Friday, 12 May 2017

Celebrate the small things and May Birthstones

May is one of my favourite months of the year, with it's longer and (hopefully!) warmer days and lots of blossom and flowers around to cheer us all up. It is also a time for traditional festivals. My local town is famous for Flora Day. This Spring festival celebrates the end of winter and the arrival of new vitality and fertility. Houses and shops are decorated with greenery, yellow gorse and bluebells. It looks wonderful. The dancers, and many of the crowds, wear sprigs of lily of the valley. Lily of the valley is often considered to be the birth flower for May.



For a snippet of this festival click HERE to be redirected to a You Tube clip showing the Midday dance. The ladies wear long dresses and the men top hat and tails. There are several dances throughout the day starting at 7am and finishing at 5pm. Local school children dance through the streets in white. The sound of the band playing the familiar tune vibrates through your head by the end of the day but it is an amazing spectacle that brings the whole community together.

Sadly, this year it was a little wet but this didn't dampen the spirits and a good, if tiring day, was had.

All of which leads me nicely on to emeralds, the traditional birthstone for those born during the month of May.  A very fitting gem for the spring time as the colour green symbolises nature and the renewal of life. The word emerald is derived from the Greek word, smaragdus meaning green. They are associated with qualities such as loyalty, faithfulness and friendship. Thoughts that are very much echoed in the verse from the Gregorian Birthstone Poem;

"Who first beholds the light of day,
In spring's sweet, flower month of May,
And wears an Emerald all her life,
Shall be a loved and a loving wife."

Through history emeralds have been linked to clairvoyance, memory and faith and have been reputed to be effective for a wide range of health problems including disorders of the eyes and spine, headaches, dysentery,fever, bleeding and panic.

Worn by royalty in Babylon and Egypt. Tools dating back to 1300 B.C (reign of Rameses II) have been found in emerald mines in Egypt. Queen Cleopatra's emeralds were thought to have been mined in Southern Egypt close to the Red Sea.

Romans dedicated emeralds to the goddess Venus.

Early Christians saw them as a symbol of the resurrection of Christ.

In the Middle Ages they were believed to have the power to foretell the future.

Their magnificent green colour was said to relieve the eye. Emperor Nero is reputed to have worn eyeglasses made from emeralds to protect the health of his eyes whilst watching gladiator games.

Emeralds were a popular choice in Victorian jewellery.

Emeralds are also given for a 55th wedding anniversary.

I hope you enjoyed learning more about some of the folklore surrounding emeralds. Do you have any May festivals or celebrations where you live?


Thanks to Lexa and her lovely co-hosts
            L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge 
       Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

IWSG (MAY)

Thanks to our host Alex J. Cavanaugh

co-hosts this month are Nancy Gideon, Tamara Narayan,Liesbet @ Roaming About, Michelle Wallace, and Feather Stone 

I'm trying not to let insecurities drag me down at the moment. They are definitely there, lurking and ready to pounce, but I keep pushing them away and trying not to let them get hold and knock my confidence which also feels a little fragile at the minute, so I am not going to talk about them anymore today.

What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story?

I guess one person's weird is another's normal in the case of research! It depends what you are writing about and for who. A lot of my research centres around folklore and myth - and some of that can lead to some interesting reading. 

Thanks for stopping by, I hope the insecurities are few and far between this month.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Celebrate the small things

Dropping in to post another little clutch of celebrations. Always important to remember those small things that made us smile, grin or laugh out loud!

Something that made me smile this week - The return of these little guys! For several years now they (or their descendants I suppose!) nest on an alarm box outside our bedroom window. Last year we were trying to fit some new guttering and had to delay this section until the birds had flown. Sure they make quite a bit of mess but I love watching them and waking up to the sounds of the little ones chirping from the nest. Their nest will reach right up to the boards by the time they have finished building.


Something that made me grin this week -  Finishing a round of edits! Always a good feeling even if there may be more work still to do down the line. It's good to celebrate that sense of achievement and to remind yourself that 'yes, I can do this writing thing!'


And something that made me laugh out loud! - I went to see the comedian John Bishop in a pre-tour warm-up show.

Finally,  in the UK we have May Bank Holiday this weekend, so I'm giving a shout-out to the three day weekend!


                                                     Thanks to Lexa and her lovely co-hosts
            L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge 
       Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Celebrate all things April

Thought it was time I popped in with an April post and find time to celebrate those little things that help keep us smiling.

Writing wise, I have been working on some editing and have sent a couple of things out on submission. Now, I want to get back to a new project that I started but put to one side to complete the editing.

The last couple of weeks have certainly seen the weather improve here and spring is all around. Lovely to see the blossom on the trees and new life bursting everywhere. Lots of lambs gambling about the fields too.


Last weekend we set to and started tackling some of those outside jobs that need doing. I do like seeing a beautiful garden but sadly I'm not the biggest fan of actually gardening! However, I did some weeding and sorted out the patio pots so they are looking much neater. Hubby tackled a neglected veg patch and laid some black matting so we can lay gravel on top to make a new path. Two huge bags of gravel chippings now sit waiting patiently in the driveway to be shovelled into place . . . maybe this Easter weekend's job!

                 




Hubby and I disagree over daisies in the lawn. I love to see them as I think they are pretty and remind me of sitting making daisy chains as a child, but he doesn't like anything growing in the lawn apart from grass! As a compromise, the top of our garden is a natural area and here daisies are welcome to bloom. They are quite fittingly one of the birth flowers for April. The other is the beautifully scented sweet pea. I don't have any of those, maybe I will get some.



As well as shovelling gravel this weekend, I hope to spend some time with friends and family. It is our eldest daughter's birthday so she will be coming over for a celebrations and a game of croquet if the weather allows. We have had our set for a couple of years now and it is always a fun social occasion  to get a bunch of folks together for a game. I must confess some take it more seriously than others and our lawn is in no way a flat and manicured croquet lawn! Still the slight undulations make it more fun and you need more skill to whack the ball up a bit of a hill don't you?

Talking of birthdays, leads me to the birthstone for April the diamond. Probably one of the best known of all the jewels and certainly one of the most coveted by many!

Diamonds have always been associated with love and romance. In sixteenth century England, uncut diamond crystals were set into 'scribbling rings.' and the exposed points were used by lovers to etch romantic vows into window panes.

Here are a few more interesting references to diamonds. Fact or fiction? Well, I'll let you decide. Happy birthday to those celebrating this month and there are several in my own family. Sadly, I won't be able to buy them any diamonds but they can read about them here!


  • The word diamond comes from the Greek word "adamastos" meaning invincible. Being the hardest substance known to man this would seem very appropriate.
  • The Greeks thought that diamonds possessed magical powers, being splinters of stars fallen to earth, crystallized lightening or tears of the gods.
  • The diamond trade flourished towards the 15th century with the opening of Eastern trade routes.
  • They have been used as cutting and engraving tools since early times.
  • The Middle Ages saw diamonds used as cures for ailments stemming from the pituitary gland and brain. By heating the crystal and taking it to bed it was said to purge harmful toxins from the body.
  • Diamonds have been worn by kings in battle as a symbol of strength and courage. They have been kept as talismans to ward against poisoning and phantoms.
  • Diamonds are the symbol of love and relationships, and are an ever popular gem in engagement rings.
  • They are considered useful for an individual's balance, clarity and energy especially when combined with amethysts.
  • A diamond is said to bring its owner wealth, happiness and protection.

Hope you are all having a good April and I wish you a happy Easter time. 


                                                     Thanks to Lexa and her lovely co-hosts
            L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge 
   Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Celebrate the small things

It's been another busy couple of weeks here which is why I haven't joined in this hop for a while but thought it was time to drop in and catch up a bit this week!

I'm celebrating lighter evenings and the appearance of the sunshine. We were visiting family last weekend and it was so nice to feel a little sun as we were out-and-about. Had some rain since, but it makes you feel that brighter days are ahead.

Also celebrating youngest daughter coming home from university this weekend for the Easter break. It will be nice to have her around for a while and give her some home cooking!

Not had a huge amount of time for writing but have been working on some edits and I hope to get quite a bit done next week, so progress is continuing.

Still sticking to the 'no chocolate' challenge until Easter. It's been about five weeks now.


Happy weekend

                                                     Thanks to Lexa and her lovely co-hosts
            L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge 
   Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog

Friday, 10 March 2017

Birthstones revisited (March) & Celebrate the small things

I have been re-posting my series of Birthstone posts from a couple of years ago so as we are into March here is this month's offering on the sea-inspired Aquamarine. Hope you enjoy.


The word Aquamarine is derived from the Latin words, 'aqua' meaning water and 'marina' meaning sea. Hence the translation 'Sea Water.' The colour of this lovely gem reflects its name perfectly as it is usually found in a transparent blue or sea green. One legend suggests they are found in the treasure chest of mermaids. 

The connections with the sea are obvious and legend suggests that sailors would wear an aquamarine to protect them and keep them safe at sea.

Here are some other facts and myths surrounding the lovely aquamarine, not surprisingly a lot of stories feature connections with water:


  • Archaeologists have found the stone carved in statues of the god Poseidon. 
  • Romans thought the stone capable of absorbing young love. 
  • Another Roman legend said that carving the image of a frog onto an aquamarine would reconcile enemies and indeed make them friends.
  • In Medieval times, aquamarines were believed to reawaken the love of married couples. 
  • Worn as an amulet aquamarines have been said to bring relief of pain, make the wearer friendlier and cure laziness!
  • Aquamarines have long been prized by sailors as a prevention for seasickness and as protection at sea.  Having such powers as warding off sea monsters, storms and other perils of the sea. Egyptians, Romans and Greeks believed the gem conjured the good spirits of the water.
  • The largest aquamarine was found in Brazil in 1910, it weighed around 243 pounds.
  • Aquamarine is suggested as a gem to give on the 16th and 19th wedding anniversaries. 
  • The gem has been thought to have magical healing powers for ailments relating to the stomach, liver, throat and jaw. It has even been used as an antidote against poison.
  • Fortune tellers have used aquamarines to help them look into the future and make predictions.

The verse from the traditional Gregorian Poem for this month is one of the nicest I think.

"A March born shall always be
soothed by Aqua, gem of sea
This mermaids' treasured stone you wear
Will bring happiness, love, affection and care."

Happy Birthday to all celebrating this month.

And on the topic of celebrations ...

This week I'm celebrating a couple of good writing sessions, getting over a cold and the restorative benefits of chamomile tea!

        Thanks to Lexa and her lovely co-hosts
           L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge 
   Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

IWSG (March)

Welcome to this month's gathering of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. The chance to share our own writing insecurities and help and encourage our fellow writers.

So, what am I particularly insecure about this month? Well, to be honest, it sort of relates to this month's question too!

I started off the year full of enthusiasm for my new story. I wrote 10,000 words and generally I was humming along quite nicely thank you very much. 

BUT, then I started reading through an old manuscript . . . one I hadn't worked on for a few years. And I fell in love with it all over again! A good thing right? I liked the characters, the plot was fundamentally sound and I got sucked right back into it. It does need a good edit and a bit of re-working. I feel my writing has improved so much in the interim time that I can see where I can improve things. Anyway, I liked it so much that I have spent my last few writing sessions working on it.

The only problem is, I'm feeling a bit guilty about my other newer manuscript. I have sort of left it hanging! Does anyone else do this? I suppose I can go back and work on it again later, but I think I owe it to the older one to give it a go. 

This month's group question is: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

Well, I think I have answered the first part of that question . . . you may have to wait a while before I can answer the second!



Thanks to Alex. J. Cavanaugh 

                                                              And this months Co-Hosts:
                                                                        Tamara Narayan
                                                                           Patsy Collins
                                                                             M.J. Fifield
                                                                 Nicohle Christopherson