Saturday, 20 August 2011

Another good evening last night with some very interesting writings. The summer competition certainly produced some very good writing and Nick's story was gripping.
Liz has taken her story even further and we enjoyed the reading of her script with Nick and Alan taking on the two main characters.
I have taken on board some of the comments regarding my own story and have spent the day re-vamping it.
Barbara's story was delightful her down at heel `Just William` was perfect. I'm sure there is a market out there.
Cheryl's story of love under the Tuscany sun is hotting up too.
The September in-house competition was discussed and it has been decided that this year it is to be a monologue in 500 words with an open theme. the competition will be held at our second meeting in September (Friday 16th)

Next Meeting is on 2nd September.


Wednesday, 15 September 2010

So much for a sunny September it's been blowing gales and intermittent rain just to let us know that Autumn isn't all mists and mellow fruitfulness. The Scyamore trees are already turning red and the firethorn berries have coloured up to their yellows and reds. Just the time to tell you about a winter weekend in the blue mountains. this is especially for Louise's Mum.

Winter Weekend in the Blue Mountains.

In 2005 I took another holiday in Australia, taking with me my eldest grandson Matthew. We stayed with my eldest daughter and her family, who lived in West Pymble just outside Sydney.

We had been advised to bring some warm clothes as it is winter in August.

Winter in Australia occurs between July and September, with daytime temperatures rising to lower twenties mid day. Quite like an average English summer before global warming. However if you live in the Blue Mountains, winter can mean snow and ice. This beautiful region of mountainous country is part of the Great Dividing Range that runs down the entire eastern side of Australia finishing west of Melbourne in the south.

My daughter’s house did not have central heating, but did have a huge fire place in which each evening a beautiful log fire would be lit that soon had us cosy watching T.V.

Anne announced a few days after our arrival that Roger had arranged for us to go to the Blue Mountain region for a weekend of sight seeing and to visit the Jenolan Caves near Lithgow. We were to stay overnight in a log cabin in a place called Taranna.

“You will need your warmest clothes and no sandals it will be cold, there’s been snow.” She said.

Saturday morning we were up early to get a good start and I was surprised to see that it was a slightly frosty.

After a hearty breakfast, we all piled into the car and set off to join the Great Western Highway which would take us to Leura in the heart of the Blue Mountain region. It was a gorgeous morning with the sun shining and any frost soon gone. A lot of the land in this area has been cleared for agriculture, but overriding this the bush as the densely wooded countryside is called goes on for miles and miles. The terrain is mountainous and the forest rises in ranks covering the contours of the land.

At last we reached Leura and we parked without much difficulty. I don’t think there were any parking meters but I may be wrong. Leura is quaint and established having the look of a settled community. Full of individual shops no high street names and plenty of variety.

Our first concern was the fact the Susannah had left behind her coat, so we hunted the tiny shops for one selling children’s clothes. No luck, Anne didn’t want to pay the earth for designer gear when a perfectly good coat was lying at home on the chair. Roger said he would take the kids for a walk while we carried on looking, only to turn up again in less than thirtyy minutes with Susannah wearing a coat only slightly too big. Roger had spotted a sign saying “Garage Sale” and had gone to see what he could find. Apparently a lot of children’s clothes were for sale. And he came away with the coat and a set of fire irons too. Cost about five pounds

We had a good laugh but Susannah was quite happy with the purchase.

Lunched at a little café and then we walked to the Toy and Railway museum.

We passed bungalows with names like Ben Nevis, Llandudno, and Pwhelli. Lanberis so we assumed that a lot of Welsh and Scottish people had settled there. The houses looked old with tin roofs and quaint wrought iron verandahs and mature gardens with large trees. There were even some daffodils in the front gardens.

The museum was in a large Edwardian detached three-storied house set in extensive gardens. Inside was homage to child hood, the rooms filled with every kind of toy you could imagine. And even though no child now lives there the collection is being kept up to date with all the latest craze and toy. From the earliest days when a family lived there with all the toys from 1900’s through the twenties and thirties, it seemed as if nothing had ever been thrown away. The bedrooms and nursery rooms are laid out, as it would have been. The collection is right up todate with Barbie Dolls to Harry Potter games and books.

Outside is a replica of The Matterhorn with a superb model railway all built to scale. Whilst on the opposite side of road was a small amphitheatre built into the hillside from which we saw our first view of the Blue Mountains. Matthew who had never seen it before announced that he thought it was “cool”.

A Brisk walk and down numerous steps brought us out on to a viewing platform high above the valley bottom. The vista stretched out before us in the afternoon sun and the famous haze that gives the Blue Mountains their name hung in the air for miles. The rocks looked golden and the trees a dark uniform green, not like conifer, more rounded shapes densely packed together. A couple of miles away we could see the famous Three Sisters rocks situated in Katoomba, so we went back to the car and drove the short distance to see them more closely.

Katoomba is bustling with many coaches bringing in tourists to see the sights. Spotlessly clean as all Australian places seem to be, it thronged with people trying to take photos from the best viewing platforms. We went for a walk along the cliff paths and looked down into the seemingly bottomless valley below. One of the attractions is a ride on the scenic railway that has the world’s steepest incline, descending four hundred and fifteen metres down at a maximum gradient of 52 degrees or 1.28:1.00. Another attraction is the Sceniscender cable car that descends 545metres to the valley floor of the World Heritage glades of Rain forest. Neither of these appealed to me so I forgo the chance to try them out. But they were considered “Cool” by the youngest.

All too soon the afternoon sun began to set, by five it would be dark and we had to travel to a place called Taranna about an hour and half away.

Leaving Katoomba we passed through some industrial parts and then the scenery opened up as we descended into a broad valley that was grazed by dark cattle. The heavily wooded hills seemed far away as we wound through the countryside. Looking out for signs to keep us on track, the one and a half hours had turned into two before we saw the tiny sign post pointing us down a road so narrow that Roger prayed that no one would come in the opposite direction. Not a light to be seen and the night pitch black. Suddenly a splash of light showed ahead and into Taranna we drove before the door was closed and the light died. The door opened again and we realised that we had fortuitously stopped outside the place Anne had booked for our overnight stay. The pub was noisy and warm. The people inside seemed friendly enough but were more interested in drinking than finding out who we were. A chatty little woman gave us our keys and showed us to the log cabins that were in the field next to the pub. She said she would reserve a table for us in the restaurant and we could come over as soon as we were ready.

So our first day was nearly over and the next day would find us travelling on to Oberon and the Jenolan Caves.

Hope you all enjoy this and I'll post the rest next time.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Before August completely fades from memory here's one or two delightful moments from it.

August decided to go out in a blaze of glory with some very sunny days. Heralding a warm September just the thing to get you in the swing for Autumn.

My first Sunday lunch with Wirral Writer's Group was on the 22nd . A fine and sunny day found us at the Brookmeadow Hotel and Resturant in Childer Thornton. This delightful place is tucked away off the main A41 road and is a peaceful haven. The meal was superb and the company lively. Cheryl had set us a challenge at our previous meeting to produce a piece of flash fiction of 75 or less words incorporating five key words. Quite a few of us rose to the challenge and after dinner they were read out. No prizes but good fun. A stroll around the garden and then it was time to say good-bye.

The following weekend found me at the Liverpool Academy of Arts as a volunteer. This weekend was not just a Bank Holiday but the Matthew Street Music Festival and the Beatles convention.

My friend June who is the director at the gallery was holding her annual Beatles inspired art show.

Many fans came in to view and the gallery buzzed with a steady stream of people of all nationalities Some were regulars and meeting them was like greeting old friends. One Russian couple had come from St Petersburg and brought with them cds of the Beatles songs play on accordian. It certainly sounded different.

That's it another month gone and here we are in September with the nights drawing in faster each day or so it seems.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Monday, 16 August 2010

Back from quite a different holiday from the one I had earlier this year I read an article in the Independant about research into whether or not short holidays are better than long ones. Well I feel that to the thousands of people who cannot afford holidays long or short the research is immaterial. But if you can afford holidays then whether long or short you only benefit from them if they make you feel happier and fulfilled. Having said that it cannot be denied that having a bad experience on holiday usually becomes part of your history that lives on far longer than safer boring holidays were nothing happened. Not that I'm advocating that being stuck in an airport for days on end or finding your apartment is next to a building site is exactly the excitement you crave, but when you recite your experiences of disaster it's usually the only time that other people are really interested in what you have done. So saying I'm now going to bore you with my account of my week in Snowdonia.
When Phillip my eldest son asked me if I would like to go camping with him and his two teenagers I only hesitated for a second before saying `yes`.
Saturday found us bowling along in Phillip's camper van along the A55 towards Snowdonia and Lynn Gwynant where we were going to stay. Mid-afternoon had us arriving at a very wet camp-site by the side of the lake. The rain had cleared away but had left very sodden ground. despite this the site was quite full and we drove around until we found a piece of ground to take the three tents we had brought with us. Encircled by mountains the lake and campsite nestled into the valley. And I knew I would enjoy the week here.
Sunday was dry and sunny, Phillip and Alison climbed a large outcrop of rock close to the campsite and we were able to take photographs of them climbing it. Later on that day Phillip and the boys launched the sailing dinghy and I sat and watched the proceedings and tried to do some sketching too.

Monday was shopping day and to get away from the rain we drove into Caernarvon a few miles away on the coast. There it was sunny and warm and after restocking on food we wandered around this very old town with its imposing castle. Later when we returned we found that the weather had cleared so spent a pleasant evening around the camp fire.

I spent Tuesday at the camp with Matthew fully intending to capture to the lovely scenery surrounding me but I'm afraid my artistic skills with watercolour pencils didn't do it justice at all. Photographs are okay but a really good picture is much more emotionally satisfing. Phillip and co went on a long walk and didn't get back until tea-time.

Wednesday highlight of the week I went canoeing for the first time and with Phillip and Matthew paddled the length and back again of the lake about three quarters of a mile in all. Yippee! I did feel good. With a wind blowing there were real waves to sail through. The lake seemed even bigger once we were out in the middle of it.
Went to Cricceith in the afternoon a seaside town with a small castle and seemly endless beach full of children screeching and laughing as they splashed in and out of the water.
Passed on visiting the castle and instead browsed in a small art shop and saw some rather good paintings unfortunately with prices to match. Shame.

Thursday Back to Caernarvon to tour the Castle, another very interesting castle. More of this one is restored and quite a few rooms and corridors are intact. It's a maze of corridors and stairways that wind upwards to reach the top of the highest towers. At last all towered out, ouch sorry, we made our way to the Welsh Highland Heritage railway station for four of us to travel homewards on a steam train. Phillip unfortunately couldn't join us as he needed to drive the camper van back. We arranged to meet at the station in Beddgelert a thriving tourist town quaint and picturesque and home of the famous Welsh legend about a faithful and brave dog. Later that evening we had dinner at a lovely resturant housed in an old rambling stone house full of antiques for sale. A lovely meal to end our holiday as we were returning home on Friday.

Friday it teemed down all morning but in spite of the weather Phillip took a last sail on the lake. then after packing away almost everything we waited for the rain to stop before taking down the tents. At last the sun came out about 3ish and at last the tents could be dropped and folded away. On our journey back we saw Snowdon for the first time this holiday. The sun had come out and drove off the clouds that had hung over it for most of the week. Would I go again? Yes!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Quite a busy past few days so I'm looking forward to a few days camping in Snowdonia means I'll will be out of touch for a week. No internet reception in the mountains or mobile phone . But not to worry I've lived most of my life without either.
weather-wise it could be rainy, apparently August is the wettest month in Snowdonia. so I'm taking some reading matter and a note book and some pencils. I may get some drawing done.
One of my cats go himself into a brawl with another and has come off worse (I think) but he's now on anti-biotics for the infection. He's got some nasty bites. i hope he gave as good as he got. He's now feeling sorry for himself and at the moment is curled up by the computer watching me. He usually tries his paw at typing but not tonight.
My trip to Conwy was very interesting. It was raining when we got there but it cleared up and was hot and sunny for most of the afternoon. Wandering up and down of what remains of the castle is awe inspiring when you realise how primitive the tools the workmen had in the 13th century. the building is so substantial. And quite high rise when you think about it. most of the towers had at least four floors.
The tudor town house is another impressive place to walk around. This stone and wood house has been restored with many of its rooms furnished so that you can see how the occupants lived. You would certainly needed to be rich to live in it, it must of cost a fortune to heat. No wonder everyone wore loads of clothes from top to toe.
Must close for now

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Hi Everyone,
today is grey and threatening rain so I'm posting an account of a sunny day some years ago in Cornwall to cheer me up and you too of course.
Later today I'm meeting with some writers who are launching their blogsite Out on a Limb today which know is a great read.
August 2006
The Cove
The last time I went camping with my family was in 2006. I’ve done it before many times and still enjoy it. In all there were fourteen of us in four tents.
After much discussion we had decided to camp at Sennen near Land’s End and arrived on the fifth of August for what was to prove the best weather that August.
On one typical day we found a secluded beach at the bottom of some steep cliffs, the beach we had hoped to go to was packed, so we had followed a car down a steep winding single-track road. And ended up parking in some tail end farm pasture for a couple of pounds.
The sandy beach was small but quite delightful, set between cragged rocks that had a tunnel carved out leading to another more rocky beach.
This beach had already been discovered by other people who had found this little haven. And the little bay was gay with children splashing in the shallow water wearing brightly coloured costumes. Nevertheless we found a suitable spot and set up camp for the day.
I was guard, looking after the clothes and bags. And sitting in my chair with my large umbrella shielding me from the bright hot sunshine I attempted to draw and sketch but more often or not one of the grandchildren would bring me a treasure they had found on the beach or in the rock pools , and I would spend the time marvelling at them. By the end of the day I had a large collection of shells and pebbles that the children insisted I kept.
The rest of the older children and some of the adults went snorkelling delighting in viewing the bass and mackerel chasing sand eels. Brian tried to catch some fish from the inflatable rowing dinghy, which had earlier been a big hit with the children.
The one annoying thing I find about the sea are the tides, they do insist on turning just as you are quite settled, the waves which only half an hour ago was quite some quarter of a mile away, are suddenly lapping at your feet. And the comical ritual of gradually moving up the beach is taken in stages as if no one can believe that the sea can come any higher. No sooner has everyone got themselves settled, when another lick of water pushes up the beach until the last vestige of golden sand has been reclaimed by the sea and we poor mortals were left stranded at high water on the rocks. As far as I could see nobody actually packed up and left the bay and by two o'clock about a hundred or so people were strewed on the rocks just like so many seals. Everyone waiting for the tide to turn again so that the younger children could resume the building of sandcastles or hunting in the rock-pools.
True campers as we are, all our meals were cooked el fresco. A Time honoured menus of burgers; beans, bacon and eggs served on huge burger buns and washed down with tea or cider. Today was no exception. Later on the smoky barbecue on the beach in late evening was a must or else the whole expedition wouldn’t have been worth the trip. But no matter how hard we tried to ensure that the barbecue was in a sheltered spot a wind would come from nowhere and we would be wreathed in smoke. The coals would either be far to slow and nothing cooked quickly or burnt so fast that the chicken legs and sausage resembled burnt offerings. Quite a few were offered to the gods who came in the form of seagulls.
Then after watching the red coal sunset fade into indigo and the division between sky and sea blurred, tired we trundled our way back to camp. There we soothed our skins with after Sun lotion and gossiped for awhile before turning in. Hoping that tomorrow we would find another lovely spot to enjoy.
By the end of the day a smattering of rain heralded a wet night and I fell asleep with the nylon canvas of the tent flexing and the pitter-patter of rain drumming above me.