Summer Pickings

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I loved the pick your own farm which was close by. As I child, my parents had taken me and now, I took my own children. We visited often during summer and autumn, to pick fruits, veg and herbs. It was great to take over flowing baskets home and cook with things we had picked.

This year we were missing out. The farm was closed because of the lock down but they still delivered a weekly box of goodness to us but it wasn’t the same for me. I brought some seeds and plants online and told the children we were growing our own.

There was nothing better then plucking, deep red strawberries, plump raspberries and green heavily smelling herbs straight off the plants and out of the Earth herself.

Trying to Juggle

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Working from home sounded great but in reality it was horrible. The kids always wanted something then the dog wanted something, then the wife was yelling at the kids or the dog of just in general.

Having a meeting was like dealing doing a deal with the devil. I was tried of telling people to un-mute themselves or turn there sound out or was that a fire happening in their background?

I just wanted a few minutes peace to write this report. My children stuck stickers to my back, I ran the dog’s paw over with my chair and my wife was asking what time I’d finished work because it was my turn to cook tonight.

The house was always a mess, the children kept moving my things and I just wanted my nice clean office back!

Right, enough is enough! I’m going to empty the shed and turned that into a office. I could lock the door and be at peace in there. I could carry my briefcase across the garden each morning and pretend I was going into work. I could get a radio and a coffee machine….

Yes, that’s what I needed, an office away from office.

A life Of Stories

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It was a grim task but I had volunteered to help my family clear out a distant relation’s home. I hadn’t know Bill Dalton existed until a second cousin of my mum reached out and told her that his uncle had died and he knew my mum was an antique dealer. Did she want to come and do a house clearance?

Bill had been an organised hoarder so the task of going through things wasn’t that hard, just long.

Whilst my mum and her second cousin were inspecting a collection of figurine women dressed in 1800’s ballgowns, I decided to open a corner cupboard that had yet been touched.

The door creaked like it hadn’t been opened in awhile. Inside, stacked on the small shelves were pile and piles of notebooks. There was a range of leather, paper and hardback covers all looked well use and the lined sheets yellowing. The notebooks were all tied together string in small groups. It was a strange sight.

‘What’s all this?’ I called over my shoulder.

My mum and her second cousin came to look.

‘I don’t know….’ he trailed.

‘Pull one out,’ my mum said.

I pulled the smallest stack of notebooks out and undid the string around them. Picking up the top one which was like a hardback diary, I opened it.

‘It looks like a novel…’ I said.

I handed it to the second cousin then passed another one to my mum and gripped a third for myself. We read quietly for a few moments.

‘I didn’t know him well,’ the second cousin broke the silence , guilt and sadness in his voice.

‘It looks like this is a whole novel, handwritten and with corrections at the sides,’ my mum muttered.

‘Are all of these novels? Surely he didn’t write these, maybe he copied them or translated them or something?’ I said.

‘I don’t think they all are. Look at those, they say diary with the years.’ the second cousin pointed out.

I pulled out that stack, untied them and picked up the top one. He was right, it was a diary and each day page was carefully filled in.

‘Do you think there’s anything important in these?’ I asked.

‘I don’t know,’ the second cousin said, ‘do you think you could go through them and find out?’

‘I’ll try,’ I said.

All of the notebooks turned out to either be yearly diaries which Bill had recorded his life in, full novels which Bill himself had written, short stories, ideas and drawings, reflections on things and details of locations and characters.

There was a lot to go through but none of it was important paperwork. I didn’t want Bill’s life to fade and so with the family’s permission and years of work; I finally held one of Bill’s officially published novels in my hands.

I hope he is pleased.

Walk #1LinerWeds

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Once I walked alone but now I walk with you.

 

(Inspired by; https://lindaghill.com/2020/06/10/one-liner-wednesday-june-10th-2020-moooommm/ with thanks).

 

Sing #FirstLineFriday

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Do you hear the people sing? from Les Miserables strangely came to my mind as we watched from the balcony as below the people gathered. It seemed the whole country was flocking to the capital, their voices a mass of shouting words which made it hard to pick out what they were saying.

Drums and other instruments echoed along said the peoples’ voices, blocking out my chance to hear what was being said. There was a marching beat going on with the drums, though a few sounded out of the beat and perhaps a trumpet? or something else forcing it’s notes through.

Handmade banners and signs waved in the wind, the writing upon them moving as if the letters were alive. I picked out the words ‘rights’ and ‘for’ and ‘stand’ and ‘truth’. The normal things that protesters wrote about.

‘What are they doing, daddy?’ my five year old daughter, Betty asked.

‘They are unhappy about something and want people to know about it,’ I said.

I picked her up and held her tightly in my arms, so she could get a better view of events below.

The police were starting to gather now. Their uniforms and see-through shields marking them out from everyone else. For the moment they seemed not to be doing much other then preparing. If fighting broke out, I’d take my daughter inside and put a movie on really loudly.

‘But why, daddy?’ Betty asked.

‘Same reason when you get unhappy and want mummy and I to know about it, ‘ I replied simply.

‘Or Freddie?’

I glanced across at my wife and our three month old son. My wife had a worried look on her face and was clutching the baby, who was wrapped in a blanket, to her shoulder. She hadn’t said anything since we had come out to look at what was going on. I knew scenes like this reminded her of the unrest in her home country.

‘Let’s go inside,’ I said gently.

‘But I want to see!’ Betty cried.

‘Maybe, another day,’ I answered and hustled my family safely inside.

 

(Inspired by; https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2020/06/05/first-line-friday-june-5th-2020/ with thanks).

The Grey Causeway To Brierwell Manor (Part 3)

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Wetness falling on my face awoke me. Half-sleep I rubbed at my cheeks and nose. Groggily I opened my eyes and wondered where I was. Sitting up confused I was outside, I looked around.

Tops of headstone poked out of the grass, their surfaces dappled with raindrops. Behind them lay the church looking more menacing in the growing dark. I heard the wind blowing harshly in the nearby trees and bushes. In the distance a sea wave hit the rocks.

Panicking, I scrambled to my feet as everything came back to me. I had fallen asleep in the Brierwell Manor graveyard and judging by the sky I should have been home hours ago. I searched for King, knowing that the huge black stallion was easy to spot. 

‘King! King! Here boy!’ I cried wildly, not seeing him in the graveyard.

Had he gone back to the Grey causeway? Had he gone home without me? Did he even know the way?

I put on the protective body vest and helmet, fumbling with the clips then I stumbled through the long grass calling his name.

The rain was starting to fall more heavily and the wind picking up to storm force. We had to get off the island now before it got any worse.

Thrashing through the grass, not thinking straight, I tripped over a headstone. I hit the ground hard, the grass hardly cushioning my fall. The air whooshed out of me and the protective vest luckily didn’t go off but it cut into my neck and sides. Pain shoot through my legs, arms and my chest.

I shut my eyes and lay still  as I counted to a minute, then I moved into a sitting position. Breathing hard, my mind full of panic, I looked at what I had fallen over. It was a small grey headstone with a lamb carved at the top. Though the words were faded I could make it out to read;

Infant son of E. W. and E. V. Brierwell

1st September 1858

My brain took a moment but then I realised this was the grave of a baby who had either been a still born or died soon after birth. E and E? I thought. Oh, Lord Edward Walter and his second wife Lady Elizabeth Victoria who had built the manor.

I reached out and stroked the headstone, thinking how sad that must have been for them. Raindrops hit my hand and I looked up at the sky. The thick clouds were turning black and looked like a storm rolling in.

‘You need to calm down and pull it together,’ I whispered to myself, ‘you need to find King and get back home. You can do it but just take a minute here to sort yourself out.’

I stood up and walked over the shelter of the church. The wooden door was locked but there was a porch I could sit in. Holding the cold stone wall for support, I turned and watched the wind and rain gathering in the graveyard.

With a bit of difficulty and as best I could, I got into yoga sit. Coldness flood though my pants and tickled along my spine. I thought about getting up again and putting my fleece on the floor but I didn’t want to struggle around again. Instead I shut my eyes and cleared my mind as best I could. Thinking only about my breathing; breath in through the mouth and out through the nose, I stayed like that until I felt better.

Opening my eyes, I felt better though my bum was numb. Getting back with the aid of the wall, I stepped into the rain and looked around. Even though it was growing darker by the second, I could see the track King had left in the grass.

I followed the flatten grass and hoof prints in the soil. There was a fallen down section of stone wall close to the  right side of the church and King had gone this way. I followed after him pushing through thorny bushes and avoiding fallen tree branches.

An out building that had once been a stable block came into view. I picked up my pace and went inside.

‘King!’ I cried on seeing him.

The stallion was plucking hay out from a stack of rotting bundles in one of the horse stalls.

He flicked his ears back at the sound of my voice saying his name then chopped on what he was eating.

‘I don’t think that’s good for you,’ I said.

Going over, I stroked him and pressed my face to his rough black coat. I gathered the reins and King let me led him, quietly which was unusual, out into what had been a cobble stone yard.

‘We need to get home,’ I told him whilst I looked for something to stand on to give me extra height to mount him.

I spotted a stone water trough and took King over. The water had some slime floating on top but still King bent his head and took a drink.

Holding on the saddle to help my balance, I climbed up on the water trough and got King to come alongside. I climbed onto his back and sat down as lightly as I could into the saddle. Pulling the reins right again, I got King to walk on and we went back the way we had come.

‘The rain is really coming down now,’ I uttered, ‘we are going to get soaked through!’

The wind whipped King’s mane, tail and my purple hair that was sticking out from the helmet. Everything moved around us like a giant was parting through. Loose leaves and small branches rained down. I urged King onwards and he picked up his pace as he was aware we needed to go now!

Across the graveyard, back to the front of the manor and down the front drive, King trotted. The rain dripped of my helmet and protective vest, but it soaked into my pants. King’s mane and coat was dotted with drops and some of them did slide off him as we moved.

On to the Grey causeway King stepped and I saw to my horror that the tide had come in.

‘Oh my god! How long did I sleep for?’ I cried.

Panic swelled in my chest and I felt my heart began to beat too fast. Dizziness made my head swim and I felt like I sliding out of the saddle. I took a few deep breaths, got a grip again and looked down at King’s legs.

The sea was about to his ankles and the Grey Causeway was covered but still visible. We could still cross if we were quick. I pushed King onwards and though he went to fight me, he must have sensed something of the danger ahead of us. Luckily, he started walking then picked up into a trot.

Sea water splashed up, wetting him further and the waves which were bigger now splashed over the causeway and up King’s legs. I saw seaweed floating by and hope it didn’t get wrapped around King’s ankles.

I kicked him on and stood up in the saddle, urging him to go into canter. I heard King snort and felt him pick up his speed. Water splashed around us, some of it hitting me but we were all ready wet so it didn’t seem to matter.

I heard before I saw that that the sea waves had grown. They were swelling together and crashing on the rocks with some force now. I looked and saw dark waves washing over the causeway head of us and making everything disappear underwater.

‘No!’ I screamed, ‘Go King! Go!’

I slapped the reins down and kicked him in the side. King neighed out in anger but there wasn’t much he could do about. He ran forward, muscles expanding and water running off him.

Then King tripped.

Either he stepped off the causeway or a stone give way underneath him because suddenly we were falling into the sea.

I opened my month to scream and chocked on sea water. I flayed around, my feet trying to find a solid surface to stand and push me up. I was half were of King floundering along side me. Rocks scrapped against me and I grabbed on of them and used that to help me get back onto the Grey Causeway.

I stood up, spitting out salt water and feeling pain aching everywhere. I looked for King and saw he was all right and had got himself out of the sea a bit further down the way to me. Water was dripping off him and he was shaking with shock.

I waded over to him, water getting into my knee high boots. When I reached him, I took his reins and led him back to Brierwell Manor.

To Be Continued…

Freedom

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There was nothing out here but nature. I got up on the wooden fence of the pier and let the wind blow though my hair. Sea salt tingled my lips and waves lapped in my ears. It was a calm, cool night. The sky was dotted with stars and the moon was full.

My torch lay abandoned on a near by bench. Normally the pier was lit up to tempted people here to go on the rides, play the fun fair themed games and spend money. The lights hadn’t come on this year, there was no point because people had been told to stay at home.

I could no longer bare it and had escaped into the night. I was tried of the arguments with two teenagers, tried of trying to do maths with my other children and tried of trying to keep my toddler entertained for long enough for me to do some housework. I didn’t regret having seven children, I just had never imagined we’d been all trapped at home for weeks on end.

I shut my eyes, breathed in deeply and listened not just my ears but my heart. The sea whispered, singing the song it had done since the beginning of time. The waves rasped across the sand and shells on the beach behind me. A seagull called close by disturbed by my presence.

For a few seconds I thought about letting go. I could fall down with the whistling wind and part the wave below. The sea would consume me gladly and wrap me in a watery embrace for all eternity.

I felt the forward lurch in my body and placed my hands on the top rail to catch myself. I looked into the dark water below and decided not today. I got down, grabbed my torch and walked back the way I had come.

I had responsibilities and so much love still to give but the sea would always be waiting for me.

Post It Note Short

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No school, kids stuck at home, how do teachers cope? Been driven mad, cabin fever made me into a monkey yesterday. I know all the words to Frozen 2, maybe I could audition for the next one?

Xertz #AtoZChallenge

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Xertz – to gulp something down quickly and/or in a greedy fashion.

The picnic was spread out on the blanket thrown over the grass. He couldn’t help himself as he walked by and saw no one around. Where had the family who owned this offering of food gone too?

There was a distant call of music from behind the trees and he guessed people were gathering to the bandstand and the brass band playing there.

There was enough of the picnic to go around and he was sure they wouldn’t miss a couple of sandwiches, a slice of cake and an apple…..

The family came back, delighting over the band to find a strange man sat on their picnic blanket eating all their food.

‘I’ll have you, I will!’ the father roared.

The man stuffed the remaining food into his mouth, gulped down the last of the pink lemonade and rushed off into the trees the father chasing after him.

(Inspired by; http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com)

Keif #FridayFictioneers #AtoZChallenge

Keif – the spirit of joy

A rainbow lit up the dark sky as I watched from my dad’s new boat. He had always wanted to live on a boat and travel around. No attachments, an easy life. It suited him and he was doing much better.

I smiled and spoke the colours of the rainbow. When I was younger, mum and I had always said them together. Now, all rainbows reminded me of her. She had passed away four years ago but it still felt like yesterday to me.

‘What you calling your boat, dad?’

‘The Spirit of Joy,’ he replied and chuckled, ‘seemed fitting.’

‘Of course! Mum’s name,’ I laughed, ‘she’d have liked that.’

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2020/04/08/10-april-2020/ and http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com with thanks.)