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22.2.24

TRAIL BLAZERS

 

TRAIL BLAZERS

They piled out of the car and the kids raced through the house to find Granpa.

‘Hey Granpa, what’s that old wagon doing here?’

‘To remind us how lucky we are. Look around – what do you see?’

‘The usual stuff – your home, the pool, Mum cooking with Granma.’

‘Exactly. A house with a kitchen, enough water to swim in. But my Great-granpa arrived here in a wagon like that one. All their goods, beds included. They had to find water and light a fire before cooking dinner.’

‘That’s ancient history!’

‘Not that ancient – it was only five generations back from you.’

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We should remind ourselves occasionally how far we have come - and in a relatively short time. I live in a cottage that only had a bathroom installed in the 1950s, and still has the old outside toilet. The cottage has two small bedrooms in which previous families have raised families of half a dozen or more children!

Thanks to Alicia Jamtaas for the photograph that Rochelle chose this week. You can read how others interpreted the image by following the frog link from her blog  https://rochellewisoff.com/

 


14.2.24

WINTER SCHOOL

 

WINTER SCHOOL

Winters were colder in my childhood. Even in England snowdrifts were deep enough to dig a cave, snowmen were huge, and it was worth making a sled.

The walk to school was hazardous, the pain as chilblains thawed out was horrendous, but the best part was playtime.

The top end of the playground became a skating rink, where the most adventurous created slides. A run to pick up speed before you entered twenty yards of ice, your feet and body poised to reach the end without falling.

I remember the thrill to this day – the bruises are long forgotten!

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See that shining line in the snow? It's probably thawed, but it could be one of  those ice slides of my distant youth. Did they cause broken bones? Probably, but all I remember is the fun. Children shouldn't be too molly-coddled anyway, though no doubt these days such sport would be banned by a health and safety inspector. 

Thanks to Dale for the photo and, as always, to Rochelle for hosting FF.

8.2.24

ON THE PIER

 

ON THE PIER

Luke and Gerald had been playing ‘dodge-the-waves’ on the pier steps when the sea suddenly increased in strength, and now Luke was holding on desperately with one arm. 

As a huge wave swamped Luke, lifting him like a piece of flotsam, Albie swung down the ladder onto the fishing platform and lunged to catch the child by his jacket, then climbed the step to the upper level where he handed Luke over to his shocked father.

‘That gypsy boy is a brave lad,’ someone said, and George beamed with pride. His adopted son’s acceptance by the pier community was assured.

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Peter Abbey's photo gives me the opportunity to use an extract from one of my books! Thanks are also due to Rochelle for hosting Friday Fictioneers on her site https://rochellewisoff.com/ from where you can follow the froggy link to read other stories - or even to join our select group!

Incidentally, this story of a near-disaster is based on truth - my little brother was nearly swept off a breakwater when I, as a teenager, took him down to the beach on Brighton. I just caught him in time!

Helter-Skelter: Amazon.co.uk: Elizabeth Young: 9781717344755: Books


24.1.24

BRAMBLE JELLY

 

BRAMBLE JELLY

The steps opposite the bakery led to the very best blackberries, but everyone knew they were reserved for Old Betty - it was said her bramble jelly would cure everything from coughs to cancer.


Trudi, recently arrived in the village, scoffed, “Peasant nonsense!” and set out with visions of blackberry-and-apple crumble for dinner. She picked fast, the brambles parted easily to let her reach the plumpest berries, and her basket was soon full. 

Wearing a self-satisfied smirk she turned to leave, but there was no way out of the thicket.


The villagers all agreed Old Betty’s bramble jelly was even more effective that year.

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And the moral is...don't mess with tradition, especially if you're a newcomer!

I've used an old story this week as I'm busy editing my next book, but I couldn't ignore Rochelle's photo. If it wasn't for the red barns we could be in England, but our barns are either brick, weathered timber or corrugated iron, and I've never seen a red one!


3.1.24

THREE KINGS

 

THREE KINGS

“I’d like to meet this child born to be king of the Jews,” Caesar said, “You can tell me where to find him when you return.”

The wise men went on their way, following the star, found the child king and presented their gifts.

That night one said, “Caesar seemed overanxious to find this king.”

“We should return another way,” said another.

“That road is a morass in the rainy season,” the third said, “but you’re right – we mustn’t trust Caesar.”

When they didn’t return, Caesar killed every male baby in the region, but Joseph had already taken his family home.

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A hundred words aren't enough to give this part of the story justice - how the Three Kings stopped at Caesar's palace overnight and told him about their journey. How Caesar didn't want any Jewish king stirring up trouble and, in the hope of killing Jesus, slew every male child under two years old. The Romans were unyielding masters in the lands they conquered. Thirty years later the priests denied Jesus was their king anyway, so all those babies died for nothing.

January 6th is Epiphany - known as Dia de los Reyes in Tenerife, where it was traditionally the day to exchange gifts. Now Christmas Day has become more universal, but in towns Los Tres Reyes - the Three Kings - ride through the streets on camels or horses, throwing sweets to the crowds.

Dale Rogerson took the photo which reminded me of those my daughter takes on her doggy walks in Northern Ireland - it rains a lot there too! 

20.12.23

ANY ROOF WILL DO

 ANY ROOF WILL DO                                


Joseph couldn’t find a room anywhere in Bethlehem – the census had pushed prices sky-high.

Their weary donkey saved the day, heading unerringly for the scent of straw in some stables, where Joseph spread his cloak and lifted Mary down. 

They were just in time, for her child was born soon after.


With the breath of cattle keeping them warm, they were nearly asleep when the shepherds found them.

“The angel sent us here,” they said, “but why is the King lying in a stable?”

“You wouldn’t have been allowed into a palace,” Mary replied. “Here everyone is welcome.”

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As I do every year I have tried to portray the birth of Christ in human terms. It is well-documented historic fact, but can you imagine what a journey that must have been for Mary, nine months pregnant, being dragged across country to the town of Joseph's birth, just to register in a census demanded by the governing Romans? They were fortunate to find a roof at all. But then - whisper it - the Gospels were written by men, who didn't consider such details worth recording!

This story comes with my good wishes for a happy Christmas and a peaceful 2024 - all over the world, as well as in the land of Jesus' birth.

 Thanks to Rowena for this week's photo prompt and to Rochelle for hosting Friday Fictioneers so indefatiguably for umpteen years.

 

14.12.23

LA CUEVA

 

LA CUEVA de SAN PEDRO

Pedro de Betancourt, born in Villaflor, Tenerife in 1626, spent his adult years as a missionary in Guatemala, where he founded a hospital for the poor.

He died in 1667 aged 41. In 2002 he was canonized by the Pope - there was great rejoicing in Tenerife, where we were living at the time.

The cave where he sheltered as a young shepherd is now a shrine which people visit to ask Hermano Pedro's help or to give thanks, and to light a candle. The cracks in the cave walls are stuffed with handwritten prayers, including one of mine.

It is a peaceful spot, but not always, as it lies at the end of Tenerife's runway. When the wind dictates landings over the shrine, the sound of planes can batter you into the ground!

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This is one website where you can read more about Hermano Pedro's short life. https://elmedanoweb.com/en/hiking/hermano-pedro-cave-peter-de-betancurt/  


Thanks to Susan Rouchard whose photograph conjured up this memory, and to Rochelle for hosting Friday Fictioneers, even through Hanukkah.