The Church in the Woods

 

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One of my granddaughters has inherited my love of discovering and exploring unusual places. Not surprising really, when I think of some of the places we visited when she was small.

So when she announced that she had found something that I had to see, her excitement rapidly transferred to me. Rather than wait for a better day, we set off late the other afternoon. She assured me that with a bit of luck, we should get there before the light faded.

She also said it wasn’t far, and I eyed the gathering evening clouds with suspicion. I hoped it wouldn’t turn out to be a wasted journey, becoming too dark to see anything for I wanted to take some photographs of whatever it was.

On the way to Winchester, we turned down a leafy lane and found ourselves driving through a forest. I would have to come back here one day and explore. I feel very at home in a forest. The magical closeness of all those trees does beautiful things to my soul.

We passed a massive ragged tree stump that had been hit by lightning, the eerie sight reinforcing the feeling that we were far from civilisation. What on earth had my grand-daughter found, way out here? There didn’t seem to be anything but trees for miles.

We drove into a clearing and stopped. We were here, wherever here was. It was getting darker, although the forest was so dense it probably always looked like this.

A small overgrown path wound its way through woodland plants of ferns and mosses, and still I couldn’t see anything. Surely, we hadn’t come all this way to look at a tree?

The smell of leaf mould was strong, wrapping itself around me, making me feel like some kind of wood nymph. My steps were getting lighter and I wanted to run, my heart soaking up the wild greenness of this magical timeless place.

Then, just as the light faded away, I saw something.

In a clearing, I caught the glimpse of some kind of building. It wasn’t very big and looked old. What could it be?

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As we drew nearer, it began to take the shape of something out of a fairy tale. Enclosed by a fence was what could only have been a church. Built of corrugated iron and painted green, it sat in in the middle of the clearing as though dropped there. I had expected some ruin, an old building barely standing, but the church looked to be in pristine condition. Someone must spend a lot of time here, I thought.

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It had a steeple with a bell and one window was stained glass, although it would only have been visible from inside. Through a window, I could see the window and rows of old wooden pews and an altar. I retraced my steps to the gate to read the plaque to discover the history of the place, eager to know all about this “Church in the Woods”.

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The following information and the photographs used are supplied through the courtesy of Hampshire-History.com

It took just five days to build this mission church in 1883. The great sheets of corrugated iron and timber frame would have been carted in and the whole constructed with missionary joy and zeal. We are uncertain what the base would have been constructed from but a small flight of steps brings you to the doorway. Above it, the church bell sits in its turret and an iron steeple points skywards, topped with a weather vane.

Many of these iron churches or ‘tin tabernacles’ as they are known were built around the country. Hampshire has a few more of its own, the church of St Peter’s at Beech near Alton and St Francis Gosport included.

The iron church was a Victorian solution to a number of problems

Population growth was rapid during the Victorian period and a new wave and enthusiasm for church and chapel building began. Although the Victorians wanted their church structures to be magnificently designed and beautifully decorated, for those on the margins of society, the architectural designs were sometimes an expensive step too far. Many of these churches had to be raised at the cost of the congregation and clerics themselves. The new flat pack corrugated church was the solution. This allowed missionary churches to spring up wherever there was thought to be a need. Local populations could build them for themselves. They could also be sent overseas and were ideal for those settling in frontier lands.

The corrugated building started to be mass-produced and were sold through catalogues. There were not just churches for sale, cottages, schools and even railway stations were sold. Each was illustrated with a picture and a price. The size could be altered according to what the customer wanted.

Prefabricated iron churches were relatively cheap to buy, costing anything from £150 for a chapel seating 150 to £500 for a chapel seating 350.

By 1875 hundreds of iron clad churches were being erected, many with extensive gothic style embellishments as can be seen at the church in the woods at Bramdean in Hampshire.

 

 

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Paradise Lost…

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I have been obsessed with Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ for most of my adult life. Reading it, I must admit is a bit of a stretch, seeing as it is a poem and antiquated to boot. But the premise is what drew me to it, as I have long been convinced that all this devil stuff is mostly propaganda.

It has to be, don’t you think? After all, the devil was supposed to be an angel once. A very special angel if you ask me, for I don’t suppose they give the title ‘Bringer of Light’ to just any old angel.

In ‘Paradise Lost’ Satan describes his exile from heaven and his regrets in such a way that you do end up feeling sorry for him. At least I did and might be what gave me the inspiration for my first book, The Ninth Life and the slightly sinister voice that plagues Kate Devereau. I invented (I think) an entity that is supposed to advise and control us humans, mostly in devious and sometimes cruel ways. But as you read along you get to wonder if that is what he is really doing, as it seems his primary mission is to torment us and make us lose our way. We have always called it the ‘Cosmic Joker’ in our house, something to blame for all those infuriatingly unexplainable and annoying incidents that drive us all batty!
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I don’t feel as though I am in control of anything, even at my age.  But are we ever really in control of our lives? With so many rules and influencers, I suspect we are just pawns in one fantastic board game. There is something else going on, of that I am convinced, for we are allowed too many glimpses of it at work.

Our world is a beautiful place, a veritable paradise, but unless you leave the bubble that you live in, you will never see just how beautiful it is…

Hope this find everyone well, and I will see you next week…

 

The Journey…

We are all on a journey, whether we like it or not, so we had better learn to like it.

Even love it.

But a lot of people never do. They think it’s their life’s work to hate and detest every single minute of it, ruining all the possible good stuff in the process. I suddenly realised I was fast becoming one of them, the signs were all there. Increased depression, lack of committed concentration and the most important one, the inability to relax and enjoy what I did have.
I really had to do something about it.

How can you get to be seventy- three years old before you have such an epiphany?
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I remember reading (and thoroughly enjoying) Valerie Poore’s book ‘Watery Ways’ about her life on a Dutch barge, and how it made me stop and think about everything I used to love about living.
Despite how hard my life sometimes was there were some of those simple moments mixed in there. You know the ones, where you feel ‘right’.

It seems a long time since I felt like that, even for a second. However, I came close this morning.

I always used to read for a while in the mornings those days, (gives my old brain a chance to get going – before I insist that the body follows suit.  These days I write, but the effect is the same.
For a blissful hour, I walked with Val in Rotterdam as she looked for a suitable barge to make her home and it was wonderful. I love water of any kind, rivers, canals and the sea, and I always wanted to live on a houseboat. The closest I ever came was a holiday on the Norfolk Broads.  This story, Lazy Days is currently with our beta readers!
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Two glorious weeks with the family on a large uncooperative boat that never seemed to want to go where you wanted it to, but I loved every minute.

I have discovered that when most of us look back at our lives, you only remember the good stuff in small bits and pieces. That’s what brought on my epiphany this morning.

I suddenly realised that I was guilty of trying much too hard, figuring that ‘more effort – better results. But trying to force something to happen just will not work, not even with the best will in the world. (and mine is getting pretty worn out nowadays!)

So, and I have said most of this before I know, I will stop frantically searching and studying for that one magic ingredient that will bring some measure of success  – and more importantly, I will stop worrying about it.

I vow to concentrate on what I know I can do (and enjoy), reading, writing, walking when the knees allow, and some craftwork, for the sake of my soul. And if I can get on a boat now and then, that would be my idea of heaven…

Best wishes and see you next week…

 

Rosie’s #BookReviewTeam #RBRT Dragonfly Wishes by Penny Harmon @PennyH_Author #Romance #Woman’s Fiction

#RBRT Review Team

 

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Callie Daniels had it all – a handsome and loyal husband – a sweet and loving son. When death comes knocking at the door twice and they are both taken from her, Callie is suddenly struggling to find a reason to continue with her own life.
During an accidental overdose, she discovers that maybe her son is not lost to her forever when she sees a vision and her journey to understand what happens after death takes top priority.

In the middle of Callie’s quest to deal with her grief, she uncovers a secret that she just can’t ignore. These secrets lead her on a journey to understanding more about life than she ever expected to know.

 

Our Review

I knew that Penny Harmon writes romance novels, but Dragonfly Wishes didn’t read like a romance at all in the beginning. The sad opening chapter set the tone for the book, at least that was my initial impression.

Callie’s world is in ruins, her husband and child gone.

What are you supposed to do at times like these?

How do you pick up the pieces of your life and carry on?

Although I haven’t lost anyone through illness or accident, I can only imagine how painful it must be, to be constantly reminded of all the things that have been taken away.

This book could have been all doom and gloom, but surprisingly, it wasn’t.

The arrival of a dragonfly and other mysterious incidents brings a radical change to Callie’s thinking. What  starts out as one small flight of fancy, or was it something more? leads Callie on an endearing journey. The story of loss and bereavement quickly grows into a journey of discovery as Callie tries to get her life back on track.

Far from being a sad story, this book has it all, adventure, detective work, a bucket list and romance. I thoroughly enjoyed this well thought out, uplifting story, although it just missed out on five stars. I hate to spoil what should have been a faultless review, but this story would benefit from a professional final edit as some of the spelling errors and typos were annoying.

 

Biography

While I have been writing since I can remember, it wasn’t until 2006, after my kids were grown, that I decided to take my writing seriously. I have written for newspapers and magazines, and I have had several short stories published. In January of 2016, I finished my first novella Complicated Inheritance and am now working on a romance to come out in March of 2016 which is the first of a series.

I get asked the question of “Why romance?” a lot. The answer is easy. Most romance novels have a Happy Ever After (HEA) and who doesn’t like a HEA? I can remember being ten and eleven years old and stealing my mother’s romance novels to read. Of course, back then, they weren’t as steamy as today’s romance novels. Whether you read contemporary romance or historical romance, the one thing you will find is they have a great plot and they leave you with a good feeling inside when you’re done.

I started writing romance stories when I was young…unfortunately, I never chose to do anything with them until now. Of course, the majority of my writing was lost in moves, but the ideas are still there.

I live in the U.S…Maine to be exact. You will find the majority of my books have a Maine setting!

I love to hear feedback from readers and you can email me at pennyharmonauthor@gmail.com. Looking forward to hearing from you!!!

 

 About the Author

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Penny Harmon began writing at an early age and developed a great love of words over the years. After her children were grown, she took her writing more seriously and has published in both newspapers and magazines. In January of 2016, her first novella, Complicated Inheritance, was published and she is the author of the Rocky Isle Romance Series.

Penny lives in Maine with her other-half, Dan, two grandchildren, and three cats. She enjoys spending time with all nine of her grandchildren and enjoys working on DIY projects, especially those that involve making something new out of something that should have been thrown away.

Thank you to the author and to #RBRT for my free review copy!

The Perils of Gardening!

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I always thought gardening was supposed to be a therapeutic occupation, soothing and good for the soul, that sort of thing and in the past, I have enjoyed the process.

Until I moved to Hampshire that is, everything grows wild down here and fast!

I have written about our herculean efforts to trim the mammoth hedge that runs down the length of our garden before and what happened yesterday was yet another battle. After another of our mad, frenzied bursts of ‘we will tame you and bring you into line’ sessions, we had chopped and trimmed everything that even hinted at being unruly, until we had a mountain of garden waste.

It was a good job done. Hedges and undergrowth were now of manageable proportions and looking less like an army of giant triffids was hell bent on reaching our back door.

But what on earth were we supposed to do with such a huge mountain? We had a garden waste collection bag, but what we could stuff in there wouldn’t diminish the huge pile in the middle of the lawn in a month of Sundays.

Then we remembered what we had to do last time. (yes, we had been here before, and swore never to let it get out of control again!)

We had piled as much as we could onto an old bed sheet and rammed it into the back of the car, once the seats had been lowered and this had worked really well.

This time, it took four trips to our local waste depot, but at least we got rid of it all. That was when we stopped for a cuppa and I surveyed the damage. There were three of us that day, but I was the only one bleeding. Most of the pruning chopping involved a thorn bush along with the proverbial brambles thrown in for good measure, and they hate me! They had fought back bravely, and my arm was a bloody mess, having suffered the brunt of the attack. I always wear strong gardening gloves, but maybe I should get some that reach my elbows!

Sometimes I wonder why we should be trying to reclaim what we consider to be ours. That maybe we don’t have the right, the garden is nature’s domain after all.

I usually love the wildness of Nature, just not in my own backyard, but I am weakening. I am getting too old to battle the brambles so I might have to settle for a wilderness I can look at through the window!