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Weekly photo challenge: Grand

My grand old man took these photos:


Of all the mountains
big or small,
scenes or vistas,
the grandest view
I’ll ever see
is one my dog
can share
with me.

Weekly photo challenge: Let there be light!

Jersey’s Glass Church has the most effective use of glass and light that I’ve ever seen. Of course, that’s to be expected, because René Lalique used moulded white glass, or verre blanc moulé-pressée for most of the furniture, including the font, windows, altars, crosses and screens. Even the Lady Chapel, ceiling, lights and vestibule feature his work. He was commissioned by Lady Trent, to create a new interior for St Matthews in memory of her late husband, Baron Trent, founder of Boot’s Pharmacy. It took two years and was completed in 1934. Jersey architect AB Grayson, who is well known for his Art Deco style houses, designed the pews, pulpit and lectern.

Going, going …

Daily Prompt: To Boldly Go…

An impending new year gives rise to reflection and goal setting. What will your goals for 2014 be? It’s never to early to start thinking about self improvement!

Photographers, artists, poets: show us CONTEMPLATION.

To keep this simple, here are my resolutions in pictures:

In 2014 I will

reduce my intake of refined sugar

look before I leap

count my blessings (especially the little ones)
watch out for angels in disguise

listen more than I speak

keep a record of miracles

AND clean out the fridge regularly.

Weekly photo challenge: Unexpected

We were looking for what we imagined was a country restaurant with a view. After a couple of U-turns and one kilometre too many eating dust behind cattle trucks, I finally spotted a sign: “The Lookout”.

Could that be it? A sturdy old gate with flaky white paint and a national monument badge on the gatepost hinted that it wasn’t. But we had come too far to be deterred by such minor details. Reluctantly my 93-year-old mother allowed herself to be unpacked from the car. The gate creaked in sympathy. As we carefully picked our way down the uneven, winding path, high bushes made it impossible to see more than a few meters ahead, so I went on alone to spy out the land.

I don’t know what I was expecting. Certainly not two graves, side by side: Sir Percy Fitzpatrick and his wife. And round the corner, Sir Percy’s bequest to the world — his favourite view of the Sundays River Valley, from this Lookout.

The Latin inscription is from Job 32:  "But it is the spirit in a person, the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding."

The Latin inscription is from Job 32:8 “But it is the spirit in a person, the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding.”


Today Fitzpatrick is remembered mainly for Jock of the Bushveld, which is based on the bedtime stories he told his four children. It was his friend, Rudyard Kipling, who persuaded him to publish them. Sadly Fitzpatrick’s eldest son died in France in 1917 and the other two died within a week of each other over Christmas 1927 – one in an accident in Johannesburg and the other of typhoid in Mexico. Only his daughter outlived him.

It was Sir Percy who prompted George V to proclaim at the end of World War I “that at the hour when the Armistice came into force, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, there may be for the brief space of two minutes a complete suspension of all our normal activities … so that in perfect stillness, the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead.”

But perhaps a man of Sir Percy’s sunny and optimistic nature would prefer to be remembered as a pioneer of South Africa’s citrus industry. I wonder if so many orchards of this sunshine fruit could be seen from his farm Amanzi in the 1920s.

Best friends

Daily Prompt: Love to Love You

What do you love most about yourself? What do you love most about your favorite person? Are the two connected?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us LOVE.


I love that I am little
because you lift me up
I love that you are wiser
because you show me the way
Perhaps one day you’ll need me
as I now depend on you
to keep shadows at bay

Leafy layers



My book Upside Down is ready for publication on Smashwords. I have my cover, the editing’s done. But like this robin chat I can’t resist turning over a few more leaves just in case. The trouble is, there are so many layers to our lives. My book is fiction, but it is based on historical events. When is the research done? When is enough enough? My editor says the time has come. She even edited out some extraneous detail. I couldn’t agree more. But when someone sends an sms to say he’s got more to say … I’m tempted. And when I read another book, one that contradicts earlier facts … I wonder.

I’ve told myself that a work of fiction is just that. I am not obligated to get every detail right. My characters are allowed to be fallible too. Their opinions are not the last word. But still, I feel compelled to look, to dig beneath those layers of leaves and scrabble through the dirt.

Fair Game


Daily Prompt: The Perfect Game
You’re set to play poker (or Scrabble or something else . . .) with a group of four. Write a story set during this game. Or, describe the ideal match: the players, the relationships — and the hidden rivalries.

Photographers, artists, poets: show us COMPETITION.

“She’s done it again,” Anne hissed to Mandy. They exchanged eyebrows as Steffy blissfully arranged her letters in the lower left hand corner of the scrabble board, nowhere near the game in play, so she could use a red triple word square.
“That’s not allowed!” Zoe shut her scrabble dictionary with a snap. “Not allowed. You have to connect your word to the others.” Although Zoe wagged her head and pursed her lips to prove her point, Steffy continued taking fresh letters out of the bag, a tremulous smile tugging gently at the corners of her mouth.
“She’ll still lose,” Mandy whispered to Zoe. “Don’t make a fuss.”
“Hmmf.” But Zoe went ahead with her multiple letter, high-scoring coup. “All the same. There are rules.”
“I’m thinking,” said Steffy.
“The sky will fall,” hissed Zoe.
“I’m thinking of having Botox.”
Mandy stopped mid-turn, her hand poised gannet-beaked above the board. “BoTOX,” she repeated, “The ‘tox’ stands for ‘toxic’. That’s poison to you and me.”
“There’s a woman across the road, three doors down, who does it,” Steffy continued, humming contentedly as she added more letters to her private game in the corner.
“It’s Mandy’s turn,” said Zoe loudly. But Mandy was spellbound, listening to Steffy.
“She does fillers and ‘peels’ too. What’s a peel?”
“They take off your old skin. I think it’s painful.” Mandy’s gannet plummeted. A neat a three-letter splat just where Anne was planning to go.
“Aw,” said Anne. “Bummer.”
“Stephanie, I’m not giving you a score until it’s your turn. And then only if you join your word to the others.”
“Why, Steffy?” Steffy patted Mandy’s beaked hand with her own freckled claw.
“Jeff says I’m not the woman he married. I want to change that.”
“Of course you’re not. That was ten years ago. AND he’s sixteen years younger than us.”
“You lucky devil” added Anne.
“I warned you at the time” said Zoe.
“It costs,” said Mandy. “And it doesn’t last. You need to keep doing it every three months.”
“Steffy’s got the money. Come to that, we’ve all got the money.” Mandy topped up their iced tea.
“Wealthy Widow Women.” Anne took every opportunity to remind them of her own special name for their gang, even though it had only been vaguely funny in the first place, and Steffy wasn’t and hadn’t been a widow for the last ten years.
“It’s your turn, Anne.” Zoe sipped her tea like it was poison. “This is warm, Mandy. Cold things must be cold. Put mine back in the fridge.” It was Mandy’s apartment, so she didn’t mind, but Zoe would have acted the same at her own place round the corner. They just did her bidding. It was easier. Except for Steffy, of course.
Anne added an ‘s’ to Zoe’s word, which led to an argument about the score.
“B…O…T…O…X…” Steffy placed her letters over another triple word square.
“That’s a proper noun! And a trade name! You can’t do that.” Zoe swept the letters off the board.
“This is meant to be a friendly game” protested Anne, “So we don’t need rules.”
“Don’t need rules? Don’t need rules?”
“Tell you what,” said Mandy, tipping the board so that all the letters slid into a heap, “What d’you say we take a little walk across the road to the Botox lady and find out a bit more?”
Steffy opened her purse and took out her lipstick, and Anne grabbed her walker.
“I’m game!” she said.
Only Zoe frowned her disapproval. “Perfect,” she said, “Just perfect.” But she was gathering up her things all the same.