Friday 30 October 2009

Children's Books That Stand the Test of Time

I've been writing about writing for children, and had to think of some memorable children's authors. Of course I came up with all the popular ones from my own childhood, like Enid Blyton, who is not considered politically correct nowadays.

But I also thought of the writers of some children's books that are still popular today and were written a century or so ago. Did you know that Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was first published in 1865?

And Beatrix Potter self published The Story of Peter Rabbit in 1901. After it was then picked up by a publisher it became the first of a series that has been reprinted over and over again, complete with her wonderful illustrations.

I imagine J K Rowling's Harry Potter series is going to stand the test of time too.

What a wonderful legacy these authors leave to the world.

Wednesday 28 October 2009

Stop Press - Three Day Super Sale of Hotel Room Nights

This is not a sponsored post, although it would have been if I had managed to meet the SocialSpark deadline. So I just missed out on $20 by about 5 minutes. Such is life. I also just found that the link I copied didn't work, so I've redone that. Hopefully someone will find this useful.

I once lived in Singapore for a couple of years, and I’d really love to revisit that part of the world.

Now I discover there is a Super Sale of hotel rooms in the Asia Pacific region. The Accor Hospitality 3 Day Super Sale, offering huge reductions in room prices for bookings taken in their hotels began yesterday (Oct 27th) and runs until until Thursday (Oct 29th). If you’re thinking of going to the area between 9th December and 10th April next year, it’s worth pulling out the stops to get your hotel rooms booked now. Over one million room nights will be on sale, with rates starting as low as US$30 per night.

Accor’s superior hotel groups taking part are Sofitel, Pullman, Grand Mercure, Novotel, Mercure, All Seasons and Ibis hotels. I can just imagine myself in the luxury of the hotel pictured here. I’d love to be able to take advantage of this offer and only hope it will be repeated in future years so that I might be able to do so.

Apparently this coincides with record-low air fares across the Asia Pacific region, so if I could manage to book now I’d get all-round bargain rates.

And now that I am changing this post I can refer you to Jenaisle's post about a place worth visiting in the Philippines. If I was touring the Asia Pacific, I would definitely visit those islands, and that particular location if it was at all possible.

Monday 26 October 2009

My Love Affair with Carved Wood

A new dropper in my EC inbox is Essence of Woodwork. This blogger has posted some wonderful pictures of woodcraft. I recommend a visit just for those pics if you share my enthusiasm for carved wood.

It reminded me so much of when I was at college and studying the history of art. I came across the work of Grinling Gibbons, wood carver extraordinaire working in the 17th and 18th centuries. That was the beginning of my love affair with carved wood.

The picture is of some Grinling Gibbons carving at Hampton Court Palace near Kingston upon Thames where I used to live. It was taken by Camster2 at Wikimedia Commons

Friday 23 October 2009

The Changeling - Flash Fiction

This is something I dashed off for a competition. It didn't win, but I quite like it.

“Mam, the fairies are in the garden.” Polly felt more resigned than cross.

“Are you telling porkies again, Tasha.”

“No Mam, honest. Come and see.”

“Not right now, lass.” But Polly’s mind stayed on her daughter and the strange feyness of her. Even as a baby, she’d smiled at everyone and won all hearts with her winsome ways.

Now she was five years old, and everyone loved Natasha, everyone except other children, that is. She didn’t have any friends of her own age. Did that explain her fascination with the fairies – her imaginary friends? She didn’t want baby dolls. They all had to be dainty and have wings so she could swoop around and pretend to fly with them. She was a dainty child herself, with dark fly-away hair and big, dark eyes.

“I wonder where she gets it from. Brian and I have mousy colouring and we’re certainly not dainty, more like clumpy, if you ask me.”


In the garden, Tasha smiled as she saw the two fairies hovering over the hedge at the far end. They were beckoning to her and she ran lightly towards them. As she ran she felt a sprouting in her back, then a fluttering and her steps turned into jumps that lifted her higher and higher.


Polly screamed as looked through the window and saw Tasha’s feet just disappearing over the six foot hedge. Faintly she heard a tinkling laugh.

“Bye, Mam. I have to go home now.”

Wednesday 21 October 2009

Monday 19 October 2009

A Walk with the Wind

A few posts ago I wrote a prose poem about walking along the shore on a very calm day. Today I did the same walk, making a detour on the way to the library.

And boy, was it different. There was a high wind. It was all about sound.

The waves didn't whisper. They rushed and wooshed, and they slapped against the beach groins. I heard creaking and clicking as the brave windsurfers manoeuvred their craft this way and that, but I heard nothing as they caught the wind and zipped past and up the harbour. One noisy boat chugged up the channel, while the yachts at mooring were jangling rather than tinkling.

It was so exhilarating.

I didn't have my camera so I thought I'd post this shot of some wild sea water by Mila Zinkova that I found at Wikimedia Commons.

Friday 16 October 2009


Whenever I read Denford Magora’s Zimbabwe Blog, it reminds me of when I was doing my BA in London. I was 34 and there were several other mature students on our Media Studies degree course. We tended to stick together, and one I became specially friendly with was Mabel, a black girl from Zimbabwe. Like me, she had two young children, and they were of similar ages to mine.

She introduced me to many of her friends and we spent time at the BBC World Service and at the Africa Centre in the city. I well remember the celebrations at the time of Robert Mugabe’s first election as President of Zimbabwe.

Mabel’s family was known to him and she had worked with him briefly in the past. She firmly believed he was to be the salvation of her country.

The photo is of Robert Mugabe at the 12th African Union Summit Feb. 2, 2009 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

After we graduated, she went home to Zimbabwe, but we kept in touch for a while. A couple of years later she came back to the UK for a visit and turned up on my doorstep. It was a lovely surprise. I really envied Mabel as she told me she had soon managed to get her own radio show and eventually a TV show as well. (I had not been able to fulfil my own ambitions to go into radio, apart from selling a few freelance features. I was too old to join a BBC training programme at that time, although I had worked with some of their producers.)

It’s many years since I last heard from Mabel. I often wonder what became of her, indeed whether she is still alive, and if so, how she feels about the Mugabe regime now. All the reports from Zimbabwe are pretty horrendous. And there is much more detail on Denford Magora’s blog than we get in our media.

Wednesday 14 October 2009

That Inspirational Book

As I am one of Jenaisle's blogging authors, I'm now delighted to fulfil a commitment to her and give this book a mention. Isn't this a great cover? And do you notice that it doesn't have Jen's name on it anywhere?

Unless you are a real rookie blogger, you must have come across Jenisle before. Her name pops up all over the blogosphere and everyone sings her praises. And it is well-deserved, for as well as maintaining her many blogs, she is always courteous, kind and helpful, and - words fail me. I'll just say I'm proud to be able to call her my on-line friend.

This book is not only an ambition fulfilled for her, it has also needed a huge investment of her time and money in order to showcase other people's work. I do hope lots of people will buy it and show her she is appreciated. You can buy it on several of her blogs: this one for example.

This is also something new for me, having my by-line in a book, rather than in a magazine, web site or e-zine. My copies should arrive soon. I can't wait.

Monday 12 October 2009

Party Time

Pic is from Wikimedia by D Sharon Pruitt

Four or 5 of my former neighbours are visiting this Saturday. I just have enough beds to put them all up but hubby and I will have to rough it downstairs. Today we went out to buy some bedding for the single bed as I didn't have one of those before we moved. Here there is a built-in single bed in the little bedroom. At the last house the little bedroom was actually my office. Now I have the office in the garage conversion downstairs, which means that there is still one spare room if anyone else turns up unexpectedly.

Anyway, since they will be able to tell what really great neighbours we are (they will, or else ...) I thought I'd invite some of the new ones as well. If they all come, I'll be catering for 12 or 13, rather a lot for me.

Recently I was given some vacuum-packed chorizo from Spain, which gave me the idea of making a selection of hot tapas. I'll also have some salads and cold cuts, so hopefully everyone will find something they like.

Better stop writing now. There are only five more days to prepare!!!

PS My Taklimakan article was accepted by Constant Content today and is showcased here.

Friday 9 October 2009

The Taklimakan Desert

I didn’t find it easy to write about this Chinese desert, pictured above from space. Situated in the north west of the country and surrounded by some of the highest mountains in the world, including KR and Everest to the south, it is one of the largest shifting sand deserts in the world. In the path of the ancient Silk Road, it has two routes around it, one each to the north and south, with a number of oasis towns along the way, all with various tourist attractions within reach.

I started researching it a few weeks ago when it was one of the titles in a Helium competition, but I soon realised that I wasn’t going to meet the competition deadline with any chance of a prize. You need to post at least four competitive articles of really good quality to get enough points for that. I had only posted one other, about the giant pandas in the Bifeng Valley. (If you’d like to do me a favour, click on this link to head over there and read it. You might find it interesting.)

Anyway, at Constant Content, a client who publishes an ex-pat magazine in China is often looking for China travel features has bought several of mine in the past. So I decided not to waste my research, but to beef it up and submit an article there. I’ve been working on it for a couple of hours here and there ever since.

I finally completed, edited and proofed it today and it has now been submitted, awaiting approval. It’s really satisfying to get such a project under my belt, even if I can’t price it high enough to be a fair reward for my time. If I did, I can’t believe it would ever sell.

Such is life.

Wednesday 7 October 2009

Monday 5 October 2009

Reading Helps with Underwear Shopping

Pic is by Raimond Spekking/Wikipedia

For absolute escapism, I like to read Katie Fforde’s books. They often cover some quite difficult human issues treated sensitively, but in a way that frequently provokes a chuckle. In the end they seem lighthearted, probably because the good protagonist always wins out.

And every so often, I come across a gem of a quote. This one, from Wedding Season, recently had me scurrying to the mirror and then laughing at myself.

The speech is from the mother of a bride, after the wedding, to the dressmaker.

“Your bra has obviously been properly fitted. But if you knew how many women are ignorant of the fact that the nipple should be halfway between the top of the shoulder and the elbow. You see more nipples at elbow height than you can shake a stick at.”

Sadly, our breasts do droop as we get older. But I’d never thought of it like that before. I was one of those many ignorant women. Now I do know what to check for when I’m shopping for underwear. Was it new to you, too?

Friday 2 October 2009

My Loyal Droppers

Here is my list of top EC droppers for September. My thanks to you all for your visits and card dropping, especially with the way things seem to be going at Entrecard. I’m surprised there seem to be any droppers left at all.

Don't ask me why there can be 31 drops in September. I just copied the table from my statistics page on October 1st. Perhaps some droppers just get up especially early and some snuck in on the first of the month as well.

Of course, these are all blogs that I really enjoy visiting myself, and can thoroughly recommend them all in case there are any you are not familiar with.

The Way I See It


earth to holly


Duck and Wheel With String


Poetic Shutterbug


Luvem Or Leavem Relationships


Rambling stuff


Caught In The Stream


Secondary Roads




Shalampax Speaks


Writing Tip

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