Peace #writephoto

I had been wandering around for a few weeks looking for a quiet spot where I’d be undisturbed to finish editing my latest novel. All my normal places; my study, my bedroom, the library, the park, the coffee shops and pubs I haunted, hadn’t allowed me to complete my work.

It wasn’t lack of motivation, determination or inspiration that was stopping me, it was more the background distractions. So, I had come out here to the middle of the woods to find the peace I needed. It was a bright hot day, unusual English summer time weather but also a week day so most people were trapped in work and school.

It had been awhile since I had last strolled or ran through the woods, so I was surprised to come across the wooden sculpture of a bed. It was made out of thick, but smoothed down tree trunk cut in half with a smaller part of the trunk shaped into a pillow.

I sat down, thinking it would be too hard to sit for long, but actually it was quite comfy. Settling back against the pillow, I set up myself to work and some good hours later I had finished editing my novel and was napping in the dappled shade.


(Inspired from; with thanks)

Xylography #atozchallenge


Xylography; the art of engraving on wood.

He liked to make things out of wood. People said he was talented, but it had never brought him money or fame. He lived a humble life on the edge of the woods in the countryside. He looked after an abandoned farm and was a handyman for the town which brought in extra money. His garden was covered by his wooden sculptures which was mostly hidden from the public. So, it wasn’t until his death that he actually became famous, like it seems with every creative person.

Jouska #atozchallenge


Jouska; a hypothetical conversation that you compulsively play out in your head.

She was there again in her front garden, sunbathing and relaxing. I’d missed seeing her during winter. Now though, she’d be out there every sunny day and I could watch from the shadow corner of my living room. I know what people would think of me if they knew I was watching her; a spy, a peeping tom, a stalker, a rapist.

I’m not any of them. I’m just a lonely artist who sees the beauty of all female forms. Sometimes I’ll sit here and sketch her, other times I’ll draw her from memory. Most of the time I just like to watch and hold a conversation with her in my head.

‘Hello,’ I would say, ‘nice weather today.’

‘Yes,’ she would reply, maybe lowering her sunglasses.

‘I’m sorry to interrupt you. But I live across the way there and I’ve been admiring you for so long.’ 

She might sigh and try to break the news she has a boyfriend or a husband to me. Not that I’ve noticed one about the place. Or perhaps, she might look closely at me and try to tell me I’m not her type. 

In some of these conversations, she does declare her interested in me, but those are very rare and only when I’m feeling at my most lowest. Most of the time she’ll state a boyfriend.

My reply is always, ‘that’s fine. I’m an artist and I would like to paint you.’ 

‘Well, I don’t know,’ she’d respond and start to blush.

‘Please? You can have the painting. It’s the only thing I wish for.’ 

‘I’d need to think about it,’ she would say whilst getting up.

‘No. Don’t think about it. You wouldn’t have to do anything. Just lay there as you have been doing and I shall get to work at once. Here, I have my paper and pencils all ready. Please, this would mean so much to me.’ 

She’ll lower herself back down, ‘okay….’

‘It’ll be fine,’ I’ll say.

Then I begin to sketch her. Outlining all her loveliness whilst she sunbaths. 

After, I will transfer the sketches to canvas and paint her. It’ll be my master piece. The one painting everyone remembers me by.

If only that conversation could become real…



The troll had lived under the bridge for a long time, however he had finally decided it was time to move. The river was too polluted and the smell was making him sick. Every morning, the troll would sit at the edge of the river and watch rubbish floating by. Sometimes he would pull things out; a bent bike, a rusting shopping trolley, a dead dog. He would add all these things to his collections and in the afternoon he would make art.

The troll enjoyed bending metal, snapping wood and breaking other things up to constructed his sculptures. Then he would leave his art in random places so that passersby would see them. His favorite pieces were; the owl made out of wire netting and car parts. The horse made out of shopping trolleys, bikes and wood. The armless mannequin who’s dress was made out of plastic bags and coat hangers.

That morning, instead of sitting by the river and collecting things, the troll began packing. He dug out two huge suitcases he had dragged from the water and ponder what he would take with him. He emptied the broken wardrobe of his clothes, – he enjoyed being fashionable- the cupboards of his kitchen equipment, – he liked cooking tasty meals- his shelves of books, – the troll was a great reader- his chest of drawers full of trinkets, – he liked shinny things- and finally he took his paintings from the wall, – the troll enjoyed experimenting with different mediums.

Putting on his huge coat and large hat, the troll picked up the suitcases and left home. Waves of sadness washed over him as he left the bridge and sculptures behind. Of course, he hadn’t been able to take any of them with him for they were all far too big. Trying not to think any more about it, the troll walked and walked.

Hours later, he arrived at the seaside. He took in deep lungfuls of fresh salty air and decided he liked it here.

(Inspired from; with thanks)

Book Tunnel


We hadn’t been walking in the forest for long when we came across it. In a small clearing, jutting out of the ground was a metal framed window.

‘You go look,’ my girlfriend whispered.

She had hooked her fingers in the straps of her hiking rucksack and was looking so cute in blue shorts and a cream vest top.

‘I don’t know…’ I trailed, casting my eyes over the strange structure.

‘It could be a secret hatch to an old war bunker or a nuclear shelter. There might be something interesting down there,’ she spoke.

‘Then you go look,’ I suggested.

She shook her head and turned away, looking at the trees that surrounded us. The forest was just awakening after being a sleep all winter. Leaves were budding on branches and flower shoots were coming up. Birds were singing and calling to each other in the distance.

Sighing, I walked forward to the edge of the metal frame and looked though the window. Straight down into a walled hole I stared. Then slowly, I saw that the walls were made of books! Books and books stacked in a spiral going down into the darkness.

‘What is it?’ my girlfriend called.

‘Come see,’ I answered, ‘it’s strange. Nothing scary.’

‘I’m not scared,’ she snapped back then came over.

She came to my side and looked through the window.

‘Oh! It’s books!’ she cried.

‘Yep. Must be some art project or something,’ I added.

‘Wondered where they go. Does this open?’ my girlfriend asked.

We both looked around the edge of the metal frame but found no way to open it.

‘Guess not,’ I said.

My girlfriend pouted, ‘but I want to see the books.’

I rolled my eyes hearing the childish tone of her words.

‘You can see them,’ I pointed out, ‘here I’ll take a few photos.’

I dug out my camera and began taking photos from different angles. Some images included my girlfriend and two of the photos I took with me next to her looking down the window hatch. Most though showed the books spiralling into the darkness.

‘It looks like the hole to Wonderland,’ my girlfriend announced afterwards.


‘You know, the book; Alice In Wonderland. Alice fell down a hole lined with all kinds of things. This reminds me of that story,’ she explained.

‘Oh. I guess so,’ I replied.

We give the book tunnel one last look then left to carry on our hike, both of us wondering about the window.

Bright Leaves

The leaves at her feet had been painted, Ashley noticed as she sat down on the tree stump. She picked one up and turned it around in between her fingers. One side showed the skeleton outline of the leaf veins and on the other someone had painted large purple dots onto the orange surface.

Ashley dropped the leaf and looked down. More and more of the leaves had been painted and she could even make out little imagines. She could make out a hedgehog shape on one and a dog on another. Smiling, she wondered who had decided to come out to the small patch of trees and do suit a thing.

The Last Humans

trees, broken, inside

The humans glanced out of the cage as the aliens passed. Unlike the Earth zoos in which the animals had been behind metal and glass, the last humans were behind an almost clear force field. Nor where they roaming though fields and trees, they had ‘mock’ houses and large gardens styled on what was known to be how the last earthlings lived in.

There were twelve of them all together. An old woman, who would smile and wave at the aliens from a rocking chair. Three children who would play in the gardens and staring questionably back. A baby, who was a fascinated by all, but not when he was crying. The rest were young and middle-aged men and women who lived a quiet life which to them was all they had ever known.

The humans were given enrichment and the aliens watched them in wonder. The children were given toys – stuffed fabric in animal shapes, puzzle games and wooden blocks. The adults were given art supplies, cooking equipment and exercise machines. The keepers wanted them to live as naturally as possible and enjoyed researching old earth pass times.

Today, the last humans had received a mixture of instruments and music players. The adults showed little interested, but the children enjoyed ringing the bells and blowing the trumpets. Finally though, the oldest man took up a guitar and began playing it. The others gathered around and soon form their own band.

The aliens were delighted. Humans were deeply mysterious after all.



art, brush, painting

He liked to draw, but only on walls. Early in the morning, before the city fully awoke, he set out with his tools. He walked the almost empty streets where yesterday’s newspaper rustled around lampposts and the air hummed with rotting fast food. Lights on top floors shone out, growing dim as the sun rose higher.

He found his ‘canvas’ on the inside wall of a pedestrian tunnel under a road. Setting his things down, he looked for the best spot to began as he ponder what he would paint today.

The Train Station (Part 5)

Train Station

Bridget did not want to leave the train station, but the hour of people watching was over and she had to go to work. Packing up her things, she put on her headphones and selected a random play list. Enjoying the fact there had been no bad piano players today- in fact no one had touched the instrument- she left the station.

Stepping out into a light rain fall, she hurried to the bus station, ignoring the people all around her. The loud music did a good job of covering up all the voices and other background noises of the city. Avoiding walking under the scaffolding of a building being done up, she stepped on the tram lines and went up the hill.

Reaching the tram station, which looked empty, she headed across to the bus station and waited for her bus home. Her thoughts flipped back to seeing those two men- Drew and Sas. Who were they? What was their story? Bridget let her imagination run and she began to picture them as lovers, not long been together. There was some trouble with their families. Maybe, one of them had not been able to tell his family? Drew, the man who had been waiting and clearly stressed had serious Catholic parents and he knew if they found out he was in love with a man they’d disown him.

Bridget shook her head, deciding that would not do. The bus pulled up and the doors opened. She dug out her day pass and joined the queue to get on. Showing her ticket and sitting down, her mind was still wondering what the problem was with those two men. There was just something about them she couldn’t get rid of. Resting her head lightly against the cold window, she shut her eyes and tried to let everything go. It would not do having that kind of story in her head when she arrived for work.

All too soon, she was getting off the bus and crossing the road over to the youth center. The rain had gotten worse and was now rapidly coming down. Bridget was early, but a few junior club members were already hanging around outside waiting to come in. Slipping her headphones off, Bridget said her hellos as she dig around for her id badge. The doors opened before her anyway and she stepped inside.

‘I can’t believe this weather!’ the receptionist cried.

Bridget nodded and signed in. Not feeling in the mood to chat with the older woman. The receptionist had short dark blonde hair, hard blue eyes and a pinched together looking face. She was wearing the center’s light green t-shirt and black trousers.

‘It was so nice before and now it’s raining again. I’m meant to be going out tonight too…’ she added

‘It’ll have stopped by then,’ Bridget said.

‘I hope so.’

Placing down the pen, Bridget hurried to get changed in the staff room. Thankfully, the small room was empty and she switched her t-shirts with ease. Coming out again, she crossed the center’s large open main space and to what looked at first glance to be a bar area, but was actually the art’s corner. Humming to herself and thinking about what she was going to do, Bridget began opening cupboards and pulling things out.

Luckily, Bridget’s shift went fast and she was home before she knew it. Though she was very grateful. Feet hurting, she got changed and went into the kitchen barefoot. Her mum, who she had spoken too already was curled on the sofa watching a movie. Bridget made herself some tomato soup and a ham sandwich. Taking them upstairs, she eat then got writing up her notes from the day.

Her mind began to wonder once more and she looked carefully at what she was writing, Bridget decided she had to know more about those two men. What was going on between Drew and Sas?

Sadly, she knew she would never find out.


To Be Continued…

Date #2

Woman, Art, Creative, Relaxation, Girl, Gallery

Standing at the train station, I checked my phone for the hundredth time. Still no texts or calls even though the arrival board said his train was due in a few minutes. I tapped my phone to my lips and looked at the forever changing list of destinations and times. Then my phone pinged and I hurriedly checked it.

Here, the text message read.

I looked around, trying to recall his photos on the dating website. He had glasses and dark hair, I think. And a wonky smile, at least it had looked that way.

My phone pinged again. Where R U? 

Glancing around, I texted back, Outside W .S. Smith’s.

Then moving towards it, I lent against the window and looked hard at the people passing me by. It was hard to pick a single face out from the crowd as everyone was moving quickly. A man in  a business suit carrying a briefcase strolled by as if on some important mission. A tried looking middle aged woman dragged her crying child behind her whilst pulling a suitcase in the other hand. A group of chatting teenagers flapped by, their colourful clothes a nice difference amongst the normal blacks, whites, blues and greys of the workers.

I saw him. Or at least it seemed to be him. Standing outside another shop, looking confused and checking his phone. He did have short black hair and large glasses on. I debated going over and ran though what I’d say if it wasn’t him in my head. Pulling a face, I risked it and walked over.

‘Ben?’ I said.

He looked up, ‘yes?’

‘Harriet. Nice to meet you,’

‘Yeah, erm you too,’ he uttered.

‘Let’s go. I thought we’d take the free bus some of the way and the rest is only a short walk to the art gallery,’ I explained.


I paused, having heard his tone of voice.

‘Or we can do something else if you want? There’s lots to do in Manchester,’ I added with a smile.

He shook his head and rubbed his fingers over the screen of his phone, ‘It’s fine, whatever you want to do.’

‘Are you sure?’

He looked at me properly for the first time and sighed deeply, ‘To be honest I thought you were going to be a man.’


He shrugged then ran a hand through his hair.

‘Why would you…?’ I trailed, not sure what to even think.

‘You know what the internet is like. Anyway, I’m glad you’re not.’

‘Erm…thanks, I guess, mmmm,’ I spoke then we fell into silence.

Around us everyone still seemed to be in a hurry to either get to a train or get out off the station. It remind me of the sea and waves rolling back and forth. I saw more business people, groups of young people and families each locked in their own world with only their destination on their minds.

‘I’m just glad that’s all,’ Ben suddenly said.

‘What?’ I asked turning back to him.

‘About not being a man…I’m glad you turned out to be you.’

I shook my head slightly, still feeling confused about this whole conversation.

‘So…’ he muttered.

‘Oh, yeah, the bus. Come on,’ I gushed.

Turning, I walked out of the station and he had to double step to keep my pace. A part of me wonder if I should ditch him right now. Could I make up some story he’d believe on the spot? I had a headache? I felt sick? My gran was locked out of her house and I was the only one close with a spare key?

The bus was at the stop awaiting us and I just couldn’t say anything to him. We joined the three people queuing to get on. I held my hands together, toying with my ring. There was something comforting about the feel of the ring against my skin.

I looked at him and realised he was a head shorter then me. He was wearing a plain green polar shirt and jeans. He was also playing with his phone again and it looked like was texting someone. He was probably telling whoever it was the good news that I wasn’t a man!

We got on the bus and sat awkwardly down together. I thought about grilling him about his past girlfriends or if he’d meet up with anyone else from the dating website yet. I tossed my wheat coloured hair back off my shoulder and looked down at him. Ben was still looking at his phone, now checking a social media site.

‘So, is this your first time in Manchester?’ I asked.

He nodded, but didn’t looked up.

‘And…did you get here okay? Was the train busy?’ I  added.

He shrugged, ‘it was okay, I guess.’

I pressed my lips together and waited for him to ask me something. When he didn’t, I looked out of the window and watched the city centre going by. The stop we wanted couldn’t come soon enough. We got off the bus and I led the way to the roman temple style building. He seemed totally uninterested.

I opened the door of the art galley and walked in. The gentle smell of old paint, dust and cleaning stuff chased away the air pollution. I didn’t stop at the reception desk, but went right up the grand stone staircase. The walls were lined with a large 1800’s paintings, depicting all kind of things. I carried on going, right to the top and into the rooms that were marked 1600’s.

Not bothering to see if he had followed me, I started looking at the paintings. Moving from each in turn after a few moments of taking them in, I sensed he was following me and I wondered if trying to engage him in talk about the paintings would work. I stole a few glances at him and saw he was still looking at his phone. What’s with this guy?

‘What do you think of this one?’ I asked nodding my head to a scene from the Bible.

He looked up at the painting and at me, ‘I don’t believe in any of that,’ he said.

‘Even if you don’t, it’s still interesting to look at,’ I pointed out.

‘I guess…’

‘What art do you actually like?’

He frowned as he thought, ‘any, I don’t mind.’

‘Really?’ I drawled.

He nodded and looked around the room, ‘Maybe not these though…’

I stared at him through narrowed eyes then turning, walked away. I wondered through the other rooms then went downstairs. We walked through some more galleries then I guess he must have found something that interested him. I looked around, not spotting him. Then I checked the room I had just left and he wasn’t there either.

Shrugging, I went to sat down a low wooden bench then decided I needed the bathroom. I looked towards the doorway again and he really wasn’t there. I thought about backtracking and going to find him to tell him. The hell with it. I walked out of the room, into another where there was a sign showing the way to the toilets.

I followed it around the corner, down some steps and into another corner. Just as I had sat down, my phone rang. I dug it out of my bag and looked. He was phoning me! I went to answer, my phone flashed no signal and the call was cut off.

He called again, my phone rang loudly. However, as I went to answer it the same thing happened. I tried to send him a text, but it wasn’t liking that either. Putting my phone in my bag, I went to wash my hands. The phone started ringing again, but I ignored it. my ring tone cut out again.

I walked out of the bathroom and back into the gallery I was in before. He standing in the middle, looking wildly about like a child that had lost his parent.

‘Hi, sorry. Had to nip to the-‘

‘Where did you go? Why didn’t you tell me? I thought you’d left,’ he shouted.

‘It’s okay. I couldn’t find you and I had to got to the loo. I’m sorry,’ I said in a low voice, aware that an older couple were staring and so was a young Japanese woman.

‘You didn’t even bother to find me did you? You could have text me or something. I really thought you’d gone and I told you I don’t know Manchester. Why would you do that?’ he rushed loudly.

‘I had to pee,’ I hissed at him, I grabbed his wrist and tried to led him out of the room.

We were now getting very disapproving looks.

‘Let me go!’ he cried and snatched his arm back, ‘I’ve changed my mind. I want to leave!’

‘Okay, okay,’ I said, ‘that way then,’

I turned and walked out, down the stairs and through the double doors. Standing on the doorstep, the sounds and smells of the city came back to us. I took a few deep breaths and felt the calm of the art gallery leaving me.

‘Which way’s the train station?’ he asked.

‘That way,’ I pointed down the long road which ended in a three way crossing.

‘You’ll have to take me,’ he puffed.

Growling under my breath, I stalked off. Ben followed in my wake. I took him back to the train station, which was just as busy as when we had arrived. Pushing through people, I led him to the timetable board. He looked up, muttering under his breath.

‘See you then,’ I said.


‘Get home safe,’ I added.

He mumbled something then said louder, ‘bye’ and walked off into a crowed of school children.

I watched for a few seconds as the world of the train station moved around me. I shut my eyes, took a few deep breaths then headed outside again, glad that it was over.