Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – The 4,000 year old story by Annika Perry

When Sally asked us to take a look at our archived posts and find some to share I just couldn’t resist volunteering. My blog is soon three years old and with the usual rush of life I’ve barely looked backwards at my older post. Would I squirm in embarrassment? Would they still be interesting?

What struck me first was that, wow, three years doesn’t seem THAT long ago and I remember writing most of them, the research needed, the places visited and the photos I took.

Today’s trip down memory lane extends well-beyond the three years of my blog, back to storytelling time four thousand years ago. Enjoy!

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Welcome to a new contributor to the archive series, Annika Perry with a post about a visit to the Vitlycke Rock Carvings in Sweden where 4000 year old images adorn the rock faces offering a glimpse into an ancient culture.

The purpose of this series is to encourage you to head over and follow Annika’s blog and check out her more recent posts.. I hope you will do so.

The 4,000 year old story by Annika Perry

Hasn’t mankind always had a desire to tell a story? To tell their story?

The thought struck me as early one Friday morning during Easter as my son and I visited Vitlycke Rock Carvings in Sweden. It’s not often you have a World Heritage Site all to yourselves and in quiet reverence we strolled amongst the 4,000-year-old rock carvings.

As if bleary from sleep, the sun hung low in the sky, its light…

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The Bowl on the Laundry Basket

What a wonderful surprise today to see my lovely friend’s post this morning. Touched to tears, I couldn’t stop smiling at Sarah’s beautiful drawing of my ‘infamous’ laundry basket and her words will have you smiling and touch your heart.

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The Bowl on the Laundry Basket Kopie The Bowl on the Laundry Basket – inspired by my dear friend Annika (micron ink and water color on paper, Oct. 2017)

I´m sure you will all agree with me when I say that even if we first thought that with blogging it would be all about ourselves, we learn very fast that actually it´s all about connections, friendships and learning from others.

For me blogging is also very much about inspiration – both, about the one I might evoke in others, but especially about the inspiration I get from my fellow bloggers and friends.

A wonderful example for this is the drawing I did this weekend –

My dear friend Annika over at Annika Perry´s Writing Blog wrote in one of her latest post “CHIPPING AWAY!” wonderfully about the sometimes arduous process of editing her first novel and how it influences her and her family´s everyday life on…

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CHIPPING AWAY!

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Editing is a strange process.

I’m finding the task both hugely satisfying and exhausting. Like a skilled artist, I imagine myself adding those final touches to a painting that will lift my work. As I carve away at my stories I’m falling for the characters all over again, getting to know them intimately, their stories engraved on my mind. Even when not at the computer, chipping and adding away, my thoughts are constantly with my creations…I want to honour them by presenting them in the best way possible.

My distracted state has not gone unnoticed at home. Returning from school one day my son cautiously asked why a breakfast bowl was on the laundry basket in the bathroom. A very good question and I had no sensible answer – no doubt a new edit idea struck me between rooms. I’ve warned him to expect a lot of these unusual distractions as I battle against my perfectionist nature and concentrate singlemindedly to complete my first book.

With a selection of my short stories with a professional editor, with discussions underway for a book cover, I have been reassured that completion before Christmas is possible.

Yikes! On hearing this deadline my stomach flip-flopped with excited elation (and terror!) whilst my mind nearly overloaded as I careered through everything that needs to be done. Then, ever the Virgo, organisation took charge and with a new notebook in hand, I made lists, lots of them. These I’m slowly ticking off…

Whilst editing I have noticed my predisposition for certain words which I’ve harshly erased; even as I berate myself for my persistent use of these lame and weak phrases, I’m pleased to learn more about my writing, how to improve it with immediate effect.

Who are the culprits? Stand up words, wave goodbye and bow out!

* Also   *Now    *Then     *At last     *Just

*After all    *Of course    *Finally

Finally (noooo!!) one chap’s name appeared in three different stories…sorry, there’s only need for one George!

‘My short stories are like soft shadows I have set out in the world, faint footprints I have left. I remember exactly where I set down each and everyone one of them, and how I felt when I did. Short stories are like guideposts to my heart…’  Haruki Murakami

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MYRTLE THE PURPLE TURTLE: A BOOK REVIEW

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‘Myrtle the Purple Turtle’ is one of the most striking, original children’s books released in recent years.

I was immediately drawn in by the welcoming cover of Myrtle proudly striding along and quickly became engaged with this wonderful character.

As a purple turtle, Myrtle has never considered herself any different from the other turtles and is happy and confident in her life. Until one day a rude turtle laughs and taunts her for even daring to consider herself a turtle.

What follows next is a touching and tender story to which we can all relate when faced with inconsiderate hurtful comments. As Myrtle sets out on a journey of self-discovery and understanding…with some help from her mother and friends along the way, she learns to accept herself and others.

I quickly lost myself within Myrtle’s world and empathised with her hurt and confusion … cheering her on as this feisty creature sought deeper understanding.

The language of the book flows with ease and it is well written in brief sentences, which are kept lively with the use of direct speech. Children and adults alike will be enraptured by Myrtle and captivated by her story.

The illustrations are the crowning glory of this book – they are superbly and deftly drawn with a huge emotional impact and are visually appealing. The drawings, which are vibrant and luscious, are fun and often cheeky; I couldn’t stop giggling at the image of the two head-butting turtles. The illustrations and story blend seamlessly together to lift the story onto a deeper level, exploring the themes of what makes us unique and ultimately learning to embrace ourselves and others. As Cynthia Reyes herself says ‘Love Your Shell’.

I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Myrtle the Purple Turtle’ and it is an entertaining and uplifting book which deserves to be on every child’s bookcase…it is one they (and you) will happily return to time and again.

I received a free no obligation preview copy of this book from the author and this is my honest unbiased review.

RATING:              5 out of 5

PUBLISHER:        Weaverback Press

AVAILABLE:       Amazon UK (Paperback)      Amazon UK (Kindle)

                              Amazon US  (Papaerback)   Amazon US (Kindle)

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10 Statements – Annika Perry

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I am an avid fan of ’10 Statements’ at Karen Oberlaender’s blog mytrainofthoughtson.com and eagerly look forward to learning more about every featured writer.

What spurs them on in the morning? Who is their inspiration in life?

Wistfully I imagined what my own responses would be…

How could I sum ‘me’ up in ten short statements? What was my personal motto? What was the best advice I’ve ever been given?

My idle daydreams became reality recently when Karen kindly invited me to take part in her series and I accepted immediately. What an honour!

However, I soon started to overthink the answers, scribbling down various possible replies, in my diligence I started to dither, falling into a turmoil of confusion with every new thought.

Finally one morning I put my writings aside and opened a clean sheet of paper in my notebook, took my favourite pen in my hand and whilst scanning the statements, I wrote from my heart, letting my controlling brain drift to the wayside.

I hope you’ll pop over to see my final answers on ’10 Statements’ and also read the excerpt of one of my short stories (which might be familiar to regular readers – apologies!). Enjoy!

Please press here to read full article: 10 Statements – Annika Perry

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POETRY IN WINE

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‘Wine is bottled poetry’ * declared Robert Louis Stevenson when visiting the vineyards of Napa Valley, California in the 1880s and winemakers around the globe now seem intent on bringing that poetry and creativity to the very names and labels of their products.

A few years ago there was a proliferation of wonderful and weird names to both white and red wines and although a more sedate marketing has taken over the business, there are still some lovely evocative label names as well as the more unusual and peculiar. 


A remarkable animal is celebrated in both the name and label of one South African wine. ‘Porcupine Ridge’ wine pays homage to the nightly visitors to the vineyard when it welcomes the crested porcupines. Their formidable spines and quills form an impenetrable defence barrier as they arrive in the dark, snuffling for food around the vineyard, forest and fynbos (small belt of natural scrubland or heathland).

‘Barefoot’ wine is a personal favourite of mine which I came across on my trip to Florida last year! The very first morning, before even unpacking or shopping for food, we walked barefoot along the beach – it was a feeling of pure pleasure and exhilaration and when we later spotted the quirky-named ‘Barefoot’ with its delightful drawing we knew we had to buy it. 

Just as we had relished the free sensation of walking barefoot, so the wine name encapsulates the belief ‘that when you follow your heart there’s no limit to how far your vine will grow’. It is a wine that doesn’t want to take itself too seriously and flourished from its free-spirited 1960s start in a garage.

blackstump‘Black Stump’ wine of Australia supposedly traces its name back to the 1830s and a landmark ruling following a boundary dispute in the state of New South Wales. In that case, the surveyor had ‘pointed to some old stumps, which he said had been marked…defendant would not admit that the cross line marked by me on the plan was not part of his boundary…he said it ran to a black stump beyond the line, which he said had been marked….’

However, this historical basis for the name is in contention as it is also claimed that ‘Black stump’ is the name for an imaginary point beyond which the country is considered remote or uncivilised, an abstract marker of the limits of established settlement. 

Others believe the expression originated from the use of black stumps in the landscape used as markers when directing travellers – to me, this seems the most likely!

Many wine names are derived from the location of the vineyards which is the case for the captivating scenery pictured on ‘Oyster Bay’. Their tagline is ‘Sometimes the world really is your oyster’ as they want their wine name and flavour to bring the promise to their customers of the remote beauty of their part of New Zealand. The family-owned vineyard ensured that climate became an asset for them as the colder nights but warm days create the long grape growing season.

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The very landscape that features on their labels is beautiful and almost lyrically captured in their description of the area.

‘The story of Marlborough’s soils starts a little while back, around 18,000 years ago. So in the scheme of ancient wine regions, we are considered to be quite young.

Once a towering glacier, the plains of Marlborough’s valleys are the trail of its slow (yes glacial) retreat. In the distance, the stern Southern Alps are guardians and providers. Their foundations are broad, but lie upon two tectonic plates that are perpetually moving in different directions.

This battle beneath the earth is only discernible by rocks sent down from the above. With purpose, the snow and rain fed rivers carry these away and over centuries smooth the harsh edges of their abrupt beginnings away. They spread across the valley floor, where our vines call home.

As the stones bask in plentiful sunshine, vine roots edge beneath to find nutrients. When the air cools at night, the stones share with the vines the warmth they have collected over the day, to help create the immaculate flavours synonymous with this special place.’

On a lighter note, ‘Cono Sur Bicicleta’ wine from Chile caught my eye with its cheerful watercolour label of the bikers in the countryside. The image and name of this pinot noir is a tribute to Cono Sur’s workers who travel around the vineyard on bicycles. The environmentally friendly aspect of the company is extended into its winemaking and only natural, often traditional, methods are used to tend the vines and make the wine.

Finally, who doesn’t like some comfort in their lives? This is particularly seen with the massive popularity of comfort foods and one Californian vineyard owner has taken this to a new level with the originally named ‘Comfort Wine / Custard Chardonnay’.  

Don August Sebastiani  came up with the concept of comfort wine the first time he inhaled the aroma of his chardonnay and realised he had “…a wine that reminds me of one of my favourite childhood indulgences ‐ Sunday morning glazed doughnuts with creamy custard filling…’comfort food’ before I even knew what that was.”

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I hope you have enjoyed learning a bit about the names of a few wines and this post is the promised follow-up to What’s in an Ale Name when I explored the stories behind the names of various beers…as a non-beer drinker I rather missed out on the tasting element and many bloggers kindly suggested I should write a post dedicated to wine names! Many thanks for the suggestion, I have heartily enjoyed my research, both the written and the tasting! 

‘There is more philosophy in a bottle of wine than in books.’ Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) French chemist/biologist.

* From The Silverado Squatters, 1883 by Robert Louis Stevenson, (1850-1894) novelist, poet, essayist, travel writer.

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POWER OF PATIENCE #WORDLESSWEDNESDAY

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Often struggling with my impatient nature I regarded our unexpected visitor with awe and admiration. He waited calmly by our sides for over thirty minutes as we finished the picnic lunch by the coast one day during my summer break in Sweden.

How could we not reward such patience; his serene demeanour touched us all…with smiles we threw him food, which he approached in the same tranquil manner before leaving with a final look…of thanks and farewell I imagined. 

‘Patience is the companion of Wisdom.’ St. Augustine

I hope you enjoyed another snippet and photograph from my summer in Sweden…owing to work pressure comments have been turned for this post. Wishing you all a very special Wednesday.

SECOND CHANCE ROMANCE: A BOOK REVIEW

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After reading a series of intensive, high-octane thrillers in the past weeks, Jill Weatherholt’s  ’Second Chance Romance’ proved just the tonic I needed to relax and return to earth.

In this heart-warming novel published by Harlequin Love Inspired, Jackson Daughtry, a single father of five-year-old Rebecca, one morning comes to the rescue of Melanie Harper. She hit a tree whilst swerving to avoid a deer and Jackson’s paramedic skills come to good use as he helps her out of the car and then to the hospital. From this very first meeting, their lives are interwoven and irrevocably changed. 

Melanie is the niece of the very popular Phoebe Austin, Jackson’s business partner to the local cafe The Bean and since the death of his parents, Phoebe has been like family to him. Melanie wants her aunt to move with her to Washington, DC., which causes conflict for everyone concerned.

As a divorce attorney in the capital Melanie is a city girl through and through. However, the tragedy which struck her life a year earlier had resulted in her retreating into herself in the isolated, uncaring environment of urban life. When faced with the beauty and wondrous landscape of idyllic and harmonious Sweet Gum in the Shenandoah Valley she gradually opens up emotionally. The setting becomes an intrinsic part of the novel and the friendly, caring attitude of the community is sensitively and memorably portrayed.

The novel is told in the third person switching with ease and skill between the two main protagonists and ultimately allowing us closer access to their thoughts and feelings.

Being a romantic novel, the frisson between Jackson and Melanie is at the core of the story; its intensity and the continual emotional rollercoaster between them makes this a most compelling, addictive read. Whilst attracted to each other, they deny these feelings to themselves as differences over many issues makes any future seem untenable. Just as Melanie comes out of the hospital, Aunt Phoebe suffers a stroke and whilst she recuperates, the running of the cafe falls to Melanie and Jackson.  The past haunts them both more than ever when faced with working together each day and confronting their traumas.

Having been left to raise his daughter four years earlier when he was abandoned by his wife, Jackson finds it difficult to trust anyone. Meanwhile, Melanie is still lost to herself and the world following overwhelming grief…a tragedy that is only slowly revealed. Whilst  Jackson finds solace in his faith, Melanie lost hers. 

Faith is one of several deep and thought-provoking themes examined and woven into the narrative. Grief, fear, forgiveness and love are all seamlessly arced across the novel and hidden within the more everyday events. These include such gentle, seemingly inconsequential happenings such as a fair, apple picking, picnic and baking, which are all exquisitely described and very much part of the homily Mills & Boon genre. Numerous sub-plots such as the menacing return of woman long since disappeared and the romantic possibilities for Aunt Phoebe bolster the main story.

For me the star of this book is Rebecca, Jackson’s daughter – she instantly won a place in my heart! Her warm loving personality, belief and innate wisdom is brilliantly captured and helps unravel the darkness of sorrow within Melanie; I can just imagine the powerful impact of the hugs from this little girl. The reader’s instant affection for Rebecca only heightens the tension and drama as she faces danger and the possibility of being lost to them forever.

Although an easy read with a welcome escapist element, this is a well-crafted and written novel with a perfect fusion of romance and drama; I quickly became engrossed in the lives of all the characters and I didn’t want to leave my new friends as the novel came to an end.

Rating:                   4 out of 5 stars

Available from   Amazon US   or  Amazon UK

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