From Life Changing Fears to Simple Pleasures

Hyacynths at West Dean Gardens

28.03.2020: Today feels strange. Was it a week ago Mum and I were enjoying a walk around West Dean Gardens? With fear of the coronavirus spreading, they shut the shop and café but kept the gardens open for visitors to enjoy free. Thinking it was the last chance we might get out for a while, we made the most of it. I wasn’t wrong. A week later the UK went into lockdown. 

14.03.2020: Two weeks ago, the face of Britain was changing rapidly. Panic spread fast, people went out in droves to stock up on essentials but it led to an explosion in panic buying. Mum loves shopping and at 85 years of age, it is one of the highlights of her week. So picture us in M&S Food hall, my sister and I pinging texts back and forth, to check what’s available. We were able to get her a chicken and some hand wash but despite trying 5 different food stores, she could not get her hands on pasta or paracetamol and not a single toilet roll to be found anywhere!

Panic Buying and Stockpiling Week

16.03.2020: No one needs to be told how bad it was but my God! Anyone on Facebook must have seen the images of empty shelves; videos of grabbing arms like some big greedy octopus had descended; photos of smirking hoarders, multi-packs of loo rolls piled high in their trolleys. I was ashamed to be a member of the human race, imagining the poor souls who ended up with nothing. These would have included old age pensions, working families and NHS employees. Did these hoarders have no shame? Apparently not.

18.03.2020: Thus as word spread, people drove to Sainsbury’s earlier to beat the rush (and yes, even I was driven to desperation). But you should have seen the queues. They stretched all the way around the car park. Like many in the same boat, I was banking on getting just one or two essential items, having never imagined that by the time I inched my way into the store, there still wouldn’t be any sodding loo paper! But within 15 minutes of the store being open, the shelves fully stocked, they had already been stripped bare.

Toilet Roll Jokes

19.03.2020: You’d think it was a joke right? And yes, we had to laugh. Even my 91-year-old mother in law donated their local newspaper with the parting words, “I thought Peter might like to read it unless you need it for toilet paper.” Looking back though, I never imagined that fraught weekend prior to all this, would be the last time I would be taking Mum out food shopping for the unforeseeable future. It was beginning to feel surreal like something out of War of the Worlds.

Next Came Lockdown

23.03.2020: Day by day we were adapting to more change, measures that would ultimately be essential if we were to prevent the spread of the invisible enemy COVID-19. Only now  do I appreciate how lucky we were to enjoy our West Dean Gardens trip. It was Mother’s Day that weekend too. My brother in law and his family run two restaurants, Mothering Sunday one of their busiest days. But both had to close, as did all diners and pubs. We couldn’t take our mothers out either as vulnerable people were advised to stay indoors. I visited my mum very briefly to give her a box of chocolates and a magazine but we weren’t allowed to hug. I cannot describe the emotional wrench I felt at the time.

The open parkland at West Dean Gardens

The open parkland at West Dean Gardens

25.03.2020: Since the Prime Minister’s speech everyone must be feeling the pinch now. With the whole country suspended, work has ceased, the knock-on effect on businesses is yet to be realised and this is only week 1. My sister, a beauty therapist, has seen a dramatic drop off in bookings but like many in this business, is temporarily closed now. As web designers, maybe we have a slim chance of surviving but even our work is dwindling.

I didn’t want this post to be depressing just something I can look back on, if and when the world recovers. In some strange way though, I cannot help but wonder if this virus is Mother Nature’s way of fighting back. It has after all, confined people indoors, stopped us flying, reduced traffic, reduced CO2 emissions and forced us to appreciate the more simple pleasures in life. Our deepest fear is the threat of losing loved ones, but maybe a time to express how much we love them and will do anything to keep them safe.

Image of the Mulberry on Aldwick beach

An evening walk along our local beach.

In my next post, I’ll think of something cheerful to write, maybe a long list of what we’ve being doing with all this extra time on our hands…

 

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#Giveaway #Audible #Promotion for St Patrick’s Day

As coronavirus sweeps the globe, the Irish government has called on pubs and bars to close from Sunday to help tackle the spread.

The closures, (which came into effect at midnight on Sunday), were announced ahead of St Patrick’s Day, one of the busiest days in the year for these establishments, especially in locations such as Dublin. Sadly, 40 new cases of coronavirus were confirmed by the government, bringing the total in the Republic of Ireland to 169. This must come as a huge disappointment to those who enjoy celebrating St Patrick’s Day, myself included. But don’t be dispirited. Get some Guinness in the fridge and have a virtual celebration instead.

It so happens I chose St Patrick’s Day to run a book promotion, as my newest title has a strong Irish theme running all the way through with a colourful cast of characters.

Rosebrook Chronicles the Hidden Stories

This collection of gripping stories follows the lives of three abused teenagers. With snippets of social history from the 70s to the 90s, these are the personal journeys of ordinary citizens who never had a voice but I wanted to give them one. Focusing on the Irish connection, orphans, Bessie and Peter are separated by the Catholic Church, their lives about to twist down very different paths.

Bessie (later known as Beatrice)

Six-year-old Bessie overhears a conversation between novice, Sister Maria and the Mother Superior. Taken in by the nuns, she is far from happy in the Convent but at the mere hint of being torn from her homeland to be adopted, she panics.

Photo used for book cover 'Rosebrook Chronicles, the Hidden Stories"

This picture from 123RF.com of a frightened little girl seemed just right to depict little Bessie on the book cover.

What of her parents?
They say they went to live with the angels.
And where is her dear brother, Peter?
They tell her he was chosen by God but where is St. Benedict Orphanage?
It’s not impossible he is in Ireland somewhere. If only she could see him…

Leaving Ireland, Bessie’s tragic life starts to unfold where fate will throw many obstacles in her path, from family estrangement to poverty. How will she survive?

Irish actress Dorothy Duffy

With beautiful Irish features, actress Dorothy Duffy is how I imagine Beatrice would look as an adult.

Peter

Peter is an intelligent boy but with good looks and a quiet, pensive nature, he catches the eye of Father O’Brien. He is the most senior priest at St Benedict Orphanage.

Actor Billy Boyd

Billy Boyd (who played Pippin in Lord of the Rings) has just the Irish features I imagine Peter to have.

Peter is destined to study for the priesthood but all is not what it seems. Within a few years his life is turned into a living hell. Desperate to go searching for his sister, he embarks on a daring escape only to land in England with the law on his tale. But he clings the hope he will find Bessie, his letter to her a talisman to guide and inspire him.

Dear Bess, dearest little sister. Where did you go? I been wanting to write a letter to you for ages and pray I am not too late.
It feels like thunder and lightning struck at once. An almighty storm blew down from the Heavens when one minute we was together fore the angels swooped in and parted us.
Lord knows what happened to the others so bout you, Bess?
You was my only hope, the only one left in Ireland.

Actor Billy Boyd

If Rosebrook Chronicles was dramatised, it would be amazing if Billy Boyd was cast as Peter.

There is a third character, Robin, who weaves in and out of the plot. No one can possibly know the influence he will wield over these two naive youngsters as the story rolls through the decades. It is not light read but a book that will make you think. Not everything in society is rosy but it is how people deal with their emotional traumas that mould them into the people they become.

This novel can be read as a standalone, a mix of domestic noir and suspense, rich in social history from the 1960s to the 1990s. A book that will immerse you in the stories of these three troubled characters as they strive to find love, success and happiness.

Promotion

Rosebrook Chronicles is on a Kindle countdown promotion for 99p/99c
(March 17th – 21st).

Rosebrook Chronicles The Hidden Stories by Helen J Christmas

Or if you are a fan of audio books, you can hear the musical Irish accents of my characters come to life in an audio version, narrated by Paul Metcalfe.

I have 10 codes up for grabs. Download the Audible app from Amazon, enter your promotional code and enjoy the experience for FREE.

Two ways to get your free audible code

Audiobook Rosebrook Chronicles the Hidden Stories

Leave a comment on this post and will contact you with details on how to claim your free audiobook (open to readers in the UK and the US)
Or
Use the ‘FREE audiobook’ form to send me an email.
No personal data will be harvested from this promotion and once I have sent your code I will discard your details.

Reviews

K T Robson
This was such a powerful read – Helen Christmas has managed to navigate the complicated worlds of abuse, politics and religion expertly, weaving the stories of her three main characters seamlessly together.

Terror Tree
This story was well researched, with the historical facts running through the book, you really feel as you are following these characters throughout their lives

Jessica Belmont
Gripping, dark, and emotional, Rosebrook Chronicles is an incredible novel. The sensitive material is handled well, and the stories merge beautifully together. I highly recommend reading this.

HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!

A pint of Guinness

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Guest Post with Patricia M Osborne

Choosing a Title/Writing a Blurb

Patricia Osborne author of The House of Grace family sagaToday it is my pleasure to have author Patricia Osborne as a guest on my blog. As part of our author’s networking group, she is our ‘Chindi Author of the Week’ which happens to coincide with publication of her second novel, The Coal Miner’s Son.

So over to Patricia who tackles a tricky subject for us writers: choosing an eye catching book title and if that isn’t difficult, writing an engaging book blurb. Read on…

Choosing a Title

If a title grabs a reader then they’ll normally pick up the book but what readers may not consider, is how much work has gone into producing those few words. Sometimes as writers we are lucky and just know what the title will be, but other times it can cause quite a headache. I’m normally quite good at coming up with titles, for other writers that is, not so much when it’s my own.

House of Grace my debut novel wasn’t too bad. It began as Grace but soon evolved to House of Grace inspired by the seventies television series House of Elliott. House of Grace gets its name as it’s a fashion house where Grace Granville, later Grace Gilmore, starts up her own fashion business.

House of Grace and The Coal Miner's Son novels by Patricia Osborne

My next novel and number two in the trilogy of House of Grace is The Coal Miner’s Son. The Coal Miner’s Son was a tad more troublesome. It began as part of my MA and was titled ‘The Heir of Granville’ but my tutor said this title made her think the story was more historical than it was. After several days of brainstorming with other writers, The Coal Miner’s Son was born. However, when I first spoke to my followers about the book cover, some felt it should have images of a coal miner which got me thinking. My story wasn’t about a coal miner, but would the title make the reader think it was? I therefore came up with numerous other titles and settled on ‘Return to Granville Hall,’ although this never felt right. After serious consideration and chats with my editor I conducted a Facebook Poll before finalising the title for the cover. ‘The Coal Miner’s Son’ won outright. So there it was. The Coal Miner’s Son had its publishing title but I knew that I’d need to make it quite clear in the book blurb what the story was about.

Book 3, my work in progress and the final in the House of Grace trilogy, is titled ‘The Granville Legacy’ and I’m hoping it will keep this name. When I started writing it I used ‘Return to Granville Hall’ as it wasn’t used for Book 2 but again, it didn’t feel right. I spent a day on Facebook Messenger with author Colin Ward and we literally brainstormed to produce the right title. We went through all sorts and then it would be just an odd word that was wrong. I wanted something with a similar ring to House of Grace and The Coal Miner’s Son and I believe ‘The Granville Legacy’ has that.

Writing a Blurb

If choosing a title isn’t hard enough then writing a blurb is even worse. Readers, I imagine would think that coming up with those few words at the back of the book is easy in comparison to writing approximately 90,000 words for the novel. The reader would be wrong. It causes so many headaches that books have been written on it and courses available. I followed Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing 101 Course but Adam Croft has written a great book on it too, Writing Killer Blurbs and Hooks. Most importantly when writing this mini synopsis is not to give out any spoilers but at the same time draw the reader in so they’ll want to pick up the book and read it. It needs to be kept short, something that a reader can scan in seconds, and needs a tag line. I hope the blurb for The Coal Miner’s Son entices you in and makes you want to read the novel.

Full book jacket for the Coal Miner's Son by Patricia Osborne

Blurb for The Coal Miner’s Son

After tragedy hits the small coal mining village of Wintermore, nine-year-old miner’s son, George, is sent to Granville Hall to live with his titled grandparents.

Caught up in a web of treachery and deceit, George grows up believing his mother sold him. He’s determined to make her pay, but at what cost? Is he strong enough to rebel?

Will George ever learn to forgive?

Step back into the 60s and follow George as he struggles with bereavement, rejection and a kidnapping that changes his life forever. Resistance is George’s only hope.

*

My books can be found on Amazon at the links below

House of Grace

The Coal Miner’s Son

Books may also be ordered at any reputable bookstore or from your local library by quoting ISBN numbers

ISBN 9780995710702 – House of Grace
ISBN 9780995710719 – The Coal Miner’s Son

Where you can find me

Twitter

Facebook

Patricia’s Pen

Thank you Patricia for a most interesting article and I wish you the best of luck with your second novel, The Coal Miner’s Son.

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Passing on the Sunshine

With a Sunshine Blogger Award Nomination

Sunshine Blogger Award Nominee badge

With gale force winds, persistent rain and floods in parts of the country, which show no signs of abating, the need for dry weather and sunshine must be high of everyone’s list of priorities in Blighty. So, come on, Spring!

Fortunately, I have rediscovered a little sunshine in own life, delighted my new novel is picking up pace after a disastrous start.

Writing a psychological thriller based in Bognor was never going to easy. I had a strong plot but could never seem to to move forwards with it – setting up scenes, developing the characters and converting my ideas into a gripping narrative.

But I think I have sussed where it’s going at last and hope to get a first draft finished soon. One thing about psychological thrillers I’ve observed, is they open with something dramatic; a story that draws readers down an avenue of suspense until they finally grasp what has happened to reach this finale. Throw in a secret enemy, a red herring, a creepy setting and viola! The sea mists in Bognor feature, as do the dark forests around Singleton and Eartham. All I can say is watch this space but don’t hold your breath. There is much work to be done yet…

Bognor Beach all seasons

The many moods of Bognor Beach in all seasons.

Then last week I was pleasantly surprised when Angela Petch nominated me for a Sunshine Blogger Award. So thanks, Angela!

I have known Angela since 2016 through CHINDI an author’s network based in Sussex. Angela writes historic fiction, perhaps inspired by a beautiful converted watermill in the Tuscan Hills where she and her husband spend their summer months. Tuscany is one of my dream places, somewhere I long to visit as I love Italian culture. The glorious foods and wines, rich landscapes, wild flowers and mountains positively shine through in Angela’s novels. Her first book, The Tuscan Secret (originally Tuscan Roots) follows the soul searching journey of a woman. Inspired by her mother’s papers this turns into gripping wartime adventure with a love story woven into its heart.

The Mill (taken from Angela's Blog)

The Mill (taken from Angela’s Blog)

Angela sent 11 questions for me to answer so here goes…

1. When you were little, what did you dream about becoming when you grew up?
I dreamt of being a ballerina when I was a little girl, inspired by a ladybird book showing pictures of all the beautiful tutus.

2. What is something you like to do the old fashioned way?
Going into my bank and paying in cash at the counter. I hate automated cash machines and the way we are forced to do everything online.

3. What is one of your favourite smells?
The aroma dispensed from a jar of coffee when you rip the foil off the top.

4. If you could call anyone in the world and have a one-hour conversation, who would you call?
That’s a tough one but in this current climate I’d say Boris Johnson, so I could pour out my woes about everything that is wrong with this country and insist his government to do more to make us a happier nation overall.

5. What job would you be terrible at?
Quite a few but the one that springs to mind is a politician because I am no good at sprouting bullshit.

6. If you had a million pounds/dollars, what would you do with them to help the most people?
Start a free cookery school in every town. It would bring people together to learn how to cook, share food, educate their children to eat better, reduce obesity and cut down on related illnesses, helping thousands of people to become happier and healthier.

7. For one day, you can do whatever you want. What would you do?
Scuba diving or snorkelling would be my first choice (preferably somewhere tropical) but I love walking, so to spend a day exploring some beauty spot with family and friends would be a pleasurable enough distraction.

8. Give me three words to describe yourself.
Introvert. Optimist. Daydreamer

9. What is your favourite food treat?

Wood fired pizza with lots of cheese, mushrooms and garlic.

10. What is your favourite outfit?
What apart from my favourite baggy ribbed jumper from Fat Face, with leggings and ankle boots? I don’t really like dressing up.

11. You have one last wish… go for it!
My life is pretty good as it is to be honest, but if I could be granted one wish it would be to sleep better and cure my husband’s snoring. If that came true we could travel more.

Finally I have to nominate 11 more bloggers to keep the positivity blazing.

The Sunshine Blogger Award empowers bloggers to celebrate other bloggers who are creative and bring positivity to the blogging community. I’d like to nominate the following people (but no obligation). It’s just a bit of fun and I appreciate that you are all very busy people.

Jane Cable: http://janecable.com/
Sandra Danby https://www.sandradanby.com/
Terry Tyler https://terrytyler59.blogspot.com/
Julia Proofreader https://juliaproofreader.wordpress.com/
Patricia Feinberg Stoner http://www.paw-prints-in-the-butter.com/
Sue Wickstead https://www.suewickstead.co.uk/blog
Michael Parker https://www.michaelparkerbooks.com/blog
Rose Edmunds https://roseedmunds.co.uk/news-press/
Laura Pauley http://www.laurapauley.com/home-page
Julia Firlotte https://www.juliafirlotteauthor.com/blog
Isabella Muir https://isabellamuir.com/

RULES:
Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you with a link back to their blog.
Answer the 11 questions I have set below.
List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award on your own blog post.
Nominate 11 new bloggers and their blogs and ask your nominees 11 NEW QUESTIONS.

MY QUESTIONS:

  1. What is your favourite place, somewhere you can totally relax and feel happy?
  2. If you had a bad day and felt like a treat, what would it be?
  3. If a wicked witch turned you into another living creature what animal would you choose to be and why?
  4. Who would be your dream dinner party guests? Choose up to three.
  5. You’re suffering from flu and laid up in bed. If you could choose any book guaranteed to take your mind off feeling rubbish, what would it be?
  6. Who is your favourite fictitious TV character and why?
  7. Everyone falls in love with a baddie once in a while so who is your ultimate evil character? (fact or fiction whichever takes your fancy.)
  8. What really tickles your sense of humour and makes you laugh?
  9. Holiday time. What is the one must-have item you pack in your luggage that you cannot survive without?
  10. What would be your dream date on Valentines day and with who?
  11. Last of all (and thinking of the summer months) what special flower/vegetable or tree would you love to grow in your garden every year?

So that’s it! Thanks again to Angela, it’s been great fun taking part and don’t forget to tag me in your own posts.

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When does a #book resonate with you?

I am a writer but a reader too. Reading brings me so much pleasure it got me thinking about what I look for in a novel.

Book and coffee cup in a sepia photoThere are many great writers out there but reading is subjective (a little like music, TV and food) where our tastes vary. For example the type of literature that wins the Booker Prize is rarely likely to end up on my reading list. Many years ago, I belonged to a book club and whilst I enjoyed some titles, others I found too heavy, written in a style I didn’t like, had horrible characters or were grindingly boring, to the point where I gave up. Reading should be a pleasure, so why waste precious reading stuff you hate?

With no desire to be ‘intellectually challenged’ I have identified the one vital ingredient that keeps me turning the pages. A book has to be engaging. I want loveable characters who I will gun for and a writing style that is moving, thrilling and stirs my emotions. A good book is one that stays in my mind for a long time after I have finished it.

I’m not going to reveal my TBR list – nor am I going to compile a list of my favourite books from last year – I will save all that for another post.

But I would like to set a challenge…

Re-written below are three passages from three different novels but which one do people find the most engaging?

Extract 1

It was a baking hot day and Sammy wondered what the lads were getting up to in Romford. Some of the clothes they chored they kept for themselves. Anything else, they sold to Bob the Fleece who drank in the Beacon.
Usually, Sammy and his pals would spend their ill gotten gains on records, booze and cigarettes. But these past few weeks they’d be saving every penny. Next weekend was the Dagenham Town Show, the biggest local event of the year. The fairground was awesome and it had been Sammy’s idea they club all their money together so they could go on as many rides as possible. The fair stayed for a couple of weeks after the actual Town Show and it was a cool place to hang out. Sammy loved the atmosphere of the playground. An air of excitement surrounded it and he couldn’t wait until next weekend.

Extract 2

The effects were sweet while they lasted. Her mind filled with clouds and she became oblivious to everything, her limbs like liquid as they took her upstairs and locked her up again. She sensed she was in her room, lying on the bed, covered in a blanket. The lamp was still on, casting a pretty pink haze around the walls; the noises around her distant, fading in and out subliminally as she hovered on the edge of sleep. She seemed to be floating.
Engulfed in softness, she felt as if a layer of cotton wool had been wrapped around her. Her mind started swimming – gentle memories. She could picture her mother with her soft brown eyes and warm smile, the chime of her voice as she sang along to songs on the radio. There were times she had kissed her and tucked her in at bedtime with her teddy bear.
The next memories conveyed the protective presence of her father; days when he took her to the park to swirl her around on the roundabout or push her on the swings – a trip to Southend-on-Sea with rides at the fairground and ice creams. Like episodes in a TV drama she let the memories run on. She felt as if she was re-living her childhood with the knowledge that she could never have those days again…

Extract 3

So when we talk about these horrible things she did to me when we were kids, it automatically begs a question, doesn’t it? Did I have anything to do with her death?
– I haven’t asked that question.
You don’t need to. It’s there, between us. It’s hanging over everything; it has since she died. The messed-up little brother. I’ve never told anyone about the things she did – for that reason; that question would rear its head. It’s like when someone dies and the first suspect is the partner. That’s fucked up, but they’re also the most likely killer. That’s what we are as a species, as a society. We’re these strange mutant apes that got too big for our boots and spend our time killing each other. Did I kill my sister? No. I didn’t know her well enough to kill her, if you get what I mean. We were like strangers. I rarely visited Inverness, and she never came down to London to see me. It was like we were colleagues who’d worked together and gone our separate ways.

Some names have been changed to disguise the books they are but I’d love to know your thoughts. So please feel free to comment.

Door way surrounded by old books

Posted in Blogging, Fictional Characters, narration, Novel, Story, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Going #Green Gets Mean

Re-visiting Brighton in 2020 was something to look forward to, but for the unfamiliar motorist, it could be a trip laced with peril.

The weather was perfect; a crisp frost, an expanse of clear blue sky with not a cloud in it, plenty of sunshine. What better way to spend a Sunday than to find my way to Brighton, with the help of my trusty phone Sat Nav? Recalling last year’s highlights, (see Bright ‘n’ Breezy 2019) I was looking forward to exploring the North Lanes again, a feast of colourful shops, lively cafés, street art and plenty of places to grab a bite.

So here I was on the A23 descending a long hill towards the city centre. To the untrained eye this looked like a typical dual carriageway when I suddenly thought: ‘Holy Crap, I’m in a bus lane.’ A memory jolted me. Swiftly moving over to the right, I hope the realisation didn’t come too late. Like it or not, things have changed in the last year and I’m not having a go but if you dare enter the city by car, beware of the council’s new policies which could leave a rather large dent in your finances.

In 12 months more than 75,000 fines were issued for driving in bus lanes in Brighton & Hove. The fines totalling more than £4 million.

A report, issued by Brighton & Hove City Council, showed the number of bus lane penalty charge notices (PCN) issued between April 2018 and April 2019 had increased by almost eight times over the previous year. My husband was one of the unfortunates but where were the signs? No one drives into a bus lane on purpose. Peter had no clue and neither did I. So I’m bracing myself, waiting for a fine. Not a pleasant way to start 2020.

Stunning architecture near Brighton Pavilion

Stunning architecture near Brighton Pavilion, is this they lock up the naughty people don’t pay their fines?

Green Policies

A spokesman said: “Bus lanes in the city are there for a number of important reasons – to ensure public transport runs efficiently, to reduce the number of cars and lorries in the city, cut dangerous fuel emissions and improve air quality in the city centre and to make the city safer for pedestrians.”

I don’t have a problem with that. I would also say that on my journey I saw numerous ranks of ‘pay as you go’ bikes for hire, thinking ‘how cool’ and if I lived here, I would use one of those; enjoy cycling without the expense of owning a bike. We all need to do our bit protecting the environment. Of course we must cut down CO2 emissions, reduce plastic waste, recycle as much as we can and source cleaner fuels. I have every respect for the Green Party, but is lashing out at drivers and hitting them where it hurts the best way to press their policies? It seems a little Draconian to me.

Pretty Painted houses in Brighton North Lanes

“Western Road bus lanes are very clearly marked and there is plenty of obvious signage, so claims that driving in a bus lane is a ‘simple mistake’ or an ‘accident’ to ‘extract money from motorists’ is wholly incorrect.”

Reading various blogs and forums, it seems the signage is far from clear. I mean who the hell would deliberately enter a bus lane if they knew they’d cop a £60 fine? Reading on, their argument seems lame, a system fated to screw money out of motorists and if so, they do themselves no favours. What if it puts tourists right off visiting Brighton? How much longer do the Greens hope to cling to their power by penalising people?

Rant aside, I enjoyed wandering around the lanes. It’s a joy to see so many independent traders in today’s economic climate and I’m happy to support them above the multinational chains and online giants. But maybe next year I’ll get a train.

Brighton Sausage Deli an independent shop

Afterthought: Watching the news, specifically the World Economic Forum in Davos, I was stunned to see campaigner Greta Thunberg come under attack on the climate change movement by Donald Trump. While the US president blows his own trumpet about himself, that the US economy is burning bright right now, we have seen the gradual increase in extreme weather conditions including terrible fires that have ravaged Australia for months. How unbelievably short sighted.

Diplocks Yard junk shop

Second hand shop with some intriguing anti-capitalist posters

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Do You Believe in New Years Resolutions?

New Years Resolutions Good or Bad?

It’s that time of year again when the radio and TV is bombarded with adverts telling you to give things up, join a gym, pledge to do something miraculous etc etc… So I’m debating whether this is a good idea. I personally am not going to make a new years resolution this year because I know it’s a waste of time.

For a start, why January?

Let me begin by saying that I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and enjoyed seeing the New Year 2020 in.

I certainly did and needed it after the turbulent year our family have endured. So with 2 weeks off work, we made the most of sitting around enjoying quality time with family and friends, playing games, watching telly, reading new books and stuffing our faces with delicious things, not to mention all the crisps, nuts and chocolates. I wouldn’t normally indulge like this at any other time of the year but it’s what humans have been doing since the dawn of time, right back to the Winter Solstice celebrated in Pagan times.

Homemade Pies for Christmas

Homemade Pies for Christmas

And now Christmas is over, it’s back to work to earn a crust. But added to the anti-climax, the weather is cold and damp and everyone is broke. In fact there is little left to celebrate until the first flowers appear before Easter and we have summer to look forward to. I may have over indulged but if I am going to start a diet, I will do it in Spring when the days are getting longer and there is more sunshine. Winter is surely the worst time of year to try losing weight, a time when we crave comfort food to keep ourselves warm.

Likewise, I am not doing ‘Dry January’ this year. I admire all who do but I did this in 2018 and whilst I felt jolly proud of myself it was the longest 31 days ever! Furthermore, I still have my Christmas horde – not just the extra Gin and Salted Caramel Baileys Santa brought me but an array of homemade liquors, including my plum and damson gin, Mum’s raspberry gin (legendary on the raspberry Richter scale) and my sister’s redcurrant and blackcurrant gin (the alcoholic version of Ribena).

Christmas Booze

My Christmas Booze Stash

Small Pledges Yield Better Results

There is no reason we can’t cut down and do things in moderation but denying ourselves everything we enjoy seems a pretty harsh way to start the year in my opinion. We were lucky enough to get a lovely walk New Years Day in Kingley Vale, thanks to our Sussex Walking Group and next week I’ll start going to the gym again, a pledge I will definitely stick to. In fact, I’d love to get back to walking at least once a day and this will be an incentive to get another rescue dog soon…

Kingley Vale, West Stoke, Chichester

Kingley Vale, West Stoke, Chichester

But filling our home up with furry things we have discovered is a sure way to bring some positive energy into our lives. Last year we adopted a gorgeous 7-year old cat (Tiggy) and she seems to be settling in very well, (though she does prefer a cardboard box to the luxury fleece lined igloo I originally bought for her).

Tiggy our Cat in a Box

Tiggy, our Cat in a Box

In 2020 I also aim to work on my anxiety and stress, endeavour to care for others who are less fortunate and spread as much kindness as possible. And whatever pledges I do make, I aim to continue them throughout the entire year and not just a few days in January.

Hence the only New Years Resolution I make is to procrastinate less and stay positive.

Let’s make the NEW YEAR 2020 a happy one… 

 

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