Are We Nearly There Yet?

“Are we nearly there yet?” 

How many times as kids did we ask this question of our parents during inexcusably long car journeys?

When it came time for my own children to ask me the very same, my answer was no different to the one given me by my parents:

“Almost there, not far now!”

I think of long car journeys often.  As with many of you, I’ve taken a few and not just as a child.  One or two have defined me, who I was and who I am today, the memories of which burn from a lamp that has never gone out.

As I keep on keeping on writing my memoir, these defining moments leap up at me from the ‘paper’.

As the flow of the story pours forth, moving images play out before me.  It is as if I’m narrating, through the written word, while watching a film.  The colour of the stills are somewhat muted, as with the slight yellowing of the pages of a well-read book,  yet, with every word I write, a sort of restoration work takes place: the film becomes as vivid and as vital as if I am watching it for the very first time.


August 1979. I am nineteen and crammed in the back of a dark blue Plymouth Roadrunner sitting next to my American G. I. boyfriend. Other friends are squeezed either side of us and another drives us deeper into the wilderness, his long, black hair dancing in the wind through his open window. His pride and joy doesn’t have air conditioning, but he does have a mean 8-track. Los Angeles is far behind us, having left it at the crack of dawn.  Now, as dawn breaks into day, the repressive heat stirs up the wind as it whips my hair across my face and it stings.  The deep rumble of the V8 engine merges with Eddie Van Halen’s guitar riffs exploding from the 8-track’s speakers as we gun it across the Mojave Desert.  Only we exist: us and the open road, slashed like a knife-cut through the vastness of a lonely, heat-crazed terrain. In the back, we grab chilled beer bottles out of an ice-chest, crack them open and drink. We sing stupidly at the top of our lungs and collapse in heaps of laughter.   Las Vegas beckons and it won’t be long before I’ll be shaking hands with the fiercest heat I’ve ever known.  I couldn’t possibly have known it then that I would return to Las Vegas one year later under dire circumstances. All I did know,  for this English girl and her first time in America, was what it felt like to be truly alive.  I had escaped for the briefest of moments. We were young, we were crazy and we were as free as we would ever be again.


Last week, Eldest son, Aspie D and I watched the most amazing lightning as it flashed across the heavy Somerset skies.  Thunder rolled and heavy rain lashed down, a welcome relief to the stifling humidity of a British summer.  Never was the rain more welcome; I relish spontaneous moments like that.

Sometimes we just want to be free. Moonstone Beach, Cambria, California (c) Sherri Matthews 2013

Sometimes we just want to be free. Moonstone Beach, Cambria, California
(c) Sherri Matthews 2013

Sometimes though, we want to leave the rain behind for the smile of the sun on our weary faces.

I’m not heading to the desert any time soon, by car or by horse,  and I certainly don’t plan on roping any rattlesnakes (but Charli, if I do, I’ll be sure to put it on YouTube), but I am setting out.

Sometimes we need to catch our breath and feel the wind in our hair and just let go.   This will be my last blog post for a couple of weeks but I’ll be hanging around for the next day or so checking in with you as much as time allows and as best I can.

I’ll be unplugged for one whole week and I’m not sure how I’ll cope…I’m already having withdrawal just thinking about it.  Cold sweats and everything…

I’ll miss you all very much, so please just make sure you’ll still be here when I get back! Meanwhile, I would like to leave you with a memory of a certain desert, a piece of ‘America’ and a piece of my heart:

Wishing you all a great summer (and a not too cold winter to my friends on the other side of the world) wherever you go and whatever you do.

See you soon !

~ Love Sherri x ~

Posted in Family Life, Memoir, My California, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 69 Comments

Holiday Reading, Ghosts And The Norfolk Broads

Holiday reading.  What beats a book crammed full of twists and turn, thrills and spills to keep us occupied while lazing on the beach or reclining on a deck chair by the side of a pool somewhere hot and Mediterranean?   What indeed!

When Lisa set her prompt for this week’s Bite Size Memoir challenge as ‘Holiday Reads’ my memories took me not to the beach or the pool but back to the annual holidays we took as a family when I was a girl to the tranquility of the Norfolk Broads.

A boating holiday is certainly not relaxing in the usual sense, particularly if sailing.  In fact, it is quite physical with all the leaping on and off boats, mooring up, gathering in the sails and generally messing about on the river.  Not to mention all those misadventures that seem to go hand-in-hand when on the water, and I’m not just talking about losing one’s sunglasses.

Yet, nothing beats that feeling at the end of a boating day when you are moored up and hunkered down for the night, huddled in your bunk and settling in to your summer read.

Our holidays began with a several hour’s-long drive from Surrey to Norfolk, this being the 1970’s and motorways not what they are today, but oh the joy as we pulled in at last to the narrow roads of the delightfully historic Norfolk village of Horning and headed straight to the boatyard.

There we would set eyes on what would be our holiday home for the next two weeks and so the exodus began of transferring all our luggage, equipment and food from the overflowing car to our boat.  Then finding a home for everything, which on a boat is often far from easy.

Ghosts of the Norfolk BroadsOne year, when I was about twelve, as we took a walk down to the local shops of Horning to gather up some last-minute necessities before heading out, I treated myself to my summer book: it was called Ghosts of the Broads by Charles Sampson.

What captured my attention was that there was a ghost story for most of the places we would be visiting so I could time my stories when we were at the actual location. I couldn’t wait!

Some of the stories went on a bit, but there I would be, in the dead of the night, lulled by the gentle motion of our boat to the passing current of the waters surrounding us, my little overhead lamp burning the midnight oil, scaring myself witless.

What filled my imagination like no other was the story about St. Benet’s Abbey.

Approaching from the narrow and meandering River Ant as it merges into the strong currents of the River Bure, the sight of St. Benet’s Abbey looming up at the river’s edge of this convergence always struck a sense of foreboding into my heart as a child.

St Benet's Abbey, Norfolk Broads (c) Sherri Matthews 2013

St Benet’s Abbey, Norfolk Broads
(c) Sherri Matthews 2013

I came to learn that it was a monastery founded in Anglo-Saxon times and the only one which went on to function well into the medieval ages. A wind pump was built into the gate of the ruins left behind.  Hence the unusual structure.

Visiting the ruins today, my imagination still runs riot but I will write about this at another time, taking up a post of its own as it merits!

The ghosts of the Norfolk Broads and I go back a long way.  They have fascinated and enthralled me for as long as I can remember.   So it was, that fifteen years ago and after a gap of many years, I was fortunate enough to take my three children on a Norfolk Broad’s holiday, together with my mum,  brother and his family.  Eleven of us on two boats!

We cruised and sailed for two glorious weeks in August  and it was steaming hot every day.  Sometimes things work out better than planned and this was no exception.

As ever, I took my ‘Ghosts of the Broads’ book with me. To my amazement, I soon discovered that the very night we found ourselves mooring up for the night on Barton Broad (a  huge expanse of water which, you might be interested to know, Admiral Horatio Nelson himself learnt to sail on as a boy) happened to be the same night that one of these ghostly apparitions was to appear.

If the conditions are perfect, the face of a woman appears in the lake, so the story goes.  You can imagine, out there alone on the water with nothing but our ghost stories and hyped up children to tell them to,  just what the atmosphere must have been like!

In all my years of ‘ghost hunting’ on the Norfolk Broads, I never did see a ghost, which disappointed me greatly and caused me great relief all at the same time. Quite what I would have done if I had found one of ‘my’ ghosts, I will never know.

However, on this particular night something extraordinary did happen, something that neither I nor my family can explain to this day.

Here then is my ‘bite’ for this week, in 150 words exactly:

Summer Ghosts

South Walsham Broad at dusk - Norfolk Broads  (Not having one handy of Barton Broad, but it sets the scene!) (c) Sherri Matthews 2013

South Walsham Broad at dusk – Norfolk Broads
(Not having one handy of Barton Broad, but it sets the scene!) (c) Sherri Matthews 2013

Moored up in a cosy inlet, the winds that earlier had provided a full day’s sailing had died to a breath and Barton Broad lay as smooth as glass.

Orange skies darkened and a light mist danced across the waters. Conversation and laughter echoed beyond the riverbanks, then silence.

I don’t know who saw it first, but in seconds we were all standing on the gunwale, watching.

It was almost dark now, no wind and boating after sunset was forbidden, if not impossible without navigation lights.

A yacht, in full sail as the waters lapped at its bow, forged ahead in the darkness, the moon giving the merest hint of reflection in the water. No helmsman in sight, yet the sails billowed.

We gaped in hushed disbelief, not comprehending this eerie encounter. Then, as suddenly as it had appeared, the yacht vanished, swallowed up by the mist.

Just like that.

 

 

Posted in Bite Size Memoir, Childhood Memories, Norfolk Broads | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 68 Comments

The Island of Spinalonga

On this blisteringly hot summer’s day here in the British Isles, I think of another island, far away but even hotter than this: I think of the Greek island of Crete, an island surrounded by the Mediterranean and Aegean diamond-studded seas and filled with the warmth and hospitality of its people.

Crete (c) Sherri Matthews 2014

Crete
(c) Sherri Matthews 2014

Crete oozes history, boasting ancient ruins of its long ago Minoan Civilization.  Driving down its narrow, winding roads you come across hidden coves with tavernas serving island- grown, freshly-prepared Cretan food with refrigerator-chilled glass tankards filled to the brim with ice-cold beer.

The Greeks don’t believe in eating without drinking: you find a brightly painted, wooden table and chairs placed invitingly on the beach beneath the shade of a tree.

There you sit, hot, hungry and thirsty and the next thing you know, along with your chilled drink while awaiting your ordered meal, your waiter brings you a bowl overflowing with the plumpest, richest tomatoes you have ever seen.  Or maybe chickpeas and fresh yoghurt.

A snack , a meze, to have with your drink, no extra charge.

Crete - lunch by the sea 2008 (c) Sherri Matthews

Crete – lunch by the sea 2008
(c) Sherri Matthews

In a hurry to pay your bill?  A word of advice: never be in a hurry when you go on holiday to Crete because you won’t be allowed to mention that dirty word over there.  You will be told to relax and to take your time.  An alien concept to so many of us.

While you wait for your bill, allow another half an hour or so to enjoy the chilled bowl of dark red cherries served on ice, or the sliced watermelon that accompanies your bill.

After this long, lazy lunch you might find yourself strolling through the pleasant harbour town of Agios Nikolaos, nestled cozily alongside beautiful Mirabello Bay on the north-eastern shores of Crete.

Harbour town of Agios Nikolaos, Crete 2008 (c) Sherri Matthews

Mirabello Bay, Agios Nikolaos Crete 2008
(c) Sherri Matthews

As you approach the fisherman and their boats you will stop to catch your breath as you view the magnificent sight of a peninsular just across what is known as the Gulf of Elounda.

This, you soon discover, is the rocky and barren island of Spinalonga.

What you first notice jutting out from the peninsular is the Venetian fortress which was originally built in 1579 to protect the nearby port of Elounda.

Venetian Fortress of Spinalonga, Crete 2008 (c) Sherri Matthews

Venetian Fortress of Spinalonga, Crete
(c) Sherri Matthews

You come to learn some of this island’s history: in 1715, the last of the Venetians were removed when the Ottoman Turks took over. During the Cretan revolt of 1878, the island became a home for the remaining Ottoman families who sought refuge there, fearing Christian reprisals.

What you then learn is at that after the last of the Turks left the island in 1903, it was turned into a leper colony. The conditions were prison-like, cruel and unforgiving.

Things improved when a hospital was built at last in 1937, but it was another twenty years before the colony was closed and the last surviving lepers were taken to a hospital in Athens. The last person to leave the island was a Priest, who left in 1962.

The island today is uninhabited, its fortress and town in ruins.

Of course, it begs exploration.  Local fisherman run boats daily from both Agios Nikolaos and Elounda to Spinalonga enabling you to head over there and spend as long as you need to before you catch the last boat back.

One of the first sights to steal your gaze is what is known as Dante’s Gate.  This is where the lepers entered when they were first brought to live on the island: it seems to exude sorrow and despair as the place where the lepers said goodbye to their loved ones, never to return.

Dante's Gate, Spinalonga, Crete 2008 (c) Sherri Matthews

Dante’s Gate, Spinalonga, Crete 2008
(c) Sherri Matthews

None of the lepers knew what was going to happen to them.  They were looked after with food, water and medical supplies, but they never lived with their families again.  It was at least better than the caves which were once their homes.

Evidence of an entire community, once living and breathing, is still clearly visible; from ovens to staircases, homes and the hospital:

The view from the top is spectacular.  I imagine what it must have been like for the lepers to have looked longingly across the sparkling sea to the mainland where their loved ones  lived, knowing that they would never be able to join them again for the rest of their lives.

Walking along the dry, dusty trails, you will come across this Church sign. Nearby, lies the barely noticeable cemetery.

The Church sign, Spinalonga (c) Sherri Matthews 2014

The Church sign, Spinalonga
(c) Sherri Matthews 2014

The Church just ahead was used for funerals.  It is tiny and sparse, barren in its surroundings.  The silence is melancholy, pierced only by the cry of a gull swooping overhead and the soft clacking of a stone as it falls away beneath your tread, knocking into other stones.

The Church of St George Spinalonga, Crete, 2008 (c) Sherri Matthews

The Church of St George
Spinalonga, Crete, 2008
(c) Sherri Matthews

As you trail away from the beaten path and climb ever higher, you will find a place of solitude.  Lost in quiet thought, you feel nothing but a breath of hot air gently brushing your face as you listen to the sea lapping at the rocky shore below.

It is there that you might just find a moment’s peace wrapped up in a long-ago silence.

Yet, if you really listen you may hear the whisper of the voices of those who once lived on this island, carried along in the sea-breeze not as the cry of the seagull but as distant cries of those who were lost and lonely, longing for their families.

View from the top of Spinalonga, Crete 2008 (c) Sherri Matthews 2014

View from the top of Spinalonga, Crete 2008
(c) Sherri Matthews 2014

For there are those who remain on the island, whispering to our hearts from their eternal rest: as they walk softly in the shadows alongside us who visit, unseen but sensed, we are reminded by them of what is most important: that our lives are forever entwined and will never be forgotten.


This post is partly in response to the prompt of ‘Relic’ from last week’s Weekly Photo Challenge as well as this week’s prompt which is ‘Containers‘.  The island contains the abandoned relics of an old leper colony. I thought this would be the perfect excuse to write about this enthralling and fascinating island.

 

Posted in HIstory, Photos, Travel, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 73 Comments

Bite Size Memoir: Mum’s 10 out of 10

What is my 10 out of 10? I ask this question because this is what Lisa has asked of us this week for her Bite Size Memoir challenge. In celebration of her tenth ‘bite’ prompt (somehow I’ve manage eight of them!), Lisa has asked us to share something, anything, be it something special we’ve achieved, a special trait we might excel at, even some sort of trivia.

Finding it hard to come up with something, I went back to my school days for inspiration and remembered the tiny village school in Suffolk that I attended after my parents split up.

Once the old headmistress left (and yes, I did feel the whack of her ruler on my knuckles once or twice), a new, young headmaster took over.  He transformed the place, lifting us fun-starved kids out of the Victorian age and into the modern 1970’s: we had guitar lessons, gymnastics, country dancing, art, drama and field trips to France. I thrived there and amazingly, passed my 11-plus.

Then I thought of many years later when I was ready to re-enter the workforce after being a full-time mum for twelve years (meaning: I was employed but not getting paid, at least not in dollars).

We had already owned a computer for a few years by that time, and of course the kids had taken to it like a dog with a bone.  Although I had one up on them by being able to touch type (and I did know how to turn the thing on),  I struggled with a lot of the applications.

So,  I did what any mother would: I asked the kids for help. Big mistake that.  Their response was to grab the mouse out of my hand with more than a hint of impatience and after whizzing it around the desk at light speed,  a few taps on the keyboard and a couple of clicks later, job done.  Sorted.  Leaving me utterly confused.

“Errr…thanks….but what did you just do? Exactly?  Can you do that again please, this time slowly and show me step by step?”

Sighs, huffs and puffs.  “No time, sorry Mom, gotta dash! Just click on that tab I showed you, you’ll get it!”

And then those famous, parting words:

“It’s easy!”

So, I took matters into my own hands and signed up to a computer course at our local community college for Word 2000 & Desktop Publishing.  I was really nervous the first day,  going back to ‘school’, but I had so much fun and learnt all I needed to help give me the step-up to start job-hunting.

The biggest challenge for me though was to come: about half way through the course, our tutor announced that our final examination would be a PowerPoint presentation of something we had learnt and then present it to the entire class.

When I heard that, my blood turned to ice in my veins.  What?  Stand up in front of the class and speak?  Surely not.  I hadn’t heard right.  And anyway, I knew absolutely nothing about PowerPoint.  When I had a private word with the tutor after class she must have noticed that all the blood had drained out of my face as she offered me a chair to sit on while calmly explaining that it would be fine, not to worry.  After all, and those words, again, it would be easy!

I worried right up until the end of term. I chose ‘How to Make a Table of Contents‘ for my presentation and sure enough, the day came. With racing heart and hands shaking, I found, to  my utter amazement, that as I began my PowerPoint slide show, my nerves calmed down and by the time I had finished it I realised that I had actually really enjoyed it.  A lot.  Even better, I got an A.

But what I learnt that day about myself and facing up to our fears (and public speaking is a huge one my friends!) was that I had created something all on my own and then got to share it. Sound familiar?

Years later I made slide shows on my laptop using Windows Media for each of my children for their special birthdays, putting photographs to music.  When I was in the midst of creating these  slide shows, they took me hours and hours, stretched out over days, weeks, and a lot of other things went by the wayside.  A precursor for blogging I would say!

My three kids with our Lab puppy Monty 1990s California (c) Sherri Matthews

My three kids with our Lab puppy Monty 1990s California
(c) Sherri Matthews

But I was in  my stride, in my element. I was creating, and then I was sharing what I had created with those I love, something personal, something durable, a part of me.

Which brings me to this ‘bite’.  This isn’t strictly a memoir about something I’ve achieved in that this is a little story about my middle boy Nicky.  One or two of you already ‘know’ him, but for my new blogging friends, I first introduced him last autumn, with his full permission, when I wrote about his comeback from a horrendous break up from his girlfriend and posted a clip of his music in,  ‘Smoke and Mirrors': My Son’s Way Back.’

My finest achievements are my children so I share this story in their honour as my 10 out of 10, although the ‘prize’ actually belongs to my son. Bear in mind, Nicky was only four when this happened and he has no idea why he said what he did, but we think he got it from watching an episode of Top Cat.  We laugh about it to this day.

(Incidentally, this little story was my first ever published piece in a magazine!)

Here then is my bite size memoir, in 150 words, no more, no less! (I love saying that!):

Welcome To Kindergarten

When my middle boy Nicky was due to start Kindergarten, he had to attend a brief assessment with his teacher.

I sat a little way behind him so as not to distract them and all went well. When it finished and before we left, the teacher then asked:

“Now Nicholas, I notice that your mom calls you Nicky. This year, we will have two Nicholas’s in your class, so what would you like to be called? Nicky or Nick?”

I watched my son as he fidgeted and then looked up at the ceiling as if for inspiration.

Silence.

After a few moments, with me wondering what he was doing, he obviously had the answer he was looking for. With a flourish of determination, he looked straight at the teacher and without batting an eyelid answered:

“Just call me boss!”

I don’t know who was more shocked – me or the teacher.

Posted in Bite Size Memoir, Childhood Memories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 70 Comments

The Butterfly Light Award

As a follow-up to my previous Award post, I continue to thank Irene for also nominating me for this rather special and beautiful Butterfly Light Award.

 Butterfly Light Award

butterfly-light-awardThis award was originally given to Don Charisma as a thank you from Belinda (the idiot writer) when he helped fix her computer.   I am amazed by the special effects, shimmering like delicate butterfly wings, and I’m truly honoured and humbled to have received it, thank you so much Irene!

As I mentioned before, Irene is not only a talented and inspiring writer, but she is a kind, caring and truly super lady and friend who has greatly encouraged me and many others. Through her and the varied challenges she takes part in (writing and photography), I’ve met many other wonderful new blogging friends.

Irene truly is a beautiful blogger who has illuminated the path before me many times, shining her lantern in my summerhouse when the lights have dimmed, as they sometimes do…

Conditions For Accepting The Award

1. You must write an acceptance post, making sure you link back to the blogger who awarded you and thank them. You MAY NOT lump this award in with a batch of other awards.

2. You must individually name and re-award to a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 9999999 bloggers. You must let them know either personally with a comment on their blog OR a pingback (I’d suggest their about page)

3. You must link back to Belinda’s blog either to http://idiotwriting.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/i-love-charismatic-geeks/ OR http://idiotwriting.wordpress.com/about/

4. You must write a short paragraph – Entitled either “How I’m Spreading Light” OR “How I’m A Positive Influence”

5. Display Belinda’s lovely “Butterfly Light Award” badge on your blog.

Here then are the wonderful bloggers I’m nominating  for the Butterfly Light Award, and many congratulations to you all!

Everybody already nominated in the previous awards post and:
Jo Robinson
Bespoke Traveler
plaintalkandordinarywisdom
simplyilka
sereneaspergia
Book to the Future
iChristian
NESTpirations
insearchofitall
Writer Site
GOD, AUTISM and Me
The World Is a Book…
Mabel Kwong
quirkybooks
Snow’s Fissures and Fractures
fatgirlslimblog

……………………………………………………………..

Finally, in answering the questions above (‘How I’m spreading light’, or ‘How I’m a positive influence’), I would prefer to leave you with this quote which expresses how I feel about you, my dear friends:

‘At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.’ ~Albert Schweitzer

Posted in Awards | Tagged , , , , , | 61 Comments

Writing, Tennis and Summertime Awards

With the word ‘Tennis’ in the title, you have your first hint at the lateness of this post, meaning I started it a good couple of weeks ago during Wimbledon.  Which also means that it is now redundant.  Thank goodness for cut and paste is all I can say, best invention EVER.

Still, I’m left struck with the idea that tennis is a bit like writing: some matches end quickly and efficiently in straight sets thanks to a few forehand smashes, but others are slogging matches, filled with crushing lows, victorious highs and endless umpire calls.

In such matches, players grow weary, frustrated, angry even; they can’t believe what’s happening.  They worked so hard, hit the ball just right, gave it their all but are left wondering where all the chalk-dust has gone.  Surely the ball was in, you cannot be serious!

Face it, the ball was out.

Some go on to victory.  Either way, they don’t give up; they keep practicing, listen to their coaches and ask, “How can I improve?”   They dream of their comeback and don’t give up. After all, there is always next year, right?

Ultimately, they aim for the prize no matter what.  

As do we writers and in turning to our writing friends and mentors to encourage, guide, and coach us, we thank them from the bottom of our hearts.

So what better time than now to thank some lovely writer/blogging friends who help keep me on the ‘write’ track? Not to mention, for spoiling me rotten with goody-bags stuffed to overflowing with awards.

Starting with two wonderfully talented and inspiring writers.  I’m proud to call these strong, dynamic, and amazing women my friends.:

First lovely Jo, amazing published author, supporter of indie writers everywhere. Just look at this incredible bundle of goodies:

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Wow!

Then lovely Irene, whose memoir writing is at once fascinating and poignant, popped a few more into the bag, making it so heavy that I could hardly carry it:

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Three more amazing and lovely bloggers added to the treasure trove: Marlene nominated me for the The Versatile Blogger Award, Brenda for the Most Influential Blogger and Maria  for The Liebster Award.

Marlene is a new blogging friend with a zest for life, new challenges and writing. Brenda, my ‘Cotswold’ friend who found my blog in the early days, writes delightful poetry and prose and Maria, my lovely Aspie friend, has recently changed her blog to reflect the wonderful, positive changes in her life.  So happy for her!

Thank you so much all you lovely ladies for these wonderful awards!

Finally, I have three great guys to thank:

My good pal and partner-in-crime Steven for The Leibster Award (see above).  I say this about him because he and I have great plans for turning my summerhouse into the TARDIS and who knows what could happen then? No doubt plenty of shenanigans and high jinks…bring it on!

Don Charisma and  Bespoke Traveller both of whom so graciously nominated me for the  Most Influential Blogger Award.

Don is known by most of you I think, he is one popular guy with a huge following due to his kind, charming ways.

Bespoke Traveler is a fantastic travel blog written by Jesse and Atreyee whose mission is to bring ‘curated tales for the curious traveler’.

Thank you so much, you guys are wonderful!

As always with awards, I find the hardest part is knowing who to nominate (and I know that not all of you accept awards), but please know how much I love and appreciate you all. Your visits here to this little corner of blogland mean the world to me, my summerhouse would be very dull indeed without your company.

Since I’ve already participated in many of these awards, the awards I’ve chosen to send on this time (with their corresponding rules) are:

The Award for Love and Kindness (from Jo)

award-loveandkindnessThe Rules:
1. Share an act of kindness another blogger has done for you.
2. Thank the person who nominated you for the award, and link back to their blog
3. Nominate those bloggers whom you feel practice Kindness and Love — you choose how many! (I would give you all the Award for Love & Kindness, for all that you show me….)

 Wonderful Team Member Readership Award (Jo and Irene)

wonderful-readership-award1The creator of this award said: “As bloggers, we are also readers.
That is a part of blogging as listening is a part of speaking.”

The Rules:
1. Show appreciation of the blogger who nominated you, and link back to them in your post.
2. Add the award logo to your blog.
3. Share 7 things about yourself (I’m breaking this rule, I share enough here about moi as it is!).

The Angel Award (from Irene)

doncharisma-org-award-angel_edited-1
The
Rules
:
Guess what?  There are none! Just a beautiful award to show great appreciation to all you beautiful Angels out there.  This one is for you all too, so please take it!

Most Influential Blogger

doncharisma-org-most-influential-blogger-award-man

The Rules:
1. Display the Award on your Blog.
2. Announce your win with a blog post and thank the Blogger who awarded you.
3. Present 10 deserving Bloggers with the Award.
4. Link your nominees in the post and let them know of their being awarded with a comment (or a pingback).
5. Include an embedded video of your current favourite song. If a video is not possible you can embed a SoundCloud track.

  It is my honour and privilege to nominate these wonderful bloggers for all the above awards and many congratulations to you all:

Irene (Right back at you for the Award for Love and Kindness)
The Write Might
wanton word flirt
Lisa Reiter  – Sharing the Story
brickhousechick
Patsy’s Creative Corner
this man’s journey
Kev’s Blog
moggiepurrs
moodsaplenty
Jennifer K Marsh
Breaking the Cycle
Carrot Ranch Communications
emmasouthlondon
Longandluxe
TanGental
Tally’s Magic Tales

Another award post will follow this one later today but I have one more rule to fulfill: for rule number 5 above, my choice is the amazing classic ‘Summer Breeze’ by Seals and Crofts (although I do also love the Isley Brothers’ cover version). This three-minute clip is worth watching for the beautiful images alone.  If this doesn’t get you in a summer mood this Monday morning, then I don’t know what will.

Enjoy and Happy Monday to you all.  Love Sherri x

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bite-Size Memoir: Cycling and Sherlock Holmes

When Lisa set her cycling prompt for this week’s Bite Size Memoir challenge, the first thoughts that came to mind were not so much the riding on but the falling off a bicycle.

My first bike was for my seventh birthday present.  I loved it.  We had a narrow pathway between the side of our house and the neighbour’s fencing. I remember practicing riding for hours by keeping one hand on the wall of our house and the other on the fence to help me balance.  Oh the joy when at last I was able to ride whilst holding the handlebars instead!

When we moved to Suffolk, I usually had to get the bus to school but on good days in the summer,  it was a treat to ride my bike. During the summer holidays, me and  my brother hopped on our bikes with our hastily packed lunches (usually consisting of jam sandwiches and a packet of crisps) stuffed into our saddle bags and took off to the nearby town for a game of tennis.

These games usually ended in blazing rows over who had to pick up the balls when we missed our shots (which was constantly).  Somehow the bike rides home seemed much quicker than the ones heading out…

We often used to ride out to a nearby village with its isolated, leafy road and steep hill which we loved to race down, hands-free no less. With nothing but the rush of summer air whipping past our heads and the smooth whirr of oiled chains at our feet, we urged each other on to ride faster and faster.   So what if we ended up crashing into a bed of nettles with a few stones embedded in our kneecaps from time to time?  All part of the fun.

Me on a family friend's bicycle at the back of our house in Surrey. 1960's (c) Sherri Matthews 2014

Me on a family friend’s bicycle at the back of our house in Surrey. 1960’s
(c) Sherri Matthews 2014

On one particular occasion, our antics backfired.  My brother, racing ahead as he always did (even though younger than me but always much more daring) and yelling for me to come after him, suddenly disappeared over his handlebars. A stick or something had jammed into the spokes of his front wheel and now he was face-down on the road.

I cycled as fast as I could to get to him and was horrified by the sight of what looked like to me one of his entire kneecaps sheered off. What to do?  I must have learnt something in the Girl Guides (earning my First Aid Badge for one, but a fat lot of good it was going to do for my brother out there in the middle of nowhere).

So I got him up and somehow managed to walk him and both bikes to the first house we came across.  A nice, elderly lady took us in and called my mother on the telephone while she bathed my brother’s knee in something antiseptic. Funny what sticks in our minds: I remember her saying something like: “I would put iodine on it but that would send you to the roof!”

Later on, when the panic of the moment had died down,  I asked my mother what iodine was.  When she told me, I don’t know who was more glad that the elderly lady hadn’t used it – me or my brother!

He ended up going to hospital and had to keep a plastic bag over his dressed wound for the rest of the summer to keep it dry.  Since we spent a few weeks that summer in Brighton with my dad, trying to keep my baby brother out of the sea and his wound dry proved to be darn near impossible.  But that’s another story.

So with all these cycling memories coming to the fore, and by no small coincidence harking back to my Girl Guide days, here is my 150 word bite (no more, no less!):

 Cycling and Sherlock Holmes

For a year or two I was a Girl Guide. By the time I turned 13 I lost interest, preferring to mope about at home instead.

I loved riding my bike and got the idea that it would be fun to cycle to an evening meeting. Fixed up with a headlamp and dynamo, off I pedalled.

Still light, the rural road was deserted but it was dark for my return, and no street lights. This might not have been a problem had I not just finished reading ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’. The surrounding fields were dark and menacing and I was all alone. As I pedalled furiously, those headless hounds of hell, tongues of fire blazing from their necks, chased me all the way home.

Bursting in through the front door, I could hardly breathe. I never did cycle to Guides after that. In fact, I quit soon after.

 

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