Monthly Archives: October 2016

Silently Watching On All Hallows Eve

1101329-bigthumbnail

Another summer had come and gone. Safe in the abandoned mausoleum the dark angel had been biding her time.

The small village had been in mourning throughout the summer months following the unexplained disappearance of two young waitresses from the local hotel. Both girls had left work at the same time together late one evening. Neither of them had been seen alive again; neither of them had been seen since. A local runner had found a mobile phone belonging to one of them near the entrance to the cemetery and, a few feet away, the Radley purse belonging to the other girl. Nothing else had ever been traced.

As the sun set on a late October evening, the angel stretched her wings, stepped daintily over the desiccated remains of her last two victims and ventured out of the mausoleum. The youthful fertile feminine blood of the two waitresses had restored her strength. With her vitality fully recovered, the dark angel was ready to resume her hunt.

Noise from the nearby church hall disrupted her train of thought.

Effortlessly she spread her magnificent black wings and flew silently through the trees. Discretely perched on the hall’s roof, hidden from prying eyes by the shadow of the trees, she watched as a group of mothers, some in costume, shepherded a dozen or more children, all in fancy dress, out of the building.

“All Hallows Eve,” she thought as she admired some of the costumes. “How sweet would the blood of a child be!”

Licking her crimson lips, the angel watched as the mothers chaperoned the children as they set off guising through the village. In her cold heart, much as she desired it, the angel knew there were fruits that were forbidden even to her.

Flexing her wings, she prepared to head off to the nearby farm estate in search of an alternative meal when her nostrils detected a welcome aroma. Her senses heightened as the ferrous musk mixed with sweat wafted along on the light autumn breeze.

A rhythmic thud thud, thud filled her ear and was then drowned out by music, if you could call it that. How could he bear that infernal racket in his ears?

A second lighter set of footsteps echoed round, accompanied by lighter more melodic music.

There were two of them.

Glancing up the hill, she watches the two runners approach.

A wicked smile played on her lips.

As the two men drew level with the church hall’s driveway, the angel spread her wings and rose soundlessly in flight.

For almost an hour she followed them, soaring high above, keeping close to the tree line where possible as they pounded their way through the marina, along the beach footpath then back towards the village along the busy coast road.

Darkness had long since fallen. Using it to camouflage her, the angel risked flying lower and closer. His heavenly perfume was arousing her every sense. If only he was alone…..

Eventually their route brought them back to the village and, breathing heavily, the weary athletes began to head up the steep hill towards the church.

As they reached the fork in the road, they parted company – one ran straight on up the hill; the other, the source of her desires, ran along the single track road past the cemetery where he’d found the dead girls’ belongings.

She could see the veins in his neck pulsing, teasing her desire to finally taste his rich blood. Could this be her ideal opportunity?

In the distance she could hear the guisers and their chaperones coming down the road, Torchlight was flickering up ahead as they drew closer with every step.

It was now or never.

Silently she dropped down onto the road a few feet in front of him. Spreading her black, purple  tipped wings, she sighed as he slowed in his progress towards her. The beads of sweat on his brow shone like pearls in the moonlight. Feeling an uncontrollable lust stirring deep within her, she licked her lips. Their eyes met.

“Great costume,” he gasped as he was almost within her reach.

She rocked onto the balls of her slender feet, preparing to feast at last on his blood.

Suddenly, out of the darkness a cry shattered the moment.

“Daddy!”

The footsteps of a child were thundering rapidly down the dark road towards them.

“Soon,” hissed the angel, still staring into the depths of his soul.

With one strong beat of her magnificent wings, she vanished into the night.

Cluttered Confessions….

Confession time – I am quite a cluttered person.

Over the years, my tendency to live in a cluttered world compared to the Big Green Gummi Bear’s tendency to neatness have led to a few heated exchanges.

Simple fact – I like my things around me to create my comfort zone.  I’m possibly borderline at hoarding certain things too, if I’m being honest. I like to keep things that I have an emotional attachment to but even I have to acknowledge that every now and then a cull of the clutter is required.

Usually there’s a catalyst to this and this time round it’s been no different. We decided to overhaul the bedroom (new flooring, new bed etc- cue expedition to Ikea)

The Big Green Gummi Bear said that the free-standing triple wardrobe had to go to create more space in the room and decreed that I needed to make space in the fitted wardrobe for his belongings…GULP!!!

That wardrobe hasn’t been properly cleared out in over ten years (hangs head in shame).

Hanging space was dealt with relatively painlessly. Most of my summer clothes and some of my other outfits have been packed into suitcases and, for me, I was ruthless in what I added to the charity bag. (OK, I confess, I kept the dress I’ve had since I was 16 but I love it and it still fits.)

Two or three bags made their way to the charity shop.

Part one of the mission was accomplished and the Big Green Gummi Bear moved his clothes into “my” wardrobe.

Part two involved tackling the “stuff” stashed at the bottom of the wardrobe and the treasure that were weighing down the top shelf. (There’s a huge amount of space in this TARDIS of a wardobe)

In the midst of this wardrobe mission, I was given a side assignment. I had to clear out three chests of drawers (well about six drawers across the three sets.)

All this upheaval was sending my stress levels soaring!

I felt like I was being hauled out of my comfort zone by the hair!

“Get a grip, girl!”

Over a few evenings, I dealt with the drawers. It was a trip down memory lane as I found countless old photos, theatre programmes, handmade cards from the kids, letters from my penfriends dating back years (yes, folk used to put pen to paper and write actual letters to each other). I had no choice but to be ruthless and, much as it almost killed me, I had to bin several black bags worth of memories. The photos I kept…and most of the theatre programmes…and the occasional handmade card from the kids.

Now to the wardrobe……I was dreading that task!

I had a few days holiday from work pre-arranged for this week so I decided to tackle the bottom of the wardrobe on Monday and the top shelf on Tuesday.

Trying to keep my anxiety at binning things in check, I split the stuff into bundles-

Keep

Bin

Donate to charity

Progress was hampered by the willing assistance of Girl Child’s kitten, Stinky. He felt the need to explore every bag and every box and every corner of the wardrobe at least a dozen times!

The bottom of the wardrobe generated four black bags of rubbish (See, I was being strict with myself, Big Green Gummi Bear), two more bags for charity and a huge pile of personal papers to be destroyed. (Over ten years’ worth of bills and bank statements!)

How to safely dispose of them? Still trying to work that out! It’s too big a job for our aging shredder. I tried burning some but that proved unsuccessful….hmm…more thought required on that conundrum.

Next morning, I got the stepladders out to tackle the top shelf. Stinky parked himself under the ladders to supervise. In fairness, the top shelf wasn’t too bad…..well, bad enough but not awful!

One of the hardest things to part with lay up there.

Don’t laugh, please. I’m about to get a bit sentimental here.

There was a large black holdall full of old baby/toddler clothes. It was a mix of Boy Child’s and Girl Child’s outfits, although largely hers. As I lifted them out to fold them up and put them into the charity bag, I could see them in each of the outfits. (Bear in mind he’s now almost 19 and she’s 16) I could smell the freshly bathed baby smell as I gave Boy Child’s tiny Tigger sleepsuit a final hug. Girl Child’s little denim dresses reminded me of her as a toddler, always busy at something. Her burgundy velvet tunic top and leggings that brought out the blue in her eyes….oh I could go on … I won’t. You get the picture, right? It seemed like only yesterday that I was dressing them in those clothes. Precious memories. I was an emotional wreck by the time the holdall was empty.

It generated another two bags for the charity shop.

After a couple of hours, I was done.

Mission accomplished.

A trip to the dump (sorry, recycling centre) took care of the five black bags of rubbish.

A trip into town to see my friend at the charity shop took care of the four bulky bags destined for there. (Huge thanks to the lovely lady who was passing and helped me to get the shop door open as I heaved the bags into the shop.)

So the bedroom and the wardrobe have been de-cluttered. It looks good. (Ok, there’s three small boxes of books and photos still to be put away in the loft sitting in a corner)

I think, slowly, my “roots” are uncurling and beginning to settle back into my comfort zone. Stress levels are gradually returning to normal.

I’ve made a deal with myself not to be so “cluttered” going forward. Will I manage to stick to it? Time will tell…..

 

Before..

clutter-before

During

clutter-collage

After

clutter-after

The Colours of Autumn

When did you last pause in your hectic day to look around you and appreciate the beauty of the Autumn colours?

They are spectacular!

Much as I love a hot sunny summer’s day, a crisp sunny Autumn day comes a close second. I was out for a meander at lunchtime today and that was when the variety of colours that Mother Nature has created for us really struck me.

The sun was hitting the leaves of the trees around the area where the salt mine is  and they were positively glowing gold. There were scarlet berries in the hedgerow. Some of the green plants and bushes were turning to their autumn orange and reds. Oh so pretty!

It’s as though we’re being treated to a last colourful display before the dark days of winter are upon us.

If you haven’t looked around you, here’s a few photos to remind you of what you are missing.

 

Gin Anyone?

When The Big Green Gummi Bear came home and said that he’d arranged for us to go to a gin tasting, I was somewhat surprised.

Neither of us drink gin!

However, having bought tickets for the event, it would’ve been rude not to.

I was a little unsure of what to expect as the date approached.

When we arrived at the boat club, our host for the evening had a long table set up beautifully with plastic martini glasses, each with a slice of fruit in it, divided into four groups – one for each type of gin he’s brought along for sampling.

(“Whew”, thought my inner self. Being a light weight when it comes to drinking alcohol, I thought, “I can cope with four small gins of an evening.”)

The event began with a brief history of the drink. I learned a few interesting facts.

Gin is the shortened form of the Old English word genever and derived from the Latin juniperus meaning juniper, one of the main constituents of the drink. Gin was originally drunk for its medicinal properties. It can be traced as far back as the Ancient Egyptians circa 1550BC and is mentioned in the Ebers Papyrus as being a remedy for stomach complaints. Roman historian Pliny the Elder also wrote about the therapeutic benefits of the juniper berry based spirit around 78AD.

gin-collage-4

To bring things up-to-date, in the 17th Century the Dutch had developed a juniper based spirit and also begun to add other botanical ingredients to enhance the flavour. Dutch soldiers were given a measure of this drink to give them strength before they went into battle, hence the term “Dutch courage.”

Gin first grew in popularity in Britain in the mid-17th Century when William of Orange came to the throne and, if you’re not a fan of gin, you could argue, it all went downhill from there.

Gin was initially allowed to be distilled without a license. This resulted in a craze for the drink before The Gin Acts of 1736 and 1751 brought its production under stricter control.

Gin’s reputation as “Mother’s ruin” comes from this era too as women often made and sold gin in small quantities from their homes. William Hogarth produced a hard-hitting anti-gin engraving in 1751, Gin Lane. It contrasted with his engraving Beer Street which portrays beer as being better for you and your well-being.

gin-collage-3

Gin enjoyed mixed fortunes as a drink right up until Prohibition. The price if spirits rocketed during Prohibition so in order to make a drink last longer, folk began to mix it with other things. Voila! – the gin based cocktail was born! The most common is of course the gin and tonic.

gin-cocktails-z

So, what gins were on offer for us to taste.

There were four different botanical gin brands.

Blackwoods was the first on offer. A Scottish gin infused with handpicked Shetland botanicals. These gave it a citrusy taste. Not too unpleasant.

Brecon gin was next from the Brecon Beacons in Wales. This one was served to us with a strawberry in the bottom of the glass. It was distinctly different from the first. This one was my least favourite of the evening. It was too fruity and reminded me of cough medicine. The Big Green Gummi Bear’s face when he ate the gin-soaked strawberry was interesting though!

Boe gin from Stirling, Scotland was the third brand available for tasting. I was surprised to find a thin slice of apple in the glass. This one I liked! There was a cleaner slightly spiced taste to it. I could enjoy drinking this one (and the slice of apple was quite tasty too!)

Ophir was the final of the four brands. This one is branded as an oriental spiced gin and was most definitely the prettiest bottle. The taste here was more exotic, almost curry like. I preferred it to the first two brands but overall it was too bizarre a spiced flavour for my delicate tastebuds.

So, all four had been tasted and debated and enjoyed.

Have I been converted to being a gin drinker? Probably not, although we did enjoy a few a more from the club’s bar over the rest of the evening.

Something that did make me sit up and take note though was the announcement at the end of the tasting session that the gentleman would be back in a few months to do a prosecco and champagne tasting.

The Big Green Gummi Bear better get tickets for that one!

gin-collage-5

A Tad Frazzled….

What gets you through the day? What gets you through the week or the month? How do you cope?

I found myself pondering this thought while I was out for a walk at lunchtime today.

After a rather stressful morning, I’d messaged friend saying simply, “What a morning! Frazzled.”

 Until recently I hadn’t really thought of “frazzled” being a legitimate state of mind.  I picked up a copy of Ruby Wax’s “A Mindfulness Guide For The Frazzled.” I’ve barely started it, only dipped in and out of it briefly, but in her foreword, Ms Wax explains “A neurobiologist might say someone is stuck in a state of “frazzle”. They mean that, for this person, constant stress is overloading their nervous system, flooding it with cortisol and adrenaline.”

The Urban Dictionary definition sums it up nicely – “to be feeling a bit brain-fried; lost and confused; not functioning properly; slightly stressed; all over the place.”

That pretty much sums up how I felt just after midday today, although I wasn’t lost!

 I’m pretty sure each and every one of you can relate to having felt like this at some point.

 So how do I cope? How do I “de-frazzle” myself? (There’s a few strategies been put into play here already)

 For me, the best coping strategy for during the working week is to make sure I take my lunch break and, weather permitting, get outside for some fresh air, coupled with some therapeutically loud music courtesy of my iPod. It works for me. (Messaging a sympathetic friend helps too.) Recharges the batteries long enough to get me through the rest of the day.

 So what coping mechanisms work for you? 

Others that I use include writing (yes, the thought of writing this blog while enjoying a medicinal bacon sandwich eased me through the afternoon), colouring in (art therapy to give it its adult name), listening to music, reading a book, going for a walk along the nearest beach, playing with the cats or simply enjoying a long hot shower.

I’m sure there are many more but these are my “go to” strategies.

There are no hard and fast rules here. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for another and, yes, there are occasions where professional assistance may be required. There’s nothing wrong about seeking help when you need it. 

One final thing that helps reset my frayed nerves is photography. Looking through the world from the view finder of my camera or the camera screen of my phone helps to see the world around me in a different light.

It helps if the view is stunning too!frazzled-view