Silly Saturday – Busy Bournemouth

Saturday used to be a busy shopping day in most towns…

…but on line shopping and Covid hastened the decline of our favourite shops.

What can towns do to brighten things up? Rainbow buses or
What can towns do to brighten things up? Rainbow buses or

cheerful toilets or

have an arts festival with sunshine thrown in.

Strange objects waiting for a performance later.

This looked interesting, but I don’t do queues, so I can’t tell you what it was like inside alas.

You will have to read the book instead.

What is it like to be a bee?

Everywhere was busy.

We may keep losing shops, but at least we have a permanent upside down house.

I decided it was time I looked inside and

out of the upside down window.

Find out about upside down houses and the arts festival.

Just Going For A Walk

I had been planning to blog about our earliest form of transport for a while, then walking took on yet another aspect last week with the royal funeral, the various processions leading up to it and of course The Queue. But first back to basics.

Have you heard people comment, or perhaps you have said it yourself…

I don’t do hills. I don’t do walking. I don’t like walking.

I was once watching a comedy in which the teenager daughter greets her mother’s return home. ‘I didn’t know where you were, I thought you’d gone for a walk.‘ Mother replies ‘Walk! I’ve never been for a walk in my life.’

Someone describing how the heat was not a problem in Singapore with the air conditioned malls… I asked ‘What if you want to go for a walk?’ He replied looking puzzled ‘Why would you want to go for a walk?’

Why would you not want to walk, the most natural activity for humans, exercise that costs nothing and a handy way to get where you want to go. During Covid lockdown it was one of the few activities allowed and non dog owners discovered new delights. I love walking, but I have no desire to trek to either pole or up to Everest base camp; solo or with companions, who I would be intensely irritated with by the third day… But ordinary walking, enjoying the fresh air, scenery, perhaps photography and probably ending up at a nice cafe or pub is fun for everyone… What do non walkers do when they go for a day out or on holiday? You may think National Trust Houses have large grounds because the original owners owned all the local land; no, it’s so we can have a nice walk before having lunch in the restaurant and looking round the house. No holiday is complete without a walk along a cliff path or a steep ascent up a hill to enjoy the view.

Modern technology, from super electronic wheelchairs to state of the art artificial limbs allow many who are disabled to get out and about with their friends and family who are fit and able to walk. Walking is freedom and not to be taken for granted; those under repressive regimes or living in dangerous areas cannot just go out for a walk. If you are used to walking everywhere it’s a reminder of the privilege when you ‘do something’ to your back or knee and suddenly can’t walk. The leaflets we were given when having chemotherapy suggest that ‘going for a short walk will help combat fatigue’ – this turned out to be a joke as most of each three week cycle it was a struggle to get to the front gate or up the stairs. It was an insight into the chronic fatigue that people with Long Covid and other debilitating medical conditions have to cope with.

So back to the funeral of Queen Elizabeth 11. Whatever your views on royalty or television ( blanket ) coverage of the events, there was a fascination with both the formal traditions and the spontaneous acts of those who came to queue to watch a procession or for The Queen’s lying in. There is something dignified and humbling about the men of the family and others close to the royals walking slowly behind the coffin. Princess Anne joined them, as she did for her father’s funeral, a token man for the day? Presumably it is tradition that only the men walk. If any of the chaps didn’t like walking they were in for a tiring time. I like a brisk walk, walking slowly at a measured pace is much harder, I have tried it round the house. Nor did I go up to London to join The Queue, almost a pilgrimage. They had a long distance to cover at a very slow pace, I wondered if there were escape points for those who changed their minds and just wanted to go home.

There are environmental benefits if everyone walked on short journeys and for writers it is one of the best ways to see real life, but those are topics for another blog.

Are you a walker or non walker? If you enjoy walking what is your favourite sort of walk?

Friday Flash Fiction – digital dialogue 440 – What Now?

‘Shall I put the news on?

‘No point…’

‘I thought you liked to catch up with events?’

‘Nothing to catch up with now the funeral’s over.’

‘Only what’s been going on in the rest of the world.’

‘No thanks, it was lovely having a break, I really miss The Queue and the marching oh and the vigils. There’s nothing to talk about at work now. Back to hearing about Thelma’s operation and Kitty’s boyfriend.’

Do you mind if I put it on, I want to see what the Chancellor of the Exchequer revealed in the Fiscal Event.’

‘The Fiscal what?’

‘Budget, mini budget, bound to be bad news, whatever it’s called.’

‘I can’t remember what the new chancellor’s called.’

‘No, nor can I, but apparently he’s very clever, won a scholarship to Eton and won University Challenge single handed.’

Mostly Monday -Broken Headlines

Orange rocket launch cancelled due to engine trouble.

It’s Bank Holiday Monday in the kingdom, except for Scotland and motoring organisations have issued an amber warning to motorists…

Outbreak of mosquitoes in Southbourne; Health Secretary advises everyone to buy mosquito nets.

NASA advises leading blogger that orange rocket has a name and finds it offensive to be referred to by its colour.

A couple who named their new born baby Artemis have issued a complaint to NASA as Artemis fails to launch following the baby’s birth. Mr and Mrs Take were quoted as saying ‘We don’t want our son named after a failure.’

A social media row broke out after NASA responded to new parents Mr and Mrs Take to point out that Artemis was a goddess, so the name would have been more suitable if he had been a daughter. There have been heated arguments on international media as to whether a rocket is male or female or is entitled to self identify.

Scientists have issued a warning…

‘Giant leap for lambkind in Nasa’s Artemis 1 launch’

Shaun the Sheep is reported to be despondent as he returned to his field tonight. When asked how he felt he declined to comment.

When NASA was contacted they explained that Shaun the Sheep and his new friend Snoopy are the most important part of the mission. Their official purpose is to demonstrate zero gravity by floating around.

Silly Sunday – News in Brief

NASA launches a new rocket tomorrow, it’s orange.

Scientists have warned…

Europe’s biggest street festival is on this weekend, two million people are expected to attend…

Scientists have discovered…

A celebrity is suing the well known…

Experts have revealed

Well known celebrity appears in court.

Leading doctors warn of…

World leaders are gathering…

An Extra Galactical Astronomer explains the importance of the orange rocket and tries to explain what an Extra Galactical Astronomer is.

Thursday Tiny Tale – 2053

Charlotte was beginning to regret joining the new Hambourne Happy Creatives group. As a newcomer to the pretty town it had seemed the obvious group to join to keep her energised in her rocky writing career. She was eager to write a more cheery novel than her last and hoped Hambourne would inspire her to write about her new heroine, a recently widowed writer who moves to a country town for peace and quiet, but finds herself investigating a murder.

If she had been a local she would have known to keep Robert Falstaff at arm’s length. To Charlotte, at first, he was a charming man who had advice to freely offer, from dealing with computer problems to publishing and promotion. His apparent connections to television had her fantasising about a Sunday evening cosy drama.

Now, at this evening’s meeting, she found herself at the centre of attention, with her languishing novel ‘2053’ the topic of a discussion led by Robert. The other members were kindly in their questions, but she felt herself and the novel horribly exposed.

‘What made you choose the title, or that year Charlotte?’

‘I wanted it to be in the future, but still in a time frame when I could conceivably still be alive. How was I to know when I was writing it that all the events would come true by 2022!’

‘You could change the year, or perhaps call it The Covid Chronicles.’

‘Oh dear no, does anyone want to read novels about Covid?’

‘Hmm, I am writing a novel about Covid and the horror it brought to a town like Hambourne’ said a tight lipped woman.

‘Well, the novel is out there, published on Amazon,’ said Robert with an expression of disdain ‘so let’s concentrate on how Charlotte could do much better with promotion.’

‘Um, I was hoping to have a stall at your arts festival…’

‘Internationally I mean.’

‘I do have my blog and quite a few followers from every continent, except Antarctica.’

Robert scrolled down his iPad, Charlotte shuddered to see the familiar sky blue background of Thinking Through. Was her poor little blog to be exposed to ridicule?

‘Oh yes, I am thinking of starting a blog’ said a timid lady Charlotte immediately warmed to.

‘Silly Saturday, Silly Sunday, Monday Madness, Tuesday Tiny Tales, Wordless Wednesday, Thursday Trifles and Fun Friday’ sneered Robert. ‘Charlotte dear, you are not exactly coming across as a serious author.’

It’s a long time since I visited Hambourne and I wondered what had been going on there since 2013. You can read the Hambourne Chronicles in Hallows and Heretics.

Identity Crisis

Luke wished he could take his legs off, it was turning into a long evening. He had not expected the Clacket Lane Junior School Reunion to end with police questioning. Taking over the identity of the deceased Nigel Palmer had seemed a good idea at the time, a chap with no family or partner was not going to be missed. Nigel Palmer himself, who ironically died with his limbs intact, would not miss his passport and his wallet containing money, bank cards, NHS number and private health insurance details. The original plan had just been to return to England as a different person, start again. But the new life was halted before it started when Luke lost both legs above the knees. Ever one to look on the positive side, Luke realised that Nigel Palmer was going to get much better treatment and rehabilitation than Luke the Loser.

Now Luke cursed himself for thinking it a good idea to attend the reunion. The plan was to round off his knowledge of Nigel’s life, feel like a real person. Who could have predicted another Nigel impersonator would already be there.

At the hospital a police officer was interviewing an injured man who admitted he was not Nigel Palmer, obviously a man with mental health issues, his explanation made no sense. He had tried to escape from a hotel, but only escaped with minor injuries after the fire brigade had demolished half the gents’ toilet to release him from a window frame.

Back at the police station Detective Sergeant Dilly Deans finished interviewing the man with bionic legs. He was obviously the genuine Nigel Palmer, all the checks had come back positive. Goodness knows why that dreadful woman organising the reunion had insisted he was an imposter, just because he could not recall much about his junior school days, who does? His traumatic injuries had left him with gaps in his memory and all the poor man wanted to do was fill in the gaps.

‘I am so sorry we detained you Mr. Palmer, night duty will give you a lift to where you are staying.’

In his hospital bed Nicholas could not get to sleep, he was not at all sure what was going to happen next, would he be charged with any crime? One good thing had come out of this, more ideas than he expected for his new novel. A man who has a breakdown and wakes convinced he is Johnny, his classmate at junior school. While psychologists try to assess his rare condition the real Johnny confronts him and has old scores to settle…

Don’t Mention The Weather

We were on a college summer camp on Rottnest Island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, well only 18 kilometres from Fremantle, Western Australia, but one of the girls had to be airlifted off by helicopter as she had heatstroke. Happy days – when we emigrated to Australia in 1964 nobody worried about skin cancer or staying hydrated. Fortunately my parents were aware the sun was hot. Dad was out in Egypt after WW2 before he was demobbed and told of ’idiots’ being stretchered out with third degree burns after sun bathing. Fortunately my parents avoided the beach after being taken to Scarborough Beach by our sponsors on our first day in Australia. Huge waves and hot sand did not appeal and we went to pleasant shady spots by the River Swan.

My novel Quarter Acre Block was inspired by our first year in Australia.

Unfortunately school outings were gloriously free of sun hats and sun lotion and I recall an early outing when we spent the whole day on the beach and next day my nose peeled and bled! Outings with youth groups on hot days were often followed by me feeling sick the next day; setting off without any money and probably a picnic with a plastic bottle of cordial, I obviously didn’t drink enough. At school we did have plenty of water fountains, I didn’t spend my whole time dehydrated, but my sister recalls that if you were thirsty when you were out you stayed thirsty. I’m sure other people were buying bottles of coke and cool drinks of lurid colour, but we were not.

Sun and shade in Western Australia.

Our current heatwave has brought endless dire warnings of the dangers of going out – or staying inside homes not designed to cope with hot weather. Modern parents never let their children out without a bottle of water, but they should not panic – if Prince George could sit in the heat of Wimbledon dressed in a jacket and tie there is no need to pamper children.


How is the weather where you are?

Beach Hut Tales

We are having a heatwave, bad for my garden, but perfect for being in the sea, except first you have to get to the beach or your beach hut…

Yesterday after writers’ group I decided to get on a bus and get off at Woodland Walk, which as its name suggests is a cool and pleasant walk from a busy road to the cliff top. As soon as I left the shade of the trees the heat hit me. I crunched across our toasted cliff top to approach my beach hut from the other direction to my usual walk from home.

The stone building is not a castle, but the toilet block by our beach huts.
The descent down the ravine, more fun going down than up.

The hot weather reminded me of last year when my daughter-in-law sent a clip of a beach hut on fire. I quickly ascertained it wasn’t our strip. Everyone was safe, but I imagine there wasn’t much left of the beach hut or its neighbours! Gas rings, flapping curtains and wooden huts are a recipe for disaster perhaps. In the local paper the owner was quoted ’my nephew came to fetch me and said Aunty I think the beach hut is on fire… ’ hmm, my suspicious mind wondered what the boy might have been up to..

I fully expect that one day calamity will strike my hut, either one of the regular cliff falls or a cliff fire in scorching weather. But other dramas also occur. I am now a member of that group ’widows who sit in beach huts.’ There are three of us in my little strip and it is only recently I heard the stories of the other two ladies, widowed a good while. We were all chatting when the most senior said to the other ’I don’t think you were here back then when my husband died.’

‘Oh yes I was,’ she replied ’I remember doing CPR on him on the beach hut floor!’