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Fiction Friday. A Prologue Snippet.

This is an excerpt from some Fiction that I am currently working on. 

Every morning as dawn broke the Church doors would unlock and Amy would take a walk in and around the church grounds; she’d look at the headstones, there were a few new ones; but mainly old and now lost and forgotten. Many thoughts crossed her mind,  even those of wonder –  whether this would soon become her final resting place; wondering if she would even get a headstone and if her unborn baby would be with her.    Amy had even envisaged a burial plot; under a pretty little tree that she imagined would blossom during the summer months; sprinkling petals over her abandoned grave in years to come.

She continued to gently walk aimlessly.   She began to talk a little to her delicate bulging stomach, this would be the only conversation she would have. A cold chill swirled around her;  it was then she decided to go back inside the church; where once again the doors would close magically behind her.

The frail old woman hurriedly approached her; where she became forceful with Amy; almost seemed frustrated with her. Forcefully holding her by the arms while she placed her hand hard onto Amy’s growing stomach, she muttered something quickly and quietly; which sounded like a chant or a spell; willing the birth of the unborn baby quicker.   She ripped her hand away. Amy stepped away quickly; wrapping her arms around her stomach for protection for her unborn child. Frowning at the woman; confused by her new hostile behaviour.

Outside, a blizzard was looming; heavy snow hit the stained glass windows of the church, Amy silently but quickly made her way to the big Oak doors, they hadn’t yet been bolted from her walk outside; she had only assumed she had now outstayed her welcome with Cora the person she had looked to as an angel that had taken care of her these last weeks.   But as she neared them the bolts pulled themselves across to lock the door.   Amy hadn’t noticed that the elderly woman was right behind her; ready to pull Amy away from the door, with some surprising force, to stop the teen from escaping.

She pushed Amy to the floor.   Shocked and frightened she slowly got to her feet; looked at her attacker then looked around. She was looking for some kind of exit and she noticed a little oak door to the side of her; maybe this could be her door…   She pushed, pulled, even kicked it; while tugged at the dirty brass doorknob; with no movement; it was very old and locked.    Cora followed the 14-year old’s every move, every footstep-like a shadow.  She again grabbed Amy with force by her arm.

Pulling her close, she placed her hand tightly onto Amy’s large pregnant stomach; she let out a horrified and painful gasp while tearing herself away from the cold elderly hands, replacing them with her own warm hands, protecting her unborn child.  Cora disappeared.

Amy took the opportunity to try and escape again through the old side door, “Surely there is a way to get out of here?” She muttered to herself. Amy once again kicked and punched the door.  She could see movement out of the corner of her eye, Amy turned to see the not so frail Cora slowly walking effortlessly towards her – as if she was gliding- carrying something in her arms.

Amy began to panic throwing bibles, prayer mats and iron candlestick holders at the woman; all of which missed her.  When Amy failed to hit the woman in self-defence, she began throwing the objects at the ancient church stained glass windows in the hope it could be her escape route; or the very least a passerby would hear. She finally smashed a window; one of which had the beautiful Virgin Mary mastered in to.  This angered the woman; she quickened her pace toward the terrified pregnant girl.

The elderly woman carried a bowl of warm water and fabric – possibly old curtains.  Amy concentrated harder on her escape she wasn’t quite tall enough to reach the window she had smashed; for a moment she couldn’t see Cora. The hood of her cloak now rested on her shoulders. Thick, unkempt, white hair down to her shoulder blades.

Cora was able to creep right up behind Amy, pulling her with force off the pew she was standing on to attempt her escape; she hit the floor, hard.  Cora grabbed Amy by a handful of hair; dragging her whilst she kicked. Cora came across a frail, elderly lady; but the truth was she had utter strength behind her. Amy yelled in pain toward the open space at the altar.

Amy silenced herself with fear, now lying on the cold stone floor, too scared to move.  Cora stood over her as she forcefully pulled Amy’s legs to buckle beneath her.  Amy attempted to stop her by kicking which only made Cora angry; making the grip tighter, with that unbelievable strength.  With her long thin pointy fingers, she placed them deep beneath Amy’s tatty long skirt…

It all happened so fast; Cora stood up and took a step back watching as pain ripped through Amy’s tiny teenage body.  Water surrounded the girl making it too slippery for her to stand.  There were waves of pain which paralysed her; all the while she still tried to protect her unborn baby with nothing but just her arms.  Amy thoughts were only to her death, she knew she was about to die, no one would know or even care. Not even her family, she was dead to them, the moment she discovered her pregnancy.  She tried to stand, but could only kneel; she was desperate for the pain to disappear.  Cora continued to stand close, arms folded with no emotion or word to say; she pulled Amy to her feet dragging her a short space to the font; where she submerged the girl’s head into the clear water…

Fiction

Source: Tumblr

My Cheerful List #2

Thank you for joining week two of My Cheerful List. (Here is last week’s #1)

First full week of school begun this week; although Mini is still doing half days until the first week of October, it has been lovely to return to some kind of routine. However beginning reception has brought the obligatory cold fest. One chesty four year old and a two year old who is following suit; added vitamins from now on in. Mini is thankfully in good spirits, with a very noisy chest.

I have been feeling bloody awful this week, but amongst the feeling grotty I have managed to find a few cheerful things.

Moo Music

Beginning Baby Red’s Moo Music Journey. I’ve never been to a structured play group before; it has been almost a year since we left the toddler group I once loved. We both really enjoyed it; she most certainly did. Lots of singing, some signing, even dancing although Baby Red spent a lot of her time running around giggling in an endless circle. It was our first one to one outing too, which was lovely. It’ll be nice when we have longer in the day to do more things.

 

Planking

Completing my first week in the Darebee Planking and Push- Up challenges. I’m already struggling with them; I’m only on 1 minute and 20 seconds! It is for 30 days, only 1500 to go…

Sales

Going out with a friend; we went to a baby and toddler sale in Wellington; we go to them quite regularly in different places. Both being of bigger families the sales really help with keeping things like clothing costs down, whilst I guess recycling. I am a huge fan of eBay and car boot sales, charity shops too. This trip wasn’t as arm filling as usual, but I did buy some bits for Baby Red. Trying to get a decent photo of her in it wasn’t the easiest.

Drink and cake with said friend. Once we had finished at the sale we popped in and had cake and milkshake; which was lovely. I haven’t really been with company lately. It was nice to get out.

BLM Secret Sisters

There is an organisation on Facebook which pairs up parents who have lost a baby. For three months we are essentially pen pals; but with a difference. We don’t write to each other, the people organising it, gives me an address where I write to one mum, a different mum writes to me; all done in secret until the third month where we reveal our names and stories.

At the end we send gifts with a budget of £20, and during the 3 months you can send little gifts with your cards too, I received my first one for this round this week.

 

How has your week been?

Have you managed to find something cheerful in your week?

Thank you for reading

 

The Red Head Diaries

 

ten things to do before I'm 40

My Wish List Ten Things To Do Before I Reach 40

I hit 35 this year; I have finished having babies, now I get the pleasure of watching them grow. My 30th birthday I was newly grieving, suffering with Hyperemesis, anxiety in pregnancy; hoping hard that the baby I was carrying would get to live. Here’s my before 40 wish list.

We don’t have a high income, so I can’t see much of the list being ticked off, but I like lists and well; you just never know.

 

Wish One

See someone in concert. I would really love to see P!nk, I think she really is awesome her music has gotten me through some tough times, and also been the soundtrack to some fun times too. I know how desperate my daughter is currently wanting to see Little Mix at the moment, so it would well be them before P!nk. At least one would be nice.

 

Wish Two

Be free from anxiety and depression. It has really hit me hard this year. It is currently knocking me on my arse. Where really I would like to kick the two in the arse; maybe even rid it altogether. They are hideous things to fight. I want to be happy.

 

Wish Three

Publish another book; either traditionally (doubtful) or Indie Publish. I’ve so many planned, two that I have started out of a series I am putting together, and half way through a thriller, which is kind of out of my comfort zone – this one in particular I would like to finish, as I started it in 2010; it isn’t even a long story. Fear is maybe holding me back. I love writing so much, but I also procrastinate a lot. There is also a book planned out in my head within my niche.

I have to complete this one.

 

Wish Four

See more of the United Kingdom. I am not one for actively wanting to travel abroad; there is so much heritage here I would like to see first, many of which really fascinates me. I’d love to visit Scotland, take a trip Harry Potter World. I would love to see many more National Trust properties, I think they’re wonderful. Visiting Liverpool and Peterborough to see some special friends, after the times they have visited me. I would love to complete at least one thing from this section.

 

Wish Five

To arrange (and do) meeting some of my online friends. I have made some amazing friends through Babycentre over the years; some since 2011…I think it is about time we met face to face.

 

Wish Six

Renew our wedding vows at a place we originally wanted to take our marriage vows at. But we’re a solid unit, we have been through hell; we are incredibly close. I think I’d worry that by renewing we would jinx and spoil what we already have.

 

Wish Seven

Confidence building; learn to care less about what others think of me. I think this has had a huge impact on my attempt at healing from section two; particularly at the moment. I need to like myself, maybe love myself. Learn that sometimes when shit happens it isn’t because I deserve it, or because it is my fault. Bad things happen, relationships, friendships fade, it isn’t always on me. I have a terrible habit of blaming myself for everything, for lost friendships. It hurts me, no one else. Just me. I am ruining my own life, my own self esteem by continuing this train of thought. I deserve to be happy; my islands (Inside Out) need to remain lit. I know a friend who will be pleased with this number.

 

Wish Eight

Decorate our house, so it is Instagram friendly LOL! I love our house; the area in which we live but we have had babies, financial issues (always boils down to this), health crap. It is time to give our house some love; make it our home.

 

Wish Nine

Finish the bloody garden! Each year we start off really well, then we either get really nice weather where we want to go out make memories, our weekends are tied up with the children’s hobbies or the weather is really crap, making it difficult to get out there. Again no money and time plays a factor, man power too. I’ve only got to see a spider run across my foot and I am gone; poor husband has to fight with the garden. That and a very clingy toddler; we find ourselves back to square one. Always an excuse.

 

Wish Ten

Get down and stay at a healthy weight. I am fed up with being a size 18-20/22; round and plump. But I guess it comes back to the vicious circle that dislikes myself, then comfort eating, poor confidence. CRAP excuses I know, but it needs to change and I am already making a start, if you’re following me on Instagram you’ll see. I want to be the Grandparent that takes their grandchildren out for the day, see my children get married. Then I need to get healthy, and happy.

 

Then I can think long and hard about what to do before I hit 50!

 

What is your wish list before a milestone age?

 

The Red Head Diaries

Camp Westival*

 Camping in The Cotswolds, in Oxfordshire.

Westival 2017

The *Westival, named after Mr Red’s Family on his Mum’s side.  We have had this wonderful get together now for the past four years. Our home for four days was in an 8-man tent on a camping site in Chipping Norton. A car and top box rammed to the brim, ready for this annual family meet.

We’ve met twice in North Devon – where my husband is from. The meet took us to Nottingham last year, where we got bitten a lot by insects.

This year The Cotswolds. Such a lovely part of the country, I’d like to be able to investigate further one day, see more of it.

So it rained for more than half of our stay, the road by the camp site was very busy and noisy, even at night, but it really was a lovely time away.

The Thursday it had taken us a good few hours to get there, so it was mainly about settling in, tents up, and a take away was the menu for the day.

Sight Seeing

Friday we took a trip to Oxford in the morning, such a beautiful City, would love to spend more time there exploring. We really loved the old buildings, such character. In the afternoon we paid a visit to a National Trust property – Chastleton House in Morton in Marsh, yet another stunning National Trust property to tick off of our visit list. Unfortunately the weather was hideous so we didn’t spend long here at all; we did pop into the Church within the grounds and had light refreshments. BBQ with the family in the evening completed the day.

Chaselton House. National Trust

Chaselton House

Fairy Tale Farm

Saturday whilst the “older” generation went for a pub lunch, we took a trip to Fairy Tale Farm, although started off damp and very breezy it did end up being a lovely time out. The children totally enjoyed this play place, lots of things to see and do, with many sensory items.

Fairy Tale Farm Leaflet

There was Bunny Hollow, with a role play kitchen, which the smaller girls enjoyed, the entrance to the hollow were little flower beds with plastic flowers, although it wasn’t obvious.

Two sheds with a path in between had some hidden secrets, with buttons to press, where lights turned on inside, and snippets of fairy tales were told. Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Red Riding Hood. Although Sleeping Beauty was slightly creepy.

Out the other side were sea creature statues, which Baby Red hated, especially the singing Mermaid (think Pirates of the Caribbean singing Sirens creepy).

There were more sensory things as we walked through, things to do, to see and to hear. Even the 12 year old enjoyed herself.

A mermaid statue two girls playing at a toy cooker young girl feeding sheep.

There was a play park with picnic area, the children – young and old enjoyed that; including Rubber Duck Racing! Fun.

DSCF3536

An animal area was last in the outdoor activities, we were able to buy animal feed to feed them; we chose guinea pigs and goats.

animal feeding

Think that was one of their favourite activities.

Inside we brought cheeky cake, there was a small play area for younger children to play; which was lovely.

The day was value for money, would recommend it to anyone with young children.

westival

 

Chipping Norton

Had a walk around Chipping Norton, very small town, not a lot there much like where I live, but a bit more upmarket…

chipping norton

DSCF3597The day ended with an evening together in a big group for another BBQ, even the rain held off. It is lovely to feel so welcomed by these people.

 

It was so lovely to get away, we are already making plans for our next camping trips; the children really do love it.

camping

I really can’t believe the School holidays are almost over, they have gone unbelievably quick; I do have some Mummy guilt about not doing a lot this year.  But it can’t be helped; we have done what we could.

 

The Red Head Diaries

The Red Head Diaries

Saal Digital UK Photo Book 


​I love taking photos; I take them at every possible opportunity. For me it is important to make memories, but to also make them last. In a digital world it can often make us forget to take the hundreds of photos from USB sticks, our phones, our flash drives. Placed into thousands of folders on screens rather than in shoe boxes or albums. It is always on one of my “to do lists”, to print and sort out the literal thousands of photos I have stuck in my many devices. But of course never gets done.

I have just recently been given the opportunity to review a Photo book, from Saal Digital UK. I have brought a couple of photo books in the past, they have been okay – pretty run of the mill; so I wasn’t entirely sure on what to expect when my new photo book arrived.

I have been really pleasantly surprised by this photo book, if I am honest I wish now I had chosen “better” photos, but I love them all the same, I can’t wait to use these books for some of my landscape photos.

I really love what I have received, and have been showing it off to anyone who will listen and will be back to purchase another, it’ll certainly make the memories a lot easier to look through.

The Saal Digital UK and software is really easy to use, with clear easy to follow instructions (which make me very happy).

They do a selection of products from prints to Calendars.

There are a variety of choices for the photo books including hard covers, booklets with spiral binding and soft covers.

My Book is made up of glossy texture, with an unpadded glossy cover 15×21 with 28 pages.

Would I recommend Saal Digital UK?

Yes definitely. There was a really quick turnover from ordering to it reaching me, which is brilliant for last minute shoppers. Thank you for such a great experience.

The Red Head Diaries

Cricket St Thomas. A Trip Down Memory Lane

Cricket St Thomas

It is strange, the older we get the more sentimental we get about things we never realised were that important. You can go about your everyday life, when something, someplace, someone triggers so many memories; you find yourself walking down memory lane.

Childhood

On an outing to have afternoon tea with a friend at a location I had grown up visiting – many, many times; we chose to take a walk around the gardens, of course, it was a little wet.

The grounds are truly beautiful, but there is also this hidden world within.

(Google images)

Cricket St Thomas was home to many childhood memories, where we would spend a lot of our weekends; our family like a lot of the families in our area had family passes due to having milk deliveries, so it was mostly a reasonably cheap local place to have a family day out.

Remember pulling up in the car park, keen to run around, keen to see what things we could do, my Dad (may he rest in peace), absolutely loved going, insisted we went most weekends, I can remember having a little moan about repeatedly going, but looking back now as an adult I can see the attraction, especially with the family passes.

There was so much to see and do; so many animals – Lemurs, Otters Big Cats as well as the famous Sea lions, I remember there were regular shows involving them. There is the stunning Manor; it was once the setting for BBC show To The Manor Born. As well as the beautiful little church set within the grounds.

Memories

If we were lucky enough we’d get a ride on the railway, with two stations, it took us past the flamingos, through some woodland, I remember seeing a wooden play area, within the woods, the children who would be playing would wave as the train journeyed by. As we reached the stations and left the train behind us, we could hear the noises of the jungle cat jeep, and below was a steep d hill down towards the mill which looked out over the lake, there was a machine half way down on the railings, where you could buy duck feed; it would either not work at all, or give you lots of the feed. That is still there.

There were buildings looking out on to the lake, where at one point you could do crafts, but eventually became a little café, behind were stables, deer and horses (I think) lived there.

Beautiful picnic areas, the iron figures which were dotted around the park and the wooden play fort made this wildlife park a wonderful place to make memories.   At the end of the day we’d follow the road, which felt like it was never ending out through fields, occasionally you’d see the animals as you drove by. It was almost like leading you to a sense of calm for on the way home from such a busy day.

Closure

Some years later, the park would become home to “Blobby land”…You know the Pink and Yellow weird looking character, which starred in television show Noel’s House Party. Crinkly Bottom came to stay.

(Google Images)

A lot of the wildlife park became a village for Mr Blobby and even Noddy land had a special place too. There were still lots of things to do, and I remember the park remained busy each time we visited.

Sadly it didn’t last very long, and the new attractions began to close, things began to change.

The park slowed down, animals were moved out, and some of the rides were transferred to different parks. Before long the park closed as a Wildlife Park, turning into Lakes and Gardens, seeing the Manor turned into an exclusive adult-only hotel.

For a while after the main park closure, you were still able to visit with children, I was able to take two of mine for a short while, but it was never like how it was when I was growing up. 2009 was probably the final time we visited.

Memory Lane

Until recently, when a friend and I went for afternoon tea in the hotel, once we’d finished we took a walk around the gardens, it felt as though we really were walking down memory lane. Only nothing was the same. Of course, the animals, the rides, the happiness were all missing.

My friend and I went on a Saturday afternoon; as a child it would have been busy with families, walking or sitting with their picnics. But it wasn’t.

There was an eerie feel to the park, as we walked we remembered the places which we spent many an hour at, there were parts we could no longer reach or see –  the train was long gone, the water fountain redundant, discoloured from the lack of use.

Cricket St Thomas

The lake is still there and is still very beautiful, but it is without the flamingos or the sound of the train chugging by.

The train station abandoned, weeds overgrew what was once the track bed, bushes in front of us replaced what would have been the line which went from station to station.

Cricket St Thomas

The stables in which the horses once were, the area where it got busy with wondering children wanting to peer in at the animals, a bricked well stood in the middle, often parents would briefly rest there whilst the children explored the area. They were empty stables; a silence replaced what there used to be.  The further we explored the sadder the place felt, it was almost emotional I guess, seeing the places that made such wonderful memories, is now nothing but empty rusty shells.

Cricket St Thomas

Walking further, what once was the food court, a place for ice cream, or a cuppa, is now ghostly, redundant chair and table stood alone and unloved.

Walking some more, more overgrown area, stinging nettles framed a footpath, a bridge over a miniature lake, stood unused and forgotten.

Cricket St Thomas

The iron statues which were a fun feature of the original park still live within the grounds; only now there are no children playing beside them, or copying their postures. No hugs from children pretending to include them in their play.

 

Beautiful buildings, and a forgotten land.

The Church remains a stunning building, both inside and out, tiny. My friend and I entered and lit candles for our babies, (for a donation), it was peaceful.

Cricket St Thomas

The Manor remains its beautiful self too, only rather than children playing on the lawns in front, there’s space for croquet and boules. This is lovely too. But it just isn’t the same.

It is wonderful the manor is still there for tourists, or for local adults; and that the greenery to some degree also stays, no houses have been built, other ugly buildings added.

It is just such a great shame, what was once such a wonderful place to be; which is now a place where time has forgotten. Most likely never to return, that is the sad part. It could be so much more; the estate has much more to offer. Maybe one day if the hotel chain is unable to continue;  if the lakes and gardens were freely open for all, maybe someone could love the place (and financially able of course), to return it to its former glory. Our children could make the memories we once had.

 

Did you ever visit Cricket St Thomas when it was open as a wildlife park? It was well advertised on the television; and there were signs on the M5 too – they didn’t change until fairly recently.

I wish I had photos of what it was like before today.

Thank you for Reading.

The Red Head Diaries