Sunday, 28 February 2016

The Hideaway

Brig 0'Turk, a village in Scotland

    Writers and artists for centuries have always loved to hide away and do what they do best, create. In Victorian times the Trossachs area of Scotland was a popular haunt for many, including painter, John Everett Millais, art critic, John Ruskin and poet, William Wordsworth.

Brig o'Turk Tea Room, built 1923 approx 

    Last year on my travels I took some photographs in Brig o'Turk a small village, a half-mile from Loch Venacher. Its rural location doesn't mean that nothing ever happens here, it was here that the famous love affair between Effie Gray, teenage-wife of John Ruskin and John Everett Millais took place in the 19th-century. Gray finally having her unconsummated marriage to Ruskin annulled, to marry Millais.

Loch Venacher

    It's a romantic setting for sure, but if love isn't on your mind it's a great place to go walking, cycle, or retreat. The 1923, tea room featured in the second picture has also had its five-minutes of fame in the 1959 film, the 39 Steps, a remake of the Hitchcock classic.    
Loch Venacher

     You may not want to do any of the above there, but you can always just stop take in the scenery and have a cup of tea.  

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Saying Good-bye

the phone rang

we listened

firstly, disbelief

then hope

we waited

one week passed

there was no news

giving us more hope

we prayed

the phone rang

there were tears

you were gone

yesterday, it was time to say good-bye

but, we know it's not forever

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Salvation No Kissing Required Excerpt 2

    My name’s Dan Pierce; whether or not that’s my birth
name, I don’t really know. You’re asking; why don’t I
know my identity? Good question. But there’s also a good
answer; I’m Dea…d, and my earthbound memories have
been totally wiped out. I’m finding the D word kind of
hard to say, so excuse me. That revelation shocked you,
didn’t it? Well it came as quite a blow to me. In fact, it’s
a bit of a bummer, when you wake up and realize you’re
now a spiritual being.

    I’ve discovered that entry into heaven is no mean feat.
It’s like starting a new college, or university, the powers
that be want to make sure that you’re qualified for the
tasks ahead. When you reach the pearly gates they don’t
say, “Hey you’re dead, come on in.”

    Firstly, your name’s got to be checked against God’s
database. It used to be called the Book of Life; well it still
is, but it’s no longer etched on tablets of stone, or written
on papyrus. No way, Heaven has invested in a high
tech computer system and the gatekeeper accesses the
information via an android tablet. I couldn’t believe it;
the miracles of modern science will never cease to amaze.

    Back to the Book of Life, it’s literally a journal of your
existence. You know, birth name, where you were born,
achievements, disappointments, the good and the bad
things you did; of course, it helps if you’ve led a blemish
free life and I don’t mean a life without zits. Finally, it
states where, when, and how you died. Now this data
allows God and his trusted elders to judge as to whether
you’re celestial material.

    When I arrived several days ago, or was it several
years ago? Time isn’t measured the same way here. Sorry
I’m rambling, put it down to shock. I don’t even know if
it’s relevant as to when I arrived, what is relevant to me
is the fact that I didn’t actually know my name, never
mind how I died. But seemingly, this isn’t so uncommon.

    However, there was a complication in my case and
that was the gatekeeper didn’t know my details either
and he certainly wasn’t expecting me. He had no note of
my arrival, nada. To cut a long story short, I didn’t get
in. I was named Daniel Pierce, for the sake of the records
and whisked away to Limbo, tout de suite.

    That’s when I got the devastating news; take a deep
breath because this is a shocker. I was told that if they
couldn’t establish who I was, or why I was there, I’d be
thrown into the Lake of Fire for a second death. Well
knock me down with a feather, if it wasn’t bad enough
that I’d died already, I was to die again. No right to
appeal, no chance of a reprieve.

    Well that was until Mikey, sorry, I mean Archangel
Michael, arrived in Limbo yesterday, to speak to me and
a bunch of undesirables. He explained that there was a
chance of salvation, all was not lost, we could prove that
we were worth saving.

    He proposed that we enlist in God’s army to help
defeat the Red Rider, aka Satan and his foot soldiers who
are attempting to flex their muscles on Earth. It seems
that Satan has escaped from the burning sulfur lake and
he is determined to seek revenge on God for the years
he has lived in torment. He is proving to be elusive, his
army is growing stronger every day, and Heaven needs
all the help it can get.

    Duh, now who would say no to this opportunity of
redemption? Surprisingly enough, some of my fellow
suspected hoods did decline. They didn’t fancy doing
good deeds, obeying God’s word, or Devil slaying. But I
said, “Bring it on.”

    Sooo, that’s where I’m at in my celestial career. By the
way, I’m now an angelet, which is another name for a
probationary angel. How long will my internship last?
Well how long is a piece of string?

    Guys, I’m about to embark on an important journey
and I could do with good friends like you around. What
I’m saying is, I’d like you to tag along. I’ll need someone
to sound off to. How about it? I believe I’ll be boarding a
bus in Las Vegas tomorrow, headed for Phoenix. I hope
to see you then.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Salvation No Kissing Required Excerpt 1

Arizona, six months earlier

What’s happening? How did this all spiral out of control?

The sixteen-year-old boy is confused. With the promises
of no rules to obey, eternal life, and sex anytime he
wants, with anyone he so desires; yeah, who wouldn’t
be tempted? Besides, no money need change hands.

However, payment was expected; of course, there was
a charge for Utopia. Deep down, he had known it was all
too good to be true. The price was non-negotiable, no
haggling, no cutting a better deal was possible. What he
had been asked for in exchange was priceless, and he just
wasn’t prepared for it. No, selling his soul to the Devil
wasn’t something he would ever be prepared for and
something he wasn’t going to do.

Therefore, he was now fleeing for his life, he needed
to get away from Wingate and fast. Luckily, for him, the
road was quiet. He had been driving for about an hour,
he had only seen one other vehicle in that time and it was
following close behind. It had joined the road about three
miles back; the driver had not attempted to overtake
and was unlikely to do so now, due to the byroad’s
narrowness. At first he had thought it was a police car
following. Somehow, they may have been alerted that he
had stolen his father’s car, but eventually he had decided
it was unlikely his father would notice it was gone before

The tailgating car suddenly closes the distance
between them and it’s headlights illuminate the rear-view
mirror of the boy’s vehicle; blinding him on every
turn and twist of the winding road. He presses his foot
down, hard onto the gas pedal, but the car’s response is
sluggish. The young driver is certain that the engine is
protesting at being pushed so hard.

The two cars reach the summit of the climbing road
and the fearful teenager knows that the ground drops
steeply down away from the side. He can’t see the bottom
of the ravine, it’s as though it’s lurking in the bowels of
the earth.
“What the?” the teenage boy yells with surprise,
as the pursuing car gently nudges the rear bumper of
his. He moves forward slightly in his seat, but his seat
belt clicks and saves him from being hurt in any way.

His foot is flat to the floor, but his vehicle continues to
struggle to pull away from its pursuer. The boy grips the
steering wheel as though he’s on a white-knuckle ride at
the fairground. The road widens around the last bend
and will start to drop downhill, towards Highway 87. He
hopes the maniac following him will pass then.

Both cars are now traveling at high speed and the
awkward curves of the road are hard to negotiate. The
inexperienced driver is finding the steering heavy and
he knows he is being pulled closer and closer to the edge
of the precipice. He’s finally approaching the last bend;
he glances in his rear-view, but what he sees causes
him to lose his concentration. Just for a moment, but a
moment too long. The car leaves the road on the bend
and the darkness swallows the teenager up like a whale
consuming a minnow.

The tailing car doesn’t stop; it drives on, no looking

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Today and Forever

I feel your touch and my skin burns
Filling me with excitement and delight

Your lips upon mine send tingling through my body
Like nothing I have ever felt before

The love you and I express, I know is real
A love that we can share today and forever

Thursday, 11 February 2016

With a Sprinkling of Fairy Dust

Magical Areas will be created
    Like Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott, author and playwright, J. M. Barrie spent many years in the Dumfries and Galloway region of Scotland. The creator and writer of Peter Pan, the Little White Bird, Margaret Ogilvy and Better Dead, was schooled in Dumfries and graduated from Edinburgh University before moving to London.

River Nith, Dumfries

    But, his time in Scotland was never forgotten, it was the gardens of Moat Brae House, in Dumfries, where he played as a child that inspired his creation of the character Peter Pan and his land of make-believe, Neverland.

    Finally, the derelict building and grounds are being restored in honour of J. M. after receiving £5.3 million pounds of funding and once again they will bring joy to children.

    When completed it will house a children's literature centre and play areas. Now, they too can have their lives enhanced by story-telling and of course I'm sure there will be a sprinkling of fairy dust for all.

Neverland, will include gardens

Monday, 8 February 2016

Common Sense At Last

    Libraries in the UK are being chopped and squeezed with every austerity measure the Government inflicts upon the population. Something they have been doing over the last few years and yes, I have written posts on this subject before and I make no apologies for mentioning it again.

    But, elsewhere in the world there are Governments who recognise that libraries and the reading of books is important, if we want to educate children and adults alike.

    One such country is Spain, and like the rest of the world  they don't have lots of money to go around, however they know that accessibility to literature is key to the future of their country.

    So, thanks to promotion by the Spanish Ministry for Education, Culture and Sport, the library in Adeje, South Tenerife, Canary Islands, has seen increased numbers of students using its facilities including the usage of study rooms and Wi-Fi connections also rising sharply.

    Thank goodness, there is some common sense being used by Government and of course that means, those year round sun worshippers can also take a book to the beach.




Friday, 5 February 2016

The Chinese whispers of Greyfriars Bobby

Greyfriars Bobby, Edinburgh
    There are stories, whether true, or myth that pull at our heartstrings. One such story that does it for me every time is that of, Greyfriars Bobby. Boxes of Kleenex in abundance are needed when settling down in front of the 1961, Disney movie, Greyfriars Bobby and the 2006 film, The Adventures of Greyfriars Bobby. Both based on, Eleanor Atkinson's, book of the same name it tells the said to be true story of a Skye Terrier who watched over his master's grave for fourteen-years.

    Like any story that is passed down through the ages initially by word of mouth and then Atkinson's book in 1912, the story varies. His master, John Gray, in one version was said to be a local, Edinburgh policeman, or bobby an informal name used for the police in the UK and in another he was, John Gray a shepherd.  

Greyfriars Bobby Bar, Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh.
    In Edinburgh's, Candlemaker Row a statue was erected in 1873 opposite, Greyfriars Kirkyard where his master was buried in 1858 and then Bobby, fourteen-years later. True, or myth I don't really care. I believe it's a story that will last forever and of course this little Skye Terrier can watch over his master for eternity too.