Here we go again!

It’s been a long time – and a lot has happened!

I won’t bore my friends with all the details, but a house move meant farewell to the ‘best view from a washing line’ in Somerset, bringing me to a new blog header and, amongst other things, a new life as a Travelling Ticket Inspector on the best steam railway in England!

Life certainly bowls some curved balls – and becoming a steam buff certainly didn’t feature on last year’s wish list – until summer saw me joining the team and working hard to learn all the rules. It’s been quite an adventure, with a huge amount to learn and all sorts of fun along the way.

Having helped Santa (at Snowcombe Station) in the run up to Christmas, I hung up my uniform for a while, but am now looking forward to giving it a good shake and brush, polishing my shoes and setting out for a new season of railway fun.

The railway winds along over 20 miles of track from Bishops Lydeard, just outside Taunton, first to the little port of Watchet, and then along the coast to Minehead. Leaving BL it runs alongside the beautiful Quantock hills, between fields, streams and woodland fringes. Sharp eyes can spot deer, rabbits, raptors and, if you are very lucky, the odd otter sliding into a trackside stream. I revel in the beauty as the seasons creep slowly across the landscape.

Watchet gives tantalising glimpses of the old harbour (sadly battered this winter) and then the railway turns its back on the sea, running inland to avoid high ground, creeping round to Washford, with its wonderful abbey ruins, and then downhill to Blue Anchor, by the sea once more. With windswept beaches to the right and the romantic Dunster Castle emerging from its woodland fastness, to the left, the train pulls us through history, landing us, at last, in Minehead station, nestling between North Hill and the sea.

Just out of sight, we can sense the romance of Lorna Doone, of smugglers, pirates (who used to hide in the channel, behind Steepholme Island) and a past era – long before the railway was built, linking this corner of Somerset to the wider world. And even then, rattling along at 25mph max was about as fast as anyone got!

Our passengers relax, yielding to the seductive rhythm of the train, lulled by the pace, the sights, the sounds and the smell of steam. Some nod off completely! Fortunately, I don’t… I’ve got half a train to look after and will be busy on my feet, dashing up and down while you lean back and have a rest. Mind you, I get to hang out of the window and, if I spot anything amiss, can blow my shiny steel whistle as loudly as any Guard šŸ™‚

Bet you wish you could do that too!

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A wonderful walk

A beautiful spring day – so the perfect time to walk the Taunton to Bridgwater canal towpath. Lovely reflections in the water, bridges, locks, wildlife, ice-cream, picnic – what’s not to like?

A pair of swans with a nest – Maunsel Lock (and ice-cream)


and …

a bridge near the site of the old ‘Chard arm’ junction.

Beautiful Somerset!

(And you can’t hear the bird song!)

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Hello 2019

It’s six months since I found a moment to visit this blog – well, I never promised to be a frequent blogger! 2018 saw a number of changes in my life – including a change of address (and all that led up to that and is still being unpacked and found places to live) and, far more exciting, publishing my first novel.

The move took place at the beginning of January – or rather, it concluded then. It meant winding up Honey Pot Books and moving a library (last October) with all the rest of the possessions (or clutter – depending on your viewpoint) on Jan 3rd. The book launch took place in early November, since when sales have been amazing and people have received the book very well. The story, based on the real life John Durdin – who ‘broke the bank’ in 1861 – follows his life from a teenager, to a notorious criminal, and explores how it all happened and how his downfall affected his family and friends. Famous names include Ford Madox Brown, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Octavia Hill and others active at this fascinating period in British history.

‘At a Stroke’ is available from HEREĀ (go to Feed a Read for an extract or two). I also have copies for sale in the UK so contact me in the comments below for more details. The book is in 2 volumes (you need both!) each depicting portraits of John Durdin at different points in his life. Together they make a compelling read – comments include ‘I couldn’t put it down’, ‘I devoured the book’, and ‘I have reached the end of volume one and am opening volume two with some trepidation’.

So, 2019 has started with a new address and new goals. The next book is already under way – and I’ll be continuing with it just as soon as I can find my pen!



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Mirrors and sleight of hand

Magicians have long used tricks and misdirection to hoodwink their audience. We need to be aware of similar tricks in the political world. The drama unfolding in the USA is a classic example of a cynical exercise in misdirection – threaten and carry out unspeakable acts, born of a cynical and self-serving political machine, and then soften the blow – making something appear ‘good’ because it isn’t quite so ‘bad’.

History should teach us that this sort of ‘machine’ needs nipping in the bud, before it becomes all-reaching and impossible to oppose. Sickened by the level of sycophantic speeches in support of an utterly flawed regime, I cringe to think what will happen next.

Wake up, wake up, and call out the politicians who are combining to create a megalithic monster.Ā  Any person selling their conscience cheaply will one day share the guilt of every evil outcome of an evil regime.

After the end of WW2, the next generation said ‘why did ordinary, decent people allow this to happen?’ I ask the same question today. Why did people carry out such draconian measures? Was it because they had been taught to view the people crossing the southern border as ‘less than human’ – as ‘animals’ and ‘rapists’? Were they ‘obeying orders’ or ‘colluding in an evil act’?

Wake up, America – the world is watching. The soft words of the First Lady will not distract us – we watch for a complete change of direction – and maybe a miracle?

Posted in Justice & mercy, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The line in the sand

I don’t usually use this blog to air political matters, but this morning I woke to something which I regard as the ‘line in the sand’. The early news carried film of Mexican children, wrapped in survival blankets, lying in wire cages – on American soil. The audio tape of their heartbreaking tears could not fail to call a mother to action.

In the 20th century, our parents (or grandparents) failed to rise up against the horrors unfolding in Nazi Germany. Our generation has often been mystified at their lack of action or protest. I can recall my own mother saying ‘We didn’t know – we just didn’t know’. Maybe, in her part of the country, folk didn’t know – and even if they had, would they have had the tools to protest, to make their revulsion known?

I don’t intend to judge another generation – but I can speak for this one. We cannot turn a blind eye to such wrong-doing by what has hitherto been regarded as a leading Democratic Country. If the mighty USA is not called to stop and think again, then the entire world is in peril.

Already, there are American voices crying out against this monstrous iniquity. I know that the footfall on this page reaches across the world – and it is across the world that we need to call out the USA government for the slippery path upon which they have wandered.

There are equally dreadful situations world-wide, I know. Day by day, week by week, we feel pulled one way or another as our hearts are moved and our minds confront horrific regimes wreaking violence upon the weak and vulnerable. I do not suggest that they are any less worth our prayers or our protest. However, the USA has historically been a flagship of democracy – flawed, as all human endeavour is flawed, but still, supposedly, one of the ‘good guys’. People the world over now see actions which carry shocking echoes of the cold carrying out of orders to ‘separate’ and ‘deal with’ the ‘outcasts’, the ‘un-chosen’, the ‘different’, the ‘animals’ (ring a bell?) and the ‘dispensable’ of Nazi Germany – and of Apartheid South Africa – and of…

If we (especially mothers and fathers) and all who have respect for human life and the rights of the poor, join together and add our voices in support of the dissenting voices in the USA, we may achieve what our 20th century forebears failed to do – and bring an immediate end to the horrors of family separation on the Mexican border.

I am not a political campaigner. I do not show up at protests. I work (mostly) behind the scenes to promote what I believe to be right and true and good. BUT, this is my ‘line in the sand’.

Is it yours?

If the USA government is permitted to get away with this, it sends a powerful message to all despots – ‘you don’t need to worry – do what you like – no-one really cares’.

CanĀ you allow this to happen onĀ your watch?

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The speed of Spring

I can’t remember a spring which has ‘sprung’ with such speed and energy as this year’s – I have been out and about with my camera, trying to capture the subtle, lovely changes. These track a period of about 10 days. The fox cub is one of two (from a litter of 4) who came exploring our garden the other evening. They are more usually to be seen playing in the field behind the house.

My camera captures some of the beauty, but can only hint at the pure joy it inspires!

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The weather in the UK has been about as fickle as I can remember. From spring flowers – to arctic blast – back to spring (slightly battered) flowers.

I can remember the big freeze of ’62/’63 – the year in which I built an igloo. There’s photographic proof somewhere in the family archive – but I have just wasted 30 minutes trying to find it – and failed. You’ll just have to take my word for it!

The ice on top of last week’s snow, reminded me of that year, but whereas then, the snow lasted for 6-8 weeks, here, it was gone within 48 hours, and today, we are back in springtime once more.


Looking back through the family albums, I was struck by the enormous changes in fashions, over the years. Just think of all those ‘must have’ items that we wouldn’t be seen dead in now. Perhaps we should have invested our money more wisely. Something to think about the next time we get an urge to spend. And, maybe, as Fairtrade Fortnight trickles to an end, we could think a bit more about the people and places which help produce the things we buy… thinking about other people’s lives helps put things in perspective.

Fashions and fads are fickle – but there’s no need for us to be fickle too.


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Oh dear! I can’t believe it is so long since my last visit to this site – my only excuse is that I have been fairly diligent in writing on my other wordpress site (honeypotbooks) and I have been both busy and ill – catching practically all this winter’s bugs (apart from norovirus and housemaid’s knee).

Here are some of the reasons I have been distracted:

Yes, that thing called Christmas, then following the builders, the Great Decorate (not yet completed), the cat (of course) and the beauty of North Wales – not to mention writing, painting, baking, entertaining… (I didn’t bother to photograph ‘ill’!)

Roll on Spring!

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Journal progress

Silence in the blogosphere is not evidence of inaction, rather the precise opposite. So, the promise of the odd journal crossover holds true – it’s just that I have been sooooo busy that it hasn’t happened… until now. So here is a taste of October in the Lake District:

‘Allan Bank in Grasmere – a wonderful NT property, with commanding views of the lake. Semi-destroyed by fire in 2011, it remains ‘unfinished’ in regard to decor etc. but it is the centre for family activities and creativity – providing many ideas for Honey Pot based activities for 2018! Walked the Woodland Walk (lots of steps & a tunnel + play areas & kitchen garden – so much for children). Met a class doing ‘forest school’ waterproof shelters. Brilliant.’

OK, so notĀ Earth-shattering – but here are some of the photos:

If you want a more thought-provoking journal, I highly recommend ‘A Constant Heart’ The War Diaries of Maud Russell 1938-1945 Edited by Emily Russell, published by Dovecote Press. A completely different view of WW2. If you have visited Mottisfont and seen the tempting tasters written on table napkins around a wartime dinner table, you will know what I mean! This book has been in my hand for the past three weeks – un-put-downable!

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Where have all the starlings gone?

The thing about starling murmurations is that they happen spectacularly just before you have your camera ready or just after you get bored, give up and put your camera back in your pocket. And when they are gone, they are gone.

Meanwhile, clouds of chaffinches get in on the act, suggesting that we have become too focused on starlings.

The joy of bird-watching!IMG_3875

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