POTPOURRI

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Jill Weatherholt set us a lovely challenge on her latest post and one I was immediately tempted to carry forward.

She linked to a POST which was one of her favourites to write and did not relate to the number of likes, comments or views.

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Jill’s favourite post celebrated friendships and particularly nicknames. It was impossible to forget her ‘Jilly Bean’ nickname acquired at college. In my response nearly two years ago, I mentioned that I felt neglected at school as I was only ever only known by my name. At university this changed. Finally, I gained not only one nickname but a ‘fair collection’ as I’d written to Jill. I was quietly chuffed! Even if they weren’t the most flattering.

Of course, my Swedish heritage was picked up early on and many letters from my best friends started out ‘Turnip-Top’! During my first year, stress and poor diet resulted in some hair loss. Not one to keep shtum I mentioned the strands of hair collecting on my hairbrush. After a few weeks my nicknames had extended to ‘Yul’ (actor), ‘Duncan’ (swimmer) and ‘Sinead’ (singer) – all whose common factor was their baldness. I was not reassured but learning to laugh at myself taught me an invaluable lesson.

Now, to Jill’s challenge. Would we do the same? Think of our favourite post and write about it.  How could I refuse?!

With nearly two hundred posts over three years, whilst not burgeoning, this is not an insignificant number and would be unwieldy to glance through on WordPress. Luckily I have a shortcut in place!

Every few months I have been saving my posts on Scrivener. This started out as I never could work out how to save the blog and I am slightly paranoid that all the work will just disappear in a jiffy! I spent a contented hour scrolling through my posts, creating a shortlist of ten before narrowing down a winner!

Apart from writing, I enjoy throwing myself into research. Posts which require a lot of information harvesting and sorting, before collating into an article accompanied by photographs are pure bliss!

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The 17th-century Kindle post ticks all the boxes. First and foremost, it’s all about books and tiny ones at that. Secondly, they are very old and delicate ones; my imagination was captured by the idea that someone created a portable library all those centuries ago – hence the Kindle in the title. Thirdly, the research was intricate and fiddly whilst the images served up a colourful visual feast. What wasn’t there to savour?  I hope you enjoy reading the post as much as I did writing it! As this was posted in my early days of blogging it should be fresh and new to most of you. HERE is the full post.

Annika:Paper PhotoFinally, I might be a bit absent from blogs in the next couple of weeks as I am not only continuing with my writing work but have also received an invitation to talk to a creative writing group at a private school. I was contacted by them following my recent newspaper interview which is available to read HERE.

As I’m preparing my talk, I’m gradually conquering my initial terror at the thought of the school visit and now look forward to chatting with the very keen and enthusiastic group of 11-16 years-olds as ‘an inspiring author’. Having heard briefly about their terrific work, I have a feeling it will be an afternoon of mutual inspiration.

I hope you have enjoyed my personal reflections and the link to my favourite post and that you will consider joining in and share your favourite blog post and explain why you chose it. 

 

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‘The Whole Gamut of Human Experiences.’

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Just in case you might have forgotten (I know, how is it possible!) my debut book, The Storyteller Speaks, was published earlier this year. The ebook was released mid-December.

As the whirlwind of promotion is calming I want to share some of the lovely people who let me visit their blogs. 

One of the first ones was Denzil over at The Book Owl. His searching and insightful questions had me pondering as amongst many queries, I answered how I convey emotions and how easy or hard I find it to write from the male point of view.

Not satisfied with just an interview he also reviewed my book and described it as covering ‘the whole gamut of human experiences.’ What these could be and for his impressions of my book as well as the overall owl rating, please read the full post by clicking the link below. Comments have been turned off on my blog for this post. I look forward to reading your comments over on The Book Owl.

Link:  The Storyteller Speaks + Interview With Annika Perry

* Image courtesy of Denzil whose striking positioning of my book against the red chillies will become clear to those who read my book!

AN ILLUMINATING ART

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I traveled through the centuries on my recent visit to the UK’s only Stained Glass Museum, located in Ely Cathedral. Over 1,000 examples of stained glass windows are held in their collection dating back to the 14th Century, although the craft is thought to have originated in the late 600s.

All topics are explored from the religious to everyday life, from science to farming, from nature to portraiture. The techniques vary enormously as new skills were introduced over time and the differences will be evident in the photos.  The concepts and trends changed dramatically during the centuries.

The introductory window above is a contemporary design entitled Inner Space (1979). This blended art and science and is an interpretation of electron photomighraph of hydra tissue (micro-organism). It illustrates many various techniques of modern design including texturing, acid-etching, tracing as well as traditional leading.

These three traditional -style windows are 600 years apart in age but look as striking and vibrant as ever. Furthest left is Geometric Grisaille (1200-1250s) which is a design expressing the simplicity of the Cistercian monastic ideal and aided the meditation for the monks. The middle panel, The Dawning of the Last Day (1871), is unusual in that it was designed by a clergyman in memory of his father and noticeably moved away from the Gothic Revival towards original motifs. The last of three, The Good Shepherd (1867), uniquely weaves together a painterly style of the figure with the gothic revival surrounds of the rich foliage.

The influence of the Arts and Crafts movement is evident in the window furthest left. Fathers of the Church (1904) depicts St. Augustine, Venerable Bede and St. Cuthbert. The next two windows were commissioned as part of the revival and popularity of stained glass windows in the 1800s and there was a push to return to the ‘True Principle’ of Gothic style windows. The Dance of Solomon (1856), formerly within Ely cathedral, is a lively panel, and one of four depicting St John the Baptist’s life, and martyrdom. The Arms of Queen Margaret of Anjou (c.1840) was designed by a heraldic scholar to blend the arms of 15-year-old Margaret who married Henry VI.

The Typography Panel (c.1930) was most likely a sampler created to demonstrate letter writing on glass, and the use of painted cross-hatching is clearly evident. To the right, this fish experimental piece (1950s) makes effective use of flashed glass and acid-etching within its two layers (to add depth) of pink and blue glass.

Angels are the common factor for these first two windows. Inspired by William Morris and his circle who hoped to rescue the decorative arts from commercialisation and industrial methods of production, the first window is one of two entitled Angel Musicians (1910-1912). It was influenced by famous late 19th-century designers when angel figures were typical of the Italianate style. The centre panel was created 400 years earlier and the Angel Musician (1440-80) shows a unique style of painting particular to the Norfolk area in the UK, which through its riches of the woollen trade produced the majority of stained glass windows at the time. The Annunciation of the Virgin (c.1340) is the oldest of the three panels and created in an era of illiteracy when religious education involved painted windows. It is the finest example of English glass painting of the ‘Decorated’ Gothic style.

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Roundels have existed as a form of stained glass windows since their inception. The most modern is self-explanatory entitled Five Victorian Studios (1987). The opulent roundel of gold shows The Suicide of Charondas of Catanea (c.1530) and establishes the theme of justice as he broke his own laws and thereafter committed suicide. It was most likely produced in the Netherlands which was famous for its thousand or so small and exquisite roundels. The last of the three windows heralds from a church in Burgandy, northern France. St. Vincent on the Gridiron (c.1225-50) is part of a narrative by Gothic glass painters and depicts St. Vincent’s suffering for his faith as he is roasted on a gridiron.

These final three windows are from the very early days of stained glass window design. The central panel, Peasant Figure (c.1340-49), was once part of a large and important window in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral and at one stage it would have been richly decorated. It is highly unusual for the mere figure of a peasant to be depicted in a glass window. Also rarely created were windows for patrons, which is the case of Donors of William and Matilda Cele (1350-1400) who ensured the survival of their name and contribution for 700 years and onwards. The bird in Bird Quarry is slightly older and produced in the 15th-century. These simple diamond shaped quarries were made in their thousands using white glass, glass painting and silver stain. They often depicted animals with amusing human motifs; here the robin is shown carrying a rosary.

Along one wall of the exhibition, there were mock-up models of stained glass studios showing the various stages of creating a window and some of these are pictured below.

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All photos ©Annika Perry

Credit for post title to The Stained Glass Museum guide which uses this as a chapter heading.

10,527 STEPS

20180128_152729The first 100 or so Steps

In the quiet hush that can only signify a Sunday morning, my husband and I enjoyed the rare luxury of a breakfast together, exchanging small gifts and cards, before heading to the car for our day’s outing.

Twenty years ago we met for the first time and this was an occasion to be marked. We’d pondered how a few days earlier. Should we replicate the evening itself? That involved a flurry of pubs visits, one so empty and dull the security guards outnumbered the guests, the other so packed we sat like sardines on sunken sofas, embedded within the aged fabric. Even through rose-tinted vision of time passed we shook our heads in an empathic no!

Our interests took us elsewhere and with the promise of a few rain-free hours, we set off to a place we yearned to see again. Two years ago we’d paid a flying visit to Ely and it’s stunning cathedral set amongst the beautiful landscape of the Fens. We looked forward to seeing it again, enjoying the time and space to revel in its gifts.

1,000 or so steps

The car park in Ely by the Maltings, the Victorian brewery, kindly offered us free parking and requested we mention their generosity to our friends…duly done!

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Nearby an eel sculpture stood prominently in a park to commemorate Ely, known at one time for its eels and named after the Saxon word for the fish -eilig!

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The walk to the river opened up to reveal a bustling holiday atmosphere as canal boats and small pleasure cruises teemed on the water, the golden willows whispering their greeting to the river, children, and dogs competing for attention.

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Fishermen sat far apart along the river bank, nearly absorbed into the dark green of the grass, they seemed to blend seamlessly together in the picture.

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2,000 or so steps

Astonishingly, the busy lively riverside promenade was left behind as we ducked below a railway bridge to the path along the swollen river. Here only the serious walkers set out. The raised path stood just above the water level of the flooded field to our left, the yellow decaying weeds a fluttering reminder of the winter still upon us.

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3,000 or so steps 

To the right, the mighty river (by British standards) flowed with majestic elegance.

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Ahead arrow-sharp rowing boats raced past at dazzling speed, the long oars barely seemed to dip into the water, effortlessly carrying it along. The University of Cambridge has a boathouse here and often practice on the river; not surprising considering the extremely busy River Cam, clogged with punts and the numerous tourists!

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4,000 or so steps

We continued to traverse through the Fens flat landscape, the marshland of 1,500 square miles (3,900 square kilometres) stretching ahead, gently curving at bends. Here the sky opened up to lofty heights, the soft clouds of whites, pinks, greys dotted upon the lightest of baby blue hues. A gentle peace cascaded, rolled over us as we ambled on, my camera to hand.

5,000 or so steps 

To the left, a sudden rush and hoot stopped me in my tracks – I hadn’t noticed the railway track before, set up just above the water level, the mechanical surprisingly not at odds with the calm of nature.

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The menagerie of birds seemed quite unperturbed, the dogs continued to walk calmly on as did we.

6,000 or so steps

I’ve never walked across a railway track before and approached this one with discernible excitement, heightened as the lights started to flash and the alarm sounded. Here is the video I took of the Train as it passed closely past us. (Since WP suddenly will not allow me to post videos I set up a YouTube channel to allow me to share this!)

7,000 or so steps

Yet again the wonderful Cathedral dominated the horizon as it sits on the hill in this ‘Isle of Ely’. Visible from miles around the towers reach up to the heavens and there is no danger of becoming lost with this constant reminder of the town centre.

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8,000 or so steps

We near the cathedral. Originally a church was built on this site in AD 672 before the Normans started work and it was deemed a cathedral in 1109 and thereafter the town formed around it.

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9,000 or so steps

We approached the awe-inspiring cathedral which is fittingly known as the ‘Ship of the Fens’  after its famous and unique Octagon tower which replaced the former Norman tower.

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This collapsed in 1322 and was replaced with a structure made from eight great oaks which served as the frame for the famous lantern inside.

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The interior of the cathedral filled me with wonder and overwhelming gratitude. It is unusually light for a cathedral, and I wandered down the nave, before glancing up to its ceiling. The amazing painted wood panels were installed in the mid-1800s by the Victorians in an attempt make the cathedral appear even more medieval.

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Walking around I admired the architecture, the stained glass windows and at one stage noticed the playful rainbow of colours on a pillar from one of the windows.

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Along the walls, plaques and statues of people buried or interned are placed along the walls and floor. One was a Robert Steward, a knight who died in 1571 and looked peaceful in his repose.

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10,000 or so steps

These last steps were used to visit the UK’s largest stained glass museum housed within the cathedral; more about these treasures in my next post. Tired but full of joy we ambled back to the car, letting the glorious sky sweep over us.

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On the drive home we were treated to a sumptuous sunset; a glory and riot of colours which made driving difficult but a wonder to behold for me, the passenger.

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Thank you for joining me on this 10,527 steps day out. Have you recently had a special day out? Celebrated an anniversary? As always it is a delight to read your comments and thoughts.

SOUL TO THE RECIPE*

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It is easy to imagine cookbooks being the preserve of the last few decades following the massive success of chefs and their books such as Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson and Mary Berry to name a few. However, food and its preparation have always been of interest to people and over the centuries chefs have sought to bring their recipes and wisdom to a wider audience.

One of the world’s outstanding collections of cookery books is currently on display at the University of Leeds and although I am unable to visit it in person I am happy to bring part of the exhibition of ‘Cooks and their Books’ alive for you (and me) through four of the fantastic books currently on exhibition.

1024px-ScappiThe oldest cookery book dates back 1570 when Michelangelo was still completing the ceiling on the Sistine Chapel in Venice. Not far away a chef named Bartolomeo Scappi (c.1500-1577) was a cook for several cardinals at the Vatican and during this time he wrote his monumental treatise on the art of cookery. Entitled ‘Opera dell’arte del cucinare’, his book (pictured above) was first and foremost intended as an aid to his apprentice, Giovanni and this was the first time that a cookery book included clear instructions and techniques, both in written form and through illustrations.

In the thousand or so recipes Scappi managed to merge medieval tastes with those from the upcoming New World; for example, he included sugar in his cooking (and this featured as a pizza topping with pine nuts and rosewater).

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Another tome of cookery was published in 1730 in London. ‘The Complete Practical Cook’ was written by Charles Carter, a chef to leading soldiers and diplomats serving Queen Anne serving in Europe, including, Berlin, Hanover, Spain and Portugal.

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The book features many unique elements including sixty engraved table settings which were Carter’s pride and joy.  The volume itself is set in chapters following the order in which dishes were usually consumed at dinner and therefore the comprehensive index proved especially useful and necessary.

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The recipes, numbering about five hundred in total, were all accompanied by a glossary of terms used which was another new and practical addition to recipe books of the time.  Charles Carter believed that cookery was an art form and claimed to be able ‘in no mean way…surpass a French Cook.’

TX719_C27c2v1Whilst Carter believed that the art of cooking should be more recognised and rewarded, Antonin Carême (1784-1833) turned the craft of cooking into a fine art. Working in Paris during the early nineteenth century he prospered after his inauspicious start of being abandoned by his parents at the age of ten. From starting out in his childhood as a kitchen boy, he worked his way up to becoming one of the top patisserie (confectionaries) in Paris. In 1828, Carême, who served such famous leaders as Napoleon and Tsar Alexander, published his hugely influential cookbook ‘Le Patissier Royal Parisien’.

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It was a feast of ‘showstopper’ recipes showing the grandiose ‘high art’ of cookery including the famous pièces montées. These elaborate constructions were formed into monumental centrepieces of temples, ancient ruins, pyramids created out of foodstuffs including sugar, marzipan and pastries. Carême is recognised as one of the first internationally renowned celebrity chefs!

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isabella-beeton-1Mrs Beeton (1836-1865) is a byword for good cooking and household management – and a copy of her book is found in many homes in the UK (including ours since my husband owns a copy).  Originally published in 1861 when it sold an extraordinary 60,000 copies, Isabella Beeton’s ‘Book of Household Management’ is still in print today (although revised and enlarged).

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First Edition Cover

It was a ground-breaking comprehensive and influential book for the new middle-class in the Victorian era, extolling the values of hard work, thrift and cleanliness. The book included not only some 1,700 recipes for every day and special events (with additional information about the dishes as well as copious illustrations) but also provided information for running of a household, managing servants, raising children, looking after the sick and legal matters.

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Mrs Beeton was an unusual cookbook publisher as she was not a chef herself rather she worked as a journalist, editor and writer. During her short life, she compiled and edited on behalf of her husband before dying from puerperal fever aged 28. She left behind a legacy which has spanned three centuries – a truly remarkable feat.

These are only a snapshot of the books available to see at the exhibition and of the entire collection of over 2,000 cookbooks. Which one was your favourite? Or perhaps you have your own special cookbook? Perhaps one passed down over the years? What is your favourite aspect of the book, the recipe to which you always return? As always I look forward to your comments. Happy Reading, Cooking & Baking! 

* ‘A recipe has no soul. You as the cook must bring soul to the recipe.’ Thomas Keller

Sources: University of Leeds, alumni magazine & Wikipedia.

IN MY HANDS

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In my hands! Perhaps soon in yours?! 😀

I am overjoyed to announce the publication of the paperback of The Storyteller Speaks which is now available on Amazon UK or Amazon US.

The past months have been intense and following the release of the ebook version of my book I’ve been overwhelmed by the enthusiastic and positive reception to my collection. Since the beginning of December, I have received ten 5-star and 4-star reviews on Amazon US and five 5-star ones on Amazon UK.  This is absolutely amazing and I cannot thank everyone enough for taking the time to read and leave a review…time is a rare gift and I am touched that so many chose to make space for this in their lives.

Over the next few months, I will occasionally be publishing a review and reblogging posts where I have appeared. I will start with one of the latest reviews by Balroop Singh who blogs at Emotional Shadows. I hope her five-star review will tempt those who haven’t read my book to buy the paperback or Kindlle of  The Storyteller Speaks.

Each story in this book is riveting!

5 out of 5 stars

‘The Story Teller Speaks’ by Annika Perry brilliantly illustrates how short stories can capture your heart, transport you to the scene of action and submerge you in the emotional journey of the characters. Her stories are a little above your expectations…a lot has to be discerned, which she leaves unsaid and therein lies their magic. Only few can create it.

The symbolism of Chillies in my Handbag is chilling, the agony that the words hide slowly spills out as Perry writes in the style of dual timeline, lending a touch of realism to the story, keeping a firm grip on the reader’s attention, actually hinting at profound matters of domestic strife. Carl’s loss too unravels itself gently as you keep wondering where is he heading in snow and who is constantly whispering “keep safe” in his ear. It is the style and the exquisite language that raises this book above an average storybook.

My heart missed a beat when Jake and Ellie got lost in the shroud of mist and snow and it sank with each shout for them. Such is the effect of Annika’s style of writing! It is difficult to pick up a favorite one from this collection of stories because all of them strike some chord somewhere as they are based on varied themes, each one connects us with the complexities of life, giving a subtle message that we are mere puppets or mute spectators in many situations that we wish to control.

(review by Balroop Singh)

About the Book 

It only takes one event to change a life. What is that action, decision, occurrence? Whose life is affected? Changed forever?

In this eclectic mix of 21 short stories, flash fiction and poetry the pendulum swings between first love and murder, from soul-destroying grief to reconciliation. The tales veer from the sweet satisfaction of revenge to new beginnings, from heart-breaking miscarriages of justice to heart-warming Christmas misadventure.

One common thread binds them all; the belief that there is no such thing as an ordinary life; they’re all extraordinary.

Open your hearts and minds as The Storyteller Speaks.

Author Annika Perry Chats About Inspiration for Writing

I consider myself lucky to have known Christy Birmingham since my early days on WordPress and have followed her blog ‘When Women Inspire’ with keen interest. As the title suggests, Christy’s aim of her blog is ‘to showcasing the efforts of women around the world to change the world in positive ways’. Wow!! She succeeds brilliantly and her posts are always inspiring, informative and thought-provoking.

Imagine then my delight to be invited to write a guest post about the inspiration behind my book ‘The Storyteller Speaks’! I’d hardly emailed her my enthusiastic yes and thank you before I started to write the post…read on to find out more.

For this time I’ve turned off comments here and look forward to continuing the chat over on Christy’s blog.

When Women Inspire

Please join me in welcoming author Annika Perry to the blog today. I have known her for years now and always enjoy her uplifting blog posts. Now she has published a collection of poems, short stories, and flash fiction pieces into “The Storyteller Speaks: Powerful Stories to Win Your Heart”!

Upon hearing this news, I immediately asked Annika to come over to chat about the inspiration behind writing this book. She kindly accepted. And, you know what? Her taking the step to publish her writing has helped inspire me to keep going with my own short story collection. What a wonderful boomerang effect! Now, without further ado, here is Annika Perry on being inspired to write.

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One event to change a life. Interview with Annika Perry.

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As a longtime fan of Shey’s blog I was thrilled to be invited for an interview with the notorious Dudes…how could I resist those charming friendly hamsters (see, I’m trying hard to get on their good side!!) These hamsters are like no others and it was with trepidation and excitement that I popped by to say hello and answer some questions. We veered from parachuting hamsters to writing woes, from future dreams to my mother’s famous (within the family) recipe for Pepparkakor (Swedish Cinnamon Biscuits).

Do read the rest of the interview over on Shey’s blog … I promise it is both entertaining and informative. Only then the full truth behind the comment on the picture above will be revealed!

To read the interview please press this link:  One event to change a life. Interview with Annika Perry.

OUR PATHS

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Our lives are a series of journeys – traversing various paths along the way, some straight and clearly signposted, others winding, confusing. We stumble over obstacles, the cracks in life. What matters is we move forward – time is never still, nor is life. 

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We might not be sure what is at the end of a certain road…but that is no reason not to explore, examine in detail. Take a risk, walk on. 

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Be aware how those oft travelled roads change form with the seasons. For a day or two a busy car-laden highway becomes a mystical wintry snow grotto where only the odd car passes. 

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The norm is never just that…a new angle, emotion is required to see the road in a new light…to see the view ahead in a manner transformed. 

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That doesn’t mean we should charge through life obliviously – take time to notice, be aware of the surroundings. They will raise a smile, ignite creative thoughts, inspire stories, poems, art. 

Along the way we stop for nourishment, sharing a meal with friends and family.

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Here we not only satiate our physical hunger but that of the soul as well; the location often setting the ambience and mood for the occasion. 

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Birds and their flight of freedom never fail to grab our imagination; their elegant effortless glide into the skies, their expanisve wings stretched to the full.

How often don’t we dream of just that – stretching out, soaring away. But then again, perhaps we already do – every moment of our lives…unconscious of the mystical flight of living. 

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Finally, I would like to wish each and everyone of you a wonderful celebration on New Year’s Eve and may 2018 be a peaceful year filled with joy and creativity.

As I’m hosting a New Year’s Eve dinner party, I’ve been busy preparing a menu which I would like to share with you. 

New Year's Eve Menu 2017

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS / GOD JUL


A HUGE thank you to you all here on WP – it’s been another wonderful year of close friendships, learning, inspiring, creating. 

It’s an honour to be part of a community that encourages each other with our various projects, supports one another through our lives, shares the joys as well as the travails of life. 



Personally, a heartfelt thank you to everyone for your fantastic and enthusiastic response to my short story collection which I released in December. It’s been a crazy hectic time and it is with regret I haven’t been able to visit as many of you as I would have liked … thank you for your patience and I look forward to catching up with you all in the beginning of the year.

Until then I wish you all a magical Christmas filled with warmth, love, peace and joy!