Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Van Life? Really?

I am scared. 
We have worked hard and scrimped and saved and now we’re spending the money.

Like a magic trick: pouff!! It will be gone.

Now we pray to the Universe that we are not mistaken.
We open our eyes wide to see the curviness of the learning ahead.

Those are some hourglass figures!

We have paid the deposit, made the necessary investigations concerning insurance, and the specific details of conversions. 

A long wheel base Ford Transit ex-fleet highway maintenance van stands on a forecourt with a SOLD sign. It has a head dent and it smells of a diesel spill. It has a chem-loo which you’ll thank me for not describing. Low mileage, service history in full. Fair price.

Is this really happening? 

I’m lurching into this experience like a learner driver kangarooing their clutch control.

It seems that we have bought a van, yes. 

The man who puts windows in is about to be booked.

From collection we have 90 days to convert it to a legally specified definition of a camper van. 

I have never driven a long wheel base.

We access our home on single track farm roads.

The cornering on our driveway is frightfully tight!
Deep breath time.

There's a pickaxe in the shed, the corner can be adjusted.

I am agitated, and astonished, and it doesn’t matter what, we’re doing it anyway.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Blue Sludge Blues: supporting my fellow blog writers!

Blue Sludge Blues & Other Abominations
by Shannon Lawrence

Release Date: March 15, 2018
Horror short story collection

A collection of frights, from the psychological to the monstrous. These tales are a reminder of how much we have to fear: A creature lurking in the blue, sludgy depths of a rest area toilet; a friendly neighbor with a dark secret hidden in his basement; a woman with nothing more to lose hellbent on vengeance; a hike gone terribly wrong for three friends; a man cursed to clean up the bodies left behind by an inhuman force. These and other stories prowl the pages of this short story collection.


From Maelstrom:

"As I sit listening to the crash of waves outside my hotel window, the fan tap-tapping away above my head, I wait for it to come for me."

Buy the Book

Also available from Apple and other countries through Amazon

About the Author

A fan of all things fantastical and frightening, Shannon Lawrence writes mostly fantasy and horror. Her stories can be found in magazines and anthologies, including Space and Time Magazine, Dark Moon Digest, and Ember: A Journal of Luminous Things. When she's not writing, she's hiking the wilds of Colorado and photographing her magnificent surroundings, where, coincidentally, there's always a place to hide a body or birth a monster.

Social Media Links

Monday, 19 March 2018

Subterfuge And Weather

The lying was done. We had a surprise party, as suspected. That surprise, during which the weather was exceptional sunshine, meant Mr would not suspect further. So, confused but knowing family life can be confusing, he arrived at the address in Jacobstow prepared to babysit.
But we had blithely lied.
We had Friday night fajitas instead, with moderate beers, and the tired children (fed earlier) had moderate tears, and the grownups fell asleep in chairs.
Saturday we mustered to Widemouth Bay, to walk on the beach with teeny whirls of snow.
It was bound to happen, so Grandchild 3 fell in a pool to fill up her boots and go back to the car to shiver.
Grandchild 4 opened bare hands, bright pink, showing his collection - sea snails, he said, and helmet crabs - they don’t have their own houses, they wear other shells like hats, he said, that’s helmet crabs.
Grandchild 1 was feral on rocks. Grandchild 5 cried, we guessed she was cold.
On the way back to warmth we took a wrong turn, a pretty one full of thatch and moss.
Defrosted, the children played indoors everywhere, we heard the thunder-music of their steps.
Cupcakes were brought to being, and a red curry.
Put on a show, we said to the throng, who were getting fractious again.
Grandchild 6 blamelessly farts.
Grandchild 1 has mastered the armpit fart - he can do elbow and knee versions also.
Grandchild 2 stops telling everyone to applaud or not applaud in order to read a message which she can spy scrawled into the snow that is settling on the garage roof.
‘D-I-C-K head?’ She says. ‘Did my Mum write that?’
(Not this time, actually.)
Grandchild 3 is not distracted. ‘Ladies and Gentleman!’ She proceeds with her ballet.
Grandchild 4 does magic, but only if you close your eyes.
Grandchild 5 needs to go to bed before her stares start turning us to stone.
All are herded to bed, then the grownups stay awake and play charades and forget to be moderate, because isn’t that how charades gets played? A sacrilege if sober!

Sunday starts a bit headachy, with the thunder-music, and the smoke alarms set off with a row of crispy sausage.
It’s a bit snowy, enough for a cute postcard, not enough to keep us in. Grownups need the fresh air and coffee cure, children need un-cooping.
Again a little snow falls. Hands cramp, babies fuss.
Back to the warmth we go, armed with ingredients, for a mix of cooking and Scrabble and Twister and film gawping and arguments and collaborations and even total cooperation. Bliss settles.
A lot of snow falls.
Exceptional snow, for here, for this time of year. The roads are closed. Plans are changed. Wine is opened.
After a feast, and a recovery period, there was only one thing to do.
Well, two, but after Fat Beagle ate the first carrot nose and Dog the second, the snowman project was reassembled.
Until dark fell, until we couldn’t feel our fingers, no one would admit defeat.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Pop Home And Put The Kettle On

(Friday was quiet... Saturday had a surprise birthday barbecue in it.)

Granma (aka Mummy) Grace in her wheelchair, layered in coat, hat, scarf, gloves, mittens, light filtering glasses and blanket; she grins, showing a gap, proving over and over that real beauty and perfection are not the same.

Mr does the chair pushing, to the Post Office on Cowick Street, and joins a queue.

It is sixty years to the day since our Grace had waddled up the snow littered street to fetch the midwife and the midwife said you’ve got one coming have you, well pop home and put the kettle on, I’ll be down in a bit.
Grace laughs: yes, she says, it was snowing.

Dog and me wander, she is nose to ground, head full of information she gleans from urine.
(A little collie greets her, but she’s barely distracted, chasing a story peed into brick.)

Drizzle hovers. The wind is pushing it down the neck of my coat. It sticks in my hair.

Then Mr takes Dog, and I take Grace, and she balances a basket on her knee while we choose - there’s so much choice we impose a boundary of our own - just because the word pizza was mentioned earlier, it’s Italian-ish, a feast for Mr’s birthday.
Simple stuff.
Bread. Olives.
Grace has loved olives but she takes only plain food now, and tablets.

We hide the treats in a bag patterned in kittens, head back over the bridge where the wind is whirling, where a cormorant dives and swans are getting bread off people and an aeroplane flies over, ghosted in low cloud. Choppy water flows - me and Dog feel the call of it, the cold, muddy whoosh to the soul.
Dog rolls her eyes, regrets her domestication.

Warm in the little flat, we drape damp fabrics over door tops.
60 years, says Mr.

We look out at the rain and the pigeons gathered.

Seventeen geese, yesterday, Grace says; two swans, a wren, a pair of robins.
Dog puts her nose to the door and falls asleep.
We had a call, earlier, from Laos: held up a magic mirror and talked face to face with our travelling daughter, and she’s been ill and is now recovering and planning for new places: a life of waterfalls and visa requirements.
Small adventures for us today.
We put the kettle on.

Cake made by Abbey Mac (eldest daughter) - tasted as good as it looked!

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Snow Bones At The Beach

Frozen old snow-bones gather in the shade, slanted lumps in whites and greys.

(Think of Mae West: I used to be Snow White - but I drifted.)

Sun at midday reminds us of heat. 

The night sky is brittle, clear, the stars can be seen here, where the dark is let be.

Mornings bloom frost, and also flowers, tender flowers reviving.
Bees wake. They fly like they have winter aches, holding out legs in the noon warmth.

Down at the beach there is snow hiding under sand, and cliff icicles, and melt water flowing, tugging at our boots, tumbling, all the way to the low tide edge.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Spring's Wild Start

‘In like a lion, out like a lamb’ is the weather saying for March, the roar of the lion being usually equated with storms.

We have snow.

Kittenish at first, growing pouncier and slicier, as the roads get icier.
Red weather warnings flagged all over, venues shut, shops shut, schools shut.
Here, as the wind chill gets dangerous, we layer up, we take a walk - a sensible, across some fields amble, not a survival route.

We are hoping that a walk out will be brisk and keep our circulation functional. With both fires lit, the house is not warm. The bathroom is like outdoors, less the wind chill, plus a strong draft.
I always claim to like the outdoor nature of our bathroom, it keeps you connected to the seasons, to the weather. I do like that - yet also wary of being frozen to the toilet seat.

Snow flurries, evenly spaced, pleasing to the eye, all the air filled with this pretty dance.
Down the lane we make first footprints. Dog looks grubby in the pristine drift.
Taking shelter from sharp wind we turn across a field, follow a shallow stream, into the cover of trees, through spiky saplings of holly and hawthorn. Pause awhile by the disused tip, see the yesteryear fridges and rolled old tyres gain a blank gleam.
We navigate under the trunk of a recent fall, admiring the knot work of ivy stem.
Slide under barb wire, onto road, where other feet have trod - no vehicles. Up the steep hill to spy out, but there’s no horizon, no sky, just grey cloud that breaks into pale pieces, and us, and our grubby hound.