Flash Fiction: Water Rat

River Stour at Flatford Mill, Dedham Vale, Essex, England Oct 2012 (c) Sherri Matthews

River Stour at Flatford Mill, Dedham, Essex, England Oct 2012
(c) Sherri Matthews

The small, wooden boats lined the riverbank in a neat row exactly as Ken remembered, waiting for hire by visitors suddenly overcome with the urge to take to the water.

Idiots.

Ken ambled along the path, keeping one eye on the river. Then he saw it and stopped short: the very spot where he and Muriel had picnicked before she had asked him to take her boating.

Of course darling he had said, knowing she couldn’t swim. Faking an accident on the river would be easy.

Ken jolted awake, his hopes dashed as Muriel snored peacefully by his side.

This post is in response to Charli’s ‘river’ prompt for her weekly Flash Fiction challenge, 99 words, no more, no less.

Posted in Flash Fiction | Tagged , , , | 61 Comments

Memoir Excerpt: 777 Writing Challenge

Way back in November, dear friend Sarah of Sarah Potter Writes tagged me for the 777 Challenge.  Thanks so much Sarah, and for your patience!  Sarah writes speculative fiction, sci-fi & fantasy and is also a wonderful Haiku & tanka poet, all of which she shares on her blog, together with her lovely photographs.  She is the loveliest person you could ever meet.

I haven’t heard of this challenge before, but am excited to take part:

‘The 777 challenge requires you go to Page 7 of your work-in-progress, scroll down to Line 7 and share the next 7 lines in a blog post. Once you have done this, you can tag 7 other bloggers to do the same with their work-in-progress.’

As those of you who read my blog regularly know, my WIP is my – as yet untitled – memoir, short blurb here.   It is the story of me and my American G.I. told over the course of three years, 1979 – 1981. A fractured love story that begins in Suffolk, England and ends in Los Angeles, it is one blighted by drugs, paranoia, break-ups and make-ups.  And then, just as the battle seems won, disaster stikes from which there is no recovery.

I have shared my struggles and frustrations as I go along (and thank you so much for listening), but now that I have at last settled back into my Summerhouse, I am hopeful -and dare I say, confident? –  that the first draft will be written by Easter.

Or, as The Little Engine That Could once said:  I think I can; I think I can; I think I can…

61h3iuxAWuL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_I’m borrowing this book title and cover until I get my own.
Hope Watty Piper doesn’t mind.

I cheated a bit with my excerpt; it is from page 7 but I added a few more lines. This challenge forced me to revist the first three chapters (which I wrote a year ago) earlier than planned, but I am really glad I did, as I ended up cutting three chapters into one.

This is my line 7 excerpt:

‘But as the sultry tones of Rose Royce singing ‘Wishing on a Star’  drifted through the smoke-filled haze and couples smooched on the dance floor, I made my escape. Winding my way through the throng of a sweaty, boozy crowd, I headed for the entrance, squeezing past a pair of grim-looking bouncers standing guard either side of the doors. “I’ll be going back in, just need some fresh air…” I said as one of them nodded in acknowledgement. The cool, night air melted the stifling heat away in an instant and I lit up a cigarette. Enjoying the solitude, my thoughts were only mildly interrupted by a few raised voices coming from the small group of guys gathered on the pavement opposite.  One of them suddenly broke away and walked towards the club. His crew-cut hair, Levi jeans and suede shoes had American G. I. written all over them.  Cute American G.I., I smiled to myself.  Must be looking for his girlfriend. Taking a last puff of my cigarette, I tossed it in the bin and turned to go back inside. “Excuse me Miss!” I heard in a soft American accent. Miss? Nobody had ever called me ‘Miss’ before. I turned around, surprised, only to stare into the smiling, brown eyes of the cute G.I.

The bloggers I’ve tagged are all amazing and talented writers and lovely people. No obligation, it’s a bit of fun and you’ll be pleased to know that rule-breaking is actively encouraged (shhhh…you didn’t hear that from me…):

Geoff  Le Pard of  TanGental, a lovely pal and wonderful writer with a fantastic sense of humour, he also just happens to be the published author of Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, of which I have a signed copy, woo hoo!  He is working on the sequel. Can’t wait to read a few words!

Christy Birmingham of Poetic Parfait has recently published her first poetry collection, Pathways to Illumination to wonderful reviews and she is working on a new poetry book.  As a lovely new blogging friend, I look forward to reading more of her work and I hope she will share a few words for this challenge!

Evelyne of Evelyne Holingue is an accomplished, published author of two YA books, her first, Trapped in Paris published in September 2012, and her most recent in October lat year, Chronicles From Chateau Moines.  I look forward to reading more of my friend’s latest WIP.

Ali of Alien Aura’s Blog, a lovely new blogging friend met through Hugh has published two novels, Come Laughing and Long-Leggety Beasties.  Her latest novel which is about the Bloomsbury Group is out in March, sounds fascinating. I hope she will share a few lines ahead of time.

Mike of  Eye-Dancers, wonderful writer and super friend from my very early days of blogging, he is the published author of same-named YA novel, The Eye Dancers, and is working on his sequel.  Although busy with that at the moment, I hope he will be able to share some excerpts with us, and soon!

Charli of Carrot Ranch Communications is a talented, accomplished writer and a great encourager and wonderful friend to me and many others.  I look forward to her weekly Flash Fiction prompts and she doesn’t mind a bit when I ride rough-shod and fancy free over to the Ranch, galloping in at the last minute.  She also writes honestly and elequently about her journey to publication and I look forward to reading a few lines of her latest novel in progress for this challenge.

Teagan of Teagan’s Books is a published author of Atonement, Tennessee and is busily scribbing away on its sequel, Atonement in Bloom.  As a relatively new blogging friend, I am looking forward to reading more of her wonderful blog and news of her latest novel!

Next week, I will be tagging three talented and wonderful memoir writers as part of another blog writing challenge.   Meanwhile, I hope you all have a great weekend!

Posted in Blog Hops, Memoir | Tagged , , , , , , | 72 Comments

Feeling Good

 A second chance. A new dawn. A new day.

Bee & Lavendar, Summer Time in Somerset (c) Sherri Matthews

Bee & lavender, Summer Time in Somerset
(c) Sherri Matthews

This is the prompt for Charli’s flash fiction challenge in 99 words, no  more, no less (with the accompanying photograph in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge, ‘Rule of Thirds’):

Feeling Good

He reached across the dining table, taking her hands tenderly in his.

“I know you have a lot of healing to do, but if you want to meet again, I’ll be waiting.”

Her heart raced even as the warmth of his gentle touch gave calm.

Then she panicked.

“I…I think I better go now…the kids will be waiting…”

He waved her off from the car park as she tore away into the night, leaving him in dust.

I’ll never see her again

Two years later, he held her hands once more as she beamed and he said, “I do”.

 Based on a true story?  Perhaps…

 

Posted in Flash Fiction, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 80 Comments

How To Save A Life

What connects us, what keeps us safe and strong and weaves its way along the dark corridors of our conscience when we are alone with our thoughts?

Bournemouth Beach February 2015 (c) Sherri Matthews

Bournemouth Beach February 2015
(c) Sherri Matthews

When does the caring start, the thinking of others, the wanting to help them in their distress by not only showing concern, but by doing something, anything, to help?

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Eldest Son reading Curious George to Aspie D (c) Sherri Matthews

Are we troubled when we turned a blind eye, said never mind or who cares, it’s not my problem?

Did I stop for the man standing in the cold rain selling magazines saying God Bless you as I walked by thinking, next time, next time when I’m not so busy and rushed, I’ll definitely buy one of his magazines and support a good cause.  But then again, he’s probably just a junkie.

Or an alcoholic.

Like the old man sitting alone in his room at the halfway house, hoping nobody will notice that he has sneaked in a bottle of whiskey.  Who wants to listen to him anyway, rambling on about his days in the Royal Air Force when he was a medic and when he was a prize boxer, when he was young and fit and handsome. Who cares? He made his choices.  Right?

A Family Man 1960s (c) Sherri Matthews

A Family Man Once  – 1960s
(c) Sherri Matthews

Who is that child who doesn’t have any friends at school because he is mean?  Can we afford to judge him and blame it on his home life and his lousy, low-class parents who yell and scream and swear and get drunk at night, never caring that their child is listening and crying?

Not our problem is it, unless it lands on our doorstep.

But we have to make him, them, our problem.  We have to make the lonely, the lost, the sick, the elderly,  the children who suffer at the hands of their abusers, the alcoholics, the drug addicts, the prisoners, the homeless, all of them. Our problem.

We cannot go about our day with a smug grin and say I’m alright.  We have to care.  But how do we make a difference? How do we save a life?

There was a baby girl, born with her eyes wide open, happy to arrive.  She welcomed the world but she learnt that the world did not welcome her.  She felt alone and alienated, a foreigner in a strange land that she did not understand and rejected her and bullied her and called her a freak, just because she dyed her hair black and hated parties.

So she took herself away and found her life with friends who did understand, with those who accepted her and cared for her and saw her beauty and her strength, who didn’t insult her because she has Asperger’s Syndrome.

I am a better person because of her.

I See You (c) Sherri Matthews

I See You
(c) Sherri Matthews

If we are shown love and compassion, care and concern, surely we then show it to others?  How can we not?  But we all make our own choices, we decide the path we will follow and ultimately we are accountable for those choices, nobody else.

What though if all we know is rejection, abandonment, betrayal, hurt, and pain?  I believe it is still possible to search our hearts and find the way, the only way, through love and compassion, a moment when we can take someone’s hand and lead them out.

But I don’t have the answers to any of these questions.  I only know what came to me in my darkest hour.  Somebody said I’ll take you into the sunshine and I’ll show how to live again.   Maybe we can all save a life.

We begin with ourselves.  One kiss at a time.

Eldest Son has a heart full of love for his little brother (c) Sherri Matthews

Eldest Son has a heart full of love for his little brother.  My boys showed me the way. They took hold of my hand and never let go.
(c) Sherri Matthews

Today, February 20th,  1000 voices speak for compassion.
I am honoured to share one small voice amongst the many.

1000voices_zps11edff99

“Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ “Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’  Matthew 25:45

Posted in Asperger's Syndrome, Blogging, My Dad's Alcoholic Prison | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 98 Comments

Book Giveaway: Claudia Must Die By T. B. Markinson

One of the many things I love about this wonderful blogging community is not only the many stories we share and friendships we make, but the ways in which we support and encourage one another in so many ways.

I can’t remember how I met one of my good blogging friends T. B. Markinson but I know I hadn’t been blogging long when we did.  T.B. is an American writer living in London so you can imagine the stories we have exchanged.

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It was such a thrill when she invited me to write a guest post -My Writing Journey – The Heat Is On! – as far back as December 2013.  It was a fantastic experience, and the first time I publicly shared what drew me to writing my memoir; I was overwhelmed by the amazing support and encouragement I received from friends then, friends still.

So it was an honour for me to then host T.B.’s guest post – An American in London – shortly thereafter.  She was a big hit, as I knew she would be! And yes, I know that she is still keeping an eye on me as I write on, even as she busily scribbles away on her latest WIP, which blows my mind as she has now published not one, not two but four books, with another due for release shortly.

Which brings me to….the reason for this post and some exciting news: T. B. is giving away free, yes, I said FREE, copies of her recently published book, Claudia Must Die, from tomorrow, 20th February until 23rd February!

Here are the links, blurb and excellent reviews:

Amazon (US)

Amazon Link (UK)

claudia_front

The blurb:

Claudia doesn’t feel like herself anymore—she feels like prey. Her husband’s hired goons have stalked her all the way to Boston and will only stop their pursuit once she is dead.

Divorce is not an option. Instead, she has stolen a bunch of her man’s money to disappear into another life.

In order for Claudia to live, someone else must die. A lookalike college student becomes the target capable of freeing her from an awful marriage.

The plan goes horribly awry. Instead of murdering Claudia’s double, the assassins shoot the woman’s lover who is the cousin of a powerful Irish mobster. Claudia becomes hunted by all involved. Can she survive? Should she?

 Reviews:

“The novel is action-packed and suspenseful, with some humorous scenes.”
 Medeia Sharif Blog

“What follows is a hair raising, seemingly never ending chase which is like a revolving crime circle where everyone is after each other but where some of the players end up becoming unlikely partners in order to survive.” — Cindy Taylor

“T.B. Markinson delivers again with her fourth novel, Claudia Must Die, in a fast-paced comedic story of kill or be killed.”  Rachel Author Barnard Blog

“For me, this book is a real winner. The characters, plot twists, and deliciously dark humor make it a most enjoyable… and quick… read.” — I Think, Therefore I Yam Blog

“This unique thriller keeps you on the edge of your seat.” — Christine Rains, author of Fearless.

You can link up with T. B. here:

Goodreads

Making My Mark

50 Year Project

Twitter

Facebook

Amazon Page

 Wishing you every success T.B.!!

Posted in Book Promotions, Guest Blogs, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 49 Comments

Compassion: 99 Word Flash Fiction

Gather your eggs and flour, load up on lemons and sprinkle the sugar, for today is Pancake Day!

I missed celebrating Pancake Day when living in California. Even though I made my English pancakes (thinner and larger than American pancakes, more like crepes) for my children now and then, I wasn’t able to give them the same sense of excitement and anticipation of this special ‘feast’ that I had growing up.

Although Pancake Day isn't celebrated in America, AspieD enjoyed helping with other baking - 1990s (c) Sherri Matthews

Although Pancake Day isn’t celebrated in America, Aspie D enjoyed helping bake – 1990s
(c) Sherri Matthews

The fun of eating pancakes was matched only by the thrill of watching my mother make them: first, she poured some batter into a frying pan.  Then, after a few minutes, my brother and I geared up for the moment, hardly daring to breathe, as she tossed the pancake up  into the air while flipping the pan, catching it as it flopped back down perfectly into the frying pan – without ending up  as a sloppy, white mess on the kitchen floor or stuck on the ceiling.  Which has happened to me more than once.

This was the magic trick you see, the true success of the perfect pancake, and it’s success was marked by smothering it in lashings of lemon juice and sugar and then devouring it. And immediately asking for another one.

But why do we do it?

Well, Pancake Day is otherwise called ‘Shrove Tuesday’, which comes from the word ‘shrive’, which means ‘confess’.  This day always falls on the Tuesday preceding Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.

Before the fasting season of 40 days of Lent began, pancakes were made as a great way to use up all the ‘rich’ foods such as butter, sugar and eggs. Even earlier than Christian times, pancakes were eaten during pagan festivals,  thought to symbolise the sun, imparting the sun’s power, warmth and light when eaten.

That explains why they taste so good.

And what does all this have to do with this post’s title? Well, thinking beyond the fun of Pancake Day since it brings us to the cusp of one of the most important times of reflection in the Christian calendar, it seems to me that Charli has set us the perfect prompt for her Flash Fiction challenge this week, asking:

‘February 11, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that demonstrates compassion. You can explore weltschmerz (enabling us to care enough about what’s wrong) and meliorism (driving us to try to do something about it) if you want to explore those specific terms.’

She also told us of #1000Speak for Compassion, a blogging event taking place this Friday, 20th February, details in the link.

So then, whatever our beliefs and whether or not we’ll be flipping pancakes this evening, I remain convinced that in every dark corner, no matter the depth of the malevolence lurking there, there is someone stirred up enough to not only care, but also to do the right thing.  To have a little compassion.

This is my flash, 99 words, no more, no less:

True Grit

The old man went down at the first push. “Not so tough now, are yer?” spat Vin as he aimed a heavy kick into the man’s ribs.

The others laughed and jeered, their voices echoing in the dimly lit alley. Vin threw his arm around Joe’s neck as they walked back to the pub.

“I warned that old git before not to ask for money. He had it coming.”

“Yeah, good on yer mate,” Joe lied, pulling away. “Look, I need a slash, you go on…”

Joe slipped behind a charity shop, then ran back to the old man.

Posted in Family Traditions, Flash Fiction, My California | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 87 Comments

Guest Post: Jennifer B. Graham Talks About The Birth Of Her Memoir

Today, I am delighted to welcome guest blogger Jennifer B Graham to talk about the birth of her memoir.  Here, in Jennifer’s own words:

unnamedMy memoir, An Immoral Proposal, started out as a novel. Its conception began in South Africa, as a forbidden, illegal love story played out against the backdrop of apartheid in 1974. I approached my story as a novel because it was emotionally the safest mode to go. I felt I, the narrator, could be invisible. I thought all I needed was a vivid imagination and it would be like playing with the paper dolls I created as a child – over a hundred of them – each with its own personality and history. I’d breathe life into them and simply take off from there.

Trouble is, my story is not a fantasy and facing the truth was simply too painful. So, in my re-ordered world, I set my family in a Pollyanna world with nice, clean characters.  But I wasn’t making any progress. It was like pushing a wheelbarrow of rocks uphill. The plot was garbled and the characters static and lifeless. Having no compass and not thinking clearly about what it was I really wanted to say I was more focussed on what I wanted to name the “baby” – “On the Other Side of the Fence.”

I came to the realisation my own story wasn’t one-dimensional but had multiple themes and working those out in a novel was a struggle. Along the way I changed the title to “Ham’s Daughter” that still did nothing for the book. The whole project limped along in fits and starts leaving me highly frustrated and dejected.

Emotionally, I wrestled with sensitive subject matters in parts of my story, leaving me exhausted and depressed. Over the years, I kept putting the project on the backburner while working through these emotions.  Just like you can’t force a butterfly from its chrysalis before it’s ready to hatch, you can’t rush the healing process.

unnamed (1)I carried this ‘baby’ with me from country to country – England first, then Canada and the United States – all places I had lived. From the US, I took it to the ends of the earth – New Zealand!

In ‘The Land of the Long Cloud’, I made another last ditch effort to get this thing going. I asked a publisher friend to cast a critical eye over my novel. We spent a weekend at fabulous Hanmer Springs, a spa town near Christchurch.  Her response was, “Do you have a thick skin?”  She put it to me as diplomatically and gently as she could. It stank!  Looking back, I’m embarrassed to have even given her the material.

I refer to her as my literary mid-wife who told me the ‘baby’ was breech. She turned it around by suggesting that I tell my story as a memoir. “But I thought memoirs were for important public figures,” I replied. Anyway, I took her advice and once I began writing in this genre, the words simply began to flow as I tapped into my wellspring of memories and experiences.

Some were extremely painful and embarrassing to drudge up, but it forced me to confront my fears against which I had well insulated myself with layers of protective walls. Breaking them down was excruciatingly painful at times, but I needed to set myself free and find my voice.tree-pose

Three winters ago, I took my manuscript on vacation with me to the Dominican Republic where I made huge strides with it. It was there in the dreamy atmosphere of the Caribbean that the present title jumped off the page. After a twenty five year “pregnancy”, An Immoral Proposal was birthed on 9 November, 2013 and I’m pleased to say that although the mother is going nuts with the marketing minutia, the “baby” is growing quite well.

Here, Jennifer is interviewed about her memoir:

Bio:

Jennifer is a self-proclaimed global nomad who began life in South Africa, left when she was nineteen and since then hasn’t looked back.  Over a forty year span she’s also lived in England, Canada, USA and New Zealand. After earning her degree in communication/print journalism from the University of Mobile, Alabama, USA in 2001, she wrote freelance feature articles on topics such as food, health, travel and profiles for miscellaneous publications that include Destinations, Connections, The Press, The Citizen, The Fairhope Courier as well as Triond.com.

Jennifer is a member of the Writers’ Community of Durham Region, in Toronto, Canada. An Immoral Proposal is her first book. She lives with her husband near Toronto. Her five grandchildren, split between Delaware and Saskatchewan, keep her wandering.

Blurb about An Immoral Proposal

Memoir-Photo1Picture this. She’s from a lower socio-economic family, left school at sixteen, works as clerk in a factory. He’s from an affluent background, private school education, university degree, member of exclusive social clubs, home in the leafy suburbs.

In her first memoir, Jennifer B. Graham takes an emotional journey back to her childhood in a hostile land that legally classified her as a “Coloured.” What’s the likelihood of their having a relationship: Intimacy? – Probably not. Physical? – For sure. But would it last? Not a chance. In fact, they’re courting danger. You see, she’s brown and he’s white. Big
problem. This is South Africa 1974, the height of apartheid.

An Immoral Proposal is available here:

Amazon.com  Website  Barnes & Noble  Goodreads

*********

Thank you so much Jennifer for sharing your incredibly inspiring and personal story with us here today, particularly for those of us who are struggling with our own memoirs.  As I labour my way through mine, I can only be encouraged to keep going in the knowledge that the ‘baby’ will indeed be ‘birthed’ in due time, despite the exhaustion and endless frustrations along the way.  I am sure that many others reading will join me in wishing you every well-deserved success.

Posted in Guest Blogs | Tagged , , , , , , | 35 Comments

#WORDPRESS #BLOG OWNERS PLEASE NOTE…

Sherri:

A very important update on Chris The Story Reading Ape’s ‘Don’t Delay, Backup Today!’ post from October, also re-blogged here!!!

Originally posted on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog:

PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING

IMPORTANT CHANGES

To my (still relevant)

DON’T DELAY – BACKUP TODAY!

post in October 2014!

Because you never know what the day may bring

So Stay Safe – Not Sorry

BackUpCartoon

AUTHORS

PROTECT YOUR WIP’s

Backup cartoon

BLOGGERS

PROTECT YOUR BLOGS

(For WordPress Users)

ADMIN

TOOLS

EXPORT

EXPORT (again)

FIRST TRY to

set it to ALL CONTENT then press

DOWNLOAD EXPORT FILE

CHECK to ENSURE the downloaded file has a size value LESS THAN 15 MB

IF the file reads ZERO – then delete it and do the following

GO BACK to Admin – Tools – Export – Export

Select POSTS

Select START and FINISH dates (say from January to December of the first year)

DOWNLOAD EXPORT FILE AGAIN

THEN

CHECK to ENSURE the downloaded file has a size value LESS THAN 15 MB

If it DOES.

Make a folder for the POSTS

labelled with the period the file covered…

View original 256 more words

Posted in Blogging | Tagged , | 26 Comments

Virginia Woolf’s Round House and Lewes Priory

Some of you may remember my enthusiasm for the delightful English town of Lewes in Sussex as shared in my posts Historical Lewes and A Walk In Lewes.  For those of you who love all things Tudor, you can view a few photos of  ‘Anne of Cleves House‘ and read a few words about her brief marriage to the one and only King Henry VIII.  And believe me, it was brief.

Packed full of history, Lewes is also filled with beautiful homes, quaint cafes and antique shops, and the most wonderful pet shop that hearkens back to the days when dog biscuits were sold loose from big, open sacks placed on the shop floor.  I remember those biscuits tasted pretty good. Moving swiftly on.

In January, Lewes beckoned once again with more to explore, including spending a winter’s afternoon wandering around the old Priory.    I’ll show you around, if you like,  but I warn you, wrap up warm, it’s bitter out there.

Founded in 1078, the Priory of St Pancras was one of the largest and most important monasteries in England (and linked to the Abbey of Cluny in Burgundy, France), until, on Henry VIII’s orders, its destruction some 500 years later in 1538 during the Reformation.

It is almost impossible to imagine the sheer scale of this once magnificent Priory when you look at the remains of these old ruins today.

This is what the Old Priory looks like now as you approach from the front:

First sight from a distance of the Old Priory (c) Sherri Matthews 2015

First sight of the front of the Old Priory on approach from the trail
(c) Sherri Matthews 2015

And this is how it once looked, in its heyday:

Lewes 2015 (8)

The bitter wind of a January afternoon whipped across the open expanse of lawn and winter-bare trees as I stopped on the path to take a few photos:

And then, as I walked further on, the sunshine broke through the ever-darkening clouds:

Sunny view of the Old Priory, Lewes, Sussex (c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Sunny view of the Old Priory, Lewes, Sussex
(c) Sherri Matthews 2015

These ruins are mere remnants of the once wealthy and powerful monastery…

Looking through this archway, I tried to imagine what it must have been like
all those hundreds of years ago as the monks went about their day…
praying; eating (barely); working.

A view through an archway...what stories are buried in these ancient ruins? (c) Sherri Matthews 2015

A Priory with a view.  What ghostly apparitions appear in this archway, whispering their stories of an age long gone?
(c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Not only do the ruins echo ghostly whisperings through their cold, dark walls,  but other secrets lurk, buried deep within the grounds.

On the 14th of May, 1264, the Battle of Lewes was fought here between King Henry III and the barons led by Simon de Montfort. The barons wanted the country governed by a council, not a King.

When the soldiers encamped on the grounds on the 12th of May, two days before the battle, the monks suffered great disruption as this was the eve of the feast of St Pancras, an important religious celebration.

Simon de Montfort won the day, but the battle deeply divided the monks with some sent away to France, and others who stayed behind at Lewes punished.  It wasn’t until 1845, during excavation for a railway line, that the discovery was made of a burial ground filled with hundreds of bodies from the battle.

Peaceful now, but not when war raged on these very grounds. (c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Peaceful now, but not when war raged on these very grounds.
(c) Sherri Matthews 2015

This monument was created to mark the 700th anniversary of The Battle of Lewes:

Lewes 2015 (24)Leaving the Old Priory as the day grew ever-chillier – but nothing that a cup of tea and toasted teacake wouldn’t cure – one more place of great historical interest beckoned:  None other than The Round House, built originally as a windmill in 1802 and purchased in 1919 by Virginia Woolf:

The Round House (c) Sherri Matthews 2015

The Round House
(c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Quick close up before the owner caught me! (c) Sherri Matthews 2015

View of the front of The Round House with historical plaque – a quick shot before I got told off by the present day owner!
(c) Sherri Matthews 2015

View through the leafy archway above the garden gate to the back garden. (c) Sherri Matthews 2015

View through the leafy archway from the garden gate to the back garden.
(c) Sherri Matthews 2015

And with Valentine’s Day almost upon us, I thought what could be more romantic than the words penned by the author herself describing her sentiments upon her discovery of The Round House:

Historical plaque on The Round House, Lewes, Sussex (c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Historical plaque on The Round House, Lewes, Sussex
(c) Sherri Matthews 2015

‘We’ve bought a house in Lewes, on the spur of the moment…’

How could anyone be afraid of Virginia Woolf after reading that?

*******************

I hope you enjoyed this little tour of a different part of Lewes. This post is linked to the Weekly Photo Challenge theme of ‘Scale’ as well as  Jo’s  ‘Monday Walk’.  Lovely Jo is away on her hols at the moment but will be back soon.  Meanwhile, if you would like to join in with her, and she would be delighted if you do, click on the logo below for more information:

walking-logo

Posted in HIstory, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 109 Comments

My Workspace Blog Hop: Secrets Of The Summerhouse Revealed

Well, I’m no celebrity, but I’m out of the Jungle and have returned, in one piece (I think), to my Summerhouse.  At last I can begin to catch up on all those long-overdue blog posts!

Many moons ago, lovely and talented Jo, accomplished author, wonderful friend to me and writers everywhere, tagged me for  My Workspace Blog Hop.  I’m excited to take part, thanks so much Jo, and many congratulations too! Jo has recently published her latest book, Echoes of Narcissus in the Gardens of Delight (which I seriously can’t wait to read).

narc12349n1t-2Having a workspace (other than the kitchen table), much less an office, seemed a distant reality for years: we never seemed to have the room and I didn’t even have a computer of my own until recently.   We shared the ‘communal computer’ tucked away in a corner at the top of the stairs, which, as the (three) kids grew up, caused more arguments than shopping for a TV on Black Friday.

Thankfully, those days are behind us.

As a child, I spent long hours playing inside the summerhouse at the end of my grandparents’ garden: lost in a world of make-believe, I loved pretending it was my own little house.  So many happy memories of summer afternoons sitting with my grandparents in garden chairs on its little wooden porch drinking tea and eating fairy cakes…

I longed for a summerhouse of my own, but I had to wait a long time. My dream came true at last when, three years ago, Hubby built one for me in our back garden:

Summerhouse in  Snow (c) Sherri Matthews 2013

Summerhouse in Snow
(c) Sherri Matthews 2013

Soon enough, it became a wonderfully peaceful and distraction-free setting for my writing and from there, came the idea for the name of this blog.  What better way to share the view with you, dear friends, no matter the weather (or mood) than from my Summerhouse?

The view isn’t at its best at the moment (dirty windows from the rain for one thing, and no snow this year for another), but I look forward to sharing a prettier, brighter view with you when my spring bulbs burst into bloom.

A hint of a view... (c) Sherri Matthews

A hint of a view…
(c) Sherri Matthews

I had to stop using my Summerhouse for a while last year due to internet issues and problems with my old laptop, so I tapped away in the living room, sitting on the sofa with my laptop on my, well, lap.

This was fine except I was working and living in the same space, day in, day out. For months. Stir crazy? You bet.  Now, even though only feet apart,  I can divide my time more efficiently between work and home, separating the two, which helps tremendously.

Here’s the view of the inside of my Summerhouse, my workspace sanctuary:

Inside My Summerhouse (8)There are few bits-and-bobs hanging around, reminders of holidays and travels
from years gone by:

Mobiles, chines, bunting...yes, I love all that! (c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Mobiles, chimes, bunting…yes, I love all that!
(c) Sherri Matthews 2015

There’s also a bookcase for  ‘stuff’ and a couple of important books.  You might notice the electric fan heater which keeps the chill out on bitter winter days…

(c) Sherri Matthews 2015

(c) Sherri Matthews 2015

It might be small,  but there’s plenty of room for all; no matter how cold it is outside, you will always find a warm welcome at my Summerhouse.

Inside My Summerhouse (12)

Welcome To The Summerhouse! (c) Sherri Matthews 2015

My friend Steven calls it ‘The Summerhouse of Secrets’.  Perhaps not so secret now… ? Hopefully I’ve managed to keep some mystery…

Speaking of visitors, thank you so much to Merryn, Sarah and Andy for dropping by with some lovely, shiny awards to jazz up the place:

Merryn, a new blogging friend, left a sweet message on my ‘About’ page to let me know that she had nominated me for The Liebster Award. Do visit her over at her lovely blog, Humble Heart Scribbles.

The Leibster AwardSarah so kindly nominated me for One Lovely Blog Award.  Some of you already know Sarah from her ‘One Lovely Blog’ Sarah Potter Writes where she shares her poignant, humourous and insightful thoughts through her beautiful poetry, flash fiction and photos.

c343f-onelovelyblogawardAndy is also known by a few of you.  A great thrill and honour when he invited me into his WordPress Family Award. He is a blessing to all who know him over at his blog christiangrandfather where he shares delightful stories of a life well lived.

The WordPress Family AwardFinally, I need to tag a few of you for the blog hop, but remember, there is no obligation whatsoever.  I always find it so difficult knowing who to tag, but here is one lovely crew, all lovely blogging friends whom I’m delighted to introduce:

Yvette of Priorhouse Blog
Sarah of Lemon Shark
Hugh of Hugh’s Views & News
Pauline of The Contended Crafter
Kath of Minuscule Moments of Inspiration
Norah of Norah Colvin

Now I’m off to get some more writing done.  You know where I’ll be and remember, the kettle is always simmering.  And you never know, there might even be a bottle of bubbly chilling on ice.  Any excuse. Wait? Is that a pop I hear?

Have a great weekend and see you soon!  Love Sherri x

Posted in Awards, Blog Hops, Family Memoirs, Friendship, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 113 Comments