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sark

 

My entry for this month is a work of fiction, although I did spend an unforgettable summer on Sark after finishing my finals. Like Charlotte, I have never returned – it just would never be the same, but I have visited the Channel Islands several times since, and caught a hazy glimpse of this most magical island. The house where I stayed has been turned into a guest house. It’s a shame it was a lovely family home. 

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In her earlier years she wasn’t conscious of making any choices. She was a privileged daughter of privileged parents. She had absorbed their ideas of success and happiness, worked hard to please them and never questioned that they had anything but her best interests at heart. Charlotte did not disappoint. Academically able she enjoyed school, and then university. Her friends did the same: all confident and the product of an expensive private education they knew what they wanted and worked towards acquiring good degrees with dogged determination. Her only relaxation was her early morning workout on the river. Alone in her skiff she felt connected and alive, her rhythm was sure and steady, her movements co-ordinated and satisfying as she sculled. Her senses alive to the beauty of the early morning mist and the perfect solitude.

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Poor puppy was spayed two weeks ago so was not allowed to run free as usual.
Not impressed with her babygrow vest to stop her licking her very small operation wounds. She has keyhole surgery so just two tiny incisions with internal stitches and the wounds glued. Still, she was even less impressed with the plastic cone of shame.

I'm not very happy

I’m not very happy

Recovery time is much shorter than the traditional method.

Moving on and after her post-op check she was good to go.

The entrance to the heath through a wooded thicket now resembles a jungle!

The entrance to the heath through a wooded thicket now resembles a jungle!

Thinning out somewhat as we approach the heath

Thinning out somewhat as we approach the heath

The heather is spectacular

The heather is spectacular

Not easy to photograph

Not easy to photograph

Lovely cloud

Lovely cloud

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And her she is again, freshly clipped and looking a bit like a greyhound without all that fur.
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What then is time?

“There was really nothing he could do but be patient. Freedom could come in the next hour, or the next century, or never.”

Hugo registered this thought from Victor and decided it was intensely irritating to deal with a creature who regarded any division of time smaller than a decade of no particular importance.

He could actually sense the reserve: the coldness, and utter implacability of this being, and it would have scared him had he not known Victor for some years now. Still, he found him frighteningly controlled for the most part, but his lapses into passionate anger terrified him occasionally. He was careful not to push their friendship too far. He couldn’t regard death as freedom, but then he was still young enough to savour the future with a certain amount of excitement and even hope. Not so his cold-blooded friend who hadn’t moved for some time, and didn’t appear to be breathing to a casual observer.

So, it seemed that death was not an option for Victor, or at least not a likely one, short term . Quite early on in this unlikely friendship, Hugo, an unusually psychic human had been persuaded by his blood thirsty companion that he was not a danger to humans; although he did have a necessity to hunt small animals, and a fondness for red wine. He did, however appreciate that his friend had no idea how long he would live, despite all his centuries of research.

Hugo surreptitiously studied a somewhat morose Victor sitting opposite at dinner. As usual the Vampire had polished off the rare beef in record time and was merely toying with the accompanying cauliflower au gratin and baby carrots. He had also finished the first bottle of Bordeaux. Hugo ordered a second; it was obviously going to be a long night. He still hadn’t been given any clues about why his friend had suddenly tired of his longevity.

Looking around the restaurant, he was surprised to find that most of the women diners were not reacting in the usual way to his dining companion. He had grown accustomed to the attention and the fascination that Victor’s appearance engendered in most of the females within range, but at the moment he seemed to be invisible. Most of them were studiously and deliberately not looking in their direction and some fingered their necklaces or collars nervously.

So, he chanced, over the cheese and crackers, “How are things?” The uncontrolled force of the response succeeded in emptying the restaurant and shattered a rather fine glass of vintage port. He did, however, catch a hint that the cause of this entire trauma was in fact named Anna.

“Not good then, but what seems to be the nature of the problem? I’m not prying of course, but what has Anna to do with this?”

“She is a witch” was the only, thankfully muted, response.

He wasn’t entirely sure how to respond to this. He’d lost count of the romantic and no doubt sexual liaisons, of his undoubtedly attractive friend. In the years he had known him he’d given up trying to remember their names. They never lasted long, and it was quite unusual that any female should cause this sort of angst. No, on consideration, it was unknown, and therefore he resolved to proceed with caution.

“Aren’t they all?”

“No, Hugo dear chap, I rather think you are missing the point! She casts spells and is immensely powerful. It just couldn’t be worse. She’s already in her thirties; witches do not live forever and I cannot bear to lose her!”

“Ah, waiter, the bill, if you don’t mind, and would you order a taxi?”

He didn’t see his friend for some months, but they continued to correspond by letter. He learnt a great deal about their relationship, which appeared to be fraught with difficulties. It was more than likely they would never be able to produce children. Anna, although extremely gifted, appeared to have had no formal tuition in how to control her magic. Their domestic life was interrupted by various disasters whenever Anna became annoyed. The drawing room was rendered uninhabitable by water damage, when she was upset once; not just a few tears apparently but a veritable flood. Well, at least she was still alive, he thought, the closeness of their physical relationship must have been an awful temptation to the Vampire, however civilised he imagined he was.

At their next meeting, Victor, with his finely carved rare slivers of venison untouched, looked even paler. It took two bottles of Marguax before he started to talk. Although pale he was calm; almost resigned.

“Modern research on the subject of genetics seems unable to provide the answers. Anna and I believe that much of the knowledge of the old world has been forgotten. We need to go back to basics and find out where we have gone astray. We must go back in time.”

Hugo knew his friend had lived through many centuries, and had on more than one occasion, been grateful for the insight into exactly what happened in the past. Lost manuscripts had been found, correcting many of the misconceptions of modern historians.

Hugo knew this was goodbye, and shook his friend by the hand, realising that this was the first time they had touched.  The hand felt cold, but not uncomfortably so.  It was to be their last meeting.

Hugo often wondered how Victor and Anna had fared, but in time he met and married a fair-haired witch of his own. Julia had flown into his life and turned his world upside down. She was a fellow historian and in charge of acquisitions for various renowned institutions. Their minds were totally in tune.

Some years later, in the British Library, Hugo was the first to examine a new manuscript, donated by an anonymous collector and in pristine condition. The first illustration was portrait of a man, dark haired and unusually tall for the period, accompanied by a woman and a young girl. Fair haired, just like her mother, she looked just like photographs of his wife, Julia when she was a child. He had been utterly bewitched by her when they first met, just as Anna had so captivated his friend.

The caption in pencil, under the illustration read:
“We have thrived here, I think we’ve cracked it; take care of the future. V & A”

This was  an addendum to  the Latin, which translated read: Hugo, watch for my ancestors, and if you find another who is like me, love her. This is the way forward. Farewell, Anna”

Julia appeared, seated next to him in the Library, although he knew that just a couple of moments before (when she had caught his excitement at his discovery) she had been playing with their daughter at home in Scotland!  Of course, it did cross his mind to wonder exactly why his wife had chosen to delay receipt of this message from the past from Victor and Anna. It was obvious that she most certainly had now chosen to bring it to his attention.

” Because you made the right choice”, she beamed!

Hugo did wonder who exactly had chosen whom, but wisely kept his counsel. It was their anniversary after all.

Old Sam

“Little do ye know your own blessedness; for to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and the true success is to labour.”

Well yes, thought Sam, as he trudged through the blizzard, it’s all very well but the cold was sapping his strength. The road was barely visible in the whiteness ahead. It was once familiar territory but now in the thickening snow he didn’t know where he was as he counted each step forward. Sheer will power drove him on towards his destination. The snow blanketed the countryside and in the driving snow laden wind he could only hear his laboured breathing and the faint crunch of his slowing steps.

Must be getting old he admitted and the extra pint at the pub hadn’t helped. Still, he’d stubbornly insisted that he wanted to visit the place again. It was Friday night after all. The place had changed though; new landlord and most of his old pals had either died or left the area. He didn’t want to be burden, the youngsters led busy lives, what with the lambing and all, and it had been a clear, moonlit evening when he’d set out. Now look at it. Still, mustn’t grumble, and this road can’t go on for ever. I just need to keep going. The snow was gentling drifting now the wind had dropped. The silence was eerie: he felt cut off from the world.

His bad knee collapsed, and he landed heavily in the powdery snow. Should have had the operation. Up until now he hadn’t seriously considered that he wouldn’t make it back but the urge to rest was overpowering. He’d had a good life and passed the farm over to his son. He’s doing a good job. He closed his eyes, feeling the light, icy flakes against his eyelids, and slept.

He dreamed of Mollie. Hadn’t done that for years. He thought about her often, but when he was awake, her image was hard to recall. The sense of her was there, but blurred somehow. Now he saw her with startling clarity. The light in her beautiful almond shaped eyes and the high cheekbones. He felt the softness of her shining hair and the warmth of her breath on his face. Her soft tones became more insistent and as he slowly came back to reality he was startled to find her tongue dampening his face and excited whimpers, and the texture of the hair under his hand was rough, course and damp with snow.

Lights dazzled his eyes as a Landrover slid to a halt in the road in front of him. The collie stayed by his side as his son approached.

“You’re a bit late Dad, let’s get you back. How does roast lamb sound?” Strong arms lifted him to his feet, and as they approached the car, his son said, “Dad, you nearly made it. Not far now, can you walk? I’ll dig the car out in the morning”.

Just five minute more and he saw the lights of the house. The two men, one supporting the other, and a dog disappeared into the welcoming warmth.

 

Entry for the TCWG May/June Competition

I’ve been a bit busy..

and this is the reason – her name is Abby.

 

After her first puppy groom:
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I really had forgotten how time consuming puppies can be. She’s very good and learning fast, but boundless energy can be a bit exhausting. I’m not finding it easy to fit in her hectic social life – puppy parties, walks with her favourite dogs and puppies and training classes – it’s worse than having a small child. She is twenty weeks old now and I feel I have aged significantly since she arrived. But it has been fun – walks in the forest, on the beach and she adores small children. Amazingly she hasn’t savaged any visitors or grandchildren yet!

 

Very high maintenance with her long coat but once her adult coat comes in I may decide to have her close clipped. She’s a devil for muddy puddles and water but she loves being brushed.

 

We tried to adopt an adult  rescue dog but after a year nothing suitable was available,  and frankly it would probably have been easier to adopt a child, so we decided on a puppy. She’s cocker spaniel/poodle cross and such a clever good natured puppy. A cockapoo, but no lap dog this one!

 

 

 

12 weeks

12 weeks

 

Abby kitchen

9 weeks

A bit of colour

A bit of colour in an otherwise rather rubbish back garden. I have no idea what some of them are so any ideas would be welcome!

I’ve been rather busy organising the house and after the trauma of moving and a new grandson, the garden really not been high on my list of priorities.


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The Birds

A tragic true tale told in haiku form. The horrid little chap in the photograph (not one of mine) is not one of the villains of the piece, but he looks remarkably similar.

Two Jackdaws perch high
And hurl the moss with malice
From the dank roof tiles.
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