Friday, 3 September 2021

Take Me Away

Today's the day my story 'Return to Sorrento' is published in the Bradt anthology ' Travel Write'.  It includes the best entries over the last twenty years in the Bradt travel writing competition. I've been fortunate to have been longlisted twice in this international competition so I was delighted to have one of my stories included. It's also lovely that one of my writing friends, Mairi, has a story included.

I can't wait for my copy to arrive in the post, to delve in and be transported across the globe. I've missed foreign holidays and travelling in the last two years, so it will be exciting to travel to exotic places from my armchair. You can order a copy here

The Secret Bookshelf in Carrickfergus will also be stocking the book (it's a great Christmas present idea for that person who loves their holidays!)

In the meantime, enjoy some of the views from Villa Crawford, which features in my story. Ciao!

Sunday, 22 August 2021

Childhood wishes

Do you remember making a wish when you were a child? And can you remember what you wished for? 

I can remember making the same wish for what seemed like an eternity, until eventually it came true. My wish was to own a set of 24 coloured felt pens. And by entering and winning a colouring competition I won a set of 30 coloured felt pens. Not only was I delighted that my wish had come true, but I learned a valuable lesson. Wishes don't come true by magic but by hard work and my hard work and determination brought a result that had surpassed my wish. 

I've always loved sets of coloured felt pens and at this time of year when pupils will soon be returning to school I can't resist the temptation of stationery.

So armed with my new pens and a new jotter I went back to school and made my way down to Coney Island last weekend for a couple of days of writing. 

Having been away from Coney (and from writing) for a long time, it was lovely to be back. It was good to see writing friends, enjoy time catching up on each others news, and to actually do some writing after a few exercises to flex our rusty writing muscles. It was lovely to walk on the beach, admire the views and be inspired by nature.

And after a beach walk, when it began to rain, it was lovely to return to a welcome coffee and home made carrot cake (it was delicious!)

One other childhood wish I had from around that time was to be a writer. And while I'm still chasing that elusive publishing deal, I'm delighted that through my hard work and determination this wish has also come true, having had stories and poetry published. However this wish is still a work in progress!

Sunday, 25 July 2021

The highs and lows of getting back to the theatre

The last year and four months have been tough for all of us, coping with lockdowns and restrictions and missing many of our former interests. I've looked back fondly as memories pop up of theatre trips with friends and longed so much to get back to see a play performed live.

Outdoor theatre looked like it would be the best way forward. So when we saw 'The Great Gatsby' was being performed locally, we began to plan an outing. Normally with our unpredictable and often cool  damp, summers we wait until close to the date before booking (it's not the first time our picnic has taken place in my kitchen due to midsummer downpours). 

So we were disappointed that tickets to see the local play were sold out within days, a few weeks ago. We began to look at other venues, a bit further afield but still within reasonable travelling distance where the performance was also due to take place, but, always mindful of the weather, we held back booking tickets.

Then our weather surprised us. We're currently enjoying a heatwave with the hottest local temperatures ever recorded  - just perfect balmy evenings for outdoor theatre. So when it seemed we were in for a period of settled weather, we booked tickets to see 'The Great Gatsby' at a different venue a bit further away.

But then last week we noticed on social media that due to one of the cast testing positive for Covid, several performances would be cancelled. It seemed our outing might be cancelled too. 

But last we packed our picnic and made our way to the Riverside theatre in Coleraine. Under shady trees we sheltered from the still hot sun on a glorious Saturday evening and waited for the show to commence.

And we were not disappointed! This much longed for show was fabulous. The setting could not have been more perfect! Heartbreak Productions transported us back 100 years and taught us dance moves from the roaring twenties, immersing us in the jazz era of Daisy and Gatsby.

I've enjoyed reading some of Fitzgerald's work and seeing this iconic story brought to the stage was definitely worth the wait! Catch it if you can!

Sunday, 4 July 2021

Back last

The sun may not have shone as brightly as we might have wanted yesterday, but at least the rain held off. The smell of the seaweed on the fresh breeze welcomed me back to Coney Island and it was lovely to experience this view again after such a long time.

Thanks to Zoom our writing group has stayed connected and has gone from strength to strength over the last 18 months, continuing to provide support and encouragement to each other.

And while we now are living in different times where adering to the use of face masks, hand sanitiser and social distancing have become normal, it was good to be able to enjoy simple pleasures together again, including chocanana muffins over a coffee.

Sunday, 20 June 2021

Father's Day .....40 years later

Today was Father's Day in the UK.  While my dear Dad is no longer with us, he is never far from my thoughts. Forty years ago (I had to check the sums as it doesn't seem that long!) I wrote a poem about him and submitted it to the Belfast Telegraph's Father's Day Poetry competition. I was delighted that it was published and I won a book token prize at the time. 

My Dad was proud that my poem had been published then and I'd like to think it would make him smile that it's been published again, forty years on, this time in an anthology celebrating Dads which was published in the last week.

My copy of 'To Dad's - with love' arrived yesterday and I've been dipping in to it over the weekend. You can get your copy here

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Reading material

Our weather over the bank holiday weekend has been very disappointing - four seasons in one day,  a wash-out and dreich at times! So it's been perfect reading weather and I've enjoyed some free time indulging and catching up on my reading material.  In the last week a lovely 'wee' poetry book dropped through the letterbox. 

Published by Dreich poetry, this is book three in a trio, and I'm thrilled that it features two of my  poems. You can get a copy here

And I enjoyed watching the launch of the latest issue of the Bangor Literary Journal over the weekend. 

It's packed full of beautiful images and writing (and I'm delighted that I have a photo included in it). You can download the issue here

Monday, 26 April 2021

Then and Now

I've loved playing with words for as long as I can remember, writing poems and stories for enjoyment. And I've been enjoying entering writing competitions for much of my life. One of my early successes which resulted in subsequent publication was when our local newspaper, The Belfast Telegraph held a Fathers' Day poetry competition. I penned a few lines about my dear Dad, edited the poem and then sent it in. I can remember my delight a few weeks later when the newspaper was delivered, leafing through it to read the results and reading my poem had won a prize. I was also tickled with the illustration the paper's cartoonist had included with my poem which was a very apt likeness. The following days Dad was asked by his work colleagues who had read the poem what had happened to the shelf? He reckoned it was poetic licence. That was then.

Last year I read about an opportunity in 'Writing,' magazine - Aurelien Thomas was collating an anthology about fathers. I'd lost my dear Dad a few months previously and I submitted the poem I'd written a few decades ago to remember the wonderful man who had inspired my love of poetry. The project has been in development for a few months and the book, 'To Dads - with love' will now be launching in the next week. You can watch the promotional video here

I'm looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of the book and reading all the contributions and remembering fondly how proud my Dad was the first time this poem was published.