Confessions Of A Holiday Let – A True Story And Guest Post By Judith Barrow @judithbarrow77

I’m delighted to welcome Judith Barrow to my blog today, who shares a true story about the perils of holiday letting an apartment.

Having read some of Judith’s other stories of holiday letting, there’s always a humorous side to them which I believe would not only make a fanatics book, but a television comedy show.

Confessions of a Holiday Let – A true story by Judith Barrow

Will Judith’s story have you laughing as much as I did when I read it?

***

For many years we summer let the apartment which is attached to our house.

We had many visitors from other countries staying in our apartment and shared great times with them.

Couples from the USA, Australia enjoyed barbeques on the lawn; long boozy evenings of wine and slightly burned kebabs and steaks, of tall tales and laughter.

Visits to restaurants with people from France and Italy. Long walks and talks on the coastal paths with a couple from New Zealand that we’d met from there on holiday in Christchurch, followed by drinks in local pubs.

We had a German man stay with us for three weeks who’d come to participate in the Iron Man Wales event. He’d worked hard for twelve months, he told us and had to acclimatise himself to the course. Three days before the event, he caught a chest infection and had to drop out. Despite his anti-biotics, he still needed to join Husband in a double whisky that night.

Oh dear, I’m sensing a common theme here.

This is the story of our last visitor for the season one year.

He was a single man. We’ve had people come on holiday alone many times over the years and thought nothing of it. When he arrived, we quickly realised he could only speak a little English, and we couldn’t speak his language at all.

He hadn’t been in the apartment before he came to the door brandishing an empty bottle of washing up liquid.

“Oh, sorry,” I said, “I thought there was plenty in it.”

“Used it.”

An hour later, washing powder was asked for by a demonstration of vigorous scrubbing at a pair of underpants.

“There’s a box of it under the sink.”

“Used it.”

Sunday brought him to the door twice. First, with the sugar bowl.

“Used it.”

Then the salt cellar.

“I thought I’d filled it—”

“Used it.”

‘Used it’ quickly became the watchword whenever we supplied tea bags, vinegar or handing over shoe polish.

Monday, he arrived with an empty tube of glue.

“Sorry, we don’t supply glue.”

He stands, smiling, waggling the tube. “Used it.”

Husband went into his Man Drawer and produced a tube of Super Glue. Scowling. We never found out what the man wanted it for, even though Husband examined everything he could that would need to be stuck the following weekend.

Each day, at least once, the man came to the door to ask for something by waving the empty bottle, carton, container or label at us. Unlike most holidaymakers, he didn’t knock on the back door but always came round to ring the doorbell at the front. In the end, Husband and I would peer through the hall window.

“It’s Mr Used It,” one of us would say. “It’s your turn to go.” Pushing at one another. “You see what he wants this time.”

On Wednesday, he arrived with a cardboard roll.

“There are six more toilet rolls in the bathroom cabinet to the right of the hand basin,” I offered helpfully.

“Used it.”

Seven rolls of toilet paper usually last a couple the whole week. I handed over four more.

“What’s happening in there,” Husband grumbled, “do-it-yourself colonic irrigation?”

On Friday, Husband produced a list. “We should charge for this lot,” he declared. “See?”

It read like a shopping list: milk/salt/sugar/vinegar/butter/tea bags/ coffee/soap/soap powder/toilet paper/shampoo/glue/shoe polish.

“Really?” I said, even though I knew the chap had been a pest. “You’ve been keeping tabs on our guest?”

“Too true.” The husband was indignant. “We could even charge him for overuse of the battery in the doorbell.”

“Except that it’s connected to the electricity.”

“Even worse!” Husband grumped off to his shed.

Saturday morning came, and the doorbell rang. Smiling, the man put his suitcase down onto the ground and, vigorously, shook hands with both of us. He waved towards the apartment.

“Used it,” he said. “Very nice.”

***

Judith Barrow

About Judith Barrow

Judith Barrow is originally from Saddleworth, a group of villages on the edge of the Pennines, in the UK. She now lives with her husband and family in Pembrokeshire, Wales, where she has lived for over forty years.

Judith has an MA in Creative Writing with the University of Wales Trinity St David’s College, Carmarthen. She also has BA (Hons) in Literature with the Open University, a Diploma in Drama from Swansea University.

She is a Creative Writing tutor for Pembrokeshire County Council and holds private one to one workshops on all genres.

She has written all her life and has had short stories, poems, plays, reviews and articles published throughout the British Isles. She only started to seriously write novels after having breast cancer twenty years ago.

When not writing or teaching, she enjoys doing research for her writing, walking the Pembrokeshire coastline and reading and reviewing books.

Connect with Judith

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Honno Welsh Women’s Press

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Judith’s Latest Book – The Heart Stone

The Heart Stone by Judith Barrow

1914 – and everything changes for Jessie on a day trip to Blackpool. She realises her true feelings for her childhood friend, Arthur. Then just as they are travelling home from this rare treat, war is declared.

Arthur lies about his age to join his Pals’ Regiment. Jessie’s widowed mother is so frightened of the future, she agrees to marry the vicious Amos Morgan, making Jessie’s home an unsafe place for her.

Before he leaves, Arthur and Jessie admit their feelings and promise to wait for each other. Arthur gives Jessie a heart-shaped stone to remember him. But with Arthur far away, their love leaves Jessie with a secret that will see her thrown from her home and terribly abused when she can hide the truth no longer. Faced with a desperate choice between love and safety, Jessie must fight for survival, whatever the cost.

Click on the book cover to buy The Heart Stone

More Books from Judith

Saga of the Howard family
The Memory

Click on the book covers to buy Judith’s books.

My thanks to Judith for writing this guest post.

If you have any questions or comments for Judith, please leave them in the comments section. She’d be delighted to hear from you.

Do you have a true story you’d like to share on my blog? Contact me via the ‘Contact Hugh’ button on the menubar.

Copyright © 2021 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Watch Out For The Matador! – A True Story And Guest Post By Sally Cronin @sgc58

I’m delighted to welcome Sally Cronin to my blog today, sharing a true story that had me laughing all day after I read it. It bought back many happy memories of a similar nature for me, especially some of the parts I played in school plays and amateur dramatics.

Watch Out For The Matador – A True Story by Sally Cronin

Many of you will know Sally from her successful blog where she is constantly helping to promote the works of bloggers, authors and writers alike.

Will Sally’s story have you as staged-struck and laughing in the aisles as I was after reading it?


My two sisters who were ten and eleven years older than I was, both trained as secretaries, which led to them having some interesting and high level jobs over the years.

However, I decided at an early age that I wanted to be a singer and actress! The desire to follow this career path was my mother’s fault really. Apart from the fact that she had a bit of a flair for the dramatic, she manipulated me into being her co-conspirator every Saturday afternoon.

My father loved football, and after he had cooked us one of his Spaghetti Bolognese lunches, followed by steamed treacle duff as he called them, we would retire to the lounge where our television took pride of place. I would have been about seven or eight at the time and my mother would coerce me into facilitating her viewing pleasure; the Saturday afternoon musical on BBC2.

Of course this conflicted with the afternoon football offering by Grandstand on BBC1. Fortunately my father had a weakness. Stoked up with carbohydrates and sugars from lunch, within 10 minutes of the match starting, he would be stretched out in his recliner, snoring.

In the good old days it was necessary to get up and down to switch channels, and this is where I came in.

As soon as my father began snoring, my mother would nudge me, and I would creep across the carpet to turn the channel over to BBC2 and the Saturday musical. Things did get a little hectic at times if there was a temporary change to my father’s breathing. At a shove from my mother, I would leap up from the sofa, dash across the room and switch channels back to the football. My father would watch blearily for about five minutes then resume his afternoon nap.

This would happen several times during the course of the movie, and as the final credits scrolled up the screen, I would turn the channel back over to BBC 1. My father would wake up to enjoy the cup of tea my mother had made, convinced he had watched 90 minutes of fancy footwork, but not the kind we had been watching.

This Saturday afternoon ritual fuelled my love of dancing and singing. My heart and soul burned to be the lead, dancing and singing my way through the performances like Ginger Rogers, Esther Williams (yes I would have done synchronised swimming if called for) Deborah Kerr, Mitzi Gaynor etc.

I had seen South Pacific at age ten and I would have even taken the role of Bloody Mary given half the chance. I knew all the lyrics from all the popular musicals of the day and wept buckets as John Kerr lip synched to “Younger than Springtime”; and I could perform all the songs from the Sound of Music.

Over the next few years I was lucky enough to be cast in a number of school plays. Being tall for my age, it usually involved me standing completely still for thirty minutes in the guise of a tree or some other inanimate object.

I did attempt to achieve some form of recognition for my talents, which included dressing in Swiss costume and dragging one of my friends around to old people’s homes to entertain the residents with the songs from The Sound of Music (they were very appreciative, let me tell you!).

This did not impress my parents, who were adamant that when I left school, I must train as a secretary, as drama was not a profession to be relied on.

Sally – aged 16

I left school in September 1969 at age 16 and enrolled in technical college for a year’s secretarial course. Over the course of the next twelve months, I became very proficient in shorthand and typing, but it was the extra classes we took in English that I enjoyed the most.

Our teacher also taught drama, and had trained more than a few successful actors and actresses over the years. To my delight, she was casting for that year’s drama production which was the operetta “Passion Flower”, based on the story of Carmen, but adapted for the amateur stage.

Without informing my parents I auditioned. I was rather expecting to be cast as part of the scenery again, but you can imagine my absolute thrill when our producer chose me to play Micaela – Carmen’s rival for the matador’s affections. Something that I kept from my parents, and they assumed I would be part of the chorus as usual.

Police cadets did their initial training at the college, and several of these were roped in to play the soldiers. Our producer recruited outside talent from her drama group to play the leads including an Australian dentist in his mid-thirties who took on the role of the matador, Escamillo, and a wonderful young singer called Julie took the part of Carmen.

The performances ran for three nights, and by the final evening I had almost conquered my nerves, despite the fact there were two very important people in the audience. I had persuaded my parents to come on the last night, with the expectation that it was likely to be the most flawless performance of the three.

I was desperately hoping that if they saw how passionate I was about acting (and my talent); they might relent in their objections to me attending drama school.

I can still remember standing in the wings that night, knees quaking as I prepared for the cat fight with Carmen, followed by being manhandled by the soldiers as they pulled us apart enthusiastically.

All was going very well until we reached the final scene when Escamillo threw a rose onto poor dead Carmen’s body, having been stabbed by a former lover, and then pulled me into his arms for a passionate kiss!

Unbeknownst to the rest of the cast, our lead actor had been celebrating the end to the run by consuming a number of cans of beer hidden in the wings. This certainly gave his performance some extra gusto which our producer put down to exuberance. As I swanned across the stage and into his arms for the expected stage kiss, he bent me over backwards and gave me a hearty smacker, before picking me up and rushing off stage.

Cue a very loud gasp from the cast clustered around poor Carmen’s corpse and from the front row where my mother and father were seated with other VIP guests. I can only assume they had already been taken aback by my starring role as a floozy, in an off the shoulder blouse, big earrings and a penchant for men in uniform.

I also had an inkling that these last few minutes had not gone down well. My erstwhile suitor and I joined the cast and clasped hands, bowing in appreciation of the applause. All I could focus on was my father, arms crossed with a very frosty look on his face.

My mother told me later that my father had turned to her and shouted over the applause, ‘Who is that man and what was he up to with our daughter?”  At this point, a woman who was sat next to my mother announced furiously ‘That would be my husband.”

As you can imagine, this fiasco did not further my ambitions to be allowed to attend drama school. Two weeks later, when I had graduated with my secretarial diploma, the evening paper’s employment section was strategically placed next to my beans on toast for supper. Probably for the best, as I have enjoyed a wonderful variety of jobs across a number of industries including broadcasting.

However, my love of musicals has never diminished, and who knows… maybe one day!

***

#books #authors #author
Author, writer and blogger, Sally Cronin

About Sally Cronin

After a career in customer facing roles in the hospitality, retail, advertising and telecommunications industry, Sally wrote and published her first book in 1999 called Size Matters, about her weight loss journey, losing 150lbs in 18 months. This was followed by 13 further fiction and non-fiction books, including a number of short story collections.

Sally’s aim was to create a watering hole on her blog to provide a wide number of topics to chat about…..This year in September 2021, Smorgasbord in its current format, celebrated its 8th anniversary.

As important as her own promotion is, Sally believes it’s important to support others within our community. She offers a number of FREE promotional opportunities on her blog, linked to social media.

Having lived a nomadic existence most of her life, Sally is now settled on the coast of Wexford in Southern Ireland with her husband of 40 years, enjoying the odd sunny day and the rain that puts the Emerald in the Isles.

Connect with Sally

Blog

Amazon

Goodreads

Twitter

Sally’s Latest Book – Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet

Life is like a bowl of cherries

Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet is a collection of short stories with scattered poetry, reflecting the complexities of life, love and loss.

The stories in the collection dip into the lives of men and women who are faced with an ‘event’ that is challenging and in some cases life changing.

Even something as straightforward as grocery shopping online can be frustrating, and a DNA test produces surprise results, the past reaches out to embrace the present, and a gardening assistant is an unlikely grief counsellor. Romance is not always for the faint-hearted and you are never too old for love. Random acts of kindness have far reaching consequences and some people discover they are on a lucky streak. There are those watching over us who wish us well, and those in our lives who wish us harm.

Click here to buy Sally’s latest book

More books from Sally

More books from Sally

My thanks to Sally for writing this guest post.

If you have any questions or comments for Sally, please leave them in the comments section. She’d be delighted to hear from you.

Do you have a true story you’d like to share on my blog? Contact me via the ‘Contact Hugh’ button on the menubar.

Copyright © 2021 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

If It Feels Right, Can It Be Wrong? – A True Story And Guest Post by Liesbet Collaert @LiesbetCollaert

Continuing my series of true stories, I’m delighted to welcome Liesbet Collaert, who shares her story of how life changed the direction she was travelling.

If it feels right, can it be wrong?

Although Liesbet leads a different life to me (read and follow her blog to find out more) her true story is one I gasped at even though I’ve had similar experiences. It makes me believe in fate even more and why we find ourselves in certain situations for a real purpose.

Will her story bring back memories of a familiar position when you read it? Has fate played a part in your life?

***

Liesbet and Caesar arriving in San Francisco

San Francisco. A fascinating city I only know from movies and guidebooks. So close now! I can almost see the Golden Gate Bridge, smell the salty air of the bay, and feel the breeze in my light brown hair. The promise of a new adventure causes my ear-to-ear grin as I hop into our small camper to grab a CD of dEUS, my favorite Belgian band.

After crisscrossing the United States, Western Canada, and Alaska in our truck camper for the last year and a half, my boyfriend Karl, his dog Caesar, and I landed in California. Karl’s friend Nik, a DJ, had invited us to share his studio-apartment in Oakland, as a base to explore SF. Nik also rents out two apartments in his house.

CD in hand, I enter the yard again and stop dead in my tracks. Two gorgeous dogs with fluffy tails had run up to me. I smother them with cuddles and praise.

“Hi, I’m Mark. And these two are Kali, the white one, and Darwin, the grey one.”

Liesbet with Kali and Darwin

I look up from admiring the wagging furballs.

My eyes meet those of a tall, skinny, short-haired, and attractive man in the doorway of apartment #1.

“Hello. I’m Liesbet. My boyfriend and I are staying with Nik for a week to visit San Francisco. Our home on wheels is parked in front of the house.”

“Home on wheels? Why are you living in a camper?”

“It lets us travel around with our own bathroom and kitchen and plenty of storage and provides much more comfort and security than dingy hostels and a backpack,” I tell him with an unfaltering smile and raised voice; telltales of the excitement I always feel when elaborating on my pursuit of freedom.

“I detect an accent. Where are you from?” he asks, after I had described a handful of places I visited while backpacking for almost two years on the other side of the world.

“I’m from Belgium, but I haven’t been back in a while.”

Mark seems entranced, which encourages me to ramble on about my passion. After some time of telling stories and trading questions and answers, he exclaims, “That’s incredible! I need to travel and find myself a Belgian girlfriend!”

I blush. It dawns on me that we’d been chatting for a while.

“Do you know what time it is?” I ask. An hour has passed. I rush to Nik’s place next door.

“Where have you been?” Karl asks.

“Talking to a neighbor, the one with the big dogs. He seems like a nice guy.” I hand my CD to Nik, who is always eager to discover new music.

Our planned week in the Rockridge area of Oakland turns into four, as all of us become friends and Mark unintentionally draws me closer and closer. Karl encourages my contact with the neighbor. “Soon we’ll be out of here and it’s just you and me again,” he says. “Enjoy the company!”

I embrace Mark’s presence until I crave it.

One night, the Hollywood-moment arrives… our first kiss. An arm around my shoulders. A fluttering body. Touching of lips. Mutual desire. He loves me back!

We never allow anything more to happen. Mark is a realist. He knows I am leaving Nik’s place shortly and that I am in a serious relationship.

Our dreadful last evening together eventually arrives. We hug strongly and kiss tenderly.

“I’ll come pick you up wherever you are, whenever you’re ready to leave Karl.” Mark’s parting words sound sweet. Is he serious?

Mark and Liesbet

That night, I lie awake, heart racing. By morning, it’s time to pack up the camper and leave.

I exchange glances with Karl. His eyes beam with excitement about continuing our adventures; mine reflect trouble and sadness.

I take the plunge.

“I can’t be with you anymore. My attraction to Mark has grown too strong.” I sound more determined than I feel.

Shock.

Karl stares at me with intent. “We’re driving to Mexico. We both looked forward to this.”

Silence.

Did he not notice my enthusiasm to continue our overland journey had diminished these last weeks?

I swallow hard.

Can I really give all this up? Our past explorations on the road? The year and a half before that, where he tried so hard to fit into my Belgian life? How about my American visa that will run out if I don’t leave the country soon?

The consequences of my impulsiveness finally trigger some brain activity.

Karl continues, “I love you. Caesar and I will miss you so much.”

We both cry. Three years together is not nothing. I think about the good times we shared. Karl and his dog – and me, too – had been ecstatic when I showed up at his Maryland apartment, ready to roam North America. That was the summer of 2003. I had thrown a goodbye party at my parents’ house in Belgium and hopped on a plane. Little did I know I was never to return.

I remain quiet. My heart bleeds for him. Karl is a sensitive man who understands me and cares about me. We have the same passion: traveling the world on a budget. Yet, I crave more romance in a relationship…

Am I seriously giving up my travels for a man?

That would be a first. It’s usually the other way around. My gut knows how this predicament will end. My mind has nothing to add.

I face Karl and finally utter, “If I leave with you, I will want to come back here at some point.” It is the only conclusion I can muster.

I have fallen in love with another guy, the “guy next door.”

Mark with Kali and Darwin

“If that’s what you want,” Karl replies with a sigh, “then you should just stay.”

In the hours that follow we split the money from our communal account; I gather my belongings; and we discuss a contingency plan for the truck camper. I pet Caesar goodbye and give Karl one last, heartfelt embrace. Then, misty-eyed, I watch them drive away.

I close the door of Mark’s apartment behind me. Unlike other times when Karl and I returned his dogs after walking them with Caesar – today, I don’t leave.

My pile of clothes and gear clutters the corner of the bedroom. I settle on the bed with Kali and Darwin. My tears soak their fur within minutes. Mark has found his Belgian girl without having to travel; she appeared right on his doorstep. He probably thought he’d never see her again. Surprise!

Liesbet and Darwin

What will he say when he comes home from work?

What if he doesn’t want me here?

As usual, I don’t have a back-up plan.The rest of the afternoon, I cry. I feel bad for Karl.

I’m such a selfish bitch.

The front door opens. The dogs jump up and run towards their human. I stay behind in the bedroom.

“Hi, guys,” Mark greets Kali and Darwin with a sad voice. “I guess they’re gone, huh? You two don’t seem too excited to see me. What’s up?”

I walk into the hallway. My eyes sting.

Mark looks up.

“What the hell are you doing here?” His words crush me. I shuffle towards him. We hug. I don’t want to let go.

“I’m staying with you,” I whisper, as if he doesn’t have any say in this. Mark’s face relaxes into a smile. His grip tightens. I guess that means it’s okay.

***

Writer & Blogger Liesbet Collaert

Liesbet Collaert’s articles and photos have been published internationally.

Born in Belgium, she has been a nomad since 2003 with no plans to settle anytime soon. Her love of travel, diversity, and animals is reflected in her lifestyle choices of sailing, RVing, and house and pet sitting.

Liesbet calls herself a world citizen and currently lives “on the road” in North America with her husband and rescue dog. Follow her adventures at www.itsirie.com and www.roamingabout.com.

Connect With Liesbet

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Blog: Roaming About

Blog: It’s Irie

Amazon

Liesbet’s true story is taken from her new book, Plunge.

Book cover for Plunge by Liesbet Collaert
Plunge

Tropical waters turn tumultuous in this travel memoir as a free-spirited woman jumps headfirst into a sailing adventure with a new man and his two dogs.

Join Liesbet as she faces a decision that sends her into a whirlwind of love, loss, and living in the moment. When she swaps life as she knows it for an uncertain future on a sailboat, she succumbs to seasickness and a growing desire to be alone.

Guided by impulsiveness and the joys of an alternative lifestyle, she must navigate personal storms, trouble with US immigration, adverse weather conditions, and doubts about her newfound love.

Does Liesbet find happiness? Will the dogs outlast the man? Or is this just another reality check on a dream to live at sea?

Information/Purchase links

Buy on Amazon

For eBook versions worldwide

For paperback distributors worldwide

Reviews

My thanks to Liesbet for writing this guest post.

If you have any questions or comments for Liesbet, please leave them in the comments section. She’d be delighted to hear from you.

Do you have a true story you’d like to share on my blog? Contact me via the ‘Contact Hugh’ button on the menubar.

More true stories…

Copyright © 2021 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Not Stupid Today – A True Story And Guest Blog Post by Graeme Cumming @GraemeCumming63

I’m delighted to welcome Graeme Cumming to my blog. Not only is Graeme somebody I class as a friend, but he’s also a very talented author, writer and blogger.

A guest blog post by Graeme Cumming

Graeme’s true story opened up my eyes to something I’d never thought about when it comes to passing on wisdom and mistakes I’ve made in my life to those younger than me. Read his story and let him know how you pass on words of wisdom to the younger generation.


Unlike Bryan Adams, my summer of ’69 had nothing to do with playing guitar. Having struggled to play triangle during a school concert, I think it’s safe to say my musical abilities wouldn’t have stretched that far.

When I chose the wrong moment to hit the triangle, I was even more mortified than I might otherwise have been because my dad was in the audience. He didn’t tend to turn up for school stuff because of work – not many dads did back then. So, when he was able to put in an appearance, I wanted to impress him. Clearly, I was to be disappointed and, at the time, I assumed the same was true for him. It’s funny the perceptions we have of our parents.

That summer, we took a rare holiday. I suppose they were rare because we didn’t have the money for them. In those days, it was common for the husband to go to work and the wife to stay home and look after the house and children. With one wage-earner, a holiday was a luxury. Even better, we had two weeks at Mablethorpe, not just one.

Fifty-one years later, I still have great memories from that holiday. Great, though not all of them filled with joy. Not at the time anyway.

There was an incident where my dad and I were playing football on the beach. Sport had always been his forte. He’d even been signed as a professional footballer back in the fifties – though a foot injury put paid to his sporting career within weeks. Nevertheless, even with the injury, he was a good all-rounder. In his time, he played cricket, tennis and squash to a high standard, and even walked away with a trophy on the one occasion he played golf.

In contrast, my own sporting skills have always bordered on the inept. So there was very little surprise when I kicked the ball in the wrong direction, sending it hurtling out into the sea. The tide was going out and, before long, it became apparent that the ball was going with it. My dad did go after it – inevitably, he was a bloody good swimmer, too!

Like most kids, my dad was my hero. I thought he was capable of anything. So, when he swam back to shore and I could still see the ball in the distance, it’s fair to say I was disappointed. In short, I wanted my ball back.

Standing at the water’s edge, he pointed to where it was, bobbing further and further away. I felt very let down that he’d come back empty-handed. And I let him know it, too.

“You can still get it.”

“Graeme, it’s too far out.”

It didn’t look that far to me, a point I expressed pretty sharply.

“The tide’s taking it,” he tried to explain.

Perhaps the concept of tides was too difficult for a six-year-old. It was another thirteen years before I experienced the terrifying pull of the sea as a Moroccan beach seemed to recede very rapidly from my line of sight. And the overwhelming sense of relief as I somehow managed to scrabble my way back to shallow waters.

To this day, I don’t know whether my dad had ever gone through a similar experience, but he knew what he was talking about. I didn’t.

Hands on hips, I looked up at him and, in the manner befitting a child who isn’t getting their own way, let him know just how disappointed I was in him. After all, this was my hero. He was my Simon Templar, my Robin Hood, my Tarzan.

“Aren’t you brave enough?” It was an idea that was, frankly, shocking to me.

Exhausted from swimming against the tide, and faced with a similarly unreasonable question, I’d like to think I could show the same level of patience he did (I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t).

“Sometimes, Graeme, there’s not much difference between being brave and being stupid.” He glanced out to the ball. “I’m not going to be stupid today.”

Naturally, this quite profound life lesson went straight over my head at the time. And yet, strangely, the incident and the words stuck with me, until one day they made sense.

I’d like to say my dad was not only a great sportsman, but a philosopher too. But I can’t. Like each and every one of us, he was a flawed individual, and over the years I learnt as much from his mistakes as I did his wise words. And I’ve learnt even more from my own mistakes, especially from my youthful certainty that I was right, that I was invincible, that I would be my own hero. But that’s part of growing up.

Now, as a father myself, I see my children making their own mistakes, and hoping they’ll learn from them too. I’ve shared my words of wisdom, and hope they’ll remember some of them when the time is right. Sometimes those words have been dressed up in stories – because sometimes it’s easier to learn when you’re being entertained.

And I do like to tell stories.


Graeme Cumming

Graeme Cumming lives in Robin Hood country.  He has wide and varied tastes when it comes to fiction so he’s conscious that his thrillers can cross into territories including horror, fantasy and science fiction as well as more traditional arenas. 

When not writing, Graeme is an enthusiastic sailor (and, by default, swimmer), and enjoys off-road cycling and walking.  He is currently Education Director at Sheffield Speakers Club.  Oh yes, and he reads (a lot) and loves the cinema.

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Connect With Graeme

Blog

Facebook

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Goodreads

Books

Ravens Gathering

Where To Buy Ravens Gathering:

Amazon UK

Amazon USA

Waterstones

Troubador

Signed copy

Carrion

Where to buy Carrion:

Amazon UK

Amazon USA

My thanks to Graeme for writing this guest post.

If you have any questions or comments for Graeme, please leave them in the comments section. He’d be delighted to hear from you.


For more true stories from my guests, click on the links below

Copyright © 2020 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Supernatural Encounters – True Stories And A Guest Blog Post By Victoria Zigler @VictoriaZigler

I’m delighted to welcome Victoria (Tori) Zigler to my blog today.

After reading an interview with Victoria on the blog of Teri Pollen, I invited her to write a guest post about some of the encounters she has had with the supernatural.

Supernatural Encounters by Victoria Zigler

With it being Halloween week, Victoria’s post had me thinking about a ghostly encounter I once had. However, nothing as strange as the missing bath plug in one of Victoria’s stories.

Perhaps Victoria’s post will encourage you to share your true stories of supernatural encounters?


I see dead people.

Sorry.  I couldn’t resist.  I’ve wanted an excuse to use that line since I first saw “The Sixth Sense” many years ago.  But it is the truth, so I hope you’ll forgive me for indulging myself.

Anyway, it’s not just people.  It’s animals too.

Well, technically, these days I don’t ‘see’ them, because I lost my eyesight more than a decade ago to Congenital Glaucoma.  But I saw them when I still had vision, and I still hear and feel things.

👻 👻 👻 👻

I’ve lived in several places where unexplained shadows, cold spots, and footsteps, were frequent occurrences, and whispered words from unknown speakers could be heard at times.  Things you can dismiss as being other people in the house if you don’t live alone, but aren’t so easily dismissed when you’re home alone.

Like when you’re writing at 3:00am-  again – and realize that couldn’t have been your husband who just walked up behind  you, because you can hear his snoring coming from the bedroom, and it couldn’t have been the dog either, because the dog is that fluffy warm lump on your feet.

Or you’re taking advantage of everyone else still being asleep in the early morning to have a shower, and hear someone telling you to hurry up because the dog needs out.  So you rush to finish – wondering why they can’t take her – only to discover when you emerge from the bathroom that the only living being awake besides you is the dog in question, waiting impatiently by the door to go out.

Yeah.  Those kinds of things.

It would take too long to detail everything, and I doubt I could recall them all anyhow.  But, I’ve had some less subtle experiences, which I’m going to tell you about.

To clarify: the first three experiences that follow happened when I still had my eyesight.

🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃

The first started when I was maybe ten years old, and we had moved in to the house we were in fairly recently.

I woke to find my bedroom colder than usual, and a little girl in red in the room.  She looked about six, with dark hair.  She walked around the room a little, as though examining my stuff, and then disappeared.  Moments later, the temperature in the room returned to normal.

I saw her several times during the years I lived in that house, and tried to talk to her, but – though I called her my friend, and thought of her as ‘Tabitha’ – she never so much as acknowledged me.

When I foolishly mentioned her to some children from my class, they teased me and said she was an imaginary friend.  They did it so much I started to think they were right.

Until I heard my Nan telling someone about the little dark haired girl in red she’d seen several times running through the living room and starting up the stairs before vanishing.  I’d never described the girl I called Tabitha to anyone, but Nan described her perfectly, and I knew it had to be the same little girl.  When I told my Nan, she agreed.

🕷 🕷 🕷 🕷

The second was in the same house, happened a few years after my first ‘Tabitha’ visit, but only happened once.

I walked out of the bathroom one night, and standing in front of me was a little boy in a sailor suit.  He smiled, turned, and started walking away.  He’d only taken a couple of steps when he vanished.

I never saw him again, and to my knowledge nobody else saw him at all.

🧙‍♀️ 🧙‍♀️ 🧙‍♀️ 🧙‍♀️

The third happened in the flat I lived in when I first moved out of my parents’ house.

I put the plug in the bath, leaving the water running, before heading to the bedroom to fetch my pyjamas.  When I got back to the bathroom, the plug was gone.  It had literally disappeared.

The plughole was empty, it wasn’t attached to the chain that usually attaches them to the bath (not surprisingly, since the chain had snapped before this) and it wasn’t on the side of the bath near the tap (which is where I’d kept the plug since its chain snapped, so where it would have been if I hadn’t put it in after all).

After searching the bathroom for several minutes, I gave up and fetched the kitchen sink’s plug for my bath.  It didn’t fit right, so I had to hold it until the water was deep enough that water pressure would keep it there, and had to be careful not to knock it with my foot, but it allowed me to have my bath.

For the next several days I searched for that plug.  My Mam even came to help me look.  We searched the entire flat, but it was nowhere to be found.

Until three weeks later, when it was suddenly back in the bath.

I lived alone in the flat, and nobody could have gotten in without my knowledge.  Plus, why would someone break in to steal my plug? Especially since I had much better things to steal.

👹 👹 👹 👹

I’ve also had visits from two of the petkids I’ve lost – the two I was most closely bonded with when they were alive.

The first was my Oriental cat, Chance.  I felt him jump on my bed one night the Halloween two years after he died… Felt the weight of him beside me on the bed.  Heard his purr.  Felt his silky soft fur rub against my hand.  And then he was gone.

I had a similar visit from my Westie, Kero, two Halloweens after he died.

It’s like my boys wanted to say one final, “Goodbye,” to me before they moved on.


Bio – Victoria Zigler

Victoria Zigler is a blind vegan poet and children’s author who was born and raised in the Black Mountains of Wales, UK, and is now living on the South-East coast of England, UK, with her hubby, chinchilla, Westie, Cavapoo, and Hermann’s Tortoise.

Victoria – or Tori, if you prefer – has been writing since she knew how, and describes herself as a combination of Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter books: Hermione’s thirst for knowledge and love of books, combined with Luna’s wandering mind and alternative way of looking at the world. 

Victoria has a wide variety of interests, designed to exercise both the creative and logical sides of her brain, and dabbles in them at random depending on what she feels like doing at any given time.

To date, Victoria has published nine poetry books and 46 children’s books, with more planned for the future.  She makes her books available in multiple eBook formats, as well as in both paperback and audio. She’s also contributed a story to the sci-fi and fantasy anthology Wyrd Worlds II, which is available in eBook only.

Additionally, Tori’s Hermann’s Tortoise, Artemis, was featured in both the Magnificent Pets Colouring Book For Children and the Magnificent Pets Mandala Colouring Book For Adults, which are available via Praise My Pet.

Author, writer and blogger, Victoria (Tori) Zigler

Connect with Victoria

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Find Victoria’s books on…

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My thanks to Victoria for writing this guest post and sharing her true stories with us.

If you have any questions or comments for Victoria, please leave them in the comments section. She’d be delighted to hear from you.

Have you had any supernatural encounters? Get in touch with me if you’d like to share them by way of a guest post here on my blog.

Did you enjoy reading this post? Then you may also enjoy…

Copyright © 2020 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

My Accident: A Life-Changing Experience – A True Story And Guest Blog Post By James M. Lane @jameslanepm

I’m delighted to welcome James M. Lane to my blog today.


James is the writer for Perfect Manifesto, a blog about fatherhood, health and self-improvement.

My Accident: A Life Changing Experience

James shares a true story about an accident that changed his life.

When I read his story, it made me stop and think about some of the accidents I’ve had in my life and whether they changed me. Maybe reading James’s post will make you stop and think?


It was too damn early to be awake on a Saturday morning as I stumbled into the toilets, fatigued and beaten down, taking great care to ensure my flimsy hospital gown did not fly open exposing my nether regions.

One look in the mirror at my battered face was enough, the lacerations altering my soft complexion, the look of innocence stolen away overnight.

The pulsating rips throbbed on my face, with horrible bloody slash across the bridge of my nose being the centrepiece.

There is no going back from this.

As I thought how destroyed my face was, I began to cry.

I’ve looked better…

Earlier…

It was the same Friday routine, a job done 100 times before, trundling away the sentinel-like cages, filled with medical stationery, into storage for the weekend.

The weekend, that unremarkable event where I did much of nothing expect watch DVDs and write commentary for penny review sites.

Each towering cage was pushed into the storeroom with unskilled aggression, ringing out one by one, with a spectacular crashing noise as metal clashed with metal.

The room was crammed, the last bit of space for the prescriptions sat within a tight corner.

Not knowing better, I applied force to get the cage flying over the ramp, where it snapped against a dip in the ramp, falling forward with a deathly clatter.

Expletives came into my head and straight out of my mouth, as the pressure of making a 5 o’clock finish was on, and I was unable to elevate the heavy load alone.

I grabbed my colleague, Umar to assist with battling the weight of the cage.  He helped to steady the burdensome load pulling upwards, as I endured metal digging into my skin as I pulled upwards, getting it back to its upright position.

In a moment of naivety I’ll never forget, I repeated exactly the same action causing the fall in the first place, with the notable exception that I was on the other side attempting to jimmy the wheels over the dip in the ramp as Umar pushed.

Big mistake.

The cage veered towards me from the momentum provided by Umar, a bit too much, plummeting downwards, same as before, expect with myself in the way to slow the fall.

I moved most of my body out the way, so I didn’t end up trapped, shifting the remainder of the cage off with my knees.

My immediate thought was how close I had been to serious injury, but then a dull stinging from the impact rung through my face, but I was okay… or so I thought.

Blood began to seep off my head, I held my hands to stop it, a futile action as it was coming too rapidly to clot with a compression.  I looked down at my hands to see them covered in red.

The storeroom floor was cover with one big bloody puddle, with a few handprints for good measure, in a scene resembling a Tarantino movie.

After…

I lay in a bed that was not my own, with nothing but a few home comforts hastily thrown into a bag in a last-minute panic.

Staring at the ward ceiling, I became lost in my own thoughts in this cold, unfamiliar place.

I wondered what ‘normal’ people my age were doing, the ones with a social life, the types who always scared me as they always seemed so confident and sure of themselves.

Did they really have it all figured out? Or were they just as terrified as me not knowing what they wanted from life?  Did other people fear deep down that they are doomed to spend their life achieving nothing?

Exhaustion eventually caught on, sending me into a deep sleep.

Morning…

Sounds of voices in the bed opposite roused me from needed rest.  I had a pressing desire to pee, but didn’t dare move for feeling like I was interrupting a very personal conversation in a very public place.

Instead, I lay still and listened.

“You make your choices in life, your poor decisions have led you here, if you keep behaving like this, you might not be so lucky next time.”

The consultant’s lecturing words carried over as the patient responded muttering incomprehensible words, as family members occasionally interjected trying to justify his actions.

I interpreted the conversation to understand that the youth had been fighting, another young ego getting too drunk and making mistakes.

The words made me think of my own situation, I wasn’t getting into late night brawls on a Friday night, but it was my decisions, or lack of them that had got me here.

If I nearly died yesterday, would you have been happy going out like this?

Not likely!

Laying in a hospital bed for most would ruin their weekend, for me it was the most I had done in months.

My reflections turned to my dead-end job, lack of friendships and prospects.

I knew there was more than this, I knew I could be more than this.

Changing…

The next few weeks I did all the tedious things required to fix up a broken face, while thinking what I wanted.

I dreaded going back to work, not for the job itself but because I knew I would be the centre of attention as it’s hard to stay inconspicuous when you’ve been clobbered with a 200kg industrial cage and left blood stains all over the building.

People talk, they always do, and when they learned my experience had changed me, I was seeking more in my own life, their own insecurities kicked in, belittling my abilities to do anything else.

Apparently, I was too afraid do anything that would better my existence.  This just drove me even more.

With time my face healed up and I felt more optimistic that I would not have to live the rest of my life as a disfigured monster.

This was followed by giving in my resignation to go to University, a decision that shocked the doubters thinking I would never leave.

Did I nearly die?

Perhaps I’m being overly dramatic, maybe my accident wasn’t as bad as it seemed, but I like to think it nearly did take my life, as that feeling has always motivated me to keep striving to be better than yesterday.


James M. Lane is a dad of two, husband, project manager and the writer for Perfect Manifesto a blog about fatherhood, health and self-improvement, founded on the belief that everyone has the potential to be better than yesterday.

Writer and blogger James M. Lane with one of his children

Connect With James

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My thanks to James for writing this guest post and sharing his true story with us.

If you have any questions or comments for James, please leave them in the comments section. He’d be delighted to hear from you.

Have you ever had a life-changing moment? Get in touch with me if you’d like to share the details in a guest post.

Did you enjoy reading this post? Then you may also enjoy…

Copyright © 2020 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Welcome To Vietnam – A True Story And Guest Blog Post by Chuck Jackson @chuck_cljjlk

I’m delighted to welcome Chuck Jackson to my blog today. Chuck is an author, writer and blogger, and lives in Florida.

A Guest Blog Post by Chuck Jackson

Chuck shares his incredible story of life as a Special Forces member of an Air Force Pararescue Team in 1968. Reading his story told me how all these men and women deserve to be remembered for the champions that they were and still are.

* * *

HH-43B (Pedro) in the foreground with a Douglas A-1 (Sandy) in the background

In December 1968, after completing 14 months of Special Forces training to be a member of the Air Force Pararescue team (PJ), I left my wife in tears and joined a hundred plus men from all branches of the military for the dreaded flight to Vietnam. Dressed in our fatigues, we boarded the aircraft at Travis AFB with stops in Alaska, Japan and then on to Vietnam. The closer we got to Da Nang, the more nervous we became.

Upon our arrival, the weather was cold and rainy; the scene was bedlam, with aircrafts of all sorts and sizes parked haphazardly. Military vehicles of various types were running back and forth-carrying men, fuel and cargo. Over to the side, I spotted a haunting site I would never forget. Lined up were many baggage carts, and on them were black bags containing the bodies of men who had given their lives. I saw no honor guard, nor flag covered caskets; only those body bags lying in the freezing rain.

* * *

When I checked into the 38th ARRS (Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service) Detachment 7 in Da Nang, they assigned me to an Air Force Kaman HH-43B team. The HH-43B “Huskie” or as PJs named it “Pedro” they never designed it for combat because of its slow speed, short range, and it was not armored.

My team included Air Force Major William (Billy) Atkins, First Lieutenant Lawrence (Larry) Riley, Airman Samuel (Sammy) Burkowitz, and me. Our call name was Pedro 7-5. The other three had been together for several months and I was replacing a PJ that had rotated back stateside.

The first week we did nothing but Medevac to get me broken in. Although I was told this was temporary, my ignorance of actual rescue missions left me bored and wanting more. I did not understand what my future held; however, it wasn’t long before they immersed me into the reality of being a PJ.

I was hanging out in Detachment 7’s ready room with Sammy when the alarm sounded. By the time we arrived at our bird, Billy had the engines running and Larry was standing out front watching for us. As soon as I got out of the vehicle, Larry yelled, “Come on Doc. Get your gear on; we need to be in the air.” Sammy and I didn’t have enough time to get anymore than our helmets on and plugged into the communication systems when Billy was lifting off.

I asked, “What’s the scoop?”

Larry said, “We got two Huey medivac birds down. Sandy 2-7 says he is not sure there were survivors. There are hostiles crawling all over the area and command has scrambled a support jet and a second Sandy from Dak To.”

“Are we the only rescue crew?”

Billy said, “No, Pedro 4-4 out of Pleiku will be in support, but we are the primary.” Billy snickered, “Hey Doc, I hope you put on clean skivvies this morning. You wanted a mission, you got one now.”

Within 20 minutes, we were in communication with Sandy 2-7. He all but escorted us over to the crash site. We were circling at 1,000 ft. and it did not look good. Wreckage was spread over a quarter mile, although one cabin seemed to be intact. It took another half-hour of circling in the distance, with the two Sandy’s and an F-100 Super Sabre clearing the area. Pedro 4-4 was in formation with us.

Finally, we got the call, “Pedro 7-5, Sandy 2-7; Copy? .”

Larry answered, “This is Pedro 7-5; Go ahead.”

They gave us the green light and Billy made the turn. We heard the Sandy, tell Pedro 4-4 to maintain his pattern. Billy made a wide sweep and then as he lowered to less than 200 ft. Sammy yelled, “We got some hostiles at 7 o’clock.” Billy instantly kicked our bird in the butt and ascended back to 1,000 ft.

“Pedro 7-5, this is Rooster nine-err, two—two. Maintain your altitude.”

Billy replied, “10-4, Rooster 9-2-2; Roger that.”

Out of nowhere, a F-100 swooped in below us and hit the area with an onboard rocket followed by his guns. The target lit up with flames and smoke.

Sandy 2-7 cleared us again for an approach. This time we saw nothing, and Billy brought us in, hovered at six ft., and I jumped. Billy immediately rose and was making tight sweeps. I ran toward the cabin. When I got within 100 yards, I started seeing body parts. While still strapped I found the pilot in the cockpit, the other two were lying outside at various distances. The body parts seemed to come from one individual.

I radioed, “Pedro 7-5, PJ 7-5; Copy?”

Larry responded, PJ 7-5; Go ahead.

“No survivors here. Give me the direction to the other site.”

“PJ 7-5, 3 o’clock and 200 meters.”

“10-4”

I hightailed over toward the other site. I had to break through some thick brush. Once I did, I saw a burned cabin, or what was left of the cabin. I also saw severely burned bodies. I only found what I could identify as two crew members.

“Pedro 7-5, PJ 7-5; Copy?”

“PJ 7-5; Go ahead.”

“No survivors here. Check on the number on board this Huey.”

“PJ 7-5; Roger that.”

While I waited, I searched the area. The stench from the burned bodies was nauseating. I checked in all directions, finding nothing.

“PJ 7-5, Sandy 2-7; Copy?”

“Sandy 2-7; Go ahead.”

“Command says crew of three on each bird. Copy?”

“10-4, Sandy 2-7; thank you.”

Billy instructed me to return to the first site. He said Pedro 4-4 would handle the burned site.

With both Sandy’s, keeping watch over our backsides, Billy landed at the first site. He kept our bird’s engines running. Sammy helped me get the pilot out and put him in a body bag. We gathered as many body parts as we could find and put them in a separate bag. We did not have another bag, so we used a tarp out of our emergency locker and wrapped the third crewmember. Then we loaded all three in our bird.

Pedro 4-4 landed at site two and it took its crew 30 minutes to find the third crewmember. We left before Pedro 4-4 and headed for our base. For the last week, I had hauled body bags when we did Medevac. However, this seemed more dismal. Perhaps it was because these were flight crews and not Army grunts. No one spoke on the return to base.

As I helped unload our formidable cargo, I must have had a melancholy appearance. Billy walked over, put his arm around me, and said, “I’m sorry to tell you Doc, it doesn’t get any easier.” Then, cynically, he added, “Oh yeah, Welcome to Vietnam.”

Thoughts of a Pararescueman

I am that which others do not want to be. I chose to go where others fear and excel where they have failed.

I ask for nothing from those that will not give… and reluctantly accept the thought of eternal loneliness, …should I fail.

I have seen the face of death, felt the stinging cold of fear; I have realized the harsh reality of just what this job is all about. I enjoyed the sweet taste of victory and love; but those were just fleeting moments.

I have cried, pained and hoped, most of all, I have lived times others would say are best forgotten…But,

At least I will be able to say that I was proud of who and what I am and that in my heart and soul I will always be a “PJ”

<Unknown author>

“These Things We Do, That Others May Live,”


Author and writer Chuck Jackson

Chuck Jackson is a retired accountant living in Southeast Florida. He was an ‘Air Force Brat’ and followed his dad’s 33-year military career by also serving four years in the Air Force.

He is an extensive reader and since retirement; he has spent much of his time studying and enhancing his love for writing. This story is taken in part from his published memoir. He is a two-time cancer survivor and draws his strength from his faith and church activity.

For years, he spoke little of his Vietnam experience, suffering similarly as many Vietnam Veterans anguished in silence. With this writing, he wants to help return the honor and dignity of those that served with him. He dedicates this story to those men that proudly served as PJs.

Connect with Chuck

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Chuck’s story appears in the Anthology – Stories Through The Ages – Baby Boomers Plus 2020.

Stories Through The Ages – Baby Boomers Plus 2020

Click here to order your copy.

My thanks to Chuck for writing this guest post.

If you have any questions or comments for Chuck, please leave them in the comments section. He’d be delighted to hear from you.

Copyright © 2020 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

How A Journey Of A Million Miles Showed Me The Value Of Home – A Guest Post by Paul Ariss @PaulAriss1

I’m delighted to introduce Paul Ariss to my blog. Paul is a songwriter, screenwriter and new to blogging.

Guest blog post by Paul Ariss

Paul shares a true story about travel which gave me goosebumps when I read it because I knew exactly what he was experiencing.

Over to you, Paul.


Image Credit – Paul Ariss

In the early evening of Wednesday, 28th October 1987 I walked into a bar in rain-sodden Flagstaff, Arizona with Randy Jones, a two-tour Vietnam vet.

I’d met Randy hours earlier that day, just minutes after midnight in Albuquerque bus station.

Randy was a mad-eyed but good-hearted individual who happened to be stopping off in Flagstaff himself on the way west to an altogether different destination. Randy and I were polar opposites.

Probably fifteen years older but with a lifetime more living, Randy had fought the Vietnamese in the Mekong Delta and had spent the last two months in a cave in the Rocky Mountains killing animals for his supper.

I was a pasty-faced young English office-worker whose closest shave with conflict was with a drunk in an airport who’d subsequently fallen over his own suitcase.

Yet somehow, me and Randy hit it off immediately.

After getting off our Greyhound bus and booking into our motels we decided to find a local bar, and there we laughed about the cultural differences between the US and the UK, and I let him tell as little as he felt able to share about his time as marine.

Mostly however he was fascinated about my overwhelming desire to see the country that had demanded of him as a young man to go and fight but had largely abandoned him since he returned home.

We were joined after a short time by a huge bear of a Native American man who largely just smiled and kept his own council.

But it’s true to say this night I was restless and struggled to stay convivial. After a couple of beers, I made my excuses and headed back to my motel. I had an inexplicable need to be alone.

By now the late afternoon had given way to early evening and the darkness through my motel window matched my state of mind.

Keeping Hold Of The Promise To Myself

Just ten years earlier I had made a vow to myself that I was now just hours away from fulfilling. At the time of the promise I was unemployed, and giving £5 of the £7 per week Social Security to my recently widowed father for board and keep.

Contrary to the punk counter-culture so many youths of my age were immersed in at the time, I was spending my days listening to the Eagles and dreaming of the open highways of America.

But I was a dreamer without substance. On the day I signed on for social security benefits, I was two-thirds of the way through an 18-months stint of unemployment.

Drenched by a steady drizzling rain, I needed something to aim for, something so far removed from my current situation to be almost too ludicrous to consider.

And then it came to me. I made the decision that one day I would get to The Grand Canyon.

Geographically it was over five thousand miles away from my small town in north-west England, though metaphorically it felt closer to a million. But right at that moment the thought of eventually getting there made the day feel that little bit more bearable.  

And so it was, with a decade of steady employment behind me and a modest but committed savings plan I had enough for the journey and sufficient fire in my belly to make the trip.

My anticipation had remained unquenchable and here I was finally about to satisfy that first.

So why was I so downbeat on the eve of seeing one of the most stunning areas of natural beauty on earth?

When The Final Step Is The Hardest

I was lonely. Not for company, but for home.

I had been travelling on buses for nearly three weeks criss-crossing from one exciting destination to another on a plan of my own volition taking in New York City, Niagara Falls, Philadelphia, Nashville, Gracelands, Dallas, Denver; almost every day a new adventure, a new place I’d always heard about but never thought I’d visit.

Yet now, the day before reaching the destination I had planned and saved for over a decade, was the time I most wanted to be home.

The irony was crushing. I sat on the floor of my motel room and wept. Just a little. This feeling wasn’t what I had planned for.

I turned on the TV, a recording of Billy Joel live in Russia from two months earlier, the first rock star to play there post-Glasnost. Though not a massive Billy Joel fan, his energised demeanour helped fire me up.

“Don’t take shit off no-one”, Joel told an ecstatic crowd, each one no doubt loving the feeling of finally being able to let loose after a lifetime of social repression.

Oddly, a spark re-lit within me, enough to pick my emotions up off the floor and settle them enough to sleep after my long day of travelling.

I awoke the next day and pulled back the curtains to a welcoming early sunrise.

A slightly worse-for-wear Randy joined me for breakfast, telling me how the Native American had carried him back to his motel room at 2am. It seems I was right to have left early!

Randy saw me get on the shuttle bus that left for the Canyon.

Image Credit: Paul Ariss

Less than two hours later with a barely controllable anticipation I walked through a huge double door to finally see the most incredible, majestic wonder I’ve ever witnessed.

I smiled broadly and said hello to the Grand Canyon. We had finally met. I had travelled the millionth mile.

Image Credit: Paul Ariss

It had been a long, long journey but worth every step.

Later I thought about Billy Joel, performing so far from home yet feeling a kindred bond with strangers who had lived a life so culturally at odds with everything he knew. And I thought of my new friend Randy who had met someone in me who had expressed a feeling for his own country he had maybe lost something of over the years.

I thought of the Native American whose forefathers had their land ripped from them by Randy’s ancestors, yet felt the simple human instinct to carry him back to where was safe.

And as I turned away from the Grand Canyon at the end of that day my mind went back to where this had all begun and where for me the greatest riches still lay.

Home.


Writer and Blogger Paul Ariss

Paul started off as a lyricist in a song-writing partnership, before branching out into writing scripts. He’s now back to music, writing and recording solo material.

As a songwriter Paul has had songs published as part of a partnership, and as a solo writer has reached the semi-final of the UK Songwriting Contest and had a track chosen as Pick of The Week on a New York based online radio station.

As a script writer Paul has had material used on BBC radio shows on Radio 2, 4 and 5, and has been short-listed in two major script-writing contests as well as working as a Shadow Writer on Channel 4 comedy-drama Shameless, where he also contributed to its online platform.

Paul is new to blogging after getting the blogging bug in May 2020. He plans to increase his output very soon! His blog is called Songs and Scripts and Dunking Biscuits and can be followed by clicking here.

Songs from Paul are now on Spotify and all major streaming platforms have music videos to accompany them on YouTube, all of which can be accessed via his song-writing Facebook page.

Click here to follow Paul on Facebook

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Click here to follow Paul on Twitter

Click here to follow Paul’s blog


Have you ever encountered the feelings Paul shared in his guest post?

My thanks to Paul for writing this guest post. If you have any questions or comments for Paul, please leave them in the comments section. He’d be delighted to hear from you.

Copyright © 2020 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

A Different Type Of UFO – A Guest Post By Mae Clair @MaeClair1

Hugh, thank you so much for inviting me to your blog today! I’m delighted to be here, and happy to share an encounter I had when I was a child. It might sound a little off the wall, but…

When I was six, my family lived in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. My father and I had a habit of sitting on the porch after dinner. We’d take in the sights of people passing on the sidewalk, cars on the street, the occasional thunderstorm. That evening, my dad fell asleep as twilight settled.

Was there traffic? Maybe.

People on the sidewalk? Not then.

What I can tell you—what I still see clearly in my mind—is the object in the sky. I can’t recall if it suddenly appeared, popping into view, or slid from somewhere overhead.

Before I continue, however, I’d like to share some facts you may not be familiar with. As an example, did you know most UFO sightings are not of the saucer-shaped variety, but light sources?

Image credit: Bigstockphoto.,com
Image licence owned by Mae Clair

Have you ever heard of a “UFO Flap?” This occurs when an exceptional number of sightings are confined are to a specific area during a limited time frame. Point Pleasant, West Virginia experienced a well-publicized flap during 1966-1967.

Several years ago, while reading a book on UFOs, the author mentioned the skies above Harrisburg, Pennsylvania being filled with light sources. Guess what year? Yep—I was six years old. Harrisburg didn’t experience a flap, but there was a buzz of activity.

Next up: I bet you’ve heard of Men-in-Black. But did you know the late author, John Keel, coined the phrase to identify mysterious strangers who descended on Point Pleasant, West Virginia in 1966? MIBs, as they’re called, had one purpose—find anyone who’d reported seeing a UFO and warn them not to talk about it.

The government denied the existence of MIBs, as did the Air Force, but there were plenty of eyewitnesses. When you descend on a rural area in shiny black Cadillacs, wearing black suits and broad-brimmed black hats, you’re bound to stand out.

Speaking of rural sightings, did you know pastures and fields are often covered with blobs of a mucous-like substance after a UFO appears? Many locals refer to these globs as “starsh*t.”

I could go on, but let’s get back to Harrisburg, and that warm summer night with my dad.

Sometime after he nodded off, the cloud appeared. Not a normal cloud, but something massive and green, moving rapidly across the sky. I remember looking from the cloud to the ground because it emitted a broad beam of light, the same eerie green as the cloud.

The light scrolled across the sidewalk, onto our front lawn, then crept onto the porch, enveloping me, edging near my father. I don’t remember if it touched him, but I looked up into the light.

The next thing I remember is being on the sidewalk, several houses down, with my dad. People were everywhere, chatting with excitement. A woman with two children stopped to talk to us. I distinctly remember her telling my father “the sky looked like it had a tail.”

This incident has stayed with me, vivid in my memory, but there’s something that niggles in the back of my mind. Why didn’t I tell my dad what I’d seen, especially given the excitement on the street? Why is everything blank from the time I looked up into the light until talking to the woman on the sidewalk?

A Cold Tomorrow, the second book of my Point Pleasant trilogy, deals with UFO sightings and MIBs. I dumped a ton of research into the entire series, including making two trips to the actual locations that factor into the story. Something I found highly interesting while doing research: many UFO witnesses don’t recall the incident until years later—especially if they’ve seen a light source.

Some experience “Flicker Phenomena” an occurrence that mesmerizes the individual and blocks the incident from their mind. I wish I could recall when the memory of that warm night in Harrisburg resurfaced. I know it was there by the time I reached high school, because I was enthralled by the idea of spotting a UFO. I desperately wanted to see one again.

I never did.

Many people are able to talk of their encounter immediately after witnessing the sight. Some experience conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the eyes.

When I wrote A Cold Tomorrow, I wanted the cover to reflect the image in my head. My green cloud scrolled across an urban street­ whereas Point Pleasant is a rural river town. Even so, my cloud factored into my fictional “flap.”

Dirt lane image credit: Bigstockphoto.,com
Image licence owned by Mae Clair

Excerpt from A Cold Tomorrow:

Doreen Sue Lynch stubbed her cigarette into an ashtray and craned her neck to glance out the kitchen window. Her grandson, Sam, had promised not to stray. He’d helped her with the dishes after dinner, then begged to go outside with Rex, a friendly mongrel mix of Australian shepherd and retriever. She’d agreed to take her boyfriend’s dog while Martin’s house was being fumigated for spiders, and Sam would stay overnight because Katie was off visiting a friend.

Not that she minded. She loved having Sam, and Rex was hardly any trouble. Boys and dogs were good together, both bursting with bundles of energy. Even so, she’d have to call them in soon. It was getting late in the evening for an eight-year-old, and she wanted to set a good example as his grammie.

Spying him through the window, she drew in a sharp breath. An eerie green light spilled from somewhere above, haloing him in a cone of brackish illumination. Stock-still, Sam stood as if transfixed, his head tilted back as he gazed up into the weird light. Somewhere out of her line of vision, Rex barked furiously. The sound made the hair on the back on her neck rise, but by the time she reached the door and wrenched it open, the dog had stopped yapping.

“Sam.” Doreen Sue walked onto the rear stoop just as the green light winked out. Like someone throwing a switch. The jarring abruptness left her off-kilter and lightheaded.

It isn’t happening. Not again. Please God, not to Sam.

Shaking off her vertigo, she sprinted from the stoop and was across the yard in record time. “Sam.” Gripping her grandson by the shoulder, she gave him a gentle shake, drawing his attention from the sky. There was nothing. Nothing she could see. “What are you looking at?”

“Huh?” He blinked as if waking from a fog. “N-nothing. Just a cloud.”

Doreen Sue bit her lip. Sam sounded befuddled and, although he wore a jacket against the crisp October air, he shivered. “Look at you. You’re cold to the bone. Let’s get inside.”

Wrapping an arm around his shoulders, she cast a worried glance at the sky. Nothing is there. Nothing was ever there. “Did do you see where Rex got to?”

Sam shook his head as she led him toward the house.

“All right, you go inside and get warm. I’ll look for him.” The dog’s barking had sounded frighteningly out of control. Nothing like the gentle animal she knew. “I won’t be long.”

Sam hesitated when she held open the back door.

“Grammie?” His expression hadn’t changed, still composed of that same odd blankness as if he moved in a haze.

“What is it, baby?”

“Do you have any paper?”

Puzzled by the question, she cocked her head to the side. “What kind of paper?”

“For drawing. I want to draw the cloud.”


Although I changed the events of the encounter in my book, it remains lodged in my head with a sense of wonder and curiosity I hope never to lose. I want to thank Hugh for allowing me to visit and share the story.

If you’d like to read more about UFOs, may I recommend my novel, A Cold Tomorrow? Within its pages, you’ll find green clouds, animal disappearances, MIBs, bright lights in the sky, power outages, and plenty of other oddities. It’s based on historical facts, legends, and folklore surrounding the town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia.

A Cold Tomorrow Blurb:
Stopping to help a motorist in trouble, Katie Lynch stumbles upon a mystery as elusive as the Mothman legend that haunts her hometown of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Could the coded message she finds herald an extraterrestrial visitor? According to locals, it wouldn’t be the first time. And what sense should she make of her young son’s sudden spate of bizarre drawings—and his claim of a late-night visitation? Determined to uncover the truth, Katie only breaks the surface when a new threat erupts. Suddenly her long-gone ex-boyfriend is back and it’s as if he’s under someone else’s control. Not only is he half-crazed, he’s intent on murder….

As a sergeant in the sheriff’s office of the famously uncanny Point Pleasant, Officer Ryan Flynn has learned to tolerate reports of puzzling paranormal events.   But single mom Katie Lynch appears to be in very real danger—and somehow Ryan’s own brother, Caden, is caught up in the madness, too. What the skeptical lawman discovers astounds him—and sends him into action. For stopping whatever evil forces are at play may just keep Katie and Caden alive…

Click here to buy A Cold Tomorrow.

Red house image credit: Bigstockphoto.,com
Image licence owned by Mae Clair

Connect with Mae Clair at BOOKBUB and the following haunts:

Amazon| BookBub| Newsletter Sign-Up
Website | Blog| Twitter| Goodreads

My thanks to Mae for writing this guest post.

Have you ever seen a UFO? What happened and how did you deal with it? Do you have any questions or comments for Mae? Please leave them in the comments box. She would love to hear from you. (No comments for Hugh, please).

Top image credit: Hugh W. Roberts. All other images are owned by licence to Mae Claire.

Looking To Get More Visitors To Your Blog? Join Me At My Weekly Linkup Party – A Guest Post By Esmé Salon @EsmeSalon

Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Hugh for allowing me to do a guest post on such an esteemed blog like his. I am both flattered and honored that he invited me to write a guest post.

You may wonder who on earth is Esmé from EsmeSalon? To make it easier, just hop over to my About Page, and you will be able to read where I come from, what I blog about (a varied number of topics) and where you can connect and subscribe to my blog.

You will find the following features on my blog.

1.     Senior Salon, a weekly Link Up Party starting each Monday at 2am PST through to Friday evening at 8pm PST with a roundup post at 9pm PST.

2.     Sharing, Inspiring, Promoting Bloggers aka SIPB on Facebook

3.     Guest Post

4.     Bloggers Interviews

5. We also have all those yummy tried and tested home-made recipes.

I would like to invite you all to come and participate and share your stories.

What is the Senior Salon?

The Senior Salon is a weekly Linkup Party starting each Monday at 2am PST through to Friday evening at 8pm PST (Vancouver Canada).

Hugh is a regular participant at the Senior Salon and has told me that it has bought lots of new visitors to his blog. 

The SENIOR SALON features art, music, writing, poetry, photography, creative cooking, creative fashion, and anything else that you can dream up. Allow YOUR muse to guide you into a new creative endeavor or enhance an existing creative endeavor.

Through Senior Salon, I have met lots of new bloggers, read many posts, and come to love this blogging community and formed wonderful new friendships since. 

I cordially invite you all to come and join us week after week to share your posts at the #SeniSal blog share party. 

You are important to us, and we wish to help you grow your blog and lend a helping hand to promote your well-crafted blog posts and reach your goals. This is one way I love to give back to the blogging community for being such a significant part of my blogging journey. 

Once you leave a link, you automatically provide your permission to use your image with a link back to your blog via the roundup post at 9pm PST.

I am sure you all are familiar with the InLinkz concept, and it’s workings, but herewith a screenshot of where to go to enter your blog link. Once you hit the +Add Link blue button, follow the prompts and, voila, you have added your most precious and excellent blog post.

We respectfully ask and trust that you will leave a valuable comment on a minimum of THREE posts (the more, the better) for each link you leave every week. 

To allow all our blogging friends to participate, you may share a maximum of two posts per linkup and link directly to a post on your blog (not your homepage). Please, only share Family-friendly links.

How you can help us to promote Senior Salon. 

We need your help, so please keep sharing the news on your blogs and your social media and help the #SeniSal Linky Party to grow. Thank you for your loyal support!

With the Roundup Post on a Friday evening at 9pm PST, the most clicked posts (top 3) also get to be featured!

When you sign up to my blog, you will receive the one and only weekly newsletter and information on the next #SeniSal linkup. 

I promise not to sell your email address or information, and I will not spam you. If you wish to subscribe, you will find the subscribe form on the right-hand side column of my blog. 

I look forward to meeting you and collaborating with you via #SeniSal. 

Please also contact me if you would like to be interviewed and be featured on my blog.

If you feel inclined, I am also looking for columnists (monthly, bi-monthly).

Join us on Facebook

If you’re looking for more coverage, feel free to join our Facebook Group where we Share, Inspire, and Promote Bloggers.


Writer and Blogger Esmé Salon

You can connect with Esmé at the following places.

SIPB FB Group: Sharing, Inspiring, Promoting Bloggers

BAH FB Group: Blog-a-holics

TRH FB Group: The Recipe Hunter Facebook Group

SCI FB Page: @ShareCareAndInspire/

Instagram: _esmesalon

Pinterest: EsmeSalon

Twitter: EsmeSalon

Twitter: SundayMeetGreet

Flipboard: EsmeSalon

Mix: Eslabs – EsmeSalon

My thanks to Esmé for writing this guest post. I hope you will join Esmé and me over at the Senior Salon. Click here to join us and lots of other bloggers.

Have you participated in blogging linkup parties before? Do you run your own? How successful have they been for you?

Do you have any questions or comments for Esmé? Please leave them in the comments box. She would love to hear from you. (No comments for Hugh, please).

Copyright © 2019 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Why I Almost Gave Up Blogging – A Guest Post By Samantha Smith @sam50something

When I started blogging in January 2017, I thought it would be easy, I was wrong! I had no idea what was involved or should I say, how difficult I had made it.

A guest post by Sam Smith

I began by writing a blog post then paced the room after I’d hit the publish button while wondering how on earth I could delete it. Then something magical happened… I got my first ‘Like’. 

I remember beaming from ear to ear. Someone had read my initial blog post and actually bothered to press the ‘Like’ button. Not only that, but I began getting a few comments and followers. I was officially a Blogger!

So, what next? 

I read books on blogging, spent some money on courses and started to read, follow and interact with others. I was a happy blogger and loving it.

I only had a few followers and was only following a few others.

This meant I had the time to write and also read and enjoy other blogs, commenting and interacting, but I was about to hit a very steep learning curve; one which would lead me to feel anxious and guilty.

The Social Media bug

I’d set up my FaceBook page more or less as soon as I started blogging, which was easy enough as I already used FaceBook and knew how it worked. But then there was; Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, Flipboard and many more social media platforms, some of which I had never heard of, but apparently, ‘I was missing out if I didn’t join’ or so I read somewhere, so felt pressurised to set myself up on them all.

#blogging #socialmedia #bloggingtips

Image by Pixaline from Pixabay

I was also learning, ‘very slowly’ about the ‘admin’ side of my blog, (behind the scene’s), and this could also take a lot of time.

Follow for a follow?

I started gaining followers quite quickly, which was fantastic and so very exciting and, of course, started following many other bloggers, which meant more interaction – reading, liking and commenting.

It was ok at first. I was keeping up while also learning new things every day, but after a while, it was all beginning to get a little overwhelming. I was feeling anxious, in fact, worried about not keeping up and guilty that I didn’t have time to read other peoples’ blogs as well as interact.

I had so much to write about on my blog. The content has never been a problem for me, but ‘Time’ has.

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

It was getting to me. I could literally spend a whole day reading other peoples’ blogs and interacting on social media while beginning to lose focus on my own writing.

The light at the end of the tunnel.

I was only a few months in, and I nearly gave up. However, it was Hugh who gave me some great advice. I can’t particularly remember the exact words, but basically, he advised me to ‘take a step back, breathe and remember why I’d started blogging in the first place’. 

He made me realise that blogging should be enjoyable. If it was not, then something had to change.

Shortly after, he published a blog post that had a big impact on me.

‘IS NOW THE TIME FOR WORDPRESS TO REMOVE THE NUMBER OF ‘LIKES’ FROM VIEW ON ALL BLOG POSTS?’.  

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This hit home with me, as he explained how he’d felt that same ‘drowning’ feeling which I’d experienced. Hugh also explained how he had played the ‘click-happy like game’, as he called it, which is liking a blog post without even reading it. 

Hands up – Guilty! Yes, I’ve been there, done that as I was going through my ‘stressed, can’t keep up, anxious stage’. Silly really, why ‘Like’ something which you haven’t read? For me it was simple, if I didn’t have time to read, then ‘Liking‘ would at least show some support, wouldn’t it? 

The number of ‘likes’, when I first started, was very important to me, but now it’s more about commenting and communicating.

When the fun and enjoyment returned.

I took Hugh’s advice and I am definitely more relaxed and enjoying my blog again.

I take my time with writing as I am not someone who writes every day. I feel good if I get four blog posts out a month, although I admire those who can write daily along with commenting and fully interacting on social media, but have realised I am not one of those people. I have learnt to stop trying, and I now work at my own pace.

If I don’t have the time to be on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc. every day then so be it. I’ll get to it when I can.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Three years in.

I’m into my third year now, and although I do still get a little anxious and overwhelmed, I have realised that I enjoy my blog.

I have put such a lot of hard work into it and have learnt that the blogging community is wonderful.

The first few years had its ups and downs, but I’m glad I didn’t give up. I have learnt such a lot and met interesting, helpful people, both in person and through the internet.  

There are some great bloggers out there, all of which, I’m sure, totally understand what I’m talking about and so will fully understand if it takes me a while to get to their blog posts or in fact, if I miss one.

I now read peoples’ blog posts when I can get to them. Yes, I may be a little late sometimes, but if I’m reading a blog post, then I will read it properly and leave a comment.

I may have a hectic life, but I am happy with it.

Are you feeling stressed, anxious or making yourself feel guilty about blogging?  

If I were to give one piece of advice to a new blogger who was feeling a little overwhelmed, it would be to listen to Hugh’s advice; Take a step back, breathe and remember why you started blogging in the first place. 


Blogger and writer Samatha Smith.

Photo © – Samantha Smith.

Bio: Samantha Smith

Hi, I’m Sam, and my blog is Loving the fifty something, which is about hitting midlife with positivity and living life to the full.

Along with my partner, Jon, two dogs and two cats, we live on a wide beamed canal barge in Yorkshire, UK. You can read more about our boat here

Photo © – Samantha Smith.

As well as barging about, we have a camper van called Polly in which we’ve had many adventures. We like to travel when we can, which usually involves certain activities such as walking, snowboarding or mountain biking. 

I hope that we can inspire others to make their midlife journey an adventure too.

Sam would love to connect with you here:

Blog:-  Loving The Fifty Something

Twitter

FaceBook

Instagram

Pinterest


My thanks to Sam for writing this guest post.

Have you ever been stressed out with blogging? How did you deal with it? Do you have any questions or comments for Sam? Please leave them in the comments box. She would love to hear from you. (No comments for Hugh, please).

Copyright © 2019 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

School Days, Reminiscences of Hugh Roberts

I was delighted to be invited to participate in a new feature on the blog of Norah Colvin to answer some questions about my school days.

#schooldays #schools #teaching
Can you spot Hugh?

Head on over to Norah’s where you can read about my experiences with reading and writing, and where I discuss how I dealt with a condition that was not recognised at the time I was at school.

Click on the following link to be taken to the post.

School Days, Reminiscences of Hugh Roberts

Comments are closed here. Please leave any new comments on Norah’s post.

My thanks to Norah for inviting me to take part in her ‘School Days’ feature.

Copyright © 2019 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.