Chasing Dreams and Facing Fears

Every since I can remember I wanted to be a fiction writer. As a child I was told it was nothing more than a dream. So few people had the chance to be an author, and it was made clear I would be one of them.

Since then I have written many things, and have even studied Creative Writing at university. Yet, there is a fear within me that stops me writing.

I worry what will happen if everyone hates what I write, yet more than I that I worry what would happen if everyone loves what I write.

I am an introvert, and I lack confidence. Social media and blogging makes me feel exposed. I want to be an author, and therefore having a platform is said to be important. That means embracing one of my biggest fears. I am the sort of writer that would love to write anonymously, and yet I also do not want to be cut off from the world.

Being social does not come naturally to me, but it is something I am working on. I am going to make an determined effort this year, to not only be more social but to write.

I know I have to be honest. I have tried to fake it and it does not work. I feel a fraud, and it makes things worse. Yet, by admitting my fears I also feel like a failure.  It is hard to admit your weaknesses. It is also harder to do so as publicly as this .

Maybe this is a mistake, or maybe this will be the start of a new chapter in my life. There is only one way to find out.

Donna Nook – Gray Seal Colony

Donna Nook is famous for two things. It is the place the grey seal colony come ashore every year to give birth, and it is a RAF bombing range.  Luckily these two actually works well together.

I love to visit when the seals are there. There are few places where you can get so close to over a thousand wild seals. There is a path, and fence that the public are asked to stick to, so as not to harass the seals.  I like this as I have seen people fail to respect marine animals in other parts of the country, and on the internet.

Donna Nook offers something special. A chance to nature as it is. Narrow roads lead to the beach, and there is very little there. At times it can be a very bleak place.  When the seals are there though, it is rare to go and find very few people there, so its hard to get the true feeling of isolation that some places give. It is though, still a place that gives the feeling of being in another world.

Here are a few pictures that I took.

Donna Nook Grey Seal Colony Lincolnshire   Donna Nook Grey Seal Colony Lincolnshire  Donna Nook Grey Seal Colony Lincolnshire Donna Nook Grey Seal Colony Lincolnshire Donna Nook Grey Seal Colony Lincolnshire Donna Nook Grey Seal Colony Lincolnshire

Learning Photography

Recently I start to learn about photography. I have always been the sort to own a compact camera, and I do read the instructions. I then find the auto-mode and take OK-ish photos.  I never ever messed with the settings.

I also have a camera on my phone, which I do not like to use. However, as I do not always have a camera with me sometimes when I really want to take a photo it does get used.

The trouble has been that with many of my photos unless they were of family, were not worth keeping. There are millions of photographs on the internet. Someone is bound to have taken the same a similar photo and their photo is always far better.

Photography is one of those things that I have always wanted to learn, but did not have a clue where to start. I had read books, and I still felt utterly confused. So, I went to see a professional photographer who taught me how to use my camera.

I still need lots of practise, and there is still plenty to learn, but my photography is at least improving. I am also happier to experiment with all the settings.

Hopefully soon this blog will contain only photographs taken by me, or other people I personally know. I do not like using stock photos.

It is also a hobby that gets me out, and maybe gets me to meet new people. I am a quiet person, and so any hobby that achieves those two things is probably a good thing.

learning photography

Lost Screams – Short Story

Lost Screams - short storyI stood and stared. I had never seen such a weird looking house before. It looked as though it had been carved out of the hillside, built from the soil of the earth and from branches carved from the surrounding wood. A giant mushroom shaped house that looked as though it had been built for oversized fairies.
I stood in the shadows of the trees. I held my healed shoes in my hand as I walked barefoot. My muddy shoes and blistered manicured feet testament to my preoccupied mind. I smoothed down my pale blue dress, and flicked my curly brown hair behind me. I looked as though I’d been chased by wild dogs with my dress splattered with mud. It was starting to dawn on me that maybe jeans and trainers may have been a better look when walking through a wet muddy forest in October, but they were so unflattering.
I took a deep breath. My fingernails dug into the palm of my hand. I bit my lip and turned away. My feet seemed reluctant to move as I dug my nails deeper. I shook my head as though shaking away an enchanted spell and took a step away, wincing as I stepped on a piece of granite that jutted out of the earth.

‘What have you come here for?’ a voice said behind my.
I stumbled as I turned back towards the house. I stared towards the man sat there on a tree stump. He had a knife in his hand and appeared to be shaping a piece of wood before him. I guessed that he was the same age as my, around twenty. He was blonde and well tanned. He had the build of a man who had done a lot of physical work in his life but he spoke quite softly. I wondered how I had not seen him there before.

‘I,’ I said before hesitating. ‘I don’t know. I shouldn’t have come.’ I turned away again and then turned back. The man continued to carve his wood. I knew I had to speak. This might be my only chance to find the truth. I figured that the worse I could do was to make myself look stupid in front of someone I never planned to see again. If anyone else ever found out I would say I was joking. ‘I heard rumours,’ I said.

The man put down his knife and looked towards me. The sunlight streamed through the trees as a robin hopped around the floor and a rabbit sat nibbling some leaves.

‘Rumours?’ he asked raising an eyebrow. ‘May I ask what about?’

‘I heard you know about,’ I paused for a moment as I dug my nails into my hand once more, ‘about ghosts and stuff. I need to know if I am losing my mind.’ I glared at him for a moment. ‘I shouldn’t have come.’ I turned away again and tried and failed to walk away quickly as the stones dug into my feet again. I could feel myself blushing. It sounded such a stupid thing to say to a complete stranger. For all I knew he could have just been a recluse who liked reading books.

‘Yes, we know about the world of spirit, and the other realms. We walk between the worlds, but belong in none,’ the man said as he stood up. ‘My name is Kit,’ he said as he extended his hand towards my, ‘I am happy to help if I can, and I know my parents will too.’

I paused. My left foot turned towards Kit and my right away from him. I knew that this was against everything that I knew as common sense. I hadn’t told anyone where I was heading and I nothing about Kit and his family except what had been whispered around the town, none of it had been flattering. I sighed and took a step closer to Kit but still stood a good distance away from him.

‘I keep seeing things, people. I keep hearing voices. I keep seeing lights, orbs as they are called on the internet. I keep imagining things that I know can’t be there. I keep seeing myself. I keep, I don’t know,’ I rolled my eyes as though disgusted with myself. ‘I am not stupid, I know none of it can be real, but it seems so real. I am worried that I am going mad. I mean I must be losing my marbles, mustn’t I?’

Kit looked at me for a moment. I saw a movement in the undergrowth, I glanced towards the sound.
‘There,’ I whispered.

‘What?’ Kit asked as he followed my line of sight. ‘Oh, I see.’ His eyes fell upon a woman who stood amongst the trees. She was the spitting image of me.

‘You can see my?’ I asked. My mouth barely moved.

‘I see my and I assume you have no twin,’ Kit replied. ‘As for if I can help you, return tonight around midnight. Bring no torch, the moon will guide you.’

My life had been normal until a few weeks before. Well as normal as life can be, I mean nobody has the perfect life, do they? Then it had all gone wrong, and strange things had started to happen. I needed to know the truth. This was my chance to find out, but I was not sure that I wanted to know.

Stream of a Billion Tears – Short Story

The gate creaked as we opened it and squeezed though. The contrast between the two sides of the gate was stark. The side we had come from was so expansive, open, fresh and bright. It seemed as though we could see the world and the world could see us. This side appeared a veiled enigma.

As Jenny and I started to walk down the steep path that led us deeper into the glen I could sense the atmosphere change. The trees created a ceiling overhead as though they were merging into their own green cathedral.
‘Look at that,’ Jenny whispered as she pointed up into an oak tree.
My feet slid down the path as I tried to stop. I looked up and there staring right at us was a barn owl. His white feathers shone out amongst the darkness.
‘He is beautiful, I feel so honoured to have seen him,’ Jenny whispered.
‘Yes he is,’ I agreed. ‘You don’t often see owls out during the day.’
‘I know I am just being superstitious,’ Jenny replied, ‘but I fear it is a bad omen. I mean an owl in the daylight, sitting there as bold as anything.’
‘It’s just folklore, it doesn’t mean anything,’ I replied with a shrug.
I looked up into the unblinking eyes of the owl. It felt like he was the priest glaring accusingly at a sinner. It was almost as though he could read my thoughts. My eyes moved beyond him towards the tree lined aisles, as I tried to hide the shame rising up within me. I knew it was a bird and nothing more and I refused to contemplate such thoughts.
Jenny’s eyes were still on the owl. It seemed as though he was trying to stare her out. She turned her head away for a second and as she did so the owl turned his head and flew away.
‘Oh he’s gone,’ Jenny said, ‘He was beautiful but something doesn’t feel right today. I just can’t quite put my finger on it.’
‘I’m sure you are worrying over nothing,’ I replied as we set of once more down the track.
Jenny saw hidden meanings in everything. According to her everything happened for a reason. If I hadn’t known her since we were toddlers I may have never have got to know her. On first impressions she could seem strange. At that moment she was in her dyed hair mode. Her pink hair flowed down her back like candy floss. She looked like an ageing hippy trapped within a time warp.
The glen was beautiful at this time of the year. The earth was enveloped in a patchwork of bluebells and sunlight. The delicate petals swayed gently in the breeze. The warmth from the sun seemed magnified as the stream murmured through the valley. There was stillness about the glen that was bursting with life and there was a silence that whispered a thousand lullabies.
As Jenny and I clattered onto the wooden bridge I felt a shiver go up my spine.
‘I think someone just walked over my grave,’ I said without thinking.
‘You felt it too?’ Jenny asked as the stream rushed beneath us, ‘I told you something is wrong. All the signs are pointing to there being a problem.’ Her eyes seemed to dart round as though she was expecting a bogeyman to jump out the bushes and yell boo at us.
‘No,’ I replied, ‘I just shivered it does happens you know. Not everything happens for a reason. My washing machine leaked this morning, and it meant nothing more than I need to get it repaired.’
‘Don’t you feel it?’ Jenny asked. Her eyes widened, ‘the spirit of the glen is unhappy. He is angry with people, upset because they show him no respect. Can’t you feel the sadness of the glen?’
I paused and looked around. I tried to feel the sadness of the glen. But a myriad of bird song seemed to be engraved into every tree. The yellow of primroses and gorse, melted into the backdrop of blues and green. Serenity echoed around the air.
‘No,’ I replied, as a droplet of rain splashed against my hand. ‘Now let’s get to the waterfall before this rain gets any harder. I could do with a rest and drink’
Jenny flapped her arms as though she had given up hope in me. She walked on in silence as the rain started to fall faster. The trees sheltered us from getting drenched as I listened to the rhythmic beat against the leaves. The birds were quieter as the stream turned up the volume. It was like listening to the primeval heartbeat of the earth.
We reached the steps that led to the waterfall’s entrance and tugged our way up. I hoped the wooden railing was strong enough as I pulled myself up each step. The path was starting to get slippery and I was relieved when we pushed the gate open and walked into the waterfall’s garden.
Pools of water were already starting to form by the outside tables of the cafe. We splashed through them and into the building beyond. The low beamed ceiling made me feel tall. It seemed so tranquil there with its log fire casting its amber light around the room. The shadows seemed engraved into the stone walls as though the ancient people had never left.
The place was empty and we easily managed to snare a table by the window. I looked down at the waterfall below us. The water fell through a ring cut through the rock before landing in a deep basin at the bottom. The water then lapped out of the basin and formed a shallow pool before continuing its journey to the sea.
Jenny loved the waterfall because there are so many legends written about it. The water is proclaimed as healing water. Personally I had my doubts. I drank the water once and chipped my tooth on the glass. The amount it cost me to get that tooth put right was ridiculous.
It was right up Jenny’s street though. There were fairies, ghosts, ancient heroes, and even sacrifice. They say in ancient times pagan rituals were performed there but I suspected it was a marketing ploy to attract more visitors.
Jenny wasn’t alone in her beliefs. The waterfall was littered with junk dedicated to the spirit of the glen. Laminated photos of people hung from branches in the hope the person would be healed. The rocks sides were covered in graffiti where people had placed there names. Teddy bears, ribbons, candles and numerous other tokens lined the edges. The offerings made a beautiful place resemble a rubbish tip.
‘Are you ready to order?’
Cecil’s voice made me jump. I hadn’t heard him approach. Cecil was the owner of the waterfall. It was no wonder the waterfall looked such a mess; Cecil was nearly eighty and seemed incapable of coping with a place like that.
Cecil played the part well though. He claimed he was a witch. Not the modern kind. He got irritated if you confused what he did with the new age malarkey as he called it. He had various things on display at the waterfall. Corn dollies, herbs, mirrors, ropes with knots in and things like that but I cannot say I ever saw him cast a spell.
‘I’ll have a cup of coffee and a ginger scone please,’ I said smiling up at Cecil. ‘I’ll have the same,’ Jenny added without turning her head away from the window.
Once Cecil was out of ear shot I whispered, ‘There was no need to be so rude. You could at least have looked at him or said thank you. Where are your manners? Have you no respect?’
‘I’m sorry. I was just distracted and I know you will think I am being melodramatic but have you seen the rain?’
‘You mean that wet stuff coming from the sky? Oh I wondered what that was,’ I replied.
It was obvious by the noise. Either it was raining hard and fast or we were surrounded by an army of ants who were beating small drums. I didn’t even need to look out of the window to notice that it was raining.
‘No,’ Jenny replied, ‘I mean look at it. Really look at it. Doesn’t it strike you as being odd?’
I stared out of the window. The pools of water were growing deeper and the rain didn’t seem to be easing up at all.
‘Yes it is very odd,’ I said, ‘that we have come to a waterfall on such a rainy day. There is no way to get back home without walking through the glen. My clothes will be ruined.’
‘But look at it,’ Jenny said again.
I shrugged, whatever it was she wanted me to see I hadn’t noticed. It was rain, what was there to notice about rain I wondered.
‘It’s straight. The rain is falling in a straight line. It has no angle on it,’ Jenny proclaimed as though she had discovered the elixir of life.
‘So it is,’ I answered. ‘Does that mean anything? It is another omen of doom?’
I sensed Jenny was uneasy about something, but she had seemed on edge all day. I looked out of the window. The stream was gushing faster than I had ever seen before. It had gone from being a humble stream to a roaring menace. It cavorted and danced as I watched shapes appear and vanish into the waves.
‘It means there is no wind. If there is no wind these rain clouds won’t move. They will stay here until they have emptied themselves of water. I may be wrong but going by the look of them they hold a lot of water which is going to come down right here. This place and anywhere else under this cloud is going to flood.’
The rain was coming so fast and hard it was easy to imagine she was right. Just at that moment Cecil reappeared with a tray in his hands.
‘Here are your coffee and ginger scones. Is there anything else I can get you?’ Cecil asked as he placed the tray down on the table.
‘My friend here,’ I said motioning towards Jenny, ‘thinks we may be in danger of flooding.’
I wasn’t sure what else to say. I looked at Cecil and hoped he would laugh. I had a feeling that he had lived there long enough to know the dangers.
‘Yes it is,’ Cecil said as he handed me my coffee. ‘By my estimations it will flood in the next ten minutes. The rain is heavier on the moorland and the water from there will be washed down here very soon. I’m guessing it will take out a few trees along the way which will cause a dam. This of course will make the flooding much more severe.’
I stood up. The sky was as black as my coffee. There was no hint of light, just different shades of darkness.
‘We had better get out of here then,’ I said as I looked at Cecil who was still carefully positioning everything onto the table.
‘And go where?’ he asked as he placed the jug of milk down. ‘The only way out of here is through the glen. There are no roads to here, no other way out but to walk back the way you have come.’
‘Well we had better go quickly then,’ I replied as I fastened my coat up.
‘Mam I fear you are missing the point of what I am trying to say.’ Cecil said as his voice remained calm. ‘This glen is about to flood and you are proposing to walk through the area destined to flood. I think you will find it is far safer to stay here with a cup of coffee and a scone. The water will not rise this far I am sure of it. The spirit of the glen is just having a spring clean.’
‘A spring clean?’ I replied. I wasn’t sure what I was feeling at that moment in time. I wanted to run but I knew what Cecil had said did make sense, but I wasn’t relishing being trapped by a flood however safe I was from it.
I sunk back into my chair and glared at the rising waters. Imprisoned by nature I felt so insignificant and yet I realised how precious my own life was to me. Thoughts washed through my mind and yet I seemed unable to grab hold of one of them. Then I knew I had to accept what was happening. It couldn’t be fought. This wasn’t a battle it was just fate.
‘It is a shame you didn’t order tea,’ Cecil said with a smile. ‘It would seem more English of you to be drinking tea whilst it was going on. Now excuse me I must go turn of the electricity. We can’t be to careful can we. We wouldn’t want to die in an electrical fire now would we?’
I watched Cecil disappear back into the kitchen as I heard a horrific bang. I spun my head back towards the window to see the water flooding over the land. It barged into trees and tore at the fencing. Like the thundering of horses on a hunt the pounding never ceased as nature howled and ripped the earth’s carcass to shreds. The blood of the glen galloped through the earth’s veins. Trees were ripped from their roots and bluebells rang out from their underwater homes.
I sipped my coffee as I watched the stream of a billion tears wash over the land. Then I felt the sadness of the glen and the heartache of the spirit. My cup captured my sorrowful tears, like a modern day chalice.
After the rain had stopped and the water had subsided I looked out of the window. The sun was starting to set and there was a red glow in the air as I looked down onto the water.
It sparkled and gleamed. There was not a speck of mud left on the stream’s bed. It twinkled as though it had been polished by hand. Just for a moment I wondered if there was a spirit of the glen. Had he really just wanted a spring clean?
I then knew that I too needed a spring clean within my life, a spring clean that would tear my life apart in order to be ready for the new growth. I had been oblivious to the signs of danger for to long.
I do know I captured a respect for nature’s force and for the wisdom of the old days. I gained respect for those different from me; for those with pink hair, the witches and the spirits. I hope I will never ignore nature’s warnings again. I always felt the glen was full of secrets, maybe that day it shared just one.