Roam…

 

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Image by Pixabay.com

 

 

Roam

Ancient Rome echoes across our land

Wherever you go, she is there before you

Stone brick walls split the land in two

Still standing proud

Soldier’s voices whisper in Latin tongue

Can still be heard

They are here to change our ways of old

Fill our minds with Gods they know

With ancient wode, we will send them back

This land is ours, each brook and track

We failed in flight to set their feet alight

They are here to stay a good long while

Some returned while others remain

They have had their day

Our ways have changed, we have learned a lot

Boudicca’s fight burned through the land

We must rebuild where Roman villas stand

Tourists come to walk alongside the wall

To the hear the echo of long lost calls

It was there I hear all roads lead back to Rome

Bridges built in span of time

I am grateful for the water that still flows

Along viaducts, roman baths, warm waters soothe

How did we cope before they came?

We are bound together by ancient time…

AAAAA

City Walls… #Poetry

 

 

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Image by Pixabay.com

 

 

City Walls

Threads of gold with silver ink

Pen in motion, tides that sink

Her voice I hear with words made clear

Her face now lost to memory

Where cities burn beyond the gate

Soldiers march to Troy’s great walls

Prince Hector has fallen

Achilles lost to arrows swift blow

Paris carries his love away

His heart now wrapped in barbwire

For death, he left behind the city walls…

AAAAA

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 beautiful forest. I would have to come back here one day and explore for 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 I still 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 another  window, I could see 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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Honesty in WorldWar2 by Chris-Jean Clarke #ContemporaryFiction/History@ChrisJeanClarke

 

WW2 through the eyes of a child: It is mid-summer, 1944 and Britain is embroiled in war.

A large percentage of city and town dwellers are being killed; homes bombed, and personal belongings destroyed. The people not only fear for their own safety, but they also realize, that even if they are fortunate enough to survive there is a slim chance their offspring will not.

They feel they have no choice but to send their children to remote country villages to be raised by strangers, in the hope they will have a better life. The only adults permitted to travel with the children are mothers with youngsters under five years old, the infirm and the elderly. Meantime, the community of Honesty Brook Dale feel it’s their duty to rally together to help the evacuees by sharing their homes and limited food and clothing supplies. 

Our Review

I was only a child during WW2 and evacuated out of London to Northampton, but probably a little too young to remember much of what was going on around me. I knew I had been taken somewhere strange, but didn’t feel alone or scared, unlike some of the children in these circumstances.

Reading this book, listening to the children as they tried to cope with being uprooted or worse, have their homes and family destroyed in front of them, must have been terrifying. Making me realise I was a lot luckier than most.

The people who took in these evacuees found themselves taking a very different role in the war effort. For most, it wasn’t easy, squeezing extra people into their lives when food was already rationed. People who must have resented being treated like lost luggage.

I loved the name of the village in this book, Honesty Brook Dale. Honesty is one of my favourite flowers and is mentioned several times, reminding me of the shiny silver seedpods I loved as a child.

I know you’re not supposed to have favourites when it comes to children, but I couldn’t help loving Cyril Blessum. A typical boy, into every mischief, desperately trying to understand everything, and not making a very good job of any of it.

“If only me Dad were able to come home, George wouldn’t have to be so tired from working long hours … and we could have fun again,” he added as new tears threatened to spill down his cheeks.

Unbeknownst to Cyril, George had been standing at their bedroom door, listening. “Nobody wants change, our kid, but we have to make the best of what we’ve got,” George said as he joined Cyril by the window.

He gently squeezed Cyril’s shoulder and continued, “Remember when we used to walk for miles over the fields. We would play by the brook and go as far as the entrance to the coalmines or walk across the fields in the opposite direction towards the cottage hospital. That’s how far I biked today looking for ya. I was real worried, our kid. I thought something bad had happened to ya … that’s why I got so mad.”

Cyril slipped his hand into George’s and said, “I am sorry, honest … but I don’t know what to do to make things right with Mam.”

 “Ya know I was thinking Cyril. Mam used to love it when we picked a few flowers for her while we were over the fields. Her favourite is honesty because she loves the delicate shades of pinks and purples. I remember she always managed to find a spare jam jar to put them in. We can pick a few at the weekend if ya want?”

 “Yeah, it will be just like old times … only without Dad.”

This heart-warming but sometimes sad story reminded me of The Railway Children, waiting for the war to end and their fathers and brothers to come home…

About the Author

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Chris-Jean Clarke grew up in the West-Midlands (UK) but now resides in South Staffordshire (UK) with her husband, Geoff and children, Nathan and Kyrsten.

Prior to giving birth to her two beautiful children, Chris-Jean worked for twenty years with people with learning and physical disabilities.

She studied the art of writing children’s stories @The Writing School, Oxford Open Learning.

Chris-Jean also donates stories & poems twice yearly to the Peacock Writers to benefit various charities. (NB She does not publish her contributions in any other form.)

November 2016, Chris-Jean was accepted as a paid reviewer for Readers’ Favorite. During this month she was also accepted as a Publishing Assistant for the Books4Kids program, South Dakota.

Early 2018, Chris-Jean transitioned from Publishing Assistant to author with the release of her educational story: To Dye For.

 

Book Roundup…

The last book I read…

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Some passwords protect more than just secrets.

Danny Caruso was glad to be back in the United States, back to his regular job. Back to his comfortable routine of all work and no play. But when his friend Mac asks a favor of him, he can’t refuse. He owes the guy everything. So he accepts the job, even though it means a twenty-four/seven protection detail guarding a particularly exacerbating—and beautiful—woman.
Braelyn Edwards is careful to stay out of the spotlight, preferring to hide in the background and skip the trappings of a vibrant social life. But her privacy is threatened when there’s an attempt on her life and a bodyguard is foisted on her. Compounding problems? He doesn’t just want to protect her. He wants to investigate every detail of her life, starting with her top-secret job.
Danny casts his sights on Charlie Park, her co-worker, her partner… the one man who knows all Braelyn’s secrets. She’s frustrated by the distrust until she realizes jealousy fuels Danny’s suspicions as much as instinct and proof. One of them is right about Charlie—but by the time they figure it out, it may be too late to save their relationship. And Braelyn’s life.

Our Review:

Password is my first Staci Troilo book, so wasn’t sure what I would think of it.

I needn’t have worried.

There was brilliant scene-setting throughout, with interesting and vibrant characters, all wrapped up in a totally realistic and believable scenario.

Braelyn Edwards first struck me as an ordinary working girl, hardly someone who would need a bodyguard. But someone had attacked her, so she could be hiding a secret.  Danny Caruso has trouble believing she is innocent too, although she seems so ordinary. He is convinced she had to be mistaken for somebody else.

She mysteriously denies knowing of any reason for the attack, and this is when their incredibly fast-paced banter begins. The chemistry between them fizzles with electricity, and I ended up enamoured by the two of them to such an extent that I forgot all about the plot. I just wanted to watch and listen to the two of them together. I suspect we are seeing the birth of a relationship that will sell a lot of books!

The ending was unexpected, with a very clever twist I didn’t see coming.

Staci Troilo has created two masterful characters for this first book in the series, roll on the next one!

The Book I am currently reading…

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Aberdeen, 1841. Woodcarver John Grant has an unusual new commission – creating a figurehead to feature onstage in the melodramas of a newly-arrived theatre group. Simultaneously, he’s also trying to unravel the mystery of the death of a young woman, whose body has been found in the filth behind the harbour’s fish sheds.
His loving relationship with Helen Anderson, which began in The Figurehead, has grown stronger but, despite the fact that they both want to be together, she rejects the restrictions of conventional marriage, in which the woman is effectively the property of the husband.
As John works on the figurehead, Helen persuades her father, a rich merchant, to let her get involved in his business, allowing her to challenge yet more conventions of a male-dominated society.
The story weaves parallels between the stage fictions, Helen’s business dealings, a sea voyage, stage rehearsals, and John’s investigations. In the end, the mystery death and the romantic dilemma are both resolved, but in unexpected ways.

The Book I wish I had written…

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Looking for a thriller that you can’t put down? Then try this book that everyone’s talking about.
One of the tensest, most gripping thrillers you will ever read. From UK and US best-selling author Taylor Adams.
A KIDNAPPED LITTLE GIRL LOCKED IN A STRANGER’S VAN. NO HELP FOR MILES. WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

Darby Thorne is a college student stranded by a blizzard at a highway rest stop in the middle of nowhere. She’s on the way home to see her sick mother. She’ll have to spend the night in the rest stop with four complete strangers.

Then she stumbles across a little girl locked inside one of their parked cars.

There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, no way out because of the snow, and she doesn’t know which one of the other travelers is the kidnapper.

Full of shocking twists and turns, this beautifully written novel will have you on the edge of your seat.

Who is the little girl? Why has she been taken? And how can Darby save her?

 

The Book I go back to time and again…

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J.R.R. Tolkien was born on 3rd January 1892. After serving in the First World War, he became best known for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, selling 150 million copies in more than 40 languages worldwide. Awarded the CBE and an honorary Doctorate of Letters from Oxford University, he died in 1973 at the age of 81.

In dark Mordor, evil Sauron is joining the Rings of Power which will give him total dominion. Only one ring escapes him – and it must be destroyed at any cost. Enter a world of magic and magnificence in Tolkien’s epic trilogy, often considered the greatest fantasy story of all time.

The Book that inspired me to write my first book…

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HERE IS A SMALL FACT – YOU ARE GOING TO DIE

1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier.
Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall.

SOME IMPORTANT INFORMATION – THIS NOVEL IS NARRATED BY DEATH

 

The Most Unusual Book I have ever read…

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This book was described as;  ‘Dark, twisted and compelling, the most exciting and original thriller of the year’… and was a first for me. Having recently becoming a fan of crime/thrillers, this one came as one hell of a surprise!

‘Normal’…a strange name for a book about a serial killer?

But this is the clever way the author, Graeme Cameron makes you think of the nameless killer in this fascinating different psychological thriller.  An anti-hero with an amazing sense of humour that you find yourself liking, despite what you know of him. He should be despicable, deplorable, someone you should despise. Yet do not.

A brand new genre… comedy /thriller. Exquisitely hilarious…

Readers will enjoy this story, it is entertaining in a way most books are not. As a writer myself, I can only marvel at the complexity, the vast array of observation and emotions, the depth of the characterisation. In short, an amazingly brilliant book!

(Graeme Cameron lives in Norfolk, England. He has never worked as a police detective, ER doctor, crime reporter or forensic anthropologist.)

“Hypnotic and chilling — you won’t forget this in a hurry.” – Lee Child

NOMINATED FOR THE STRAND CRITICS AWARD FOR BEST FIRST NOVEL OF 2015

He lives on your street, in a nice house with a tidy garden. He shops at your local supermarket. He drives beside you, waving to let you into the lane ahead of him. He’s the perfect neighbour. But he also has an elaborate cage in a secret basement under his garage.

And he thinks it’s perfectly normal to kidnap young women and keep them captive.

This is how it’s been for a long time. It’s normal…and it works. Perfectly.

But this time it’s different

When I finished reading the last page I realised that I didn’t even know the killer’s name but I knew that I liked him and I really didn’t want him to go.

Normal’s (anti) hero is a good bloke. Women love him, men get on well with him; he is attractive, funny, sweet – everything you could wish for in a friend or lover. The only problem is that he has a slightly unusual hobby, he ‘hurts’ people, kills them, chops up their bodies and perhaps even eats them. Shame.

Like that other loveable serial killer, Dexter, our killer has experienced a childhood trauma which has left him detached from the rest of the human race. He is an efficient killing machine and never gets caught but then it all goes wrong, he starts to form attachments; he makes his first friend, he starts worrying about the comfort of his victims and finally – Big, Big, Mistake – he falls in love.

I really liked this book. In fact I can’t wait to re-read it. Perhaps he does have a name and I was turning the pages so fast that I missed it.

Mr Normal is definitely my new favourite psychopath.

 

 

 

The Tree of Life…

 

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The other evening as we watched a  about Budapest called Travel Man on channel four, I caught a quick glimpse of what looked like a metal weeping willow tree and knew I had to find out more about it.

The tree particularly interested me, because one of my hobbies is making wire bonsai trees and although this one looked quite large, it looked beautiful.

I found out that the Tree of Life is a commemoration for the people who risked their lives to help keep the Jewish population of Budapest safe during the days of exportation in WWII. Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish diplomat at the time and was one of the principle leaders in the movement to protect the Hungarian Jews. If this group had been caught, they would have been executed.
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The famous Tree of Life Memorial is a commemorative sculpture that has its home in the center of Raoul Wallenberg Park.   It was designed to pay tribute to the 5,000 Holocaust victims that are buried in the area. It is made into the shape of a willow tree, which in traditional Hungarian Jewish thinking, is a symbol of mourning. It can also represent an overturned menorah. There is a synagogue here, with some rather famous copies of Torah housed in their ark. This Tree of Life is an amazing work of art, every leaf has the name of a family etched on it.

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The park was started in the 1990s after Hungary was returned to a democratic state. A large donation from the world famous Estee Lauder (approximately $5 million U.S.) made the whole memorial possible. The completion of the memorial occurred in 1996.

So many lives lost. I wonder how that has changed the destiny of all those left behind with no sons to carry on the family name. But they have taken more than just the sons or daughters, they have destroyed a complete line of what could have been. What should have been.

 

All those sons and daughters that should have been born, the weeping willow tree is still weeping today…

 

Waterlooville…

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Not far from where I live is a little town called Waterlooville and I had never given its name any great thought. Possibly thought it might have had something to do with the battle, but that was about it.
It has been brought to my attention this week by the fact that they have just started three weeks of celebrations, so thought I would find out why.

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The first thing I discovered was that the town itself is 200 years old and apparently named Waterlooville because of all the weary soldiers who stopped there for a rest after the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
This is more than probable, because the main road that runs through it is the London Road, an old turnpike road since 1710, which runs from Portsmouth to London. They must have seen their fair share of travellers.

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The town I live in, Petersfield, is bigger and much older than Waterlooville, founded in the 12th century, and we too, are on the London to Portsmouth road. We have burial mounds here believed to be more than 4,000 years old. The more I read about all the historical connections, the more amazed I became. And there was I, thinking the battle of Waterloo had something to do with Nelson and the sea!
At first I thought it hadn’t been an English battle at all, which confused me, so why all the fuss?

The hero of the day was our very own Duke of Wellington, rated at the time as fifteenth in the list of 100 greatest Britons. (I wonder who the others were?) He commanded an army of British, Dutch and German forces and between them, managed to defeat the French and end Napoleon Bonaparte’s reign as the Emperor of the French. Something they would like us to forget, I think.

And as for being a sea battle, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The battlefield is in Belgium, 15km south of Brussels, just 2km away from a little place called Waterloo and nowhere near the sea.

None of this explained why it had happened, so I dug a little further.

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I discovered that Napoleon Bonaparte was a cold-blooded dictator who had single handedly caused more than 20 years of conflict on the continent. He wanted to rule all of Europe, actually becoming Emperor of France in 1804. We defeated him in 1805, but this didn’t stop him. He continued to invade countries across Europe and needed to be stopped.

You have probably gathered that I was probably not paying much attention in my history classes, but I can honestly say I don’t remember learning about it. I like history, as a rule, and never had any clue as to its origins whenever I have visited Waterlooville.

I am including some links, just in case you need to know more.

www.waterlooville200.org
Facebook.com/waterlooville200
Twitter.com/waterloovill200