Friday 28 April 2017

Cephalopod Coffeehouse: April 2017

Hosted by the Armchair Squid who says:

Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the works they enjoyed most over the previous month.  Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun. 

If you wish to add your own review to the conversation, click on the link below to find and sign on to the link list at the end of my post.

This month I have a book I’d like to recommend, 5* in my opinion. 

 The Ambassador’s Daughter
 Pam Jenoff
Approximately 384 pages

Paris, 1919
The nation’s leaders have gathered to rebuild the world from the ashes of The Great War. But for one woman, the City of Light harbours dark secrets and dangerous liaisons brought to the peace conference by her German Diplomat father, Margot resents being trapped in Paris where she is still looked upon as the enemy.
Yet returning to Berlin means a life with the wounded fiancé she barely knows. Torn between duty and the desire to be free, Margot strikes up unlikely alliances: with Krysia, a musician who protects a secret; and with Georg, the handsome, damaged naval officer who makes Margot question where her true loyalties should lie.
Against the backdrop of one of the most significant events of the century, a delicate web of lies obscures the line between the casualties of war and of the heart, making trust a luxury that no one can afford.



A well written novel.  Life at the peace talks in Paris in 1919, Margot is a young, naïve woman, helping her father as he negotiates with dignitaries.  She meets Krysia and is taken aback by other people’s views, challenging her rather narrow view of life so far. 

She becomes embroiled in subterfuge, rather wishing she hadn’t, further complicated by her feelings of love for a German naval officer although she is engaged.  All she wants is for life to return to normalcy but that is a forlorn hope in the aftermath of WW1.

This is a compelling read, a way of looking at things from a different perspective with some twists and turns that make a good novel a great novel.

Thursday 27 April 2017


Photo credit:  Liz Young


Her boots crunched on the frosted leaves.  Her nose was red, her fingers numb, she couldn’t feel her toes.  It was so cold that the thought of sitting on the bench with fingers of ice creeping up her nether regions was more than she could bear.

A rustle in the undergrowth took her attention.  Her husband stood behind her.  He waited patiently.  He knew she needed this time alone.  She was grateful he was there.  His presence was uplifting.  She heard his camera click.

Another snapshot for posterity, for the generations yet to come and remember.

Word count: 100

Wednesday 26 April 2017


Writing Prompt for Wednesday Stories 4/26/17

Our lovely host, Debb, from Inner Sunshine provides our prompts and today we settle back into one of our more common prompts.  Use all five words and both pictures. (500 word limit)  Have fun!

chips *  chimp*  bow*  dinosaur*  nursery*

Here is my story:

Hi Colleen,

Well at last I have a chance to email you and let you know how things are.  I think you can tell from my tone it could be better.

Yesterday we thought we would explore the town a bit.  I now have sore feet and an aching back from all the walking we had to do to retrace our steps as we got lost.  I mean there were the street signs and we still couldn’t get it right.  

No maps for Jeffrey, oh no.  He acted like a naughty chimp at a tea party, harrumphing and acting up when his GPS on his phone died.  Well that didn’t die but he hadn’t charged the blooming thing the night before so the battery failed. 

Eventually we found some shops …… I know I should have been happy but just look at what he pointed out to me.  I took a picture on my phone (when his back was turned so he wouldn’t ask me to use my phone for directions).  

He knows I detest the colour red.  Even if he packaged the tea set up in a box, wrapped a pretty ribbon and bow round it, I still wouldn’t be pleased.  The pottery itself is quite nice.  I like the shape of the tea cups but, come on, I mean, red with white polka dots, that fashion went out with the Ark, no wait a minute, probably went out as the last dinosaur roamed the earth before its extinction. 
Oh well I dare say he meant well. 

Now I’m sitting alone in this tiny apartment, drinking coffee (I can’t find a decent packet of tea leaves anywhere) and eating crisps, or as my new friends here call them chips.

You and I both know chips come from a chip shop usually with a piece of battered cod or plaice, but here they are called something different.  So much for speaking the same language.
Jeffery has had to go to a meeting to finalise his start date and I’m left here on my own.  The apartment (or flat as we’d probably say) is small, adequate enough for now but ……. I’m going to let you in on a BIG SECRET, ssshh, don’t tell anybody yet, especially not my parents, in a  few months time we are going to need somewhere bigger with another bedroom to transform in to a nursery.

There, I’ve said it.  My secret is out,  I’ve hugged this to myself for a few days now and all I have to do is find the right time to tell Jeffrey.  I’m not sure whether he’ll be over the moon or ……….
It certainly wasn’t in this five year plan he made of moving to the USA where the opportunities are better and bigger. 

Whatever, I’m sure we’ll cope. 

It’s quite frightening, Colleen, I’m going to be a mum.  Now, do stop laughing.  I can be responsible if I want to.  I’ll just have to not party so hard.  I’ll still work, of course I will.  We can get a nanny or an au pair or something.  It won’t disrupt our lives much.  I’m sure of it.

Oh, I hear Jeffrey’s key in the lock.  I’ll sign off now and hope to speak to you soon.  We’ll have to work out the time difference and Skype each other at the weekend.

I miss you.



Tuesday 25 April 2017


FFfAW Challenge-Week of April 25, 2017
Posted on April 24, 2017 by Priceless Joy
112th Challenge

Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

Week of 04-25 through 05-01-2017

This week's photo prompt is provided by Dawn Miller. Thank you Dawn for our photo prompt!

Guide for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers
1. A prompt photo will be provided each Tuesday to be used as a base to your story. Please include photo prompt with your story.
2. Linking for this challenge begins on Tuesday and runs to the following Monday evening.
3. Please credit photo to photographer.
4. The story word limit is 100 – 150 words (+ – 25 words). Please try and stay within this limit.
5. Pingback to the challenge post in your story's post.
6. This is a flash fiction challenge (stories in 100-175 words or less) and each story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Therefore, no serial (continuation) stories. They become too complicated for our readers.
7. Add your story to the InLinkz Link-up (Blue Froggy button). Please let me know if you need link-up instructions.
8. Please keep stories below R rating.
9. Please respect the diversity of our readers and writers in regard to race, religion, and life style choice when writing your stories.

10. Remember, half the fun is reading and commenting on each other's stories.

Photo credit:  Dawn M. Miller


Oh, it’s so nice to sit and take the weight off my feet

We’ll sit here, it’s nice and discreet

Table 19, wish I was that age again

No, don’t laugh, I can still look at men

Ooh you are awful my dear

I know but my eyes are still clear

I popped on a bit of mascara

Not too much, don’t look like a Geisha

Pfft, a drop of rouge and a bit of lippy

You’d never know you used to be a hippy

Ooh, you are a one, Dorothea

Do you want a drop of tequila?

I brought my hip flask, just a dash?

Go on then, just a splash.

I’ve got the giggles

Sit still, don’t wiggle

Be ladylike and demure

We’ve got time for a manicure

And a pedicure

Well that hit the spot

I feel quite hot

It’s your age my dear

It’s nothing to fear.

Word count: 151

Sunday 23 April 2017


Each week a photo is used, donated by one of the participants of Sunday Photo Fiction, and the idea is to write a story with the photo as a prompt in around 200 words. Please include a mention and / or link to whoever donated the photo.  Maximum word limit 200.  Click on the link above to read other stories and join in.

Our photo prompt this week is from John Brand. 
Photo credit:  John Brand


She called him in for refreshments.  Paul left the wheelbarrow on the edge of the lawn as he wiped his brow.  A surreptitious sniff of his body, yes, he was happy with that smell, not offensive, just a manly odour.  It was a good job he’d remembered his deodorant this morning.

He stood on the threshold of the kitchen door, not wanting to go in, his boots may have dirt on them, besides the lady in the kitchen was certainly a class above him, so the correct thing to do would be to wait for a proper invitation.

It wasn’t long in coming.  On the wooden table, covered with a plastic cloth was a jug of lemonade, a plate of homemade chocolate buns and a glass tumbler, a plate and a serviette. 

Eleanor smiled at Paul as he enjoyed her home cooking.  As he wiped his mouth and picked up his glass of iced lemonade, remembering to hold his little finger out a bit, the lady startled him by saying:

‘I knew your dad quite well. He certainly taught me a thing or two.’

Paul spluttered.

‘About my garden, you silly thing,’ Eleanor patted his arm.
Word count: 197

Thursday 20 April 2017

Writing Prompt for Wednesday Stories 4/19/17
·       April 13, 2017

Debb from Inner Sunshine has chosen  this week’s prompt suggested by myself.   
Write a story, composition, or poem about “What Is a Friend?”  No length limit, no minimum word count.  If you wish, submit your own photo (or a photo within the public domain) to go along with what you write.  Above all else, share the love and just have fun!

A wise woman once told me that throughout your life you could only ever count true friends on the fingers of one hand.  Five friends throughout your life?  Everyone else, she told me, were only acquaintances, true friends you will only ever have five in your lifetime.

To explore that a bit more my mind thinks back to what expectations of friendship were and what they are now.   

As a young school child everybody in the class was your friend.  I came from a small village and all the children my age were expected to be friends, all the families knew each other.  At age 11 we separated to different schools and were expected to make new friends. 

I went to an all girls’ school.  Friendships between girls are all in or all out and, as in any school, there are bullies and cliques and oddballs and popular groups.  If you didn’t fit in to any of the ‘normal’ categories you may not have been classed as a friend.

You learn as you become older what makes a friend and hopefully you learn what you need to do or be to become a friend to somebody else but then sometimes you come across friend betrayal.
As I mature in years I’ve come across many people in my life, some there is an instant ‘click’ with them and some perhaps take longer to accept and on the odd occasion some give you that frisson of unease which leads to dislike.

Many friends may have the same likes and dislikes as you do in which you can form a bond.  Surprisingly sometimes you can form a bond and a friendship with people who have totally different likes or dislikes. 

Life moves in cycles and you may move, change careers, have families, life takes you in different directions from your friends, then you have contact after a long absence and just pick up from where you left off.  No awkward moments, no judgements, you’ve already put the time in and you know when the proverbial hits the fan they will be there for you.

Now we come to the modern world and how our horizons have shrunk with better and quicker communications, although that sometimes leads to misunderstandings.  Social media, emails, Skype, texting, photos on various platforms, the written word sometimes gets lost.  As much as it is lovely to stay in touch with family and friends who are distant, geographically as well as in time with work and their own lives and families, it can be quite daunting to stop and think what you should put in an email or a text message or instant message.

We have family in the States and Australia and New Zealand and we can send pictures of our lives, we can stay in contact with them.  My octogenarian parents have found Facebook and absolutely love it for staying in touch with expanding family, new babies, etc.

For myself I have found some lovely virtual friendships through social media, we may never meet in person but we can enjoy each other’s company especially when they live thousands of miles away.  I can wake up in the morning to a message from someone in Australia or New Zealand and my friends in the States or Jamaica can wake up to a post from me.

Is your husband/wife/partner your best friend?

Is your mother your best friend or your father or your sister(s) or brother(s)?

Can you call your son(s) or daughter(s) your best friend or is that a different kind of relationship?

Is there scale of 1 – 10 in friendships?

Who is your number one friend?

Who can you call when you are trouble?

Is it family?

Is it a friend?

Who will drop everything to be by your side when you need them?

Who avoids you when you are going through tough times?

As social standards and morals change, attitudes and behaviours alter and adapt we find we accept different types of friendships.

In 2017 times have changed, sexual discrimination is better than it used to be, race and ethnicity are blending, different religious beliefs are becoming less inflammatory, even non-religious beliefs are not as taboo as they used to be.  We still have an awful long way to go to get rid of all bigotry and prejudice but with the opening up of communications, quick and easy access to information (not all of it true or correct) social stigma, class divide, gender issues etc. are becoming more and more blended.  


We can only hope that a special friendship could last a lifetime.

Photo credit:  Sally Stackhouse

These two special ladies have been friends for more than 60 years.  They are both octogenarians.  My mother (June) is the brunette on the right of the picture and her best friend, Helen, is on the left.

For many years in their early married lives they lived in the same village almost opposite each other, their children were born within a few years of each other.  In fact my mother helped Helen deliver her second baby as he came so quickly and before the midwife was able to arrive. 

Both women have been married to their husbands for 60+ years and both have celebrated Diamond Wedding Anniversaries.

Due to distance and physicality problems they don’t get to see each other very often (although they only live half an hour’s drive away) but they take turns in telephoning each other once a month and can talk for more than two hours at a time. 

They are best friends, wives, mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers.  They have seen an awful lot in their lives.  They have lost loved ones.  Helen is in remission from cancer. 

Helen is a wonderful knitter and made intricate woollen garments.  Mum is a fantastic embroiderer.  They are both good cooks and still, to this day, cook a meal from scratch with fresh ingredients most days of the week. 

This is a special friendship.


I would like to wish June and Helen many more years of friendship. 

Wednesday 19 April 2017


Here is my contribution to this wonderful blog hop hosted by Denise and Yolanda who do wonderful things for the WEP community, thank you both for all your hard work.

The theme this month, as you can see, is Peace and Love, it is also Poetry month and also in the month of April runs another fantastic blog hop of the A-Z challenge.  So Peace and Love fits in with poetry and with the P post for the date of 19th April for those who have taken on the A-Z challenge.

I have a poem followed by a short flash fiction.


Born too late to be a hippy
Incense sticks of Patchouli
The smell of musk
From dawn to dusk
Fringes and bells
Long skirts a tripping hell
The mantra of peace and love
A symbol of a pair of doves
Free spirited non-conforming
Tall tales and story telling
Still needed to earn a crust
Paying rent was a must
Never mind finding food
For me not the starving in the world
A chance in a lifetime of a trip
An adventure can’t be missed
Three days in a field of grass
A flimsy tent pitched in a morass
Of people, unwashed, unclean
But proud to be seen


They said the words peace and love
Far out man, out of sight, white dove
Music played fierce and loud
Rocking out over the crowds
They smoked the peace pipe
Looking like the stereo type
Unwashed, long haired hippies
Bell bottom jeans covered idiosyncrasies


The sights and sounds, smells
Hell and jingling bells
She wanted to go home
Where she belonged
She couldn’t pretend anymore
She didn’t want to score
It wasn’t her scene
She wanted to be clean



Several decades later a dim and distant memory
Growing hazier as life crowds her story
The elusive peace and love
Striving for the two white doves
Letting go, giving in, standing strong
So much that went wrong
Everyone makes mistakes
It is life’s outtakes
Learn and move forward
Chin up, don’t be a coward



Some people find peace and love from spirituality
Some find peace and love from Christianity
Or other forms of worship and beliefs
They bring comfort and relief

A creed, a tenet to live your life by
Sometimes you stray
The path meanders
The lines blur
You become an actor
Scrabbling for an anchor
Holding back the pain of the past
Looking for forgiveness at last

You take a wrong turn
You should have learned
To slow down and consider
The pros and cons before you answer

Before you jumped or leapt
Maybe you should have sidestepped
Not backwards but sideward
Before moving pieces on the chessboard



The wind blows through the trees as she steps on the cushioned carpet of bluebells, her hair whips around her face, sticking to her lips with their protective covering of lip salve on them.  The breeze lessens as she walks in to the lee of the copse.   The air hangs and hovers, a feeling of peace envelopes her, stilling her mind, calming her heart.  She becomes one with the earth, grounding herself in to the soil.  The smells of the wood, the iron musky odour of moist undergrowth assails her nostrils. She breathes even deeper, ingesting the power of the ancient world.

She touches the gnarled bark of the closest tree.  Her palm feels the roughness of the wood, she watches a battle of man against beast, spears are flung; they find their mark grievously wounding the animal.  A horde of men dismember the flesh, inner organs a delicacy before they remove the carcass to their womenfolk.  The meat will feed the tribe for many days.

She places her other hand round the side of the tree, pressing her body against the girth of the tree, through her outer garments she becomes aware of another scene, this time the birth of a young child and her heart is filled with joy and love.  It is a precious boy, long awaited to take his rightful place, in due course, as leader of the clan.

She presses her cheek against the bark, it scratches her, marking her skin.  She pulls back, recoiling at the sudden shock of the pain.  Where did the peace go?

Stepping back she looks around her.  There.  Movement at the edge of the wood.  The shrill notes of a mobile phone disturbs the air, discordant, dissonance sounds, a baritone voice answers the insistent instrument.

‘I’ve found her.  Yes, I’ll bring her back to the car, don’t worry, she’ll be fine.’

Michael steps in to the line of her vision, he holds out his hand, encouraging her with a smile to come forward in to his embrace. 

Jane shakes her head.  ‘I’m not ready,’ she whispers, ‘I need more time.’

Michael pulls her gently away, he strokes her arms, strokes her hair, pushes strands behind her ears, kisses her forehead.  ‘I’ll stay with you.  You know I love you so much my darling.  I’ll always love you but you know we need to get back.  The doctor is waiting for you.’

Jane nods in acknowledgement.  They think she needs help.  They think she is going mad, maybe she is but she knows what she feels is true.  She does see things.  She does feel things.  Michael thinks all he has to do is to love her more each day and she will get better.

She knows his love will help her to find peace, she knows she will love him until the end of her days.

Another vision fills her mind.  It is too abstract to make any sense of.  She starts to tell Michael she needs to go back to the tree.  He is firm in his hold as he leads her to the car park.  He seats her gently and straps her in.   Jane feels as though the seat belt is strangling her, she pulls the webbed strap becoming more and more agitated. 

She wants to go back.  She wants to feel calm.  She want to feel peaceful.  She wants to feel love surrounding her.

The doctor greets them both at the entrance to the home.  He welcomes Jane with his kindly demeanour.  He knows how hard this is for her and for Michael.  A nurse settles her in her room as Jane curls up in to the foetal position on her bed.  

Michael’s tears flow as he watches his wife succumb to the drugs the medical profession deem necessary to bring her back to an ordinary life.

Tuesday 18 April 2017


FFfAW Challenge-Week of April 18, 2017
Posted on April 17, 2017 by Priceless Joy
111th Challenge
Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers
Week of 04-18 through 04-24-2017

This week's photo prompt is provided by Yinglan. Thank you Yinglan for our photo prompt!

Guide for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers
1. A prompt photo will be provided each Tuesday to be used as a base to your story. Please include photo prompt with your story.
2. Linking for this challenge begins on Tuesday and runs to the following Monday evening.
3. Please credit photo to photographer.
4. The story word limit is 100 – 150 words (+ – 25 words). Please try and stay within this limit.
5. Pingback to the challenge post in your story's post.
6. This is a flash fiction challenge (stories in 100-175 words or less) and each story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Therefore, no serial (continuation) stories. They become too complicated for our readers.
7. Add your story to the InLinkz Link-up (Blue Froggy button). Please let me know if you need link-up instructions.
8. Please keep stories below R rating.
9. Please respect the diversity of our readers and writers in regard to race, religion, and life style choice when writing your stories.

10. Remember, half the fun is reading and commenting on each other's stories.

N.B. our lovely host has suffered a bereavement - my condolences to you and your family. 

Photo Credit:  Yinglan


The past is just the past

Not always made to last

Leading into disrepair

Rotting in the night air

The damp and dew

Eventually becomes mildew

No renovations necessary

A piece of history

Some people call it an eyesore

She knew it held more

A story waiting to be told

But the land must be sold

More houses will be built

There will be no guilt

A large corporation with no soul

Came in and stole

The heart of the community

Despite all the appeals

So now in the summer

They will turn the acres

Into luxury apartments

High fee paying tenants

Commuters to London town

Original inhabitants will drown

In hooray Henrys

Buzzing round like bees

Loud and obnoxious

They say this is progress.

Word count: 132