Weapons of  Mass Creation
A 'Writers' Corner' for both 'readers' and 'writers'.  We are lucky that there are several writers among us and we readers will enjoy reading and commenting on your stories. You needn't be a 'writer' to contribute - blogs and journals are fun, too. Start your creativity flowing.


  1. After three of my four sons left home about ten years ago I decided to set myself a challenge and I began a lifelong desire to write a novel, having only written the odd short story before. I now have four sitting in a drawer. New ideas came too quickly, almost as soon as I "finished" one there was another lurking in the back of my head. I'm sure that if I unearth my dormant novels I shall end up rewriting them! I wonder if writers are ever completely satisfied with their finished work. I probably need a friend or two to read one to get some feed-back but even so, I am not driven to get anything published.

  2. I'm a bit the same. I wrote a novel about fifteen years ago and that too is sitting in a drawer along with a few short stories. I have had a few articles published in magazines but probably don't have the drive it takes to get to publishing anything.

  3. Well done for getting your articles published in magazines! That must have given you a boost jaywalker.
    Sanmac - I'm not sure how this Writers' Corner is going to work with regard to putting our stories onto it for other members to read and comment on?

    1. Yes, Jaywalker, you must be chuffed! Marina, too, has been published. Congratulations to both of you.

  4. Sylvia wrote:
    I'm not sure how this Writers' Corner is going to work with regard to putting our stories onto it for other members to read and comment on?

    Here on Writers' Corner, we can write about whatever interests us. It doesn't have to be book related. It can be an anecdote, a comment on life, a journal of our experiences (eg Leonie's library visit on 'Bookchat' or my trip to the laundromat on 'Snippets') or a even a paragraph or two from a novel in progress. It's an opportunity for us to be creative. Writers may also like to discuss the writing process, tell of their experiences or talk about writing in general.

    Perhaps a 'moderator' for this page would help. Is anyone interested in hosting it as Jaywalker does on 'Opinion'?

    1. Thankyou and I love Weapons of Mass creation logo!

    2. ty Me too! Have you seen our new Gallery page?

    3. Yes Sanmac I've seen the new Gallery page and I must send you a photo or two taken in the LAKE DISTRICT at Rydal Mount, home of Wordsworth.

    4. Please do, Sylvia. We'd love to see them.

  5. I was going to put one of the travel articles I wrote and had published in our paper but it's too long for here. Maximum appears to be 4,000 characters.

    1. How about writing it as a series on here jaywalker?

    2. Good idea - installments, like Dickens


    Spending time in Tuscany has become a popular goal of travellers in recent years. It used to be Provence, after Peter Mayle’s books (and the subsequent TV series) made owning a crumbling farmhouse in southern France almost de rigeur for those Brits who could afford it. After that fashion faded, there came a number of coffee-table cookery books extolling the virtues of Italian provincial cooking, complete with mouth-watering photos of the food and equally inviting and picturesque views of the unspoilt region of Tuscany. And suddenly everyone who was anyone was off to Tuscany to sample the cooking and boast of their travels to envious friends and relations on their return home.

    But regardless of the snobbery involved, and I have to admit to a smidgeon of that myself, Tuscany really is everything one hopes for and more. And there are some aspects of it which still remain a well-kept secret to many Australians. We had asked our English friends to book us a week’s tour of the area for the four of us, during a recent trip to the UK and Europe. They emailed back to say they had found a package which took in most of the well-known Tuscan towns – it started in Venice and then went on to Florence, Pisa, Lucca, Siena, Vinci, Padua and San Gimignano. The itinerary briefly mentioned that our hotel would be in “one of Italy’s oldest spa towns, Montecatini Terme.” We were so excited at the thought of all those Tuscan hill towns, actually having time to visit the Uffizi Gallery in Florence which we had missed on a previous visit, and seeing the square in San Gimignano where “Tea with Mussolini” was filmed, that the name Montecatini slipped past us almost unnoticed.

    We were exhausted after the long drive from Venice, and so fell into our beds unaware of what was to greet us in the morning. Not only is Montecatini Terme (terme=thermal) one of Italy’s oldest spa towns, it is certainly one of the most unusual towns I have ever visited.

    1. Looking forward to reading "Part 2" jaywalker!
      You have prompted me into debating whether or not I should type/ copy onto here my account of our travels by car to Spain in 1989. (By our I mean myself, husband and four sons)It's about 3,500 words long....

    2. Good idea sylvia! Here is the second part.

      MONTECATINI - Part 2

      It is situated off the A11 motorway, between Florence and Pisa, with a population of 20,600 spread over 17 sq kms, and is within easy driving distance of all the major tourist spots. But more than this, it has as its own claim to fame, some of the most glorious examples of late-18th and early 19th century Italian architecture in the form of nine palatial, marble edifices given over to that most hedonistic of pleasures, “bathing”.

      These are not the spa baths of Britain, where you sat in a metal tub, downing glasses of rotten-egg flavoured water or stood around in crumbling Roman baths wearing head to toe woollen undergarments. The Italians are far more sensible than that. These are huge pleasure palaces, designed by some of Italy’s leading architects, for the delights of a generation which took its pleasures seriously. The “baths” are scattered round the town and their architecture varies from Greek temple to Rococo opera house to
      Palladian Town Hall.

      Inside, you can indulge in what the current brochure describes as “a complete range of services for your relaxation, aesthetics, and well-being… the belle époque atmosphere.” The services, you discover, include “hydromassage, acqualux, mud facials, You can combine these with the “remise en forme” and anti-stress programs, or if you’re really serious you CAN drink the water which is “efficient in normalizing intestinal peristasis and is therefore very useful in cases of chronic constipation”!

      But if the baths don’t appeal, there’s plenty more to see and do in Montecatini Terme, such as the funicular railway, built in 1897 to link the town with Montecatini Alte, the ancient hill village above the more recent spa town, or the myriad of Italian and French exclusive designer shops, the 228 tourist hotels which line every street in the city area, or an evening stroll dressed in your best gear along with the Italians who make this an art form. Or there’s the Theatro Verdi, named for one of the town’s most important visitors, the opera composer, who rented a villa here for many years and composed several of his operas while on vacation. Rossini and Leoncavallo were also regular visitors, as were many members of the Italian royal family.

      For the art lover, there are the many fascinating examples in the spa buildings of the Liberty art style, the Italian version of Art Nouveau, which was all the rage between 1880 and 1920, when it was sadly overtaken by the diktat of Fascist architecture. Over acres of Italian tiles, beautiful girls in the pre-Raphaelite manner are painted holding out unguents and urns and mirrors, beckoning the potential sybarite into the groves of watery pleasure.

      In fact, by the end of the week, having spent most of our days trekking round the Tuscan villages in 40 degree heat, we realized that what we should have done, is stayed on another week and just revelled in the sensual pleasures of Montecatini Terme. Perhaps next time.

    3. Sounds a very intersting place jaywalker. In 40 degrees heat I would just want to dip into a very cool pool though! I should imagine it would be lovely to visit in the Spring or Autumn.

  7. "Travels with Five Men and a Lancia" - Stoke to Javea (south of Valencia) 1989

    It was the new company car with air-conditioning that really clinched it - that and the fact tht we'd spent most of our previous year's holiday week in pretty-but-wet Devon driving around wondering how we were going to keep our four sons entertained with going bankrupt. At first, my husband's suggestion that we pack up the car and drive a thousand miles south to the sun horrified me. I immediately pictured the seating arrangements. Our eldest son Elliot, at 17 being the tallest in the family, would have to sit in the front passenger seat and navigate whilst I, fast becoming the smallest member, would have to sit in teh back with Nicholas (15) James (9) and Adriand (6). No I didn't think my nerves would survive a journey sharing the back seat with three boys each fighting for his own little bit of territory. But my husband assured me he would stop often to stretch our legs and anyway, I'd have two weeks in guaranteed sunshine in which to recover.
    So, here we were three months later with dawn breaking over Spaghetti Junction, speeding along a deserted M6 on our way to Portsmouth. The two youngest were alseep, snuggled into their pillows. Nicholas was mesmerised by the changing skies and Elliot was plugged into his personal Walkman. I still could not quite believe that we were on our way to Spain by car!

    As usual, we had left it a bit late to book our holiday accommodation but as ever, The Lady magazine came to our rescue and we found a cancellation; Villa with pool - sleeps six - Javea. We had booked it immediately on receipt of photographs and general information from the owners. Seeing pictures of that white spacious villa with a background of blue sky resulted in my foreboding about the trip begin to fade. After all there had been a sense of adventure in the preparations and, as I had agreed with my husband, it would be educational for the boys and Elliot in particular enjoyed his Geography at school. I looked at their sleeping faces and decided that I too, should make the most of the quiet and get some shut-eye myself.

    When the sudden blare of the car hooter woke me some time later we were amidst the morning rush-hour taffic south of Basingstoke. My hsuand mumbled something about a stupid woman driver and Adrian sat up, demanding to know whether we were nearly there. What a joy it was to tell him that yes, we were nearly there (well not Javea obviously but Portsmouth!) I handed out cartons of fruit juice to the thirsty travellers and saw with relief that Portsmouth was being signposted already. By the time had dished out a breakfast of ham rolls to everyone, mopped up spills and sticky hands with Babywipes, brushed my hair and powdered my nose, we had arrived at the port and joined the queue of waiting cars boung for La France.

    My nightmare that the English Channel would suddenly turn extremely choppy on the morning of our July crossing did not become a reality. Thank you Lord! That would have been the beginning of the end for me! So, instead of becoming a sick-room, our 4 berth deluxe cabin (well worth the extra few pounds) beacame a restful haven for my very tired husband, an opportunity to "put the kettle on" and have a wash and brush-up. As the ferry moved out of Portsmouth harbour I left the three older "men" to sleep and took the younger two on deck for a breath of sea-air and to wave good-bye to the grey clouds of England. Blue skies here we come!

  8. Gosh - it was certainly a courageous thing to do with four boys! I have three boys so I can empathise. I look forward to hearing the rest. We have English friends (who are more like family) who have a house in the south of Spain so I'm interested to know how you got on.

    1. Yes courageous or crazy certainly! The journey caused us to fall in love with France and the following year we drove down to Perpignan for our holiday.

  9. Part 2 - Stoke to Javea

    It was raining when we emerged from the hull of the "Pride of Le Havre". Well, I concluded, we were only abut 70 miles south of the English coast. Our first port of call was to a 'pharmacie' as hubby had developed an itchy and bloodshot eye. A bottle of eye-drops was about the only item missing from my First Aid Box! We looked for an illuminated Green Cross sign (easy to spot, thankyou France) and with lthe help of our phrase book, an inspection of the eye by the helpful pharmacist, we purchased and inserted the eye-drops. That done we set off, tailling a long line of GBs and hoping they were more familiar with the French road-signs than we were! Roundabouts, as we were finding out, had to be approached and crossed with great caution!

    The 'short' journey down to the N138 proved to be a long one due to the fact that we missed the appropriate exit and found ourselves heading into Touen instead of by-passing it. After an hour encircling the town we eventually found the correct turning out and with a huge sigh of relief hubby accelerated along the straight tree-lined road to Le Mans. We soon realised what a disadvantage it was to have the driver sitting on the right. For it meant he had to rely on the left-handed seated passenger (Elliot) to 'okay' an overtake each time we found ouselves behind a slow-moving truck or caravan-on-tow. We also discovered that some French drivers wre quite prepared to risk suicide in their desperation to get ahead. So we were greatly relieved to get to Le Mans where we joined the Autoroute - smooth, wide-laned and relatively traffic-free. This was more like hubby's idea of stress-free driving. The rain had stopped, the skies had cleared and the autoroute temperature gauges were reading 20 C deg. Things were definitely looking up.

    Our first over-night stop was to be Angers - recommended by a friend who had been born there. We arrived at l'hotel Mail at 8.30 pm, tired, hungry and in need of much leg-stretching. Both teh air and the welcome was warm. We were shown two confortable rooms each with three beds and a tiny but adequate bathroom. After a quick freshen-up and clothes change we went staight down to the snack bar next door (also recommended by friend) where I managed to order in French because none of the staff spoke English. By this stime we were all starving so the delicious Croques Monsieur (melted cheese and ham on toast) and pizzas with more topping than base, were greeted with absolute delight. We washed that down with vin Rose and Orangina for the boys. Despite our overwhelming tiredness we agreed we should exercise oru legs whilst our food digested and took a pleasant stroll around the colourfully lit backstreets of elegantly dressed shop windows. An hour later we climbed into crisp white sheets and slept like logs.

  10. Angers - cont'd

    We awoke next morning to the aroma of freshly ground coffee. though smelling wonderful, French coffee was a bit too strong for our stomachs first thing in the morning so Petit Dejeuner consisted of fresh warm croissants, crusty bread rolls and two pots of tea. Breakfast over, we packed up the overnight bags, said "au revoir" to the owners and set off on a short walk around Angers and popped into the 13C Cathedral of St Maurice. How we wished we had more time to explore but, intending to arrive at second overnight stop before darkness set in, we reluctantly went back to the car, fitted ourselves back in for the next lap down to Bordeaux. It was sunny and warm and we passed fields of gigantic ochre-coloured sunflowers. By two o'clock our stomachs were rumbling so we turned off the main road and followed the directions of the arrow on the hoarding advertising a "Cafe". The dusty track led us to a remote village, quietly enjoying its siesta. The owner explained that the cafe was only now open for drinks and we were too late for hot food. He pointed to his watch and grunted. Our dismay must have touched his heart (or his stomach) for he told his wife could make sandwich. We accepted and were delighted to discover that the French 'sandwich' was a little more sustaining than an English one. Monsieur triumphantly brought us two trays bearing six large baguettes containing thick slices of juicy ham. We tucked in and what we couldn't manage to eat there we wrapped in paper napkins to take with us. Back at the car I handed out "baby wipes" and filled our individual drinking bottles with mineral water. The cool box was already warming up and I wished I had brought an extra one or two ice-packs. As we climbed back into the heat of the car I felt that we really wer a family of "Mad Englishmen" out in the mid-day sun.Thank goodness for the air-conditioning; it was a bit noisy but was doing the trick and keeping us reasonably cool. And so we set off south towards Bordeaux, Bayonne and the Pyrenees.

    I had picked out from Le Guide Michelin, a quiet hotel on the outskirts of the little town of St Jean-Pied-de-Port at the base of the mountains and from where pilgrims trekked on their journeys to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. A long, hot four hours later we swept up the driveway to the hotel which sat peacefully amongst the pine trees. To our weary eyes it looked an absolute haven. Alas, we were to be disappointed. The sympathetic receptionist explaine that there was a Festival on in the town and unfortunately the hotel was "complet". She recommended another hotel in St Jean itself near to the railway station and assured us it would not be at all noisy. About an hour later, having encircled the area around the 'gare' a dozen times and getting very weary, we found it, standing next to a partly demolished building! It didn't look like a 4 star but we were so tired we thought there was no harm in investigating. A polite male receptionist informed us that they had two rooms each with two double beds and bathroom and offered to show them to us before we accepted. Despite the rather gaudy wallpaper, they were clean and spacious and the windows had wonderful views stretching over the rooftops towards the Pyrenees. We brought up our overnight bags, took turns in the refreshing showers and changed our crumpled clothes. Despite feeling so tired we set out in search of a late supper.

  11. Oh gosh, you've really brought back memories of my travels in France some years ago. I have never driven (I can't left-hand drive) but I have friends who used to own a holiday house in Gers, almost on the Spanish border, and we have been back seat passengers with them twice, crossing the channel and driving the whole length of France.

    I taught in Kent (near Maidstone) for two years in 91 and 92 and shared a house with this couple who used to take off for France like we go to the next town. It was wonderful while it lasted! They moved to Spain (where we've also visited them) but now want to move back to France but can't sell the Spanish house. I love France - any part, any time!

    1. RE-writing this is bringing it all back to me as well! I had to remind myself that rear seatbelts were NOT compulsary in 1989!

  12. St.Jean-Pied-de-Port cont'd

    The little town was bustling with tourists and many of the restaurants (indoors and outdoors)were packed but eventually we spotted a vacant table and occupied it immediately. It was not to be our most appetising meal in France; the steaks were very rare, almost impossible to cut, but the boys enjoyed their pommes frites and Oranginas and hubby and I followed each swallow with vin Rose as we hacked our way through. After grudgingly paying the bill we helped the digestion by joining other toursits on their strolls along the pretty avenues of fairy-lit trees and enjoying the warm late evening air. Half an hour later we returned to the hotel, collapsed into the huge beds and again slept like logs.
    It was well after nine o'clock when we woke next morning. Adrian complained that he had spent half the night scratching and we discovered seven huge mosquito bites on his arms and legs. Out came the Anthisan from the First Aid bag bringing almost instant relief. I decided it was time to pack away the jeans and don our shorts, assuring my reluctant sons that they would feel much more comfortable and anyway no-one would see their white legs in the car! As we were too late for petit dejeuner we decided to make an early start up to the Spanish border. The going was slow, with roads winding and bending their way upwards and we were beginning to regret not having any food in our stomachs. At last we approached the border at Valcarlos and I delved into handbag for our passports but the smiling, tanned monsieur just waved us on without looking at them. Well, I suppose one white-faced woman wedged in the back-seat with three miserable young boys did not appear to him to be your everyday drug smuggler. So, on we continued, heading down to Pamplona and Zaragoza.Despite several pleas to stop for FOOD, hubby ignored me, determined to 'get on' as the roads were very quiet and we should make the most of it. This was not surprising/ Who else in their right minds would be travelling along this dusty, barren land at mid-day in temperatures of over 90 degrees? We finally arrived in Zaragoza at 3.30 pm,. hot and hungry, our mineral water warm and undrinkable. And we had done it again - arrived during siesta - it seemed the whole place was closed and deserted. We parked the car and set off in search of food and drink. Eventually, along one of the side streets we spotted a waiter laying tables outside. He informed us they would be opening for hot food at 4 pm. We sat down and looked at the menu which was of course all in Spanish whilst my brain was still "en francais". However, despite my very low blood sugar level I managed to order something in a mixture of languages and while we waited for the main course to arive we tucked into baskets of dry Spanish bread and sipped refreshingly cool glasses of Fantas. The boys were NOT impressed with the enormous paella that was put in front of them, nor the ham that looked nothing the ham we hd at home or in France. Still, hunger forced them into picking at bits of food that looked remotely edible and we ordered extra Fantas to quench their ravaging thirsts and extra bread to compensate the absence of their much loved pommes frites. They decided they didn't like Spain; it was too hot, the food was rubbish and they wanted to go back to France!


  13. As we finished our meal, the streets wer beginning to fill with people fresh their siestas so we decided to promendate too and enjoy the atmosphere. At five o'clock it was still unbelievably hot so we were relieved to come across the Cathedral - a vast building, not architecturally beautiful but magnificent in its size. The interior was a blissful oasis of coolness and dark. We walked silently along the marbled floors and were delighted to witness a marriage ceremony taking place in a side chapel, the bride in a brilliantly white dress and long veil, looking like a glowing candle in the Cathedral's dimness. We sat and watched as the small wedding group made their way to a side door to sign the register. The congregation did not sit quietly as they would in an English church, but began to move around, shaking hands, kissing each other and chatting.Children stretched their legs, the little girls showing off their frilly dresses and the boys proud of their satin waist-coats and little bow-ties. After checking our watches we reluctantly left the happy throng and made our way ouside, emerging into the bright sunlight again. In 'penguin' fashion we followed Dad back to the car. Thankfully he had a good sense of direction; I had none and had no idea where we had parked. But there it was, oru faithful chariot, glistening in the evening sunshine. We opened the doors and a heat of about 100 degrees rushed out to greet us! We wound down windows, opened the sunroof and boot to allow some air in. I checked our mineral water level and found it was down to only half a litre. We would have to stop and buy more at the next village as there was not 'un supermercado' in sight.

    1. NB for promendate please read promenade! I really shouldn't be typing in the evening when I'm tired!

  14. Zaragoza cont'd

    We joined the tail-to-tail Friday evening traffic driving out of Zaragoza (obviously a universal occurrance), heading south east to-wards Valencia. I looked at the map and we decided we were not going the 300 kilometres in less than four hours so we set our sights on a closer town called Teruel. By seven o'clock we were able to gather speed along quieter roads, cutting through dry, barren lands, occasionally dotted with huddles of primitive sandstone houses. The baby-wipes were going fast, being used mainly to mop sweating brows and hands. We had drunk every drop of water and the boys began to resemble panting dogs. I suggested they closed their eyes and tried to sleep. If they were going to die of thirst, they might as well be asleep and unaware of it! Surprisingly they made no objections and drifted off. Poor lambs, they were probably far too weak to protest. As the sun was setting in an orange sky some time later we spotted a village in the distance and so turned off the main road and followed a deserted lane in search of a shop. We found it only because there was a large Coca-Cola sign outside the dark doorway. A foreign car finding its way to this remote little community was an obvious novelty - elderly men and women in black ceased their gossiping to stare and children came closer to investigate. I stepped into the dark little store with James who had awoken to the question of "who wants a Coke?" and we found and purchased three bottles of mineral water and one of coke which used up most of the pesetas I had left in my purse. Our thirsts gratefully quenched, we left the hamlet and continued on for another hour until we got to Teruel. It was already 9 pm and darkness had fallen quickly. We were in no condition to spend time searching for a quiet hotel so stopped at the first one we came to, "La Christina", a rather grand looking hotel on the edge of the city. They could give us three doubles which was going to cost double what we had paid the night before in France but we were too weary to argue. The rooms were cool, bathrooms spotless and one had a TV much to the boys' delight. They had been denied access to the "box" for three whole days! However, our stomachs demanded instant attention as usual so the TV was abandoned in preference to the search for food. As the Spanish habitually eat late we had no problem finding a restaurant that was still serving meals at 10 pm and we entered the first one we came to. It seemed that half the city dwellers were in there but we were welcomed in warmly and shown to a table upstairs amidst flurries of black waistcoated waiters carrying laden trays high above their heads. The speciality was fish, so we ordered and hoped it ws similar to haddock which the boys all enjoyed at home. During the wait we tucked into the bread basket and sipped drinks. The fish, when it eventually arrived, came complete with heads and glassy eyes and was viewed with intense suspicion by James and Adrian. Adrian complained that it looked nothing like haddock (nice try dad) and refused point blank to taste one morsel. Hubby hastily transferred it onto his own plate and left his fussy young son to tuck into the chips and then ordered more pan, por favor. We were fast discovering that 'bread' really was the proving to be the staff of life!

    Hubby needed another gulp of wine when he was presented with "la cuenta" (the bill) but he was too weary to question it, so we paid up and made our way back to the hotel. We walked along narrow back-streets of beautiful brickwork, influenced by the Muslim peoples when the city had been ruled by the Moors. Perhaps tomorrow we would explore; now it was definitely time for sleep.

  15. Teruel cont'd

    Next morning we awoke refreshed, had showers and I packed our overnight bags for the last time (thank goodness!) We managed to drag the boys away from the TV with the tempation of "as soon as we get on the road, the sooner you'll be able to dive into that pool in Javea!" After a quick breakfast of bread rolls and the payment of our staggering bill we set off in search of a Banco as our pesetas had all but diminished and we needed petrol. Alas, it was Saturday and there was not a banco in sight. We gave up the search at 11 o'clock and set off, eventually finding a gasolinera that accepted our plastic card. Tank full, we left Teruel just a little disappointed that we did not have time to explore its obviously beautiful and interesting architectural history. Our original plan to visit Valencia was unanimously scrapped as the temperatures were soaring and we had had enough of being confined to the car. Teh boys were eager to dive into that pool that was waiting for us 200 klms away. The autopista was an excellent motorway with very few vehicles which helped to speed us on our way and at 3 pm we arrived in Javea! We followed the directions and surprisingly easily found the villa that was to be our home for the next two weeks. We were impressed. It was just as the photo had portrayed, painted white, very Spanish in style and perched quietly with its neighbours amongst eucalyptus trees and brightly coloured violet bougainvillea. The boys piled out and ran around to the back garden, screeching with delight at the sight of the pool; its cool water glistening blue in the late afternoon sunshine. We had arrived! It was all systems go then to unload our cases, with the priority being to find the swimming trunks and towels. I had never seen five men change clothes so quickly! That left me free to explore my temporary home, make up the beds and unpack! At home in England the all important task would be to "put the kettle on", but as I wiped the sweat from my brow I could see that here in Javea it would be, "get the ice-cubes out"!
    El fin.

  16. Sylvia and Jaywalker

    Really enjoying your travels..............Have been extremely busy with work and study, but making sure to keep up with the both of you here.

    Thank you so much to both of you girls....


    1. Sylvia is on holiday. I hope that means we can look forward to hearing all about it.

    2. Thankyou Moi - must admit re-typing it all out again brought back memories of that epic journey! I usually keep a short journal of my holidays but I've never actually attempted writing anything similar to "My travels with 5 men and a Lancia" since!

    3. Welcome back, Sylvia, we've missed you. Now you must tell us about your latest holiday, please.

    4. Thankyou Sanmac; nice to be missed! I've been full of the cold since we got back! Even the fresh Suffolk air didn't blow away all my husband's germs!We've had a nippy frosty start to the day and I'm wrapped up in thermals, a scarf, bodywarmer etc. We live in a old Victorian house so it's often colder in than out!

  17. Thanks, Sylvia. I also enjoyed your epic journey.

    1. Thankyou jaywalker. I'm not sure I can write anything as interesting as my 1989 story but I will tell you why we chose to go to Suffolk.
      A few years ago I traced my paternal grandmother's ancestors to the little market town of Woodbridge on the river Deben, a few miles east of Ipswich. As we had never visited Suffolk before we later decided to combine a week's holiday with some family history research. My 3xgrt grandfather William Levett was a master mariner who brought up his family in Woodbridge, a busy port in the early 1800s. I did quite a lot of research online in prepartion for our visit including contacting the warden of the church where William's first wife Sarah nee King was buried along with her two infant children. I also visited the Ipswich records office and confirmed the parents of William and unbeleivably traced his grandparents back to the village of Pettistree where we were staying! It was meant to be! I immediately loved Woodbridge and the surrounding area (not a Tesco or Sainsbury's in sight)and we enjoyed good locally produced food (especially fish) in old village pubs. Suffolk is well known for its BIG skies so rain or shine they were a spectacle to see. And being on the east side of England, you get more dry days than wet ones! We had enjoyed the county so much I always hoped we would return one day and in our search for an aumtum break "somewhere in the country where it wasn't raining all the time", we decided on Suffolk again. Out of our seven days there this time we had one grey and drizzly day and on that day we ended up driving up to Southwold on the coast; famous for its pastel coloured painted beach-huts that line the promenade. Even on a grey day they looked so pretty. We couldn't leave without going for a walk on the pier despite the damp day but we found the wonderful "Boardwalk" restaurant and took refuge in there, enjoying a lunch of the most delicious fish and chips while we watched the grey waves rolling up onto the equally grey looking sandy beach! We went back a few days later when the sun was shining; the sandy beaches golden and the hospitality of the people very warm.

  18. How interesting. We have a Woodbridge here in Tasmania, no doubt named by early settlers from Suffolk. I just looked at a map of the county to remind me of which parts we've seen. We've been to both far ends - Lowestoft, Bury St Edmunds, Sudbury and Newmarket but not at all to the area you describe so will put it on my mental list to visit one day.

    This year we stayed two weeks in Hastings and last year we stayed in Pickering and Cheltenham. Next year we are planning on renting a cottage for two weeks near Durham (Tow Law) as Colin is from South Shields. I was born in West Yorkshire so we try to pick a different area each year and look around as much as we can. I lived in Kent for two years in the 90s so I know that part very well.

    Tasmania is safe, quiet and pretty but when you've lived here most of your life it becomes very boring as far as holidays are concerned. We've seen everything there is to see many times over and we both miss the variety of choice the UK offers where you never seem to run out of different things to do and can get the Continent so quickly and cheaply.

  19. That is interesting jaywalker. My 2xgrt grandfather who married Sarah, The daughter of William Levett, was also in the merchant navy and I believe travelled to the Australias (must check that out and refresh my memory!)He ended up in South Shields after Sarah died,possibly because Sarah's brother(another William) was also a seaman based up there! James Diaper (my 2grt grandfather) died in South Shields too.

    It's true Britain has so many interesing places to visit. It took us over 4 hours to get to Woodbridge so my husband didn't want to do much travelling while we were there. I was born in Kent, Sidcup (in my grandmother's house) though I expect it is very different now. My grandparents retired and moved to Whitstable in the 1960s and again I think it's a very different town to how I remember it as a child. I've been to Canterbury as our eldest son did his degree there but that's as far we've got in Kent; it's a long journey from Staffordshire! So many places to see, not enough time!

  20. The thing I love about many English towns is the fact that they seem caught in time. The southern seaside towns, for example, are like going back to the 50s and 60s and seem little different in many ways from my childhood. I love the old fashioned beach fronts with the piers, and pubs with their hanging baskets and the fish and chip cafes and the fairgrounds. Still even see the occasional elderly couple sitting on deck chairs, all dressed up for a day out!

    The Yorkshire villages are the same - very little change in decades apart from the huge supermarket lurking somewhere on the outskirts and the ringroads before you get into them! I'm not blind to the problems the UK has and the big cities can be horrendous but the countryside definitely retains its charms.

    I lived near Lenham for two years, just outside Maidstone, in Kent and taught at a special needs unit near there and at West Malling comprehensive secondary. I went into Canterbury to shop quite regularly as it was only 30 minutes away. Lenham is gorgeous and often used for filming - several TV films were made while I was there including Perfect Scoundrels with Peter Bowles who I saw in the pub. Tom Baker lived there too and I often spoke to him as he was shopping in the off-licence. I joined the Maidstone Speakers Club and we were invited to the House of Commons to have dinner in the Members Dining Room with Edwina Currie one year and the next year we went to the Cafe Royal in Piccadilly for a dinner with Terry Waite - all the sort of thing you just can't do in Tasmania but wonderful memories.

    1. Lenham - well what a coincidence as one of my nephew's lives there! Sadly with both of us having big families we have not yet visited them; perhaps one day! Sounds as though you had a very interesting couple of years there in Kent.

      Yorkshire is one county I have not visited yet! We have relatives on my husband's side in Edinburgh so at times we have had to make the journey up there rather than explore elsewhere.

      If you like old fashioned pubs and good fish and chips I can now highly recommend Southwold and Aldeburgh too. Snape Maltings is another interesting place to visit with it music festivals, art and crafts, oh I could go on and on! I'm missing the area already.

  21. I was prompted to write this following jaywalker's tale of her experience in Monteplier (via Books that made you laugh in Question Time).

    I was looking forward to having 3 of my 4 sons with me for a meal earlier this year to celebrate my 65th birthday. My eldest was driving up from London bringing his new girl-friend and my youngest son who also lives in London. It took them five hours due to the Friday evening London exodus! Youngest son was not impressed!
    On the Saturday youngest son tells me he is going to Manchester with an old school-friend. This friend had just passed his driving test and wanted to practise his new skills! I was a little anxious at the time I must admit visualising an accident on the M6. Manchester is about an hour's drive from here and no way would I drive into the centre of the city but lads will be lads!
    Our table was booked for 7.30 p.m. and there was no sign of youngest son at 6.30pm so I sent him a text. Thank goodness for mobile phones. A reply came soon after telling us they couldn't find the car; they had forgotten where they had parked it! What? Immediate fears of them drinking at lunchtime then immediately thinking, of course not, friend would not risk his new license and be so foolish! Apparently they had chosen an underground car park, come out of one of the exits (being unused to carparks in general) and obviously gone back in a different entrance. By this time they had spent 2 hours searching and were going mad with frustration. Sorry, mum, not going to make the birthday meal!
    Disappointment on my part and of course fear that the car may even have been stolen!
    Later during the meal I got a text to say they had found the car! Fortunately the ticket issued at the barrier had a code name/number on it which was recognised by the receptionsist of a hotel they went into to ask in desperation (or common sense?) Good thinking lads, a shame you hadn't thought of asking someone earlier - typical MAN methinks! I had to be grateful they arrived back safely but in dire need of a pint and some food!

    On Sunday I wasn't surprised when youngest son announced he was NOT going back to London with eldest son in the car but letting the train take the strain! No wonder he still hasn't been motivated to take his driving test!

  22. I've also forgotten where I parked in a large car park but fortunately have found it in less than two hours!!

    A friend of mine who has an iPhone has an app on it that finds your car in a car park so it must be a not uncommon event! You point it at the car and it records where it is by satellite like a GPS.

    1. That app sounds ingenious! Must admit I tend to try and park my car in the same place (or as near as is possible)which-ever carpark I use.

  23. I've been doing some pre-new year cleaning, sorting and culling of various things including books and mt computer, and cam across this piece of writing I did after teaching at a special needs unit in England many years ago.

    “It Won’t be a Doddle”

    “It won’t be a doddle,” said the woman from the agency. “These children have quite severe problems - EBD mainly. The pause at my end must have made her realise that I might not be completely au fait with the educational jargon of another country. “Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties,” she explained, ‘They’ve been excluded from local schools and some are from the on-site residential unit.”

    “I’ve had some special needs experience,” I said doubtfully, “and a bit of training.”

    “Oh, well,” she said with audible relief, “You’ll cope. It’s only for a term – you’ll manage.”

    I’d have to manage. After a recent divorce, and successfully applying for a year’s leave, I’d spent the last five months travelling alone round Europe and although I’d been on Long Service Leave with pay for most of it, the cost had been considerably greater than my income and now, back in my birth country of England, I was getting desperate for a regular salary.

    It was almost the beginning of the new school year and I’d had no success in finding a job in any of the local high schools. I’d been about to apply for relief work when the call came. Surely it couldn’t be more difficult than the work I’d done at home.

    I’d had some involvement with special education units and I’d dealt successfully with the sorts of kids who end up in them in my own school back in Australia, which drew from a low socio-economic area where many students came with serious social and educational problems. Surely this couldn’t be much more difficult.

    It turned out to be both more difficult and definitely different. The time I spent there was the most interesting and challenging of my entire career. The unit was situated in a disused rectory in a village in Kent. It was partly a residential home for children taken into care, and partly for “unmanageable” students from neighbouring high schools.

    The Kent County Council had bought the deserted, three storey, red-brick Georgian rectory, fitted it out as a residential home for children in care, and had added three demountable classrooms, turned the stables into a workshop and the garage into a dining room for the school meals which were delivered each day.

    It was not simply a place of temporary respite for students who had been impossible to manage in their own school. It provided education for the 8 to 10 children in the residential home who ranged in age from 13 to 17, most of whom had been forcibly removed from parental care because of physical and sexual abuse or gross neglect and the 15 to 18 local EBD students were also required to follow the National Curriculum.

    The day-children were collected in the unit’s mini-bus from a very wide area and I soon realised that this was because it was the only such unit in that part of Kent which would take these particular students. The range of their intellectual and emotional problems was vast - everything from dyslexia, mild learning difficulties, Tourette’s and Asperger’s syndrome and ADHD, to others with high academic ability but unmanageable behaviour.

  24. The one thing they had in common was their bad experiences at school and at home and their ability to create mayhem in any situation. Manipulation was a skill learned early and the “wind-up” had become an art form. They were all masters of the no-fault, no-blame school of operation.

    The unit operated on a tightly structured program which started with an informal assembly in the common room each morning where Bob, the headmaster, would talk to the assembled throng about the previous and forthcoming day. The students sat around in the shabby vinyl armchairs, usually slouching, tapping, chewing or otherwise making it non-verbally known that they were utterly bored with all this and had heard it all before.

    Bob would debrief about the previous day, praising where possible, pointing out the errors of their ways of some, asking for comments and generally setting them up for the day to come. The mornings were spent in small groups of two or three with a teacher who attempted to gain their interest in the basic skills.

    After recess, there were classes in IT, art, craft and music. If they got through these sessions without creating too much havoc, they piled into the unit’s bus and were deposited at various unfortunate sports and leisure centers or other organized activities under the eagle eye of a teacher whose main job was to prevent them destroying their surroundings and/or each other. Those who hadn’t managed the morning with any degree of civilized behaviour remained behind under the supervision of Bob and the visiting social worker.

    The resourcing for a relatively small number of students seemed generous. A non-teaching Head, an Assistant Head with part-time teaching duties, three full time subject teachers, of whom I was one, a full-time craft teacher, a full-time Teacher Assistant, a full-time groundsman and a full time school secretary. However, it wasn’t long before I understood that it often required that many adults to deal with these children.

    Their behaviour ranged across the gamut of known possibilities. It could be loud, belligerent and violent. It could be silent, manipulative and seditious. Their behaviour towards one another was just as unpredictable as their interactions with staff. Regularly, staff from the residential home had to be called over to practice their restraint techniques.

    Sometimes you felt like murdering them, sometimes you just wanted to take them into your arms and give them the love and care that they’d obviously been denied. But there were certainly few dull moments and little time for self-pity. Almost every day brought something humorous, aggravating or even tragic and it was rare for an evening to go by without the need to retell the day’s events as a necessary form of catharsis.

  25. It would be impossible to recount all the stories, but some will stay fixed in my mind and heart forever.

    Perhaps the most memorable was Karina who had been fostered out as a baby by a mother who was quite incapable of caring for any of the fourteen children she brought into the world. When I met her she was 15 and had just started orthodontic treatment, courtesy of the high levels of medical welfare available in the UK at that time. Her top teeth had refused to descend in the usual manner and had given her the appearance of a toothless two year old in the body of a sexually mature young woman

    She had a cloud of frizzed and crimped blonde hair, beautiful peach toned skin and an enviable figure which she usually showed off in tight trousers and cropped tops regardless of the weather. There the physical attraction stopped for she had the voice of a south London fishwife and never spoke at less than full volume.

    Karina had a Sikh Indian boyfriend, inexplicably called Serge, who had to keep Carina a secret from his family because he had an arranged fiancé who he would eventually marry. She often told us how she had to walk behind him in the street and lie on the floor of his car as he went through local areas. And she told us all with charming frankness that the huge dental brace she was now wearing was going to be something of a hindrance to their sex life, but she said, “ I’ve told Serge he’ll just have to wait till February for a blow job.” A few days later, she yelled across the classroom to me, “ Oh, by the way, Serge says he don’t mind, he can wait.”

    I grew incredibly fond of Karina. She had a heart of gold and was always the champion of anyone she felt was being unfairly treated - and who could wonder at that in a teenager whose mother had given her up at birth because “she can’t ‘andle me” but who still occasionally came to visit her at the residential home. I invariably remember her standing in the unit’s kitchen yelling at full decibels, “Anyone wanna cuppa tea then?’

  26. Terry was a “traveller”, the PC word for gypsy and when he first came into my tutor group, the chief thing to be noticed about him was his smell. It seemed to be a mixed bouquet of burnt tyres, decaying food and ingrained sweat. He added to the aroma every now and then with a well-rounded fart, His language was a colourful mixture of Anglo-Saxon expletives and Romany adjectives. His reaction to any work put in front of him was, “That’s well divi, mush”, meaning as far as he was concerned it was a load of rubbish.

    If I did let him do something he wanted to do, the reaction was, “Kushti, man, kushti”. He also invented words himself. Under the ground-in dirt there was actually quite a good brain. “Skanked” was another of his favourite words. It meant stolen and the classic comment came on a Snowdonia mountain climbing excursion. Terry had brought along, like the all the others, a large stash of goodies as a precaution against the good plain food served by the staff at the KCC hostel. One evening he came running into the common sitting room shouting, “Miss, Miss, some divi ‘as skanked me flumps!” It went down in the linguistic history of the Unit. It turned out that his packet of pink marshmallows were titled “marshmallow flumps”.

    Whenever there was serious trouble with Terry, which happened with regularity because he had a temper which could in seconds turn into uncontrollable rage, his stepfather would be called and would appear in his battered pick-up truck, with the family’s German Shepherd barking and snarling in the back. His response to any criticism of his wayward stepson was, “He don’t need education, I didn’t need no education. I know you lot. I got witnesses.” Whereupon he would point to his eyes: “These are my witnesses. I don’t need no others. I know what goes on in ‘ere.”

    We were never quite sure what he meant by this ritual chant, but when he calmed down and was told that Terry was in danger of being sent home for a week, he would quickly change his tack. The threat of having Terry at home for any length of time was usually enough to change his attitude and then we would continue as before until the next outburst. We all knew that Bob used the threat of suspension from the unit sparingly but in Terry’s case it always worked because his stepfather was well aware that Terry would wreak havoc in the village he lived in if he had any spare time on his hands.

    Keri was an entirely different kettle of fish. She came to us from Yr 10 at a local comprehensive and was quiet, withdrawn, and loath to sit with the other students, utterly lacking in self-esteem and quite convinced that her slightly above normal weight made her a combination of an Ugly Sister and Tweedledum. She was well-behaved and hard working in class and it wasn’t until her first stay in hospital for stomach pumping that we realised that she was regularly sniffing cigarette lighter gas, overdosing on aspirin and paracetamol and raiding medicine cabinets of any house she visited. Then there was the overnight stay as the result of a claim that she had been raped, rapidly followed by another stomach pumping episode which the doctors reported was within a hairsbreadth of being fatal.

    Every time she returned she declared a new resolution to give up the drugs, “get me head together” and turn over a new leaf. It never happened. By the time I left Keri had been told she had permanent liver and eye damage and she certainly seemed to be demonstrating some permanent brain damage. The possibility of her surviving into adulthood seemed slim and in fact on my return to the UK a few years later I learnt that she had succeeded in her quest for oblivion.

  27. Perhaps the most difficult was Tamsin. Her feminine name totally belied her appearance. Her standard dress code was a baggy navy shell suit and huge trainers with trailing laces. Her hands were always thrust into her pockets and she walked, head down, with a rolling, masculine stride. Her hair had received the shaved pudding bowl treatment that many of the boys then sported and her usual facial expression was a menacing scowl below thick black eyebrows She was very intelligent and had already passed some GCSE exams and it was obvious that she did not have learning difficulties. What she did have was an obsessive desire to look and act like a boy. And the reason - she had been systematically raped by her father and two brothers since she was a small child. When this was eventually discovered she was taken into care and her reaction was that she had no desire whatever to grow into a woman.

    She was also a constant “runner” and was repeatedly brought back by the police, once by the London police who had found her wandering the Underground threatening passengers with a broken bottle. Before coming to us she had spent time in an ASU (Adolescent Secure Unit) in Chatham, which was fitted with airlocks between doors, barred windows and security alarms. After a few months there her behaviour had been considered sufficiently acceptable to result in a move to the Unit as the next step in her rehabilitation but I don’t think any of us really had high hopes for her success rate or for happily resolving her sexuality.

    Shelley was a nymphomaniac. Well, maybe not medically speaking but certainly in practice. She herself made no bones about it. She saw every male venturing on to the property as fair game whether it be the village plumber, the dinner van driver or the Ofsted Inspector. All were equally exposed to her charms. I was told that when she had first arrived it became noticeable that it had become quieter at recess and lunch breaks. It took only a short investigation to discover that she had drawn up a roster and was “entertaining” in the large tree house at the back of the rectory, once no doubt the sanctuary of the good rector’s children. She always sat next to the window in class, and at the approach of any member of the male sex, she would stand up slowly, lean against the windowpane and almost breathless would make comments such as, “Oh, Miss, look at ‘im, inte gorgeous? Oh gawd, just look at his bum – he’s lovely.” Then I would have to find some means of distracting her and getting her back on track – it wasn’t always easy

    Stuart, a sixteen stone, six foot tall, mustached fifteen year old, whose favourite sentence, while sitting arms folded, huge legs spread apart in front of him, was: “I aint doin’ no crap work and you can’t make me.” He was dead right. At the end of the year we took a group to the Christmas pantomime in Canterbury. It was “Puss in Boots” with a fetching principal “boy” with her long legs clad in fishnet stockings and stiletto heels. As she stood at the front of the stage calling for her lost love: “Oh, my darling, where, oh, where, can you be?” Stuart stood up in the front row of the balcony, grasping his elbow and shaking his arm in the recognized sexual salute, calling out at the top of his voice, “Here I am sweetheart, up here” while we tried vainly to shush him and save the elderly grandmothers with their grandchildren in the audience from further embarrassment.

  28. And Peter, who stole and sniffed several cans of spray-paint each week. He was often violent and had to be physically restrained and when I picture him it’s the day he went berserk with a cricket bat and attacked a row of staff cars with it before he could be stopped and restrained.

    Perhaps one of the saddest was Geoffrey who had the face of an angel and was not unintelligent but because of his untenable relationship with his stepfather who constantly abused him, would do a “runner” onto the city streets and would come back sometimes weeks later, filthy, starving and skeletally thin, telling stories of the old men he’d met and the hostels he’d been in. He would be returned home, but after a brief period, he would disappear again into the underlife of London. He was thirteen.

    And Simon, who had to be levered out of bed every morning by the residential staff and never emerged in daylight unless his tall, thin frame was totally covered in oversized, baggy garments with sleeves dangling over his hands and a cap pulled down over his face. He also had a penchant for abseiling out of his third floor bedroom on bed sheets. His mother came to see him occasionally. He was an identical twin and had been put into care as a baby because she had decided she couldn’t cope with both of them. It wasn’t hard to imagine how he felt about life and I sometimes wondered if he could possibly ever meet up with his twin without wanting to do him harm.

    Tanya had blown the whistle on her father when he started sexually abusing her younger sister as well as herself. Her mother rejected the accusations and disowned her, claiming that Tanya must be lying, as her husband would never do such a thing. Tanya was fighting a huge moral battle with herself. On a walk in a Welsh national park one day, she said, “Tell me what to do, miss. What would you do? I love him, he’s my dad, but he was doing it to both of us and she was only eight. He’ll go to prison and it’ll be my fault.” I remember telling her that it was all right to go on loving him but that didn’t mean he didn’t deserve to be punished for what he’d done. Eventually, she was the key witness at his trial and he did go to prison. A few months later, at the age of fourteen, she was pregnant and determined to keep the baby. It was sometimes easier not to even think what the future held for some of these children.

    There was Michael, undernourished and underdeveloped and a heavy smoker at twelve. His dad was a recidivist house burglar who used Michael to get through small windows and kept him starved and smoking to make sure he’d fit. His conversation consisted mainly of graphic descriptions of being chased by “ the old bill” and of his father hiding in the coal cellar while they battered down the front door.

  29. Danny suffered from Tourette’s syndrome, which caused him to make constant twitching movements and to swear loudly, repetitively and incessantly. He was a handsome boy with dark hair and beautiful eyes. He lived with his father who did his best for him but found him hard to manage on his own. He was one of the bus-run students as he lived some distance from the unit near Wrotham – a town whose name is pronounced ‘root em’ and which on my wrongly pronouncing it “rotham” on the first day, ever after was shouted at me loudly each day by the bus crowd as “We’re coming into ‘root-em’ now, Miss.” ‘

    Danny always insisted on sitting next to me on the bench seat in the front of the bus. Nowhere else would do, but his condition was not conducive to driving seven or eight dysfunctional children on a hundred mile round journey through little known territory that took us on major motorways and down narrow country lanes. After he discovered I was from Australia, he spent much of the time waving his hand in front of my face, shouting, “G’day! G’day!” every two seconds while bumping up and down in his seat. I can proudly say I never had an accident but there were one or two close shaves.

    The staff were as interesting as the students in their own way. Bob (we were all called by our first names whether we liked it or not) was young, snappily dressed and drove an expensive Rover but I soon learned that he was also intelligent, extremely perceptive, very organized and genuinely cared about his students’ problems, while running a pretty tight ship with a no-nonsense attitude.

    And I will always remember Colin, the craft teacher, who looked and sounded remarkably like Dennis Waterman, with his Cockney accent, and whose unorthodox treatment of the students which included not a little “heavying” and who I watched one day, silently and gently treading on the toes of one of our bigger thugs and staring him straight in the eye at the same time, and watching said thug crumple into compliance.

    And there was Jenny, the English teacher, who came from similar stock herself but had made good later in life and used her loud south London voice and forceful manner to very good effect, the students recognizing her as one of their own. Elaine, the Teacher Assistant was a well-padded, warm, motherly figure who everyone loved and who dished out both school lunches and sympathy in good measure.

    Sometimes staff elected to teach at an EBD Unit for the wrong reasons and soon discovered their mistake. At the end of my time there, I wondered whether anyone should work in such a place for more than a few years at a time. The strain of bearing some of the emotional problems of these children was huge and there seemed to me to be a danger of either becoming hardened and cynical or becoming unaware of how much stress and tension you were absorbing.

    One thing there was no doubt about is that it was an experience never to be forgotten and one that has stayed in my heart and mind ever since.

    1. Well it certainly wasn't a doddle. The children's stories are so sad. I 'dips me lid' to those special people who try to give them a better life. They must keep sight of the big picture, otherwise the daily frustrations would be too difficult to bear. You are fortunate, Jaywalker, to have had this opportunity and I think that you gained from it, as well as the children.

    2. Thanks. Yes, it was an exceptional experience and one I am very greateful for.

  30. Thankyou for sharing Jaywalker. A good read and one that makes you think........

  31. Bernadette, one of our most recent contributors, is a recently retired Registered Nurse, Registered Teacher, and qualified Natural Therapist. She has studied Aromatherapy, Massage, Nutrition, Reflexology, and Reiki. Retirement doesn't find Bernadette idle as she is the author of a practical, hard cover book jam packed with health tips : "How To Be Your Own Therapist - Home Remedies"( into its second edition). Bernadette has also published a travel journal of sorts as an e-book with the title "Lunch in Avignon" which she is currently in the process of updating with the inclusion of recipes from regions she has toured.
    For all those would be authors , I thought we could pick Bernadette's brain a little. Good idea readers? Be kind, we'd like her to keep contributing!

    Bernadette, do you think it was easier writing for publication in later life ? And which process have you preferred : the hard book format or ebook?

    Bernadette Replied:
    I have always wanted to write and now I have the chance. Yet it was always “One day I’d like to write a book.” It was only after I was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2005 that I began to think about the possibility of dying without fulfilling many of my goals. So, writing and traveling (as well as reading and cooking) are my passions now.
    Yes, writing Lunch in Avignon is completely different from the writing I was used to in my professional life. It was a compilation of memories, experiences and feelings derived from some of my travels. However, my first book, How to be Your Own Therapist – Home remedies, was more of an extension of my work as a Nurse, a Teacher and a Natural Therapist. In my professional life I had to keep to facts, with no room for humour or imagination. That book took me three years to research and write.
    As for whether I preferred writing for hard copy or e-books, there was no difference in the actual process. When Lunch in Avignon has been revised it could be produced either as an e-book or as hard copy. A coffee table book would be nice and I think the finished work would lend itself to that. From a practical point of view, it might be best to “test the waters” by putting out an e-book first.

  32. New contributor, Lee D, is very excited to advise that her first children's book, The Ibises' Tea Party, has been published. Having raised four children, she found herself in the position of having to retrain. Lee recently completed the Certificate 3 in Education Support which means that she has been assisting primary schoolers improve their reading and writing skills.
    Lee states that she has always wanted to tell stories, but lacked the self discipline until this stage of her life. Working with children has provided her with the insight that children learn from stories, and the message in this book, aimed squarely at younger readers starting school, concerns the consequences of leaving food litter in the schoolyard. Ibises are too easily identifiable in SE Qld.

    Q Lee ,had you thought of writing before ?
    A. I have, just never had the self-discipline to be consistent.
    Q Why now?
    A. Working with the children during my studies presented me with the push I needed. I realised that children learn from stories and stories don't have to be long or convoluted. Stories just need to be something that children can identify with.
    I felt my time working with children provided me with insight into the way they saw the world, and so I thought it also important to illustrate the book myself. This task was in collaboration with my daughter, Hayley, and I think the simple sketches work because they are identifiable to the target demographic.

    I've ordered a couple of copies for Xmas gifts as they light and easy to post ! Now that she has the taste the new author states she has another two childrens books in the works, one targeting the Qld tourist market, and another, a more contentious story, that publishers may find challenging.Now that might just make another interesting tale....