Suggestions and Stonking Good Stocking Gifts Inside.

Dark visions horror anthology Buy Here

I won’t lie, I may be biased slightly … because I have a flash fiction in this book. But, and the but is huge; I am very proud to be part of this Anthology. Stuffed full of stories; some you can read in a snatch, others that fill a lunch break. All will fill your thirst for the weird, the creepy and the scares. Ask your local shop to get this best-selling horror anthology in stock. Order it from the library or purchase it from Amazon. Either way, you won’t regret giving, reading or receiving this gem. Twenty-seven Authors and 34 stories to stir and startle your imagination. Ideal for the unique individual in your life. The quirky shopper that wants to be the best present giver. The toilet reader. Ideal for the Allotment snuggler; sat in solace in the shed. For the wise man (maybe three of them)😃😂 escaping the world with this book before bed.

NEWS FLASH! any moment now this book will be available in audio I will pop a link here as soon as it is live.

My next choice is this. A fantastic little piece of kit that will thrill any guitar playing person. It has to be a must for a stocking I am filling.

https://drummondandhammett.com/product/accessories/trans-amp/

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A great place for a special gift Drummond and Hammett make some amazingly unique items; the whiskey tumblers above are only one of many hand-made items on offer.

RIGHT HERE

This Gift stop is for …

All writers and readers

or library feeders,

sketchers and scribblers

and stationary givers,

drawers and doodlers

Fiddlers and stencilers,

And collectors

Or pencilers.

A small niche company in Ireland who makes exquisit gifts one of my favorites are her hand rolled pencils Press Here to find my favorites.

Next is a doozy of a gift.

Geoff LePard’s Book

Apprenticed To My Mother

Buy Here
Geoff painted a clear picture documenting the lives of his Mother and family. Her quirks and idiosyncratic ways are brought to life with carefully chosen words. His words have you standing in the corner of the kitchen; watching her show her boys how to cook. The story is punctuated with his father’s extraordinary poetry; received by his wife throughout their lives. It paints a picture of a time past and fortitude shown. It has laugh out loud moments like the comments she made and the diplomacy she fooled you into believing she used. A cracking good tale one well worth reading. Told beautifully by a loving son, and a damned good storyteller.

The cushion in my photo is a fluke, but Geoff mentions his Mothers dabble with Beekeeping so I thought it apt in the circumstances. The cushion is mine purchased from Dunelm. A super stocking filler, even those surgical stocking wearers who we can never quite please … will wipe a tear and cast a smile at the strength and the love in this book. Three generations of my family have thoroughly enjoyed it so far. This book will Grace many a comfy seat, accompanied by a slice of perfectly baked lemon drizzle cake.

My final gift idea is time.

It doesn’t have a price-tag because it is priceless.

Offer time, Pick a date and time; time to sit, and listen. Share a cuppa with someone who is alone, share a story or two.

I owe you two babysits written in the Christmas card. To give a young couple the time, to do as they wish; time for themselves.

An invitation to supper or breakfast, sharing food is rarely about eating. Sharing food is more about your caring; you cared enough to ask, to share your time.

What are your best gift Ideas and did you enjoy mine? I love to talk, leave me the gift of a comment.

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There Is Power In A Name.

In 1000 words (by the end of each month) using the monthly prompt word. Write a short story, no more than 1000 words. To join in, read the entries and guidelines PRESS HERE. November’s random word is Educate.

Aland worked in artificial intelligence, Luna, two days a week for an Observatory; together they taught the children. They live in a self-sufficient home in the Fens. London was fifteen, Quacey twelve, Diana eleven, Amaris ten, Jaci seven, Candara five, Auberon and Neoma are the two-year-old twins.

eco home

London’s raindrop alarm splashed his hair, with a clenched fist to hit the stop button. Last week he tried ignoring it, four drips in and a deluge of freezing water soaked him. He was not best pleased with hanging out bedclothes and remaking the bed; all before school. The schoolroom was down the back of the plot; both Aland and Luna planned the lessons, they had a nursery nurse Martha to help educate Jaci, Candra and the twins.

“Who calls their kid’s such stupid names?” Shouted London, as his fist pummelled the jute wrapped bale in the barn. “Even our bales suck.” He punched hard into the rough cloth. ” Clean this dig that,” punch swipe, his hands were hot and speckled with droplets of blood, fibres clung to the wet grazes. London pulled his forearm across his face and sniffed hard. His brows creased and mouth screwed as he looked out of the hayloft door. From his position he could see Luna, teaching Quacey Diana and Amaris about pond ecosystems; besides the duck pond. Fishing chairs and nets lay with buckets, paper and pencils; cluttering a trestle table. Dad was doing something disgusting in the reedbed across the far side. He should be revising for his exam at the college next week, instead, here he stood, sulkily watching, keeping out-of-the-way. “I won’t stand a chance, the kids who have normal names and normal lives will hate me.” Regardless of the pain, he returned to finish, his punches clean, swift and hard.

Jaci and Candra were painting a frieze with stamps made from potatoes. Martha looked in on what should have been London revising. Her call to Aland was answered swiftly, “Hi, I am sorry to have to tell you; he’s gone again.” She heard a ragged sigh, his voice flat. “Thanks, Martha, any clue? Anything at all?” She could feel the sadness in his tone, “sorry nothing.” Struggling out of his waders he swore as his sock sank in the grey sludge beside the reedbed. Throwing the waders in the old golf cart, he slumped into the driving seat and turned the key. He watched the children with Luna and smiled to himself. A Kyte caught his eye gliding, like a dart; it plummeted. That’s when he saw movement in the hayloft, relief followed by anger. Going into the barn he coughed and stamped, Aland didn’t want to surprise the boy. Soon they were eyeball to eyeball. Aland winced at the sharp hay stabbing his bare legs. “Okay, I am listening.” His lips were pursed his brow furrowed. London shook his head slowly. Aland caught sight of some blood on the boy’s sleeve, picked his arm up to look. “Better go home get that cleaned before your mother has a fit.” London jerked his hand free. He reached the tackle and hook used for lifting and lowering bales; defiantly he stared at his Dad as he abseiled from the loft.

The house was quiet with the children asleep. The only sound was the bats … and the beat of a base carried on the night’s breeze. Lights shone from the schoolroom where London revised to the background of heavy metal; minus the headphones. “That young man is pushing his luck,” Luna had to hold back from banging the mugs into the cupboard, ” Really Aland, we can’t let him get his head; we will lose him.” She dropped her face to her husband’s shoulder. Squeezing her tight his lips pressed to her ear. “We will cope, we’ll find a way to get through to him.” She turned to him, “It needs sorting before his exams … or he will fail.”

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London sat in the hayloft watching the Moon; tonight it was almost full. Tomorrow a red Moon would be seen from this vantage point, but the thought of sharing it with his siblings and parents made him mad. He scuffed his boot angrily filling the air with dust. London’s cough disguised the sound of weary boots treading the stairs. For the second time today, Aland faced his angry lad. “You, home, now!” London moved towards the door as his dad grabbed him, “Do not push me, use the stairs.” His shoulders slumped, eyes focused on the floor; his boots thumped the steps purposefully. The boy, closely followed by his Father; left the loft.

Luna and the children were excited, today they prepared food for a moonlit picnic. Dad set up two telescopes, one at the lake the other in the loft. He hoped that Mum’s calculations were correct and the sky clear for the show. Jaci Candra and the twins covered spheres with crumpled tissue with the help of Martha. Quacey. Diana and Amaris wrote stories and poems depicting the moon’s phases. Their fun made London angrier. With wet red cheeks, London came face to face with his father, neither of them expected the other. “You always follow me” London roared, his nose only an inch from Aland’s face. “Sneaking up, spying on every little thing.” His nostrils flared, he snatched and flinched and took off at speed. Alund followed. Twigs cracked, sweat seeped into his eyes but he knew this was crunch time; the boy mustn’t win. Aland’s chest began to tighten his legs trembled, but on he tore. At last, London fell to his knees, breath spent, shoulders twitched and drips of salty tears fell from the end of his nose. Aland flopped on his backside; breathing heavily next to him. His head back; eyes screwed and mouth gaped. Eventually, they talked.

Luna watched as they walked, arms draped across shoulders; she smiled. London sat with his siblings around him. Aland tugged Luna away, hand in hand they walked with heads almost touching. London told the children how each one had been given a name specially chosen for its astrological connections. He told them how lucky they were to live there, together they watched the spectacle before them.

the names as verified in the link are:

Aland = Bright as the Sun (English/Celtic origin)

Luna = Moon

London = Fortress of the moon

Quacey = Moonlight (Scottish 0rigin)

Diane = Goddess of the moon.

Neomea = Full moon

Oberon = Large moon

Ameris = Moonchild ( Irish origin)

Candara = Glowing like the moon

jaci = Moon (American tribal origins)

The above list was compiled from various sources but most are verified in the link below.

Name Link

Does someone in your family have an unusual or meaningful name? leave me a comment I would love to talk?

Around The Garden.

I set the garden up first thing before the crow dropped feathers and the frogs sang. Tables, chairs, chests of drawers. Grandad’s binoculars and his upright teatime chair, the one with a wooden hinged cup tray at the arm. I piled and propped things to replicate rooms; polished and loved them one last time. I could almost hear them; Popa and Mama … discussing how this was; as needs must. By the time Chorley arrived with the mail, the lawn was an outdoor house. Trestle’s replicated the kitchen, displaying the silver with the willow- patterned service piled high. Sun crept between the Ash and sparkled the Copper kettles and pans. Grandma’s embroidery samplers, linens and her handmade lace filled the aged trousseau box, beside the Chaise longue … under the Apple tree. A copper slipper-bath nestled next to the herb garden. Laundered towels I draped on the oak airer; besides the pond.

By half-past three all was sold … except for the large mirror Mama used in her dressing room when I was three. It reflected more than Stupley’s walled garden. Memories of ball gowns, pirouettes and tiara’s, stopped me from accepting a bid. Satisfied, I took a last look around.

My stream of consciousness began with a word containing round and ended with it also as the prompt suggested. Thanks again Linda Hill for the opportunity. Press “HERE” to join the fun or read some wonderful posts.

Let me know what you think! I am thick skinned and love to chat. 😉

Forest Child.

Sue Vincent invites you to join in press here to leave your piece or read many imaginative others.

Today’s word is track.

Some say those that were born here have … the thing. The magic of the forest, sap running through veins, nooks and crannies, corners that hold secrets. A quirky look at life, grounded in soil and mulch.

I was born of this place, in the cottage hospital on the edge of Savernake forest. An ancient wood 2750 acres of mystery and as you would expect history. As a child, I once was found sleeping at the foot of the Great Bellied Oak.

Fred liked to walk with his girls through the forest, when time allowed,The youngest would no doubt need carrying before the track had stopped its meandering. The day was sunny and all was lush, branches flicked light this way and that, birdsong was full-throated all in all he thought, its a good day for a walk.

Me, the three-year-old, me, loved to walk the most, but my chubby legs would not always keep up with the want to finish. That was when Daddy’s arms helped out and shoulder high I would grab his ears to hold on and soak in the atmosphere. Shafts of light threw colours or that was what Dad said, I knew it was something special. My sisters four and six didn’t really want to walk but we all loved Daddy and his treats. The story goes that I had held daddy’s hand until we stopped to share a picnic; a bag of Smiths crisps with a twist of salt and a bottle of Orangina. Three straws he pulled from his handkerchief pocket we sat on Dads tweed Jacket three little bums; eyes as big as saucers. Once the feast was over we stood so he could shake his Jacket. Like a magician, he pulled a white paper bag stuffed with soft Pontefract cakes from his cap. I remember how we oohed and ahhed, how he did the Dad magic, producing a perfect round Pontefract coin from behind our ears.

This is where our stories differ, (Dad’s version) the sisters playing chase ran off the track, I couldn’t keep up my legs were far to short for his turn of foot. So he told me to wait and not move from the spot and he’d return as quickly as he could. (My recollection) My feet could not go fast enough as I was swept behind a frightened Dad through the forest, my hands wet from licking the liquorice from my fingers slipped free, and I fell with a bump. When I woke Dad was not there, I was laying on a bed of moss at the foot of the Giant oak. A voice whispered as I sat up; ‘do not be afraid child, we forest folk always look after our own.’ I looked around but could not see anything more than a wisp of colour flash by my head. Daddy, with one sister under each arm, was struggling to walk and calling my name. I told a very cross face that he wasn’t to worry his head, the forest folk took great care of me, when you were gone.

Our stories have like Chinese whispers altered with the years, but last week was the first time I returned to that spot. Now a road is next to the Old Big Bellied Oak, and the A346 south of Caudley trundles caravans and cars by oblivious to the magic.

Were you born somewhere magical? Or have you visited such a magical place? leave me a comment I love to converse.

For The Love Of Milly.

This is a completely reworked story that I penned a while ago and hope you agree it deserves a second shot.

Press here to join in and post your own story, to read all the others tap the blue frog over at Esme’s place.

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At lunchtime Bob tied a napkin beneath her chin, he softly crooned as he spooned sustenance between her lips. With the touch as soft as mallow, he caught the spillage caring that none other could see. I watched Bob care for his wife over many years, he accepted help only when he had to. Milly would batt her lashes and flirt with Bob openly, I am sure she believed they were alone. Milly whispered and giggled, sometimes you could hear her singing to Bob. One summer evening through the window, I saw them dance, in some imaginary place they took to the floor; such an intimate sight.

What they had together was gentle, the connection was tangible, respectful yet fun.

Bob and Milly were the only couple living in the home where I work, Milly in the early days was fit and able, she took an active role in the running of the home. Bob for the first four years went out to work; until Milly’s episodes became continual.

When Bob was out or having a break we nurses, would cover our uniforms and distract her by being her guests. Me with a floral crossover pinny and a pink plastic curler in my fringe. In her own space she was calm and liked the familiarity, but she came alive, I’d say animated; when Bob was near.

Milly was failing fast and still, Bob continued with the rituals she came to expect. Many a day I came on duty to see his eyes cloud, his shoulders down; it took its toll on him, loving Milly. I went into their room with a tray of tea and cake, the intention was to assess discreetly the situation; to offer support. Milly was unresponsive, as If I didn’t exist. She lay very still, occasionally her eyes would flicker. Each time she heard his voice her mouth would lift and lashes would batt. He bathed and brushed, stroked, and dressed her. For six days he never left her side, the doctor had been and we all waited in a hushed silence for the inevitable.

Worried for him, I wondered how he’d be once she had passed.

I tapped the door; it remained closed, pulling a crack just enough to peek. I could see him, cradling her in his arms; on the bed with her. Bob’s face pressed into her hair, his cheeks glistened as he rocked her to and fro humming a long forgotten tune.

At the funeral I stood next to him; he seemed spent and sad. The small chapel was full of flowers, sun-streaked through the glass as bright as the cheerful hymns they played. kindly words and reminiscences were recalled. Bob stood at the pulpit and said his last goodbye.

Bob and five clients took the minibus back to Green Hays for Millie’s high tea. Once goodbyes were said and each person had gone, I sat in his armchair for the longest time remembering the fun that was Milly, not maudlin but good happy talk. I asked…
“How did you do it, Bob, where did you get the stamina to keep on for years?” He clenched his hands to stop them trembling. As if deep in thought, he slowly nodded. “Once her memories had disappeared, (his lip trembled) it was my place to make her feel love every day. So each day for her was our first date. Then whenever it was her time to pass, she would know… to-day she was loved.”

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Wouldn’t you wish to be loved as much as Milly? Leave a comment If I touched that spot?

I May have #Clothestraphobia.

I have a fear of being stuck in clothes … bear with me … I’m sure I am not the only one. I have been a spectator on many occasions in the past to this phenomenon, as a fashion retail manager. But only this morning, I became the subject of what I believe is Clothestraphobia.

Recently we took a few days away. Whilst we were there I took a liking to a garment. I spied the concoction, through the window of a quirky clothes shop in Bridport Dorset called Butterfly Boho.
https://goo.gl/images/dnDQ2g

After many years as a regional trainer for a luxury brand, my shopping is coloured by how the layout of a shop works, how garments are displayed and windows are dressed; not to mention the service. Needless to say, those things can have me wandering for hours; rarely buying. All of the above baffles the husband. If you are ever around us at such a browsing session, you could possibly hear the words “For goodness sake just buy something” coming from the exasperated husband’s mouth, or the occasional expletive (for f*’s Sake Buy it!). More often than not I go on my own.

Last week he caught me gazing, heard me sigh and followed my look. Grabbing said bull by the horns, he strode in and made a purchase. Looking is not usually a good measure of shape or fit. looking and sighing is, however, a measure of wishing, hoping you would look like that mannequin if … you wore the garment. Bearing in mind you would need to be as firm, as that hard piece of physicality, perfectly shaped and as tall as that mannequin to get the same look … often that gaze and sigh is where it ends.

I thanked him very graciously, all the time hoping he hadn’t wasted his money. Secretly fearing my four-foot-eleven frame and all its wobbly bits would look like a sack of King Edwards, ones that have wrinkled and softened with age. In fact, I hoped I would be blessed by the garment once it was on, suitably disguised and my figure enhanced.

A few days have passed since we returned, ( to give me time for a manic starvation diet and detox) this morning after a bath ( imaginary steaming off/melting more blubber) I donned my prettiest underwear, brushed my flowing hair, and applied lip gloss to give myself the esteem trying on the new dress deserved.

This is where I attached myself to the word ‘Clothestraphobia. The garment is two dresses. One is an underdress, fixed just above the hem on the inside but seperate everywhere else. The top layer is voluminous and has hitches and tucks that make it quirky. Picture of the garment below.

I love the different; after years of looking the part while working in fashion. I now try to be … alternative.
Things didn’t go to plan. The first mistake was stepping into it. Nevertheless, I did. Somehow I dropped the inside layer during entry and put my foot in the underskirts armhole. I know, hard to believe that but I did.

Continuing to pull it up and put my first arm in resulted in the other arm/leg hole tangling around my knee; horrific. By now I could hear the sound of belly scratching, stumbling and yawning as the husband, disturbed no doubt by my grunts and bangs, began to wake. Not wanting to be caught in a state of inelegant pose, I dropped my free arm and head inside. I thrust my hand in the inner skirts free arm hole and tried to stand. Now thoroughly stuck with my arm bent like a flipper above the head which is covered by the outer layer … I begin to move crab-like. With a now inner layer being pulled around my crotch, made tighter by the act of me trying to stand.

Below is a picture was taken of me while trying to show the reproduced moment. Though I really couldn’t get quite as tangled as I truly was.

My face was hot and my husband could be heard flushing the chain. At first, I felt a little bubbling in the depths of my throat, I remember thinking … NO! I shuddered when the filthiest laugh startled me, I hiccupped several times. Uncontrollable laughter took over, I wandered bumping into furniture while trying to twist my body free; doubled up inside the dress.
A tangle of hair, red cheeks and smeared lippy eventually looked into the eyes of a stunned husband. As only Ellen would. I said, “Thank you for that .. tea?” I pulled on my dressing gown without looking at what I know was a bemused face with a crumpled dress in his hand. We Sat, silently sipping our morning tea. You could hear a fly batting off the glass on the stable door.

I sniffed straightened my back and said, “well, things can only improve” he nodded, then slowly shook his head. That dear readers … is “Clothestraphobia”.

Have you suffered this affliction? Or assisted in the extraction of someone suffering? Let me know that I am not alone.

p.s. all photographs are the product of my own zapping.