Shepherd’s Huts – writer’s paradise friend Tammera has set me off again wanting a shepherd’s hut! I would love one in the garden and I’d be sleeping in it quite often too. It’s got to have a woodburner, I need to be warm and I need to be able to make a cuppa and cook myself something without having to go back into the house. You know, I could see it coming, I’d be living in the thing :-)

Probably need a compost loo out the back and somewhere to go for a shower now and then but it’d be hard to get me out of it.

They’re a bit bloomin’ expensive but it is something I might put on the “save up for” list. In the meantime i may have found somewhere on Dartmoor to go and play in …

I’d have mine painted with deer, foxes, badgers, falcons and other wildlife but I like the rough boarding. Mmmmm … if I get enough money I will be getting one :-)


The 49th Day – book review

How lives may roll together over centuries to make sense of past, present and future. Katherine’s experience of men has been bad. When she finally gets away from the latest one she runs to an island retreat off south-west Wales and there she meets her far distant past and a new man. Past lives that come together with the present and bring the future. She learns more of why the men in her current life have been as they were as she learns about her how past life in the middle ages. The new man is sensitive enough to help, they begin to fall in love …
I liked the story. It brings out all sorts of spirit-stuff without over-dramatizing it and makes it available to people living in the 21st century. It also explores a woman’s difficult and courageous claw-back from a very difficult past – it’s worth remembering slavery can easily exist in an ordinary-seeming marriage, in Britain, today! But the book doesn’t make heavy weather of this but touches it gently in a way that helps us see it for ourselves. And the love story is delicate and left with future of its own.

Helen Noble’s book is well worth reading.

Bad Day at the Office

It’s a bad day “at the office” for me today. There is so much crap happening that our “free press” doesn’t tell us about but that we all need to share around for the sake of our lives … yes, I mean that, for our lives!

All this crap that all our governments are doing a good job of either hiding from us or getting us to agree with will actually kill us. And they don’t care. No they really don’t.

Feudal systemDid you learn about the feudal system brought in to Britain by the Normans in 1066? If not, go to the link to learn more, it really is the epitome of the “them and us” situation we’re all in. Most of us are “them”, little guys, non-people who only matter in that they work to make wealth for the few big guys, the “Us” part of the equation – and yes, I used the capitalisation purposefully.

Does this remind you of anything? Try the “class system”, that’s where the idea of class comes from! And try the political or the business system …

For ages now most people’s idea of getting on is to climb to the top of the pyramid – thus perpetuating the system of them/us, have/have-not, etc.

For instance … do you know the real reason for the badger cull? It’s to build “super dairies” which have hundreds of cows that live indoors, in hell, in prison, for all of their very short lives, eating crap food and getting no exercise or sunshine. And the milk is destined for – wait for it – China! And places like Somerset would be ideal to develop these nightmare battery farms. The Chinese won’t buy from T.B. infected farms/herd’s so the government and the N.F.U. are hell bent on slaughtering the Badgers so they can make their money. And we, we the native people, are the ones who suffer along with the poor wretched cows!

Then there’s fracking … same sort of reasons. Then there’s wolves and wildlife and hen harriers and the birds in Malta. And all this stuff is about making profit, money, for the rich at the top of the pyramid.

Where do I stop? It seems as if there’s no end to it … and there isn’t! Not as long as we keep our heads in the sand, refuse to see the horrors perpetrated in our name and refuse to stop them.

Today, a whole lot of crap came to the surface and I’ve had to look, to see and to share it, because I cannot bear my fellow “little guys” to not know and so not be able to do anything about it. We can, you know. We can change it but it requires having the guts and the courage (the rage of the heart) to shout, complain, sign petitions (they really do work now because of social media!) and NOT vote for any of these crap people ever again.

So … if we don’t vote for the crap that stands up and asks us to, what do we vote for?

Do we even vote? Can we vote if there’s nobody up there we agree with? For far, far too long we’ve voted for the least-worst because there isn’t anyone else, do we want to go on doing that? Are we too scared to break this very old system which has been killing us and the Earth for hundreds of years, if not thousands?

Are you afraid to break the system?

Oooops! Is that anarchy? Is that terrorism? Well one of the most famous terrorists in the world was George Washington and look what it got him!

Are you prepared to bow down to other people’s shibboleths that you neither understand nor agree with? Are you prepared to continue living by someone else’s script?

I told you it was a bad day at the office!

Moon Hare for Moon Song

Hare Girl

copyright Mike Rae

Well, I’m a very lucky girl :-) Mike Rae has said I may put this beautiful hare on the back cover of Moon Song which comes out with Cosmic Egg Books in the autumn.

You can see more of Mike’s fantastic picture on his website. Mike’s been all over the place so as he puts it, “I’m not just a rabbit bloke” :-). His pictures of bears in Canada and dolphins off British Columbia, otters in Norfolk, and the barn owls in Suffolk that he’s involved with are literally fabulous. Or you might like to spend some time wandering through his big cat pictures and then there’s the red squirrels and ospreys in Scotland. the only trouble I find with Mike’s pictures is that I spend far too much time enjoying them when I should be writing :-)

So … so to waste your time like this, folks, but do go for it – this man’s work is phenomenal. And thanks again, Mike, for letting me use your hare pic on Moon Song, I promise you’ll get a copy when it comes out.

Here’s a few of Mike’s pics for a taster …

barn owl with prey barn owl barn owls bear cheetahs dolphin Osprey Osprey1 otter in norfolk otter2

In the Woods by Tana French

This sounds like a good read … on my list now. I really seem to get on with this woman’s reviews :-)

In the Woods by Tana French.

Update – Unfortunately this book wasn’t for me :-( Never mind, still looking for new reads and following good reviewers like bookgator is a way of finding possibles. Nobody likes every book and everyone doesn’t like the same book :-) Good job we’re not all flowerpots LOL


Reorganising Bookshelves …

wpid-20140824_090409.jpgI spent yesterday reorganising my bookshelves. It felt very good and satisfying remembering books I’ve not read for years, finding ones that need to go on to someone else and re-stacking old treasures that I don’t expect ever to leave me. I’ve only got about half way through the job, more to do today, or more likely tomorrow as the forecast says today will be sunny and then, from tonight, it’s going to be a dampish sort of week. That sounds like a good time to do the indoor stuff … as well as write, write, and write! I do have to get on with the next crisis in the current novel which is coming together in my head nicely, but I really, really am going to do the indoor clearing-out stuff too.

The shelves in the picture contain (fairly well, although I still need to do a bit or sorting) my fiction reading. Much of it is fantasy, Ursula le Guin, Roger Zelazny, Frank Herbert and such like. But there’s a strong romance and mystery angle too with Mary Stewart, Daphne du Maurier, Dornford Yates and Dorothy Sayers. The shelves also include Georges Simenon, Alan Garner, Arthur Machen, John le Carre, HP Lovecraft, Mary Renault, Raymond Chandler, CS Lewis, Elis Peters, Frederick Forsyth, Alistair MacLean, Tom Clancy, Humphrey Hawksley and John Wyndham. I’ve got a very mixed and eclectic taste in reading matter!

My ult-faves are Terri Windling’s The Wood Wife, TS Eliot’s Collected Poems, lots of Ted Hughes, AA Milne’s Pooh books, Wind in the Willows, Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising and some of Mary Renault’s Greek novels. If the house catches fire they will be rescued immediately after the cats, my laptop and my phone. I suppose I’d better collect those together in one bag just in case, LOL!

Doing the reorganising really made me notice how I’ve grown and changed over the years. The books I love, dog-eared and tattered from much reading, are there still and still the same. Others I’ve bought and enjoyed at the time no longer call me and they will shortly be on their way to Hay-on-Wye to be sold with a heartfelt thank you for what they gave me. Now it’s time for them to go and play with someone else.

Going Wild

Glencoe 2012

The joy of living wild, even if only for a few days, is my passion. It brings me close to the Earth and teaches me more and more how much she is my friend, my mother, teacher, mentor, and my companion.

Living in cities, towns, villages, even being able to see another house, changes our relationship with the Earth and the natural world. People feel safe, there’s always someone to turn to if things go wrong, you’re not alone. Many people don’t really relate or commit to the natural world and, in consequence, don’t really see it. If they find themselves “out there” with nothing human in sight they often begin to panic, to search desperately for a signal on the phone, for a house, a barn, even the sight of a cow or sheep makes a difference. The cry of a buzzard or a fox, the sight of antlers on the horizon, the grunt of a hedgehog or badger in the dusk may put their hair on end and set their imagination freaking out.

Add to that the many television programmes that speak of us “battling” with nature and you have a culture that feels permanently in a “them & us” situation with the natural world. It just isn’t like that. The scariest thing out there in the woods is you!

Going out to stay in the woods … not at a camp-site with showers and toilets and play facilities and so on and so forth … brings you close to the world, the Earth. It’s not hard to do and with a little effort you can find a group of friends who have permission to camp in the woods or on the hills. There are internet forums where you can meet them and make friends, and they will be only too pleased to welcome you, teach you and help you enjoy nature. You don’t need to go on an expensive bushcraft course, you can learn slowly and gently with your friends.

Children are very welcome at these gatherings too, they learn a lot and have enormous fun, gain masses of confidence along with their skills and are not bored … nor boring! They don’t even want to be stuck at home with boxes of pizza and their tablet and phone.

And yes, funnily enough, all this being with nature, learning to live wild, camping and hammocking in the woods, building shelters, learning to fish and to cook your fish, make a fire, chop wood, which wood is best to burn, which to carve a spoon from, how to use nettles to make cordage … the list goes on forever, but yes, all of this is part of the life of the shaman in our British tradition. For the shaman, all of nature, all of life, is our elder brethren, all of them, cats, dogs, trees, worms, butterflies, fish, foxes, mice, rats, squirrels, stoat, deer, eagles, falcons, robins, crows, all of them are older by far than us. Current estimates say our lovely Earth has been going for about 4 billion years (yes, billion!). Humans have been around for something over 1 million years.

Let’s get a proper look at that … one million is one-thousandth of one billion, or one-tenth of one percent. So that means humans have been around for a quarter of a tenth of one per cent of the time the Earth has been going !!!

Oooof! That does give some perspective, doesn’t it? You get a much better idea of why shamans know that everything else on Earth is our elder brethren … we are barely at the amoeba stage with respect to everything else!

It’s a huge perspective jump but going out and living as wild as you can manage for a couple of days really does help you get a grip on the idea. Learning about nature, how other species live and work, how they all work together, the one providing the needs of another, how we humans can learn to fit into that huge and incredibly ancient plan, really does help. And learning how to put your tent up without damaging things, how to make a fire, how to make shelter, all those things, enable you to broaden your view and learn to be friends with nature rather than fearful of everything that doesn’t come with the central heating :-).

I love it and it is always teaching me new things, making my connection to everything else deeper and broader and more intimate. I love to be out alone too, with no-one else near, seeing nothing human for days on end is a joy for me and I will tend to hide if I see or hear humans coming. That comes with practise, learning how to do things and gaining confidence in your own abilities. It also grows as you grow you friendship with Nature, coming to know her as a friend who will help you if you ask.

Glencoe 2012

The joys of living wild, if only for a few days, are so great and give you so much. It doesn’t matter whether you want to follow the shaman path, that’s not important. What matters is that it brings more joy into your life by enlarging your circle of friends to include the non-human world.

If you fancy giving it a go you could do worse than joining the forum BCUK and making some friends who will be delighted to introduce you to wild living.


Earthrise …



Sometimes, when I go to sleep at night I find myself floating in space. In front of me hangs a great blue-white jewel, like a huge agate, set on a black velvet back ground and occasionally with a sprinkling of diamonds around it.

In 1948, the year I was born, Fred Hoyle wrote, “Once a photograph of the Earth, taken from outside, is available … a new idea as powerful as any in history will be let loose.”

And then, on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 1968, twenty years later Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon, entered lunar orbit. That evening astronauts Borman, Lovell and Anders held a live broadcast showing pictures of the Earth and moon. Lovell said, ‘The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth.’ Super scientists and astronauts call this idea Overview.

I was there with my Dad, glued to the TV, on that evening of 24 Dec 1968, watching the pictures and hearing the voices from the moon. It was awe-inspiring. To see our homeworld from this perspective, from outside, was truly ecstasy.

To get away from home, hang above the Earth as the astronauts did , is not something most of us can do although it would be wonderful if we could. They were so fortunate. It would show us the overview of “spaceship Earth”. Unfortunately, most of us have our noses stuck up against life so close we can’t see anything clearly, it’s all magnified out of perspective and all coloured with all our personal stuff. But the shaman can go there in journeying and this is what my Dad taught me to do. It’s not the same as going physically in a space ship, in some ways it’s even more intense because you have nothing surrounding you, no container, you are hanging out there, just you, with no protection, you are truly in space. It really does change the way you look at things.

The Earth is just so beautiful and watching beauty has such a terrific effect. Seeing your home, the place where you live, hanging like a great blue jewel set on black velvet is incredible. It really does let loose a whole new way of thinking. And it brings home what one of the astronauts (and Joni Mitchell in her song “Woodstock”) says, “we are stardust” so you absolutely know it to be true … and that makes you feel utterly connected to everything else that lives.

Sometimes, when I go to sleep at night …

Opening lines …

Interesting article … but I have to say none of the other examples comes near the quality of Renault. Another one that does is du Maurier’s “Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley … “. A third example is the opening to le Guin’s “Left Hand of Darkness” which goes, “I’ll make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld that Truth is a matter of the imagination.”   It’s also interesting that all three of these stories are written in the 1st person. I’m not necessarily a big fan of 1st person writing but in all these cases it works a treat.

It’s certainly true that the opening of a book can make you instantly want to buy it. It’s also true that it’s hard to come up with just that sentence which works.

Have a read of the article and see what you think about the suggestions and examples …




Year of the Griffin Diana Wynne Jones

Elen Sentier:

Thank you, Carol :-), a good reminder to go and read them again

Originally posted on book reviews forevermore:

Year of the Griffin
Re-Read August 2014 (last read August 2011)
Recommended for fans of schools of magic, griffins
★    ★    ★    ★    ★   


Every now and then I have the urge for a comforting re-read, a diverting read that will be unlike real life enough to hold back the flood for a couple of hours. Year of the Griffin is one of those books for me, a lovely, reliable story about a group of young adults (both human and otherwise) at a school for wizards. Predating Harry Potter by three years, Diana Wynne Jones made her own foray into the traditional field of English magical schools and succeeds in marvelous, whimsical fashion.

Elda, the youngest griffin daughter of the famous wizard Derk, has enrolled at the nearly broke Wizards’ University without her father’s knowledge. It isn’t long before she meets a like-minded and curious group of friends: Ruskin, a…

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