLOW striped bumblebees

GREEN rolling hills and fields

BLUE racing cars

INDIGO  eyes of lovely ladies

VIOLET twilit skies




Reginald regularly exhibited

At shows and displays

In galleries and art rooms, but

No one bought a single scene

Browsing, gazing, frowning, smiling, leaving. If

Only, thought Reginald, I could see the

World and find more colours.



Paint the perfect picture, try a new



New colours





Photos are the way, said Robert

Acquire a computer, find a new

Interest, begged his wife,

Never leave us, but Reginald

Took his leave


RED desserts he crossed

ORANGE robed monks he met

YELLOW sunrises beckoned him

GREEN turbulent seas carried him towards the horizon

BLUE southern skies warmed him

INDIGO light on the mountain top dazzled him

VIOLET flower that bloomed once in a lifetime, pierced his heart, but still he


Roamed on and on

Around the world

Into the wilderness

Never giving up hope of finding

Better colours

On the other side of the sky

Wondering if the end of the arc lay there


RED tinted clouds



GREEN waters

BLUE raindrops

IDIGO mist

VIOLET shimmer


Pausing, praying

Reginald asked for


Saw his

Maker, who said


Remain still

Avert your eyes, do not go

Into the colours, But

Nearer he went

Brighter and brighter

Onwards in




Gazing at the shimmering spot where the

Rainbow burned into the

Earth, darkness fell on his soul and he saw a

Yawning chasm where all was GREY


God spoke to

Reginald. I showed you all the colours of the

Earth, but still you asked for more. Go

Yonder and see no more.








Friday Flash Fiction – Rambling Radio

‘…and when the light turns green Marcia, that’s your signal to speak, here’s your script.’

‘Script? I don’t need a script, surely the idea is to chat.’

‘Yes, but you do need to know what items you are linking. While the music is playing you can muse on what you might say next, but when a report is being read you need to concentrate so you can comment.’

‘Multi tasking, I know all about that…’

Theme music fades

‘Yes, yes I’m ready…

Good afternoon, it’s Marcia Graham taking you up to Drivetime with news and views and the sort of music you like … and my first guest is a man who plans to unicycle around the world. Join us after the break.’

Marcia clasped the headphones with a pained expression on her face. ‘Why do we need a break already, it’s only a few minutes since the last advertisements. Oh not this excruciating one, I can’t stand it when I’m in the kitchen, let alone having it blasted into my ears… Are you the unicycle man, not quite what I’d imagined, still, I suppose you will lose plenty of weight on your travels, whoops, amber light, get ready…

and this afternoon I’m talking to…

can’t read this small writing

…Free Wheeler?’

‘Freddie, my mother was a Queen fan, quite funny really, you know, I Like To Ride My Bicycle…’

‘But you’re riding a UNIcycle… what did give you the idea to unicycle around the world?’

‘I was bullied at school, Freddie No Wheels, my parents wouldn’t buy me a bike…’



Half an hour later

‘Thank goodness we’ve got rid of him; this show needs intelligent guests, I see myself as a cross between Joan Bakewell and Melvyn Bragg. No, I’m the same age as her actually. Who chooses this music, I can’t stand flutes, we don’t want to send the listeners off to sleep… ooh amber light…

and here is the news read by Peter Grimes…

unfortunate name, who decides the order of the news items, are we really interested, would we care if the operation wasn’t a success?’

The producer sighed and wondered how his radio station came to be involved in DRIP, Deferred Retirement In-house retraining Programme.




Everyone remembers the first time they see a dinosaur. For many of us it will have been on our first visit to the Natural History Museum in London. As you walked in the Great Hall there he was staring at you, the huge skeleton of Diplodocus. We were on a junior school outing, squashed cheese and tomato sandwiches in Kensington Gardens, then round the museum with our activity sheets. It wasn’t until I visited as an adult that I was disappointed to discover he was only a plaster cast of the original, uncovered in the plains of fossil-rich Wyoming.

One memorable visit was when two friends and I took our seven children, including three toddlers in buggies, on the tube train. On the way home in rush hour the poor passengers had to contend with four large plastic diplodocuses, their dangerously long tails waving in their faces. Diplodocus is now touring round the country and you can see a real Blue Whale skeleton instead.


But Prince Albert would have been pleased how many school children and families visit Albertopolis.  Over 150 years ago open fields and market gardens changed when two men had a vision to develop a part of London dedicated to the arts and sciences, using the profits of the Great Exhibition of 1851 held in nearby Hyde Park. Nicknamed ‘Albertopolis’, the area was designed to celebrate the achievements and grandeur of Victorian Britain, it is still thriving today with three museums, colleges and the Royal Albert Hall.


Prince Albert’s vision for the hall was to promote understanding and appreciation of the Arts and Sciences. When he died of typhoid fever in 1861, plans were put on hold until they were rekindled by Albert’s collaborator Henry Cole. The Royal Albert Hall of Arts and Sciences was opened on 29 March 1871 by Queen Victoria. Albert’s very ornate statue sits across the road in Kensington Gardens. The design of the Hall was inspired by Cole’s visits to ruined Roman amphitheatres and it was originally intended to accommodate 30,000 people, reduced to 7,000 for financial and practical reasons, and today to around 5,500. Every summer it is the main venue for the BBC Proms, the world’s greatest music festival, which surely would have pleased the prince.


Even if you have never been to London, the building will be familiar if you watch The Proms on television; a good way to enjoy the concerts as you get to meet musicians and find out about the music. There is something for everyone from ‘Cuba meets Jamaica’ to the first appearance of the Estonian Festival Orchestra founded in 2011. Premiers of new music are bundled in with old favourites so no one will be scared off. You will learn to interpret the words of the commentators; ‘what an amazing sound picture’ – no tune – ‘especially commissioned work’ – it’s only five minutes long…

But you can’t beat a live performance. I must confess I have never queued for cheap tickets on the day to stand in the arena with the Promenaders. I have not lived near enough and don’t like queuing or standing, is my excuse, but enthusiasts will tell you it is a wonderful experience and some go to every concert. If you are booking seats, all you need to know is don’t book the cheap seats near the top if you want to hear your favourite pianist or violinist  – the soloists look like tiny puppets going on stage. But if you are going to hear a big symphony or the Planet Suite, sit wherever you like, it will be fun. If you want to go on the famous Last Night plan well ahead and check how the ballot system works.

What are your museum memories? Have you been to The Proms?

One man and his dog vowing to clean up Britain’s coastline and raise awareness of litter pollution

My environmental hero of the week. I’ve always wanted to walk all round the coast, slowly… how is the question, with a back up team and camper van or roughing it? Picking up litter on the way had not occured to me and I hadn’t realised how long it could take! Well done to Wayne and Koda.

Life & Soul Magazine

One man and his dog are on a 7000-mile walking mission along the coast of Britain to raise awareness of the country’s waste problem both on land and sea.

Wayne Dixon, and his Northern Inuit dog, Koda have so far travelled over 3,000 miles along the coast of the UK picking up litter and raising awareness about the country’s litter problem.

The former soldier and support worker started the walk in February 2016, raising money for mental health charity MIND and the Northern Inuit Dog Rescue Society along the way. He plans to complete the 7,000 mile trek by 2021.

Wayne Dixon, who is originally from Blackburn, says: “I am creating awareness of the litter problem on land and sea, encouraging people to be mindful of their environmental and social issues affecting local communities.”

Armed with a tent and a backpack full of supplies, Wayne Dixon and his dog live on…

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Silly Saturday – Seen Sideways

A new exhibition opens here at the weekend, challenging how we perceive the world around us. The artist and photographer Scribaltide claims there is no up or down, on earth or anywhere in the universe, so therefore we should free ourselves from the notion that there is a right way up to hang paintings and photographs. The exhibition has been panned by critics and the Royal Photographic Society has distanced itself, saying Scribaltides’s pictures are not of a standard they would recognise, even the right way up.


Noah’s Ark, the wilderness years.



The Flood

                                                         Tide Times

New Horizons

                                                      Steep Path




Red Door


                                                         Dark Angel







The public have been flocking to the exhibition, but there have been reports of some viewers being taken ill with dizzy spells and nausea. A disclaimer advises those with a heart condition or who are pregnant to seek the advice of their doctor first.