Tuesday, 20 October 2020
Thursday, 15 October 2020
Most of my friends and followers know that here on our thirteen-acre North Devon home, we have horses. Two showjumpers, Lexie and Saffie and two of Saffie’s offspring to bring on as competition horses – two-year-old Franc and five-month filly, Phoenix. My daughter (now in her thirties) has ridden since she was three, not counting the few times I had her sitting up in front of me when I was riding and she was only a couple of months old. I started riding when I was four.
We moved from
the London Suburb of Walthamstow to Chingford in 1957 – when Chingford was
still in Essex (before a re-organisation when it became part of London).
Chingford had Epping Forest within its borders, and, back then, seemed very countryfied.
My sister was six years my elder and, in those days, ten-year-olds would happily take themselves off (unsupervised) for the day during weekends and school holidays. Big Sister, however, often got lumbered with Little Sister (me) so I would occasionally be in tow when she went to Soper’s Farm, a riding school that was about a ten-minute walk from our house. It had been a working farm for several centuries, but by the 1950s times were a-changing and in the early sixties it was sold and became a housing estate. Mr Soper had his horses and ponies and took eager people out for rides in the Forest, and relied on eager youngsters to help with the tasks of mucking out, grooming, tack cleaning and such – presumably in return for a free ride.
I guess I didn’t go every week with Big Sister as I have very few memories of actually being there, but I do have one that is very vivid.
My first ride.
I was to ride Noddy, a brown-and-white cob pony. Someone lifted me into the saddle, my little feet were tucked through the loop of the stirrup leathers because they could not be shortened enough for me to reach the stirrups themselves, and I was shown how to hold the reins correctly between my fingers.
Off we set, out onto the main road (which, then, did not have much traffic). I think my sister walked along beside us, but the pony was led by Old Mr Soper himself. To me, that glorious ride went on for miles, but in fact, we only went about ¾ of a mile – although that is a mile-and-a-half there and back, even so, about a half-hour ride.
What sticks in my mind, apart from the glorious ride, is that Mr Soper was so pleased with how well I had done, we stopped at the sweet shop next to the pub and he bought me a bar of chocolate as a reward. Of course, it’s very likely that he popped into the pub for a pint – which is why that short little ride took much longer than a mere half-hour!
Absolutely none of that would happen today would it?
© Hele Hollick
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Monday, 12 October 2020
What ever happened to kindness? I was brought up to be kind and to consider others and never forget there are many worse off than you! Sadly, these last few months, such an act as been forgotten by many.
I do my shopping between two leading shops, one being Morrisons. Every time I go into Morrisons I purchase a few items for the Food Bank, these items are packets or tins due to not knowing how soon the food is offered to those in need. A couple of weeks ago, I purchased a few items from my shopping list, two of these were packets of breakfast cereal, whilst taking these from the shelf I took a further two larger packets for the Food Bank. Arriving at the check-out, I placed my items on the conveyer, leaving the Food Banks ones until last. As each item was scanned I placed it in my shopping bag. The last two items yet to be scanned, I waited for them to come down, they didn’t! I was told, I could not have the other cereals as it was seen as panic buying. Taken aback, I explained that they were for the Food Bank. I was told sorry but you can’t have them as it is company policy! I asked the cashier to escort me to the Food Bank which was a few yards away so she could they were not for me. This was denied and my items taken from me. I asked for a supervisor, the person quickly came and I once again explained my purchases, adding the offer to accompany me to the basket where the Food Bank was. Once again, I was told no as it was company policy! Without my Food Bank goodies, I left the store feeling very angry.
Thank you for stopping by and I hope the sun is shining on your face and in your heart and there is a little kindness in your life.
Friday, 9 October 2020
Tuesday, 6 October 2020
An anecdote from my role as manager of a care home for adults with learning disabilities
‘What are you looking at?’
‘Mind your own business.’ Jim twisted away from the window to face Maisie. ‘It’s man’s work.’ He turned back to the window, tugged the long curtain over his back and sidled closer to Johnnie. Maisie huffed and walked away.
I looked past the garden to the road. Barriers had been erected and a team of men were wielding shovels, heaving soil from the ground. More roadworks. Gas this time or water?
Jim and Johnnie were riveted by taut muscles, fluorescent jackets and the ever increasing pile of soil.
‘Go and watch if you like. Don’t get in the workmen’s way though,’ I told them.
‘Nah, you’re alright.’ Johnnie held one hand over his left eye and rocked back and forth. He did this when he was excited. The curtain tangled around him and he nearly banged his head on the window.
‘Shall I open the curtains so you can see? I could bring tea and you could sit and watch the workmen.’
‘Yeah, please.’ Jim never said no to a cup of tea. He turned to me and grinned, displaying empty gums.
‘Where are your teeth, Jim?’ I asked. A lifetime of epilepsy and behavioural drugs were to thank for his empty mouth but his smile was all the more engaging for it and I found myself grinning back. The long-stay hospital he was detained in for years probably didn’t provide much dental care either. He tapped the bulging top pocket of the thick-checked shirt he insisted on wearing, whatever the weather.
‘You might need to put them in if you want a biscuit with your tea.’
‘I’ll dip ‘em.’ He said and turned his attention back to the workmen.
I could see him eyeing up the wheelbarrow. Jim had a passion for wheelbarrows. The other day there were three on the lawn. I made him take them all back. Jim’s own one was never enough.
‘Don’t even think about taking that wheelbarrow, Jim.’ I said. He chuckled.
The refreshments were consumed in record time, Jim and Johnnie’s eyes barely leaving the entertainment outside. Workmen wiped foreheads on shoulders and stripped off shirts exposing their glistening skin to the heat of the sun.
‘Would you like your dinners saved so you can stay here?’
Jim and Johnnie both smiled. Everyone else filed into the dining room for meat pie and mashed potatoes. Maybe we should plant potatoes if they were so keen on digging.
The workmen looked longingly at the pub opposite then each other. Downing tools they pulled on their shirts, fixed barriers around the hole and pile of soil then ambled across the road to quench their thirsts with cold lager.
‘That looks dangerous,’ Jim said.
‘Yeah,’ agreed Johnnie.
‘It’s fine,’ I said. ‘They’ve put barriers around it. No-one will fall in. Come and eat your lunch.’
Half an hour later I looked again. I saw the workmen return from the pub and watched as they stared at the scene inside the barriers. One rubbed his jaw - another scratched the back of his head. They glanced at each other then back at the ground before turning to look behind them and ahead up the road. I wondered what was wrong. I studied the spot where they’d been working then realised the pile of soil had gone. There was no wheelbarrow either.
In the hall I saw no sign of Jim or Johnnie. I stepped outside and spotted them several feet from the unhappy workmen. Getting nearer I could see that what was once a deep hole was now a neatly flattened rectangle of fresh soil. I walked over to Jim.
‘It was dangerous,’ said Johnnie.
‘So we filled it in.’ said Jim.
They turned away and glanced at each other with satisfied smiles before walking back home.
You can find Kerena's other stories HERE
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Friday, 2 October 2020
Wednesday, 30 September 2020
Sometimes the unexpected happens that makes you smile and even more so in these worrying times.
Today, I saw a brand new five star review for my debut novel, Magnolia House. I wrote this book several years ago and what a delight to know that readers still enjoy this read.
"This is remarkable for a first novel. Not just a gripping story but also a cleverly constructed narrative. I am looking forward to reading the next Pauline Barclay novel but I know I will need to start it on a day when I haven’t got too much else on because I couldn’t put this one down!"
Magnolia House is available in Kindle and paperback click HERE for details
Signed copies of Magnolia House are available, please click HERE for details.
Monday, 28 September 2020
The wonderful Kitty Costain talks about her meeting with Bertie Costain and how her life was to change forever in a way she could never have imagined. “Believe you me, fiction has nothing on real life.’ Kitty Costain.
Click HERE To read more about, In the Cold Light of Day
Available in Kindle and paperback.
Signed paperback copies are available. Click HERE to find out more.
Friday, 25 September 2020
nothing more entertaining than little tales that make you smile. So in an
attempt to brighten up October, I will be running a special feature titled, Anecdotal.
Anecdotal is where a few special peeps share a little story that has amused or
left them speechless. I am kicking off this fun feature with my anecdotal, The
My parents never had a car when I was a child, in fact I was in my late teens before dad bought a car. As a child, the thought of going out in a car was one of the most magical things that could happen to me. So you can imagine how excited I was when a neighbour, who owned a very large black car would, from time to time, take me and his daughter to school. The thrill of sitting in that beautiful car for the three long minutes ride to the school gates has remained with me. We moved away and the occasional rides ended. The years slipped by and I was a grown adult. One day my mum reminded me of the ride to school in Mr Powell’s car. ‘You had no idea about the car,’ she said. Of course, I did, it was big, black and shiny. At around six years old, I had never realized why Mr Powell had such a beautiful car. My mum enlightened me. Mr Powell was an undertaker and his daughter and me used to travel to school in a hearse!
I hope you enjoyed this little anecdote and you will come back to read more. As always, thank you for calling by and I hope the sun is shining on your face and in your heart.
Wednesday, 23 September 2020
Saturday, 19 September 2020
Bookends, now what does that word conjure up for you? Today, I have the wonderful Kathryn Hall talking about what Bookends means to her and how it supports the writing world. So, please help yourself to a drink and settle in a comfortable seat and let us do Bookends….
After more than eleven years working as an editor, Elaine, my own editor and closest friend, approached me in a professional capacity to join her in setting up a new business for writers and authors. To say I was honoured was an understatement, and my excited answer of a resounding ‘Yes’ led us to endless hours of talks and discussions on how we would go forward. Elaine and I have worked together for many years and apart from her editing all my books, her dedication and efficiency in the writing industry has helped me develop my own skills and enable me to publish my work.
But writing is my passion, as is helping others to achieve their dream in becoming a published author. Both Elaine and I have been writers for thirty years, probably longer, and over that time we’ve helped many people by offering advice, suggestions, blog promotions and features. So, we finally decided it was time to amalgamate and do what we’re passionate about doing, together.
Bookends is a one-stop-shop for anyone wishing to write a book; you might already be a published author or might just be thinking about writing a book and need some advice. You may even want us to write the book for you, i.e., a ghostwrite, which is another service we offer. Whichever service you need, you can always be sure that the one thing we will always take pride in doing for you is being there every step of the way, supporting you to reach that goal. We know how important it is to have the perfect manuscript because we’ve been there ourselves, many times. It’s exciting and nerve-racking all at the same time; it’s lengthy and thought-provoking. But it’s also incredibly rewarding and we want to help you reap in those rewards by holding your hand throughout.
The main services we offer are editing, mentoring, critiques, ghostwriting, formatting and book cover design. We’ll also upload your book to your chosen platform if you need help with that, and of course anything else where you might feel you need a bit of extra support.
There is, of course, a lot of competition out there, and it’s important for an author to feel confident and taken care of when hiring someone to work with them on their book. This is one of the reasons why, at Bookends, we offer a taster of our editing service to give you the opportunity to decide if you definitely want to work with us. Our joint expertise in the services we offer will assist you from start to finish with your project, and our friendly approach to your requirements will mean a good working relationship throughout.
I myself, am a published author of five novels, and as well as running this business with Elaine, I’m currently working on my sixth novel. This latest book will be a look at four women going through menopause – something I’m very familiar with myself! It’ll be a humorous take on their lives as they try to get through each day, some with supportive husbands, some without, and the individual lives they lead. With their many symptoms bearing down on them and weekly coffee mornings spent in each other’s houses, you’ll be invited behind their closed doors to see exactly what they get up to.
You can find out more about Bookends and Kathryn at these great places...
Website: CJ Hall
Facebook: Kathryn Hall
Twitter: Kathryn CJ Hall
Instagram: Kathryn Hall
Thursday, 17 September 2020
Friday, 11 September 2020
Storm Clouds Gathering
In the Cold Light of Day
The Wendy House