Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine March 2022

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Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine is published monthly by Goylake Publishing and designed by Melanie P. Smith of www.melaniepsmith.com


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Vaseem Khan Interviewed by Wendy H. Jones

Vaseem Khan is the author of two crime series set in India, the Baby Ganesh Agency series set in modern Mumbai, and the Malabar House historical crime novels set in 1950s Bombay. His first book, The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra, was a Times bestseller, now translated into 15 languages. The second in the series won the Shamus Award in the US. In 2018, he was awarded the Eastern Eye Arts, Culture and Theatre Award for Literature. Vaseem was born in England, but spent a decade working in India. Midnight at Malabar House, the first in his historical crime series, won the CWA Historical Dagger 2021, the pre-eminent

Let’s ease you in gently. Can you tell us a bit about yourself? I’m a serial killer. As a crime writer, I’ve bumped off quite a few people; most of them even deserved it… Oh, you meant me? Well I was born and raised in London, became a management consultant, then went to India to work aged 23 where I lived the life of Reilly for a decade, before returning to the UK. I have published eight novels with Hachette (Hodder), so far, have won various awards, and am still playing cricket in the summer, even though my ambition far outstrips my talent.

prize for historical crime fiction in the world. His latest book is The Dying Day about the theft of one of the world’s great treasures, a 600 year old copy of Dante’s The Divine Comedy, stored at Bombay’s Asiatic Society.

A background in Accounting and Finance doesn’t naturally lend itself to writing crime fiction. Where did your interest in writing come from and how did you get into writing? Yes, I did an accounts degree but couldn’t face becoming an actual accountant and so decided to become a management consultant instead. Best decision of my life! As for writing, I wrote my first novel aged 17 – inspired by Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series – sent it in, and waited for a massive book deal. Instead I received my first rejection letter. Fair

Website: http://vaseemkhan.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VaseemKhanOfficial/ Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/VaseemKhanUK -8-


As well as writing contemporary police procedurals you also write historical crime fiction. Why the change to historical fiction?

enough – the book was rubbish! Twenty-three years (and seven more rejected books) later, I received a four-book deal for my Baby Ganesh Agency series, starting with The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra. I launched the book on BBC Breakfast… and the rest is history!

Midnight at Malabar House is set in 1950, just three years after Indian Independence, Gandhi’s assassination, and the horrors of Partition. It’s a period not very well explored in fiction, when India has just become the world’s largest democracy, after 300 years of British rule. In the book, a senior English diplomat is murdered in Bombay, and my lead character, India’s first female police Inspector, Persis Wadia, gets the case. She has to work with Archie Blackfinch, an English forensic scientist stationed in India. The book won the Crime Writers Association Historical Dagger, the world’s premier award for historical crime writing. Its sequel, The Dying Day, sees Persis investigate the theft of a 600-year-old copy of Dante’s The Divine Comedy from Bombay’s Asiatic Society. The book is full of complex riddles and puzzles. It’s been compared to The Da Vinci Code – but set in India!

To take this further – Why crime writing? I’ve loved crime fiction since watching David Suchet’s Poirot as a teenager. I used to watch it with my late dad – whose English wasn’t the best. But somehow he understood enough – proving that crime fiction is truly universal! Today, crime fiction is the most popular genre in the world. I love crafting mysteries that challenge the reader’s intellect, demonstrate a strong grasp of prose, and tell us something about the world they are set in. Readers should come away both entertained and informed! I love your Baby Ganesh books, especially the baby elephant. How did you come up with this idea and why an elephant? Until I went to India I’d never seen an elephant walking along the road. It’s an incredible sight! I spent ten wonderful years in Mumbai and when I came back to the UK, I wanted to put all of those amazing experiences into a book. In The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra my lead character, Inspector Chopra, inherits a one-year-old elephant. The elephant doesn’t talk or fly, but it allows me to add a gentle note of warmth and humour in between the dark crimes and darker depictions of India that form a backdrop to that series. The book has been named by the Sunday Times as one of the 40 best crime novels written between 2015-2020.

VASEEM’S NEWSLETTER

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in office is confronted by the body of a local boy, a poor boy. Chopra quickly realises that his seniors don’t want the boy’s death to be investigated. So, he sets off to solve the mystery anyway. Chopra is a serious man, who cares deeply about the social issues that plague modern India. The elephant helps me to reveal different aspects of his character.

I know you spent a decade in India. What a fabulous opportunity. Can you tell us a little about what it was like working in such a vibrant country and what you were doing there?

Persis Wadia is a fabulous character, complex and yet endearing. How did you go about developing her character? Persis is the sole policewoman on the Bombay force, operating in a very patriarchal environment. She’s consigned to Malabar House, Bombay’s smallest police station where all the force’s rejects and misfits are sent. I wanted to use her as a way of exploring Indian attitudes to the place of women in society at that time. Persis is ambitious, determined, occasionally ruthless, and isn’t the type to take no for an answer!

Inspector Chopra, in your Baby Ganesh Mysteries, can be a little overshadowed by the elephant and yet he is a superb character. Tell us about him? Chopra is basically me, but with a uniform. He’s an honest man in a sea of corruption. The India he finds himself in is changing dramatically. But he remains a traditionalist. In The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra, he’s forced into early retirement from the police force and on his last day

During my time in India I saw first-hand the effects of globalisation which brought both good and bad to the country. Modern India is skyscrapers, call centres and shopping malls. But ‘Old India’ still exists, a land of incredible poverty, caste prejudice, and religious strife. This inherent conflict provides a dynamic backdrop to my series.

How does this experience play into your writing? Every one of my books tries to place the reader on the streets of India. Because of my affinity with the country I can recreate the sights, sounds and smells of a place such as Mumbai/Bombay. I’ve been told that reading my books is the next best thing to being there! Let’s get personal for a moment. If you were to have one perfect day, what would that look like? Get up early. Bash out 1000 words on my latest novel. Go off to play cricket and score a century. Celebratory dinner afterwards. Then a telegram from the Queen turns up saying I’ve been invited round for tea and biccies. I love the Queen. It must be incredibly difficult to remain stoic and serene in the middle of so much noise! She’s done it with grace for 70 years. Incredible. - 10 -


Why do you think crime is such a popular genre for both readers and writers?

What would be your idea of the perfect holiday? Being exiled to a scenic island as Napoleon once was. No social media, no phone, no family, no work… Just a blissful few months of sun, sea, sleep, and reading … with catered meals, obviously.

Crime fiction works on multiple levels. We have a mystery to challenge readers; great characters; and great settings. What’s not to love!

If you could choose a song to be the background to your books, what would it be?

Which of your books should Mom’s Favorite Reads readers start with if they want to read your books?

I don’t know about my books but if I had a song as the soundtrack to my life it would be something from the Fifties or Sixties. I was born in the Seventies but I love the gentler sounds of a bygone era.

If you love the cosier end of crime and want to read about modern India – with a baby elephant thrown in - start with The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra. If you love serious historical crime fiction, start with Midnight at Malabar House. Both have won major accolades and awards so you’re guaranteed a decent read either way!

What is your favourite food? Nothing beats a good tandoori chicken. A little naan bread on the side. Maybe some lentils or a lamb rogan josh to go with- OK. I’ve started to drool so I need to stop and order some takeaway.

Finally, where can we find you on social media if we would like to follow you?

And switching back to writing. What three pieces of advice would you give to anyone wanting to write a crime book?

Website: http://vaseemkhan.com

Firstly, start with the crime. Work out the details, then come up with alternate suspects and red herrings. Second: Spend a lot of time on your characters. I believe that characters matter more than plot. Third: Set high standards for prose. Agents and editors notice great prose and stylistic flair – mainly because they see so little of it!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VaseemKhanOfficial/ Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/VaseemKhanUK

Wendy H. Jones is the award winning, international best-selling author of the DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries, Cass Claymore Investigates Mysteries, Fergus and Flora Mysteries, Bertie the Buffalo children’s books and the Writing Matters books for writers. She is also a writing and marketing coach and the President of the Scottish Association of Writers. As copy editor for Mom’s, she works hard to ensure content is appropriate and free of grammatical and spelling errors. You can learn more about Wendy on her website:

https://www.wendyhjones.com/ - 11 -


Title Vaseem Khan by Stan Phillips Reviewed by Wendy H. Jones Midnight at Malabar House & The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra Midnight at Malabar House https://bookgoodies.com/a/B0868C7N4Z I adore historical fiction and when it is combined with mystery things get even better. When the author is Vaseem Khan, I’m like a bibliophile locked in a library when it’s shut for the festive season. So, I was excited to be given an ARC of this book before it was published. In case you are wondering, it is now available.

Description Bombay, New Year's Eve, 1949 As India celebrates the arrival of a momentous new decade, Inspector Persis Wadia stands vigil in the basement of Malabar House, home to the city's most unwanted unit of police officers. Six months after joining the force she remains India's first female police detective, mistrusted, sidelined and now consigned to the midnight shift. And so, when the phone rings to report the murder of prominent English diplomat Sir James Herriot, the country's most sensational case falls into her lap. As 1950 dawns and India prepares to become the world's largest republic, Persis, accompanied by Scotland Yard criminalist Archie Blackfinch, finds herself investigating a case that is becoming more political by the second. Navigating a country and society in turmoil, Persis,

smart, stubborn and untested in the crucible of male hostility that surrounds her, must find a way to solve the murder whatever the cost.

Review I absolutely adore Persis Wadia. She is a woman after my own heart – independent, feisty, knowledgeable and forging her own way in the world, one dominated by men. In this book, the first of the series, she is buried in the back of beyond, not geographically, but in the world of policing. Nothing ever happens on the midnight shift. Only, in this case, something does happen, and she finds herself investigating a case which, politically, should never have reached her at all. This leads to a book which is fascinating, gripping, and gives a real sense of the India of the time. Despite the obstacles which her gender places in her way, Persis is doggedly determined to solve this case and prove her male colleagues and detractors wrong. As well as being a solid mystery the book is also an insight into the political situation of the time in postindependence India. Khan paints a picture of an India that few of us know or imagine, and he does so with flawless professionalism and talent. He is a consummate wordsmith, and this is apparent in every carefully crafted word of this book. If you enjoy historical fiction and want to know more about India this is the book for you. You won’t regret reading it. - 12 -


‘On the day that he was supposed to retire, Inspector Ashwin Chopra discovered he had inherited an elephant.’

The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra https://bookgoodies.com/a/B00TOT9LD0

Intrigued from the get-go, I just had to read on. The difficulty with inheriting an elephant is where does one keep it, especially when one lives in a high rise flat. It’s a worry, one of the many which plague Inspector Chopra. Add into the mix that Baby Ganesh, the elephant, is also depressed, and Chopra has a murder to solve. A murder which he is not supposed to be solving at all as he has retired. All of this leads to a cracking mystery which I could not stop reading.

From the first book I read by Vaseem Khan, I knew I was going to be a lifelong fan. The first book in his Baby Ganesh Agency mysteries is possibly one of the best books I’ve read. Who in the world would think of using a baby elephant as one of the main characters in a mystery book? Yet, Vaseem Khan pulls it off and does so brilliantly.

Description

The characterisation is superb with Baby Ganesh stealing the show. However, Chopra himself is also a fabulous character, well written and rounded with a strong sense of fair play and justice. His wife is also realistic, meaning I loved all three of the main characters.

On the day he retires, Inspector Ashwin Chopra discovers that he has inherited an elephant: an unlikely gift that could not be more inconvenient. For Chopra has one last case to solve...

But as his murder investigation leads him across Mumbai - from its richest mansions to its murky underworld - he quickly discovers that a baby elephant may be exactly what an honest man needs.

What of the mystery? It is also brilliantly written, and I found myself hanging on to every word, genuinely wanting to know what happened next. The clues and red herrings unfold well with many aha moments and then the reader realising they were wrong. The sign of a true storyteller.

So begins the start of a quite unexpected partnership, and an utterly delightful series from the award-winning author of the Malabar House novels.

It is obvious that Vaseem Khan has lived in India as the setting is spot on in every detail. The sights, sounds, colour and descriptions bring the settings to life in the reader’s mind.

Review

I love this book; I love this series and I unreservedly highly recommend it. Read it; you won’t regret it.

From the first glorious line in this fabulous book, I was hooked. How can you resist this as an opening to a book? - 13 -


Grand Teton National Park by Melanie P. Smith the oldest in North America — giving this unique area both age and youth, relatively speaking of course.

THE HISTORICAL STUFF — The Grand Teton National Park was established in 1929. Today, it encompasses approximately 310,000 acres of wilderness and some of the most beautiful scenery in the western United States. It is one of the 10 most visited national parks in the country hosting roughly 2.5 million visitors annually. It is a popular destination for mountaineering, hiking, fishing; and, in the winter, snowmobiling.

Interesting Facts —

The 40-mile Teton Range is actually the youngest range in the Rocky Mountains. Ironically, the rocks in the park have been determined to be some of

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The park is named after Grand Teton, the tallest peak in this majestic range.

Originally, the park was only 96,000 acres.

John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and his wife visited the area in the late 1920s and fell in love with its beauty. He immediately began to purchase privately owned land in the area to preserve it from commercial exploitation.


In 1930, residents discovered Rockefeller planned to turn his land over to Grand Teton, making it part of the National Park. This did not sit well with the locals. They put enough pressure on lawmakers, that Congress prevented the expansion — putting the entire area in limbo. In 1942, Rockefeller became impatient with the politics and threatened to sell the land to another party. Finally, President Roosevelt used the Antiquities Act to set aside this land without the approval of Congress, designating the 221,000 section of wilderness the Jackson Hole National Monument.

Congress made several attempts to abolish the national monument, but all were unsuccessful.

In 1950, the monument was combined with Grand Teton National Park — this action was opposed by many locals. A 24,000 acre parcel of land between Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks was added and named John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway. The Rockefeller family retained ownership of the JY Ranch, which bordered Grand Teton National Park to the Southwest. In 2007, ownership was transferred to the park establishing the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve — dedicated in 2008.

There is evidence the Paleo-Indians (migratory hunter –gatherers) spent their summer months in the valleys west of the Teton Range. Along the shores of Jackson Lake, fire pits, tools made of stone, tipi rings, and fishing weights have been discovered — dating back at least 11,000 years.

All photos © MPSmith Publishing - 15 -

American colonists who settled in the area in the 19th century encountered Shoshone people living in the vast wilderness, mainly in the mountain regions because they hunted mountain goats and big horn sheep to survive.


John Coulter — America’s most famous mountain man — disappeared from his settlement and his body was never found. After completing the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1806 it is believed he joined two mountain men to further explore the wilderness. Years later, a human-shaped stone was discovered in Idaho engraved with his name and “1808”. The stone has not been authenticated; but, if real, could confirm Coulter’s travels through the Teton Pass and surrounding area during the years he was missing.

An agricultural depression swept across the United States in 1920. Around this time, locals realized that Easterners visiting the area were impressed with the outdoor beauty, wildlife, hunting and ranching practices.

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They realized these visitors would willingly pay to experience ranching and farming for a few days. The Dude ranch experience evolved. With the increase in tourism came a need for saloons, gas stations and other services. •

Grand Teton National Park and still calls this area home. The pronghorn can run up to 70 miles per hour. Their speed is second only to the African cheetah but they can sustain high speeds longer than cheetahs. Compared to body size, pronghorns have a large windpipe, heart and lungs to allow it to take in large amounts of air when running.

The fastest mammal on land in the western hemisphere is the pronghorn, which is native to

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WILDLIFE —

The abundant wildlife in the park includes buffalo, eld herds, coyotes, moose, fox, both grizzly and black bear, gray wolves and bald eagles. At last count, there were six hoofedmammal species, four reptile, 16 fish, 6 bat, 6 amphibian, 3 rabbit, 17 carnivore and 22 rodent species in the park. Although you are unlikely to encounter bear during the winter in the Grand Teton’s, bears in this region do not really hibernate. They enter a deep sleep called torpor, but they can be awakened by loud noises. Bears can be dangerous when startled this way. The best place to sight black bear is around Jenny Lake and Signal Mountain during the summer months. They have also been sighted along the Moose Wilson Road on the Teton Range’s eastern boundary.

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THE GRAND TETON MARSHLAND — There are many opportunities to observe wildlife in Grand Teton National Park. In fact, it is one of the best places in the world to spot moose. Moose like to stay close to their food supply, in marshy areas and willow meadows. The Tetons have that in abundance. Moose are most active during the hours of dawn and dusk. There are two locations near Grand Teton you are likely to see moose again and again: the Oxbow Bend Turnout between Moran Junction and Jackson Lake Junction, and Moose-Wilson Road — which links Teton Village with Craig Thomas Discovery Center.

Oxbow Bend has river flats where moose like to feast. You will likely see deer, otters and bald eagles in this area as well. While traveling MooseWilson Road, moose like to spend time along the slopes of the roadside and in the underbrush.

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Willow Flats and Christian Pond area

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Other areas you might find moose are Willow Flats and Christian pond. The marshy landscape provides the ideal food supply for hungry moose. As you can see, we drove through in the middle of the day — not a good time to spot these majestic animals. Maybe next time! But. That’s okay — the views were great and we had a nice relaxing walk.

SCENIC VIEWS — If you’re going to visit one of the most beautiful areas in the country, you can’t stick to the highway. Venture down a sideroad now and again. You just might be surprised with an awesome overlook or a beautiful landscape. Signal Mountain is a great place to get that amazing panoramic view of the Tetons. In addition to the majestic mountain range, the overlook also gives you a stunning view of Jackson Lake.

If you’re hiking, the trail starts at Signal Mountain Lodge. If you have a car, you can take Summit Road. The road winds up the mountain with a large turnout where you can park and venture down a short trail to get this stunning wilderness view of the entire area. Be sure to stop at the overlooks along the way because the lookout at the top of the mountain doesn’t actually look out at Grand Teton National Park. Signal Mountain Overlook at the summit looks out over Antelope Flats and the Gros Ventre Mountains. It’s still an amazing view, but you won’t see the iconic peaks of the Teton mountain range. The view of the Teton range can be found at the Jackson Lake Overview about 0.8 miles before the summit.

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Oxbow Bend is a great place to spot moose, but it’s also the home to a huge variety of birds. You will often spot pelicans, Great Blue Heron, muskrats, otters and sometimes bear in the area.

hoping to capture that great shot of the river with Mount Moran in the background. On a good day, the peak can be seen reflected on the surface of the water. This classic area has been photographed millions of times and is probably the most recognized image of this area throughout the world.

On our trip, I spotted the other kind of mammal — human. The river is calm and peaceful and you will often find vacationers kayaking or standup paddleboarding on this scenic waterway.

The autumn colors are world famous with thousands of photographers swarming the region during the last week of September. We visited in early September and you can see in the image above, the colors are just starting to turn. It’s hard to see the Aspens, but within a few weeks, they will be bright gold, yellow and red. If you hit the park at just the right time, the colors are unbelievable and you can’t beat that legendary backdrop of the Teton Mountain Range.

Even without the wildlife, this is a great place to take amazing pictures. In fact, it is one of the most photographed areas in the park — rivaling Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone National Park and Wild Goose Island in Glacier National Park. You will often find photographers at sunrise or sunset —

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Jackson Lake is a 400 foot-deep natural lake with a dam added on top. The original dam was built in 1907. That dam failed and civilian men from the Civilian Conservation Corp helped clear the shores and burn brush piles during the Great Depression.

fish the Snake River below. So, if you’re in the area, I highly recommend giving this beautiful wilderness a try. There are over two hundred miles of trails, a variety of wildlife, and gorgeous scenic views around every corner. Whether you’re driving the upper loops, floating the Snake River, or just enjoying a relaxing picnic — Grand Teton National Park is a remarkable place to visit.

In addition to providing irrigation water to the locals, this dam is also a great place to get reflective photos of Jackson Lake with the Teton Mountain Range in the background. You can actually walk across the dam to get that great view, or

Long before she delved into the world of fantasy and suspense, Melanie P. Smith served nearly three decades in the Special Operations Division at her local sheriff’s office working with SWAT, Search & Rescue, K9, the Motor Unit, Investigations and the Child Abduction Response Team. She now uses that training and knowledge to create stories that are action-packed, gripping and realistic. When Melanie’s not writing, she can be found riding her Harley, exploring the wilderness or capturing that next great photo. Learn more about Melanie on Mom’s Favorite Reads website:

https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/melanie-p-smith - 23 -


The Poet by Stan Phillips Poetry is not written for the masses. Not created for wealth. It is not words to change the world as they wing their way into being. Or ideas and rhymes to shift societies and create a new way of living. Or thoughts to echo down the history of humanity. Poetry is for those who wish to read for the sheer pleasure of riding the waves of the emotions created by that poem. And perhaps be changed as a result. For the words of the poet are not designed to alter the generations, but rather one by gentle one those words seep into the souls of whoever chances upon that work.

One by one by one, One word at a time, One poem at a time, One reader at a time. Starting, most importantly, with the poet. Who else?

And either consciously or subconsciously they will manifest that next step in the evolution of our race.

Stan Phillips is a poet, musical podcast maker, part-time wannabe male model, and occasional stand up comedian. “I used to be a psychotherapist/counsellor when I had an honest job. I was born into prewar London, and attended 17 schools (my father believed they couldn’t hit a moving target) and I eventually finished up here in Ireland. Still wondering what I will be when I grow up — but enjoying writing my quirky poetry as I do so.” Discover more about Stan on Mom’s Favorite Reads website: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/stan-phillips - 24 -


Perplexing Pronunciation Submitted by Poppy Flynn Written by Kayleigh Age 16

Why is English so difficult? Who made the rules? Why did someone decide it was a good idea for words to have the same spelling but mean different things, or sound the same but have different spellings?

There’s led and lead (like the one you use for a dog) … and lead (the metal) Then there’s red and read or read and read which are past and present tense of the same word. You’re probably not even sure which one I mean without a context.

Why did it get so complicated? Did someone think it was a good idea to confuse us with there, their, and they’re or bow, bough, and bow?

There’s sight and site. Might and mite. Right and rite.

And why is it that to bend at the waist, and the way we tie a ribbon are spelled the same way – bow – but said differently, when bow and bough are said the same.

But if bright, blight, fight, flight, height, light, night, slight and tight all end in ‘ight’, why do we have bite, kite, quite, spite and white, ending in ‘ite’, when they sound the same?

Know and no. Sew, so, and sow which all sound the same… then someone decided to throw in sow (a female pig) Why?

And why don’t though and thought sound the same when all that stands between them is a single letter. And if bought is pronounced the same a thought, why isn’t though the same as bough? And don’t get me started on silent letters. Knife, Knight, Psychology, hymn, lamb, and all those ‘gh’ words I’ve mentioned already. Just like me – Kayleigh.

Perplexing pronunciation… It’s everywhere!

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The Scottish Association of Writers by Wendy H. Jones When it comes to organisations for authors, I am somewhat of a serial joiner. I worked out yesterday that I am a member of eight of the hundreds of organisations which exist to support authors throughout the world. One which is particularly dear to my heart is The Scottish Association of Writers as I have been a member since the beginning of my journey, and they have helped me every step of the way. So, what do they do and why do they exist? The Scottish Association of Writers celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018. It started out as The Scottish Association of Writers’ Groups, but the name was changed along the way in order to reflect a changing society. The association serves to bring local writers clubs and their members throughout Scotland together, in order to provide support as well as networking opportunities and friendship. One of the ways they do so is by running a yearly conference. Whilst the venue for this has

changed several times, it is currently being held at the Westerwood Spa and Golf Resort in Cumbernauld, and what a fabulous location and venue it is. As well as providing cutting edge workshops and talks, on all topics relating to the business of writing, for delegates, there is also a chance to relax and network with fellow authors in the spa and bars. Did I mention a chance to meet with publishers and agents? It’s three days of literary decadence. The conference has been a firm part of my writing calendar since I first joined. Lifelong friendships have been forged through both the organisation and the conference. This year the keynote speaker at the conference is Vaseem Khan who is featured in this issue of the magazine. I am very much looking forward to hearing Vaseem speak and to meeting him. I, and many others I am sure, look forward to attending his workshop and learning from an industry great.

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SAW’s passion is encouraging and supporting creative writing for individuals and writing groups throughout Scotland. They have members at every stage of the writing journey, from those penning their first word, to multi-awardwinning authors, as well as members from overseas. All are welcome. Membership of the Association is through their network of groups. In order to be a member or come to the conference, one must be a member of an affiliated group. Whilst these are mainly based in Scotland, three are online and have international members from all corners of the globe. These international members also attend the conference. The three online groups are Writers Umbrella, History Writers and City Writers. SAW also runs a number of competitions each year, all of which are open to members. Some

are tied to the conference and others which are more open. These cover every type of writing, from novels to non-fiction, form poetry, to articles, from book reviews to flash fiction, and many more besides. Whatever your literary tastes, there is a competition you can enter.

Now, it is time for me to pin my colours to the mast. For the last three years I have been the President of The Scottish Association of Writers, something I never expected to happen. Serving Scottish writers has been both an honour and a pleasure and I will continue to serve them for the next two years.

If you would like to find out more about the organisation you can do so via the website https://www.scottishassociationofwriters.com

Wendy H. Jones is the award winning, international best-selling author of the DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries, Cass Claymore Investigates Mysteries, Fergus and Flora Mysteries, Bertie the Buffalo children’s books and the Writing Matters books for writers. She is also a writing and marketing coach and the President of the Scottish Association of Writers. As copy editor for Mom’s, she works hard to ensure content is appropriate and free of grammatical and spelling errors. You can learn more about Wendy on her website: https://www.wendyhjones.com/ - 27 -


The Jigsaw By Joy Margetts We get asked to frame all sorts here. From valuable oil painted originals, to hand embroidered samplers. We have had baby shoes, signed football shirts, graduation photos, degree certificates, even on one occasion a rusty metal hare. But we rarely get the request to frame a jigsaw, especially these days. But it was a jigsaw that sat on the bench awaiting our attention. The phone call, from one of our most valued customers, had gone something like this: ‘Castle Framing, how can I help?’ ‘Well, the four corners are stuck down, with sticky labels folded back on themselves,’ he had replied, not seeing the looks of horror that passed between the three of us.

‘It’s Councillor Thompson here. Would you be able to frame a jigsaw for me? It’s a special one, you see. It’s taken us weeks to complete it.’ ‘Of course, we can do that for you Mr Thompson. If you can bring it in, carefully, keeping it in one piece of course.’

Now we three stood staring at it. None of us dared to touch it. Only the four corner pieces were stuck in any way, and those not exactly securely. What were the chances that in moving it, we might knock pieces off? It was causing us a headache just thinking about it.

‘Oh yes. It’s stuck down. Couldn’t risk it coming apart now, could I? When we’ve taken our time putting it together.’

‘We’ll come back to it’, was the general agreement as we each turned away to find something suddenly more pressing to do.

We looked down at the jigsaw lying on the bench. It wasn’t immediately obvious why it was a special one. It wasn’t a particularly beautiful or interesting image. But it was unique because it was based on a photograph. Mr Thompson had explained when he brought the jigsaw in, carrying it gingerly through the door on its board. The photo had been taken last summer, and showed him and his wife sitting in their garden. He wanted it framed to give as a gift to his wife on their fiftieth wedding anniversary. That it was a garden was obvious. There was a LOT of green in it.

The morning passed as usual, quietly busy, a lovely atmosphere to work in, all that beauty and creativity surrounding us. But the peace didn’t last. We should have seen to getting that jigsaw framed and not left it sitting all vulnerable on the bench. It could have been any one of us, but it was Dave who did the inevitable. The corner of the jigsaw board was just too close to the edge of the bench. The crash made us all come running.

‘And is it stuck down?’ I had asked. - 28 -


All over the stone floor of the workshop. Little pieces of jigsaw puzzle. Most of them green.

Dave stood with his hands on his head, his face white with shock. Kate came to a screeching halt in front of the pile of destruction, and laughed nervously. I got on my hands and knees and starting picking up little green cardboard shapes. ‘What are we going to do?’ Dave breathed finally. ‘I’ll just have to ring Mr Thompson and explain.’ I replied. ‘No. We can’t do that. There is another solution… we can put it back together.’ Kate had joined me on the floor, picking up jigsaw pieces.

‘I don’t see how. You heard him; it took them weeks to do it. And we have no picture to go by. And there is SO MUCH GREEN.’ Dave’s voice had gone up a notch with the anxiety. ‘I’ll take the pieces home, tonight. I have nothing else pressing. And the family can help me. We have to at least give it a try.’ I wasn’t all that confident in Kate’s ability to do the seemingly impossible, but I helped her put the gathered pieces together in a plastic carrier bag. ‘Find the broom, Dave, and give the floor a quick sweep. Make sure we haven’t missed any pieces.’ I suggested movement, to shake Dave out of his trance-like state. That afternoon the phone call went something like this:

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‘Castle Framing’ ‘Hello. Councillor Thompson here. I forgot to ask when the jigsaw would be ready for collection? We have been let into a surprise you see. The day after tomorrow there is going to be a big celebration for our Golden Anniversary in the village hall. Everyone who is anyone is invited. I’d like to have the jigsaw and present it to my wife at the party. Can it be done in time?’ ‘Well…’ I tried to keep the edge of panic out of my voice, but screamed at Kate with my eyes.

‘Mr Thompson, I apologise. Are you still there? I’ve checked with my colleagues and they have reassured me that the jigsaw will be framed and ready for collection late tomorrow afternoon.’ I glanced over at Kate, whose eyebrows had disappeared into her fringe. Dave was still sweeping. It looked now like a nervous coping mechanism rather than any attempt to clean. The floor was spotless. ‘Good, good. I’ll be in tomorrow afternoon then.’ ***

‘What?’ she mouthed.

We looked down at the jigsaw lying on the bench. She’d done it. Against all the odds. It had taken her all afternoon and evening, and at 1.33 am precisely, she informed us, she had put the final piece in. Only it wasn’t the final piece. We all stared at it, but there was no escaping the white jigsaw shaped space where a green one should have been.

‘I’m very sorry, Mr Thompson, I’ll just have to put you on hold for a moment.’

‘He wants it done before the day after tomorrow. That’s when the anniversary is,’ I whispered. I saw her blanch and swallow hard. ‘I’ll do it,’ she said. - 30 -


‘I’ve been through everything. The bag, my room, the car. I even went up and down the garden path three times this morning. Although among the moss I might have missed it I suppose.’

‘I’m so sorry Mr Thompson.’ I extricated my left arm from Kate’s vice-like grip, and glared at her. ‘It’s just that I was going to say…’ I took a moment, my mind whirring, ‘…that I will be passing yours on my way home tonight, so why don’t I drop off the jigsaw. Save you coming out.’ I heard the sigh as Kate let her breath out.

‘We’ll look here. It must be in the shop somewhere.’ Goodness knows what anyone would have thought if they had come through the door any time in the next half hour, as the three of us crawled around the workshop space on our hands and knees, peering into dark corners untouched for years. We had drawers out, pictures moved, the dustbin emptied. To no avail, there was no sign of the lost piece.

‘That would be really very kind of you. Now that is what I call service.’ ‘If only you knew,’ I whispered to myself after he had hung up.

‘I’ll go and cut the glass and the frame at least,’ Dave offered.

There was a rush of customers then. Well, I say rush - three or four. But enough to keep me distracted. When I finally got back to the workroom, Kate was bent over a piece of paper, brush in hand, a selection of paints of differing hues of green scattered about.

‘And I’ll look at what green paint we’ve got. Maybe we can just paint it in?’ Kate was good with the paintbrush, but this sounded a bit ambitious even for her.

‘Who knew there were so many different subtle shades of green? You try matching one exactly. The missing piece is a bit of bush, so there is a least two shades of leaf green, the branch green, and even a caterpillar green, for all I know!’

‘Ok. I’ll keep looking,’ I said.

The phone call went something like this: ‘Castle Framing.’ It came out breathless as I had had to scrabble off my knees to find the phone. Our mad searching had buried it under a pile of loose paper.

I could tell Kate was close to the end of her endurance. The effects of her late-night stint and the stress combining so that her voice took on a painful whine.

‘Oh. Is everything alright?’ ‘Yes, yes, sorry Mr Thompson, everything is FINE.’

‘I don’t think even you could disguise it, Kate. That missing piece is going to be so obvious. It’s right behind his wife’s head.’

‘And the jigsaw?’ ‘Yes, yes of course. All fine, Mr Thompson.’

‘You are right.’ She put her brush down and wiped a streak of green paint across her cheek.

‘Good, good. I’ll be in at five then.’ ‘Wait … Mr Thompson, Councillor… there is something I need to tell you.’ A wave of conscience hit, at about the same time as a hand grabbed my arm and tightened painfully.

‘We are just going to have to tell him.’

‘Well I almost did. It was you that stopped me.’ ‘I know. I so don’t want to disappoint him. He is a good customer, and has got a lot of influence in this community.’

‘Don’t,’ Kate whispered. ‘What is it young man?’ - 31 -


‘The frame and glass are done.’ Dave wandered over, the beautifully cut and built frame in his hands. It was a lovely shade of pale green. The jigsaw would look splendid in it. Or would have done.

yesterday when… well, when the disaster happened. The piece must have found its way under my mask and got caught up in it when I grabbed it last night at closing. I haven’t had to use it since.’

I sighed loudly. ‘I’ll tell him in person. When I call around. I’ll take the jigsaw back and explain what happened. I’ll offer him free framing for the rest of his life, if I have to. I’m sure he will understand.’

We all three looked at each other. We didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Kate took the piece in her fingers as reverently as if it were worth a million pounds and placed it gently into its place.

‘I’m not so sure…’ The bell on the door clanged as in the other room as a customer entered the shop.

And then we laughed. Huge releasing guffaws of laughter, as we swung each other around the room in delight. Being sure to stay well away from that jigsaw.

‘I’ll go’, Dave said. Kate and I sat on our stools facing each other. Dejection hung in the air.

(Based on a true story: names and details changed to avoid blushes…)

‘Kate?’ Dave re-appeared a moment later. He held out his hand and there in his work- worn palm was a small green jigsaw piece. ‘How? Where was it? ‘ We had both jumped to our feet and were gazing into his palm, holding our breaths with amazement, as if beholding the Koh - I -Noor diamond. ‘It was in my pocket,’ he replied sheepishly. ‘When I took my mask out to greet the customer it fell out. I remember now that my mask was on the bench

Joy Margetts has loved writing for as long as she can remember. A retired nurse, mother of two, and a new grandparent, she also has a lifelong interest in history, and loves nothing better than visiting ancient monuments or burying herself in archive material. She was brought up in the South of England but for the last twenty five years has made her home on the beautiful North Wales coast. More information on Joy and her writing, and her personal blog, can be found here www.joymargetts.com

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Outdoor Cooking — Mutton Stew by Alexandre da Rocha Alex is an experienced bushcrafter and wild camper, from England. His African roots often influence his cooking, and stews are easily cooked on a campfire.

Campfire Mutton Stew with freshly baked bread Equipment – Dutch oven and a tripod. Using a tripod means the cooking pot is not sat directly in the flames. The chain height is adjustable which allows more control over the heat.

• • • •

Ingredients – adjust quantities according to size of pot / number of people • •

1 pack vegetable stew mix – carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, potatoes Mutton

• •

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2 Onions Garlic & Ginger Peeled tomatoes 2 Chilli peppers or scotch bonnets Herbs & spices – bay leaf, coriander, salt & black pepper Full bodied red wine Chicken or veg stock cube


Method • • • •

Braise the onions until golden, then add the garlic, spices and chopped meat. Brown the meat, then add water, wine, diced chilli and a bay leaf. Leave to stew slowly until the meat is tender and the alcohol smell has gone. Add the stock cube, and simmer for 10 minutes. Then the veggies and potatoes and cook until they are softened and the gravy thickens. Serve with freshly baked bread – this can also be made in a Dutch oven.

For me, there is nothing more satisfying than a bowl of hot stew sat at a campfire. Add in a hunk of warm bread, some fresh air and the smell of wood smoke and woodlands, and this truly is hearty comfort food. Of course, it tastes just as good when made in the kitchen at home.

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Pressed Flower Illustration — Art Process by Alison Rasmussen

Orchid in coloured pencil

I like to press any flowers I get my hands on so I can come back years later and draw them. I’ve been doing that for over ten years now and have lots of cute flowers, leaves and grass in splat form. They live (and are mostly pressed) in a few pretty books that I also enjoy collecting. I like to draw pressed flowers because they look so interesting, and I like the way the colours change when they are pressed. Sometimes they are more muted and aged and sometimes the bright colours seem more vivid – perhaps because the other colours have paled; but the thing I really like about the pressed flower is that it’s still here; preserved.

Using a paper towel under my wrist and fingers to keep the paper clean, I started off making a line drawing with a grey lavender wax based coloured pencil – used lightly, so that any mistakes can be removed more easily. Coloured pencils are a bit more stubborn to rub out compared to the usual graphite that I use for lines, but the graphite will not work that well with coloured pencil, so I choose to avoid it.

This flower is an orchid which I pressed between the pages of a book about five years ago – I think it would be nothing but dust if I hadn’t intervened, and that sort of makes me happy. In the tradition of continuing with this flower preservation, I like to draw them, too.

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Once I’m happy with the line art (and it really doesn’t have to be exact) I start adding layers of colour – paler shades which will add to the layers of colour and give the petals more vibrancy and keep light areas light. If there’s one thing I’ve carried over from my disastrous watercolour attempts it’s that preserving the white of your paper is really important.

If you need to remove some colour or add some texture and a regular putty eraser won’t do it then stickier blu tack/poster putty will be helpful. It won’t stay sticky forever, but it is very handy for working on mistakes and tidying up as you go along. I wanted to strengthen the outer edges of the petal at this point, but I don’t draw over the original line. Instead, I start adding the colour directly next to the line (from the inside) and pulling the colour into the petal – it looks more natural and helps form the colour gradation. I don’t want the petal to look too solid since its flat and squished from pressing these days, so I try really hard to draw what I can see and not what I think it should look like. I also don’t want to lose the translucency of the petals, so I am trying to resist too much blending, so that the white of the paper can play its part.

Some of the colours I used here are soft pink and lavender, as well as blue based purples and blackberry. I look at the colours to work out which ones are dominant, which ones are there for contrast and which ones are surprising (like the brown of the stalk turning purple as it moves up towards the flower, and then reappearing once more, browning the petals to show their gorgeous aging). I leave hard edges for the petals edge and softer strokes for transitions where the colours meet and marry. I add colour in the direction of the texture of the petal.

My final step is to add some additional greys and some browns to the petals to give it an aged, antique feel, and I’m done!

I use a colour free wax blender (because my pencils are wax based) to blend, and I burnish with a white or a lighter colour to mute or lighten. If the colour starts looking too bright you can mute it with grey – I used grey lavender and pale lavender to tone down this problem.

https://paynesgreyillustration.com/ https://folksy.com/shops/PaynesGreyArtShop www.etsy.com/uk/shop/PaynesGreyArtShop

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Memorable Walks by Alan Southworth (Crummackdale round 14km) There have been many memorable walks amongst my walking exploits, too numerous to mention. As well as superb walking in the UK, Ireland, Isle of Man, Austria, Slovenia, Italy, Spain and France, a vast number have been in England, and in particular the Yorkshire Dales, which I love with a passion. Back in 2006, a walking colleague and I decided to embark on a Thursday walk routine, and over the next few years covered most of the 'Dales', although we did sneak in a few 'Lakes' routes too. I have images of many of the walks undertaken, and in retrospect, I should have kept a more detailed account journal, however just seeing an image can often transport me back in time and I can recollect details of many of the walks.

sandstone and silurian slate boulders that were carried from cliffs one mile away by retreating ice. They stand on plinths of limestone, many eroded by weather have toppled over. At the end of the 'Norber' plateau we reach Robin Proctor's scar, so named after the person who rode his horse over the edge, he survived but the horse did not. I must point out at this stage that Crummackdale is popular amongst student geologists who indulge themselves poking about between rocks and nooks and crannies hoping to find some hidden gem.

One such memory would be of March 2006 when MC, my late wife, Josie and I completed the Crummackdale Round, a walk of 14 km in North Yorkshire, England. The day was crisp, bright and sunny as we set off from Austwick. Crummackdale is a typical glacially formed valley with limestone terraces. The route can be started from either side of the valley, I believe we took the west side which takes in the 'Norber erratics', glacially transported

At the head of the valley, we reach the trig point of Moughton scar and clints and grikes with views of Pen-y-Ghent in the distance, the background is one of the most inspiring landscapes in the Dales and is the equal of the American National parks of Yellowstone, The Grand

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Canyon or Monument. On this day the views from the 'Sulber gate' were fantastic, as the photos show. The walk back from Moughton scar is a gentle meander down grassy then stony path to Austwick and the local cafe for currant cake with Wensleydale cheese, which in Yorkshire is mandatory, plus my colleague being a Yorkshireman, no arguing. Indeed a memorable walk.

I am a retired engineer and professional woodturner from Lancashire, England. I have an interest in all things wood, therefore, trees, mainly our indigenous native trees. I am a member of the woodland Trust and am a volunteer photographer for the trust. My interests are varied and include hillwalking, cycling and I was a Martial Arts student and instructor for over fifty years. I also play acoustic Guitar and ukulele, badly, I may add, my musical interests are also varied and range from English and Irish folk, through to Classical. I also have an interest in Lancashire dialect writing and poems. - 39 -


The Spitfire Submitted by Hannah Howe My master has finally assembled me,

Written by Rhys Age 14

My engine roars and I’m filled with glee, They say I’m taking off from Southampton,

This poem was written from the viewpoint of a Spitfire to commentate the aircraft’s maiden flight on 5 March 1936.

Navigated by an experienced Group Captain.

My master has trained me ready for war, My master has drawn me while travelling on a bus,

The Germans are in France, so into the sky I shall soar.

Because Germany is making a helluva fuss,

The Messerschmitts are fast and I’ve been hit,

His former pride, the Hurricane,

I turn back and my master repairs my canopy, split.

By the Boche, will be easily slain. My master says, “My work is done.” “Over to you, Group Captain, there’s a battle to be won.”

My master wants me to have a dual machine gun,

And to fly high towards the burning sun,

Our glorious history shall be written,

He wants me to be the saviour of the Empire,

The Spitfire will triumph in the Battle of Britain.

And baptise the enemy in a ball of fire.

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Welsh Bread Pudding Submitted by Hannah Howe Nanna Howe’s Recipe Ingredients

Method 1. Arrange the bread cubes in a shallow ovenproof dish

1 medium-sized white loaf, decrusted and cut into cubes

2. Add the sugar, butter, grated orange rind and orange juice

Mixed dried fruit, quantity determined by individual taste

3. Mix in the dried fruit 4. Beat the eggs and pour over the pudding. Add milk if necessary to bind to a thick consistency

Juice and grated rind of 1 orange 2 tbsp of sugar

5. Dust with powdered spice

3 eggs

6.

50g butter Milk to bind, if required

1/2 tsp powdered cinnamon or mixed spice

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Place the dish in a moderately hot oven (gas 5) and bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from edge comes out clean


Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day by Juliane Weber St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on 17 March, a day that the world is turned green in honour of Ireland’s patron saint, with everything from buildings to rivers taking on an emerald hue. But who was Patrick and how did some of the traditions surrounding the saint’s day come about?

Why the 17th of March? Although the exact dates of Patrick’s birth and death are disputed, many believe that he died on 17 March. The use of this date for the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration can be attributed to the Irish Franciscan friar Luke Wadding, whose persistence in honouring the saint on this particular day eventually saw 17 March turned into a feast day.

The real Patrick The Patrick who has been immortalised lived in the 5th century and is often credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. Although this wasn't precisely the case, he did have a substantial impact on the religion's spread. Patrick wasn’t Irish himself, hailing instead from late Roman Britain, possibly Wales or Scotland. In one of his few surviving texts, Patrick describes how he was kidnapped at the age of 16 and enslaved in Ireland for six years. After his escape he eventually returned to Ireland, with the aim of converting the remaining Irish pagans to Christianity, a mission that reportedly came to him in a dream. He incorporated Irish culture and language into his Christian teachings, traveling all over Ireland in his efforts, which ultimately saw him recognised as Ireland’s patron saint.

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Green, green, green When St. Patrick’s Day first started being celebrated, it was actually associated with the colour blue. Only around the 19th century did this change, with green becoming the preferred colour for the festivities for various reasons. For one thing, Ireland is also known as the Emerald Isle, and many Irish emigrants started wearing green in remembrance of their luscious green home. The green stripe in the Irish flag also played a role, as this traditionally represents Irish Catholics and Irish nationalism (the orange stripe represents Irish Protestants and the Orange Order, and the white stripe the peace between the two). St. Patrick is also believed to have used the shamrock to represent the Holy Trinity (God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit) in his teachings, further perpetuating the preference for the colour green, as well as the shamrock itself. And what would St. Patrick’s Day be without leprechauns? These little critters are usually depicted wearing green themselves, and legend has it that anyone who wears green is protected from their mischief.

Did St. Patrick really banish snakes from Ireland? According to legend, there are no snakes in Ireland because St. Patrick banished them from the island by chasing them into the sea. But while this does make for good storytelling, scientists believe that there were never any snakes in Ireland in the first place. Instead, the snakes are thought to be a metaphor for the pagan druids that St. Patrick sought to drive off or convert to Christianity.

Now that’s as good a reason as any to wear green on this St. Patrick’s Day!

Juliane is actually a scientist. She holds degrees in physiology and zoology, including a PhD in physiology. During her studies she realised, however, that her passion lay not in conducting scientific research herself, but in writing about it. Thus began her career as a medical writer, where she took on all manner of writing and editing tasks, in the process honing her writing skills, until she finally plucked up the courage to write her first historical novel, Under the Emerald Sky. The book is the first in The Irish Fortune Series, which is set in 19th century Ireland around the time of the Great Famine. Having spent most of her life in South Africa, Juliane now lives with her husband and two sons in Hamelin, Germany, the town made famous by the story of the Pied Piper. - 43 -


Sri Lanka by Ceri Bladen

© Ceri Bladen

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Out of Africa and Back Again by Jenny Sanders There is a palpable air of excitement in our household as we begin to lift our heads above the Covid parapet, and tentatively stick our collective toes back into the world of travel. Before the compulsory isolation we spent a great deal of time between the beautiful cities of Cape Town in South Africa and our more familiar home, Bath, in the UK. Since a sabbatical in 1998 with our four children, then between the ages of two and nine, we lost our hearts to Africa. We’ve been going back as part of our work ever since. A grey and rainy day in April 2020 saw us on a repatriation flight, but now we can finally return. On that miserable day, my husband and I boarded the coach for the airport, and slumped into the back seats with very little joy at the prospect of returning to Blighty. As we turned our heads to take one last look at the glories of Table Mountain we were disappointed to find that low cloud obscured out of it. However, there beyond question arched the most fantastic coloured rainbow ribbon, whispering the quiet promise that we would be coming back.

The last two years have been an economic catastrophe for this fantastic place which boasts the second-largest tourism industry in the region and provides over 1.5 million people with employment while contributing 7% of the GDP. When lockdown hit, flights were cancelled and we were only allowed out for food and the pharmacy. Beaches were closed and there was no allowance for exercise. A 10pm-4am curfew was instituted for distancing; public venues had to close at 9pm; an alcohol ban decimated the wineries, and on one memorable day we even had military on the street.

And who wouldn’t want to be in South Africa? Yes, there are certain wise precautions to take as there are wherever you go in the world but, trust me, this is the most beautiful country on earth. Where else can you find soaring mountains, pristine beaches, lush vineyards, fantastic wildlife, and an array of fascinating cultures all in the same country? My sister came to stay with us for a fortnight just before lockdown and declared it to be a ‘Wow around every corner’. I wouldn’t argue with that.

Now, however, the tourists are back, restaurants are bustling and the wine is flowing again. In truth, historically, the continent of Africa has always had so much else to contend with that a pandemic is deemed to be just another ingredient in the melting pot of sometimes overwhelming challenges. AIDS has ravaged the place for years; politics, of course, has always been a nightmare regardless of who was in power. In South Africa, the catastrophic scourge of the apartheid era will take many generations to heal. - 46 -


That said, you will be amazed at the friendly welcome of the people here. From the staff who welcome you at passport control, to the street sellers and coffee drinkers, there is usually a dazzling smile and gentle laughter to be shared.

If you’re feeling energetic, but less ambitious, then try Lions Head – you can even join a hike up there by moonlight – but know that there are some ladders requiring navigation on your upward path. Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope take you to the tip of Africa, although the true tip is further east at Cape Aghulas where the two oceans – Indian and Atlantic – truly meet.

Arrange a holiday here and you’re unlikely to be disappointed. From Cape Town you can visit Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for so many years. The District Six museum will give you a sobering insight into how an entire people group were removed from their residential area during apartheid and relocated en masse. Climb mighty Table Mountain, or take the cable car if you prefer, and enjoy the panoramic views across the ocean and south towards the majestic Twelve Apostles mountain range.

Cape Town has an impressive aquarium. The V & A waterfront is a tourist’s delight with a dazzling array of locally made African crafts and souvenirs for sale, plus live music, street food and access to the relatively new MOCCA museum (Museum of Contemporary Art Africa). I visited during the inaugural week back in 2017 and was amazed at the range of work from talented

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If you’re a wine bibber, then the wine lands of the Western Cape offer the most wonderful array of experiences at a snip of the cost in Europe or the USA. Try wine with cheese, wine with biltong (dried meat, similar to jerky and a favourite of the locals), wine with macaroons, wine with cakes. Vintners are always coming up with new combinations as they blend each years vintage with consummate skill producing an array of smooth reds and crisp whites. Enjoy a tasting in the sunshine while taking in a spectacular view and you’ll be relaxed in no time. According to Google, there are currently 560 wineries in the Western Cape alone African artists. For all the gardeners and plant lovers, a trip wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, located on the back slopes of Table Mountain – land that once belonged to Cecil Rhodes, former Prime Minister, explorer and mining magnate.

https://www.google.com/search? q=how+many+wineries+are+ther+in+the+western+ cape+of+south+africa? &source=lmns&bih=629&biw=1424&hl=en&sa=X &ved=2ahUKEwispsikleb1AhVRHMAKHeI0Dv8 Q_AUoAHoECAEQAA

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so that should keep you busy for a while. I recommend a designated driver!

appear on demand and you may take a day and see nothing, or have your metaphorical socks knocked off by catching a glimpse of a whole host of wildlife stars. A giraffe in a zoo is awkward and ungainly. A giraffe in the bush is magnificent and should you see them run, you will understand what I mean.

The highlight of a trip to South Africa must surely be a trip to one of the extraordinary game parks. We used to dream about such an experience and now, many years later, have made multiple visits with friends as well as family; each one profoundly different yet entirely pleasurable.

You may want to tick off the famous ‘Big Five’: elephant, rhino, leopard, buffalo, and lion; and if you’re fortunate enough to see any of those, then be sure to linger and enjoy being part of their story for a brief interlude while having your camera at the ready.

Whether your budget stretches to a private game reserve, where you will be pampered and served with smiles and song as well as relaxed sundowners with your assigned guide, or whether you self-drive into one of the National Parks across the nine provinces, you will never forget it. Unlike a trip to the zoo where animals are reliably on display in their cages, here you must take your chance. No creature will

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There are so many other animals to enjoy that you shouldn’t fret if the stars fail to show themselves: buck of many varieties: impala, wildebeest, waterbuck, eland; families of zebra, funny warthogs, curious meerkats, wallowing hippos, scavenging jackals and hyenas, extraordinary birdlife, mischievous monkeys. You may even see a crocodile basking in the sunshine or perhaps breaching the water like a disused car tyre. You may not have time to drive the famous Garden Route or explore the Robertson wine valley, pretty Knysna or Tsitsikamma National Park, where you can wobble across the rope bridge, canoe underneath it and and jump off rocks into clear water before heading to Addo Elephant Park. Then there’s still the famous Kruger National Park, the warm beaches of the

east coast, the diamond mines around Kimberley and the sights and sounds of mighty Johannesburg. But there’s always next time… Since exploring South Africa’s beauty may well take a lifetime it’s probably time you booked your visit too.

Jenny Sanders is a writer, speaker, encourager and mentor and mother of four grown-and-flown children which gives her more time for writing, reading and walking in nature whenever she can. She’s married to an adventurous change-agent with whom she’s travelled around thee world. For the past several years she’s lived between the beautiful cities of Bath, UK and Cape Town, S Africa.

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East Side Gallery — A Mural for our Times by John Greeves For every generation, a few extraordinary and seminal moments happen in one’s lifetime. Events like the first giant step for mankind on the moon, the Cuban Missile Crisis, or the world shattering night of 9 November 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell. Of course, the Wall didn’t actually come down on that decisive night. Its demolition took place over the coming weeks. On that euphoric night, people stood, sat, cried, danced and shouted, while others (Mauerspechte-wallpeckers) hacked out chunks of the wall in an emotional out-pouring, which gave voice to the symbolic end of the division of Germany and paved the way for German reunification a year later. As darkness fell, people swept through the border to the pop of champagne. By the end of the weekend two million people had crossed the border to an anticipated freedom in the West. The wall was built in the Sixties after 2.5 million people emigrated from communist East Germany. The emigrants tended to be young and well educated and so created a ‘brain drain’ which ultimately threatened the East German Communist Economy and heralded the construction of the wall in 1961. The Berlin Wall was essentially two walls with a

‘death strip’ in-between. This barrier strip had 116 guard towers, 20 bunkers, barbed wire, electric fences, automated gun emplacements, anti-vehicle trenches and was referred to by the West Berliners as the “Wall of Shame.” The wall’s construction went through different developments and by the late 1980s it had concrete walls rising to 15 feet high which stretched 28 miles through the centre of Berlin and 75 miles around the outside of the city. Successful methods to defect to West Berlin included digging long tunnels under

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the wall, hot air balloons, light aircraft, crawling through sewers, using false diplomatic passports, tight-rope walking, zip wires, hijacking a tank and crashing a train into the western side of the city. Between 1961 and 1989, over 100,000 people tried to escape with 5000 succeeding in escaping over the wall. The numbers of deaths remain disputed, with some estimates being as high as 200.

Public Art & Protest The Berlin Wall’s role as a piece of public art began in the mid 1970s, long before the wall was pulled down. In the same decade, the wall was made not only taller but was given a smoother surface which created a perfect canvas for street art. Artists began covering the wall with political slogans, subversive symbols and artwork throughout the mid 70s to the late 1980s. Graffiti appeared liberally along the West side of the wall, where as on the east side, the wall remained a blank sterile surface where free expression was stifled. Much of this initial graffiti was heavily influenced by the New York street scene and this continued to gather impetus in Berlin as different styles evolved in reaction to the divisive nature of the wall. One of the leading pioneers of art on the Berlin Wall in the early days was Thierry Noir a French artist who had dropped out of university and failed to hold down a series of jobs. Subsequently, he

moved to Berlin in search of an artistic opening for his work. He found his calling in the form of an intimidating wall. His art work was characterised by cartoon type images undertaken in a minimum pallet of colours in order to evade the East German authorities. By the 1990, Noir had painted 5 - 53 -


kilometres of the wall. His artwork today exists in numerous media forms beyond the wall and can be seen in world art galleries. It also provided the inspiration for the cover of the band U2’s 1991 album, “Achtung Baby.”

The Aftermath of the Fall After the wall was torn down in 1989, artists David Monty and Heike Stephen met with German Democratic Republic officials to discuss creating the longest open-air gallery in the world. It was agreed that the Mühlenstraße section of the wall should be kept as a public art exhibit. 118 artists from 21 countries were invited to produce murals that centred around the freedom and liberation of on the wall. Known as The East Side Gallery, this

prominent exhibition of the Berlin Wall is located on the Spree River on what was once East Berlin. The 1.3 kilometre-long gallery is one of the premiere attraction for visitors to Berlin. The murals symbolise both freedom and a sense of hope for the future. Some images are satirical, some provocative or symbolic or commemorative of events but all have a relevance to the preservation of freedom and an opposition to governments that exercise absolute and centralised control over all aspect of life.

Some of the better known Murals Perhaps the most famous image on the wall is a kiss shared between East German leader Erich Henecker and Soviet premier Leonid Brezhnev. The Fraternal kiss symbolised the ideological bond between East Germany and the Soviet Union in suppressing the dreams and aspiration of those living under these regimes. Words scrawled in Russian above the painting say, “My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love.” The second most famous artwork on the Berlin Wall is perhaps Birgit Kinder’s ‘Trabant Breaking Through the Wall.’ The Trabant was a product of this soviet satellite state. It was a fumeridden, slow and poorly engineered car and reminiscent of this repressive and inefficient regime. A particular moving mural in the East Side Gallery - 54 -


East Side Gallery 2018-copyright Stiftung Berliner Mauer (This shows the Fraternal Kiss)

day when the Wall came down when thousands crossed over to the free West. In this powerful mural Alavi captures the raw emotion of fleeing faces. One of the most iconic murals is titled “Thank you Andrei Sakharov” which was painted by Russian artists Dmitri Vrubel and Viktoria Timofeeva. This mural looks more like a photograph and acknowledges the part played by the Soviet nuclear physicist as a human rights activist which ultimately earned him the Noble Peace Prize in 1975.

Test the Best- by artist Birgit Kinder-2018 copyright Stiftung Berliner Mauer (this shows the Traband car bursting through the wall)

painted by Kani Alavi entitled ‘It happened in November’ shows a snapshot of Checkpoint Charlie in the American controlled zone of West Berlin on the

Günther Schaefer created a mural entitled ‘Fatherland’ to mark the 50th anniversary of Kristallnacht when Nazi forces in Germany destroyed homes, synagogues and other properties. - 55 -


Sadly, this mural is a frequent target for vandalism, The artist has had to restore the picture over 40 times, but as he says, “as long as fanatics destroy paintings like mine, such paintings are necessary.”

Hans Konrad Schumann was an East German border guard who escaped to West Germany during the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961. The wall when it was first devised was only a single coil of concertina barbed wire. Schumann decided to leap the 3 foot wire and his flight was captured by a German photographer who entitled his photograph "Leap into Freedom."The image later featured at the beginning of the 1982 Disney film Night Crossing. In painting his memorial to ‘Der Mauerspringer’ (The Wall Jumper), Gabriel Heimer depicted a nameless West German, jumping remarkably into East Berlin: a leap of faith, encompassing freedom, unification and an unforeseen future.

Street art East Side Gallery_Tolerance_c_Antonia Cubelic .Painted by Mary Macay. Image courtesy of Visit Berlin. This reads in German Das Mural “Tolerance” credit Antonia Cubelic (photographer. Image by Mary Mackay)

These huge colourful murals contain many messages, slogans, forms and figures and are as relevant today as they were decades ago. They serve as a warning to other nations who seek to wield political power that represses freedom, negates human rights and creates widespread injustice and division amongst its people. - 56 -


Note Checkpoint Charlie is not near the East side Gallery but is in another part of Berlin.

The Future

Side Gallery is completely exposed to the weather, graffiti and traffic pollution which means that several efforts have been made to restore it.

Much of the Berlin Wall has been cleared with only two fragments at Checkpoint Charlie and the East Side Gallery remaining. Out in the open air, the East - 57 -


In 2009, artists were invited to repaint their designs on the twentieth anniversary. The restoration caused controversy with 21 artists refusing to repaint their murals deeming the €3000 fee paid by the Berlin Council to be inadequate, when a considerable sum (€2.2m) had been set aside for renovation. The artist were told if they refused to comply, an urban renewal firm would white wash their work and they would get someone else to recreate it. - 58 -


Doing it Cool for The East Side, Jim Avignon. 2018 copyright. Stiftung Berliner Mauer Fotojascha.

Some artists went on to sue the city of Berlin claiming their work had been copied without their consent.

they’ll have to be repainted. “If we want the gallery to be a living artistic reflection of our time, new ‘original ‘ paintings must be allowed, covering the old.” The dilemma seems as pertinent today as it was then. Can we hold back the tide (keeping art fixed), by these historical markers, which have in essence a limited street life? Or should we permit art to evolve, as it steps from the past to the future and by doing so allow new forms instead to reflect the critical perceptions of the day?

Another setback occurred in 2013, when a real estate developer created a 23 metre gap (3 works of art) in the East Side Gallery wall for an access route to new luxury apartment development on the bank of the river Spree. This caused uproar and the developer stopped any thought of widening the gap. In November 2018, the State of Berlin transferred the East Side Gallery to the property of the Stiftung Berliner Mauer (SBM), (Berlin Wall Foundation) which is now responsible for the preservation of the monument.

Berliner Mauer -Foto Gerhard Buchholz Title Weric- "die Bestandigkeit der ignoranz

In the past, the German art historian Gabriele DolffBonekämper has commented on the difficulty of attempting to conserve the murals. As far back as 2002 she said: “If we want to keep the images,

Translates- Berlin Wall -photo Gerhard Buchholz Title Weric- "the permanence of ignorance.” Image courtesy of Visit Berlin

John Greeves originally hails from Lincolnshire. He believes in the power of poetry and writing to change people’s lives and the need for language to move and connect people to the modern world. Since retiring from Cardiff University, Greeves works as a freelance journalist who's interested in an eclectic range of topics.

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Spring by Becky Hemsley they met her on the corner and she said her name was Spring and she told them she’d been resting whilst the winter did its thing

she’d watched behind the window as the rain had turned to snow and she’d lit herself a fire when the wind began to blow and the sun wrote back ‘hang in there,

she’d watched the winter ravage

there are brighter days to come’

and strip bare the stubborn trees whilst she’d sewn and stitched together

then they looked at her and realised

brand new blossoms and their leaves

there were flowers in her hair and her smile was bright and sunny

she said when it was cold

and her voice had warmed the air

that she’d been sleeping in the warm and when winter brought its blizzards

then she waved and she was gone

she’d been singing through the storm

but in her wake, she left them hope and they knew the sun was on its way

when frosty mornings lingered

to gently thaw the snow

she’d been busy planting seeds and, until she could pick flowers,

and they felt a sense of peace

she had picked a book to read

about what future days might bring when they realised every winter

and she told them, through the bleakness

must be followed by the spring

she’d been writing to the sun - 60 -


Spring A poem by Becky Hemsley, taken from the book Talking to the Wild Talking to the Wild is a poetry collection, the bedtime stories that we were likely never told as children but that can bring us comfort, joy, healing, peace and gentle reminders as we grow. Some days you’ll need comfort, some days you’ll need joy, and some days you’ll just need to feel heard, validated, seen…and I hope that’s what this book gives to you. I hope you get lost in the words and find yourself.

You can hear Becky reading her poems on TikTok. @talkingtothewild https://vm.tiktok.com/ZM87scaJe/ Or see more on her Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/talkingtothewild/ https://bookgoodies.com/a/B09JM7KJRQ

Becky Hemsley is an empowered romantic with a hint of magic. She is from middle England and writes her poetry with her own accent in mind. Wherever, or however you read her poems, the message is the same; the story is about you.

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Europe by Book by Hannah Howe

The Adventures of Lily Huckleberry in Scandinavia by Audrey Smit and Jackie Knapp In the first Lily Huckleberry adventure, Lily meets a new friend and is invited into The Worldwide Adventure Society of Shenanigans and Hullabaloos. Her new magical globe brings her to Scandinavia in the middle of a Midsummer party mishap – the strawberries are missing! Will Lily be able to solve the mystery? Children, whether they wake up grumpy or not, are invited to join Lily if they are…

…very silly …very brave, and …always ready for adventure! Kids love Lily’s escapades in Scandinavia, where she meets many new friends (a mermaid, an elf and some grumpy Vikings!), and has magical adventures! Parents love the underlying message: people aren’t always what they seem. Get it NOW and share the magical hullabaloo with your child! No magic doubters allowed!

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The Impaler’s Wife by Autumn Bardot The year is 1464. King Matthias controls Hungary, his family, and the fate of the world’s most notorious political prisoner, Prince Vlad Dracula. Ilona Szilágy, the king’s cousin, is young and ambitious. Dracula is determined to marry into the family. It is love at first sight, but the king has other plans. The Impaler Prince, however, never takes no for an answer. Eager to become his trusted confidant, Ilona enters a treacherous world where revenge, betrayal, ambition, and passion transcend all that is sacred. And love demands the ultimate sacrifice. Woven throughout is a peek into the life and times of one of the world’s most enigmatic and maligned rulers…the man before the legend.

Hannah Howe is the author of the Sam Smith Mystery Series, the Ann's War Mystery Series and the #1 international bestseller Saving Grace. Hannah's books are published by Goylake Publishing and distributed through Gardners Books to over 300 outlets worldwide. Her books are available in print, as eBooks and audiobooks, and are being translated into ten languages. Discover more on Mom's Favorite Reads website: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/hannah-howe

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Burr Trail —Boulder, Utah by Melanie P. Smith

https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/melanie-p-smith/

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© MPSmith Publishing - 65 -


Tick Bite Awareness by Matt McCardle Ticks are opportunistic feeders on warm blooded mammals, biting those involved in outdoor activities especially in forested areas. This includes campers, hikers, dog walkers and forestry workers. But, it’s not just the countryside that pose a risk, even by brushing through vegetation or walking in a city park people have been known to become infected by a tick bite. Research carried out in 2015 of a series of South London parks found ticks capable of passing Lyme disease. Local councils responded by placing advisory signage. In Scotland, this has not occurred but is supported by programmes of tick awareness.

It’s not just about midges. Scotland and tick bite awareness. Many people come to Scotland for its beautiful scenery, often anticipating the ever-present Highland midge and variable weather. However, there is a more subtle risk from tick bites. There are many stories of people accessing the Scottish countryside to walk or camp but have ended up getting bitten by a tick, sometimes unknowingly.

Sheep or Deer tick

Although the risk is low, there is a potential for long term chronic disease from a tick bite. Knowledge of the potential risk of tick bite while out and about in the countryside has become necessary due to a rise in cases of Lyme disease in Scotland, with researchers and clinicians linking this rise with potential climate changes and increased access to and use of the outdoors. Lyme disease is not limited to Scotland, it is also occurring more frequently in England, and is endemic to or regularly found in North America, Europe, and Asia. - 66 -


Across the globe there are many differing types of tick with each carrying a wide series of differing bacteria especially in the United States. The picture shows the common UK tick known as the sheep or deer tick Ixodes ricinus.

The Bullseye rash

Background to Lyme disease The background to Lyme disease and its name began in the United States around the town of Lyme, Connecticut. There had been a local cluster of unexplained cases of what was thought to be juvenile arthritis. However, it took the tenacity of local mothers whose children had contacted this unknown disease to eventually encourage researchers from Yale University to investigate. The disease name was changed to Lyme disease, when additional symptoms including neurological problems and severe fatigue were also linked to the disease. It wasn’t

Preventative measures The best defence is prevention. Luckily preventative actions remain universal. These include awareness of the environment you are going into and its potential to contain ticks. The idea of a tick season in the UK has not been verified. Ticks are generally active in the UK between March and October but anecdotal feedback from for-

until 1982 that a researcher called Willy Burgdorfer identified that the cause came from the bacterial species of spirochete or spiral shape in the genus Borrelia and then named after Mr Burgdorfer becoming Borrelia burgdorferi.

estry workers in the Scottish Highlands has noted them even with snow on the ground. Awareness of the area you intend to walk is one of the main preventative measures we can all take to prevent being bitten by ticks. We know that most types of undergrowth potentially contain ticks and their action of questing or hanging off undergrowth waiting for a potential blood meal from warm blooded animals passing through such undergrowth.

The symptoms of Lyme disease appear like many different infections that have flu-like symptoms. However, in Lyme disease there is sometimes a characteristic rash - although not all people will develop this. The rash is characterised by an expanding red rash, commonly referred to as a bullseye rash. Symptoms also include fever and/or chills, fatigue, muscle, and joint pains and headache.

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previously discussed can also occur anywhere from a city park or the wilds of the Scottish Highlands. Although this article is about ticks in Scotland, most of what is known about ticks can be applied to most other countries.

Wearing clothing that cover all areas of exposed skin on your limbs is another simple preventative measure you can take. It’s also important that upon returning from your trip into the wilds or undergrowth to carry out an all over body check for ticks. It is also advisable to carry a specific tick removal tool with you. These simple devices can be bought online or from local pharmacies.

Removing a tick safely Removing ticks safely is important due to the potential for infection if the head of the tick is left behind. It’s also important to stress if you become symptomatic after a bite or following a visit to the wilds that visiting your local doctor becomes necessary. On most occasions a short course of antibiotics is sufficient. However, if not picked up there is potential for long term or chronic Lyme disease.

Matt McCardle lives and works in the Scottish Borders and is a keen hillwalker. While out and about in the countryside, Matt likes to photograph the Scottish scenery. He recently completed an MSc in Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Strathclyde, as a ‘mature’ postgraduate student.

Due to increasing awareness of Lyme disease healthcare professionals have become more proactive in prescribing preventative treatment, although this begins with our own awareness when entering an area that potentially has ticks. This is known to be most areas of undeveloped or overgrown land, forestry or woodland and as - 68 -


Paul’s Puzzles By Paul Godding The Main Challenge The Target Challenge

Apart from 9+5+1, find the SEVEN other ways you can make 15 when combining and adding together three unique digits from 1-9.

Can you arrive at 32 by inserting 2, 4, 7 and 8 into the gaps on each line?

The 7puzzle Challenge The playing board of the 7puzzle game is a 7-by-7 grid containing 49 different numbers, ranging from 2 up to 84.

(◯+◯)²÷◯+◯ = 32

The 5th & 7th rows contain the following fourteen numbers:

◯×◯÷◯+◯ = 32

◯²–◯×(◯÷◯)² = 9

The Lagrange Challenge

4 6 7 11 16 21 24 27 30 50 70 77 81 84

Lagrange’s Four-Square Theorem states that every positive integer can be made by adding up to four square numbers.

Which two pairs of numbers both have a difference of 11?

For example, 7 can be made by 2²+1²+1²+1² (or 4+1+1+1).

The Mathematically Possible Challenge

There is just ONE way of making 32 when using Lagrange’s Theorem. Can you find it?

Using 2, 6 and 11 once each, with + – × ÷ available, which THREE numbers is it possible to make from the list below?

***

8 16 24 32 40 48 56 64 72 80 #8TimesTable

◯×◯+◯÷◯ = 32

Solutions: http://7puzzleblog.com/answers/ Hello, my name is Paul Godding. I am a full-time professional private maths tutor based in the south-east of Wales who delivers face-to-face tuition locally as well as online tuition to students globally. It would be lovely to hear from you, so feel free to click paul@7puzzle.com if you wish to secure maths tuition for you or your child. Alternatively, you can ring/message/WhatsApp me from anywhere in the world: 07970868121 from within Wales and the UK, or +447970868121 from the rest of the world. - 69 -


Random Generators by Allison Symes I use random generators as ways “in” to creating stories. Some I’ve used include:•

Random noun generator

Random number generator

Random question generator

Random adjective generator

Random verb generator

Random sentence generator

By mixing up what I use here, I ensure I must think of new ideas and that is a great safeguard against becoming “stale”. I have to rise to the challenge of making what has been generated work, which in turn fuels creativity.

The biggest advantage to random generators is I have not “interfered”. I am responding to someone else’s challenge here. Practicing writing to any prompt is good as it can help you create stories for competitions. Even if you don’t have a competition in mind, what you come up with you can store ready for when a suitable competition does come along. There are always the open theme competitions too.

I sometimes use the same thing I’ve generated for more than one market. I recently generated the number 766. I used that number in a flash piece for my YouTube channel and again in a different way for a flash fiction website.

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I’ve found, after years of going to writing conferences, prompts come up all the time so getting used to writing to them is useful. The random generator ones are something you can practice at home!

whether they acted on that advice and what the consequences were. For this month’s challenge, I’m using the random question generator. The question I’ve picked for you to write to is who is the luckiest person you know?

You can set the parameters for the generators too though I find generating anything between one and four items at a time is enough.

I’m going to throw this open to fiction and nonfiction but again stick to 300 words.

So how can I use what was generated?

For non-fiction, answer the question directly.

For the word ones, I just plant them in the story though the “plant” must work. If I generated the word “rubbish”, I would still have to justify that word being in my story. It must blend in with my characters and plot.

For fiction, invent a character to answer it.

The question generator is useful for setting a theme. For this piece, the question that came up was what's the best piece of advice you ever received?

Now for my go.

For flash non-fiction, I’ve got my theme immediately.

She walks down the street as if she owns it. She probably does. She was brilliant at Monopoly when we were kids. Guess who she always bankrupted?

For both, say why the person is lucky and, in the case of fiction, why the character thinks they’re lucky. The character doesn’t have to be right.

Lucky

For flash fiction, I can create a character and get them to show you, the reader, the best piece of advice they received. I can choose to show in the story

That’s right, Muggins here. The stupid game was only played to help us get into the mindset of - 71 -


humans when they play games. All I learned was it pays to get the corner properties. Everyone lands on those.

So you coming along with your clipboard and asking who I think the luckiest person is - it is her, okay. Definitely not me. Yes, I’m grumpy. She does everything right. I muddle.

Everything she touches turns to gold.

You think I could be an example to those who struggle with magic.

Everything I touch turns to ash.

I’m not kidding.

Are you being patronizing?

She is the Fairy Kingdom’s most promising young fairy godmother.

It’s what superior people do to make little people feel better - humans do it too. Still at least I’m not one of them.

I did win an award. She hasn’t… yet. My award? For being cursed with no magical ability yet still tries their best award. I’m not inventing it. I have got the trophy. I’d love to throw it at a wall but Mother is so proud I won something I can’t do it. She, the clever big sister, says losing one’s temper helps nobody yet alone a loser like me. Grrr…

I can fly. They must use noisy, polluting machines to do that. I’m off. I really must fly. I feel free up there. If I’m lucky for once, I might find something soft and squishy to drop on my goody two shoes sister’s head. I always did have the better aim.

Allison Symes, who loves reading and writing quirky fiction, is published by Chapeltown Books, CafeLit, and Bridge House Publishing. Her flash fiction collections, Tripping The Flash Fantastic and From Light to Dark and Back Again are out in Kindle and paperback. She has been a winner of the Waterloo Arts Festival writing competition three years in a row where the brief was to write to a set theme to a 1000 words maximum. Website: https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com/ - 72 -


Who is the Luckiest Person you Know?

The Luckiest Person By Maressa Mortimer

how lucky she is to have recovered so well from having Joseph. I only once told her how lucky it was that I thought she looked amazing when she was carrying Joseph.

People look at me and I can tell they know how lucky I am. I simply smile back, patting Lucy’s tightening arm around me. Looking at my wife and son makes me glow and stand taller. Not that I’m tall, but that no longer seems to matter. When Lucy sold my special shoes, I was only cross for a day. I accept I no longer need those shoes. I am living on a platform so to speak. I was lucky my wife saw that before I did. That is part of my luck, to have found a wife that sees my needs before I even realise.

Did I mention our home? It’s one of those nearmiracles. We were lucky that Lucy knew the estate agent manager, and he was the one to introduce us to this house. I still don’t know what the neighbours meant when they said we were more than lucky to get the house, but people will be jealous. When I mentioned it to Lucy, she spilt her coffee, but again, luck came our way as those neighbours moved.

Having one son turns out to be perfect. Lucy pointed out how lucky we are. Having only Joseph to think of, we can afford to make sure his life is fulfilling and that he thrives. If we had more children, that would have been so much harder. Lucy often points out

The new neighbour is quiet and he told me I was a lucky chap. That was before I ended up at mum’s place. - 73 -


summer pottering around woodlands for sale and finally our vision appeared.

So Lucky A True Story By Sylva Fae

As we drove up the path, a sense of calm and belonging settled over me. My daughter tumbled out of the car in excitement and toddled off into the forest of ferns. Wood pigeons took flight, marking her position in the tangled undergrowth. I grabbed our picnic and off we set to explore. A giant fallen oak, proved big enough to serve as both picnic table and seating. There, I sat in peaceful contemplation, surveying the scene before me. Curious squirrels danced along branches, violet blooms on the rhododendrons added a vivid splash of colour to the lush greens, and birds sang with the breeze through the leaves. I knew this was meant to be my woodland. And now, ten years later, I arrive at the woods and walk a familiar path, the start of so many adventures and inspiration for many stories. To some it’s just a random patch of trees, but to me it’s a magical world, and I know I’m so lucky to own it.

It started with a whole lot of bad luck. The idyllic first camping trip with my toddler was far from idyllic. The child-friendly site frowned upon children playing – no noise, no games, no running... Then the rain started. We holed up in the tent, listening the raindrops pelting down on canvas, but after a full day entertaining an energetic rascal in a small space, and with a forecast of more storms, dejected, we packed up and left. Driving home we dreamed of the trip we’d hoped for – somewhere we didn’t have to book months in advance, somewhere without rules and restrictions, somewhere our daughter could play freely... A quick Internet search the following day, opened up a world of possibilities. We spent the - 74 -


Writing Prompt By Angela Abraham

Descriptionari Quotes and Descriptions to Inspire Creative Writing Discover, Share, Connect

Being rich of nature, of love and in good times, with these all other forms of wealth are rich and without them all are poor.

***** Creativity is the weaving of random into a new and wonderful dish. Descriptionari helps you to fill up your idea cupboard with new ingredients, unleashing your inner Masterchef! And so, in keeping with our fantastic flash fiction theme ‘Lucky’, tongue firmly in our extended-pun-cheek, here are a few nibbles!

Let your wealth be your wellness, let it be the soulful good vibes you feel from doing good for others and yourself. Let your wealth be your loving bonds, your joy in nature and playful heart. Let your wealth be these things and you will shine; you will become more than you ever dreamed humanity was capable of. Forget the cold coins and the notes of slavery owed. They are nothing. Your power to love and make your world anew is everything. So become wise to the linguistics that are both chains and the blessed unlocking keys. Be heal-thy, wellthy and wise.

I'm a lucky person. Even my bad luck becomes great luck. It can turn around in a while or at times almost instantly, yet always I see the workings of karma stepping upward.

Angela spent the past 10 years building Descriptionari one flash of inspiration at a time. She is now focusing on the creation of fiction novels. Her dog Oliver says it is all a complete waste of time and can he go for a walk now?

On Descriptionari there are over 19k ideas all free to check out (taking the pun bow now, tee hee).

https://www.descriptionari.com/ - 75 -


Capturing What Surrounds Us by Carl J. Dobson Photography

Submitted by Sylva Fae For many years I have had a passion for being in the great outdoors but recently due to health issues, I found myself in a situation where extreme activities were not an option anymore, so I fell deeper into learning about photography. This is something I have always been interested in but never took seriously. Photography has now enabled me to still get outside and enjoy the beautiful nature that surrounds us. I am currently living in the beautiful Czech Republic, so I’m constantly looking for new moments to capture on camera. Learning everything I can to improve the quality of my images has become my mission. I like to throw myself into all my endeavours to try and become the best I can be. Take a moment to explore my work, and contact me with any questions. https://www.carljdobsonphotography.com/ carl24783949@gmail.com

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Melody and the Bouncing Shoes by Mandy Shade The Story Behind the Story My first children’s book Melody and the Bouncing Shoes was an idea born in 2021. For years now I have had a notes page of book ideas on my phone, I had never shared it with anyone and likewise never actually written a story! So, what changed that? Well, my eldest daughter Lucy was 4yrs old and had just gone back to school after lockdown. She was in reception and had a rocky start to schooling with most of her time spent in mummy’s home-school (I don’t think it would get a good Ofsted rating!) One day she returned home from school looking upset, it took a while but eventually she shared with me what had happened. Lucy had two really close friends she tended to play with, and both are fairly sporty. They were running round the school field and Lucy couldn’t keep up, she was sad that she wasn’t as good as them. It broke my heart seeing her so upset. The truth is she isn’t an overly sporty child, she loves to run around like any kid but her preferences lie with being creative. I’m not saying she couldn’t be a fast runner it’s just not what she’s passionate about. Anyone that knows her will know that she is always drawing or making something, in fact the paper in my house is always running out and she always astounds me with what she can create out of paper and Sellotape! Does that make her any less special? Absolutely not! That is exactly what makes the world such a fantastic place, we are all different and we are all special.

The world would be pretty boring if we were all the same, just imagine the Olympics if everyone ran at the same speed! It broke my heart that my daughter was doubting herself and so Melody the mermaid was born. The aim of the story was to show my daughter that we all have something special about us and we all belong. I worked with an illustrator who designed Melody to look just like Lucy, I really wanted her to relate to her.

More from Melody Mermaid This was the catalyst that started it all, since then I get inspired by things I want to teach my children. I have a new book called Melody’s Monster Investigation which is due to come out very soon.

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This one is all about teaching children the importance of sharing how they feel with the people they trust. Children can experience some pretty big emotions sometimes but sharing with the people they trust can help them work through them, we all need support sometimes. A lot of the messages I write promote good mental health in children, this is something I am really passionate about. I struggled to find where I fit growing up, I don’t want my children to experience that. I want them to be confident, know their worth and more importantly know the support they have around them if they ever do struggle.

Connect with Mandy Shade Once I’d written the book, I started new TikTok and Instagram accounts called @mum_tells_a_tale. I have always created games and activities for my children… Lucy’s creativity definitely comes from me! Writing my first book inspired me to combine the things I love…books and play. I now use books to inspire play with my children. Books open up your mind to whole new worlds taking your imagination to new places and play is how kids learn and explore the world. It really is a winning combination. Check out my Instagram and TikTok if you are ever on the hunt for ideas or just love picture books. You’ll find links to my book on my website www.MandyShade.com.

Mandy Shade is a married mum of three young children. By day she is a busy working mum working in finance and by night she transforms in to a children’s author.

Lockdowns and homeschooling pushed Mandy to finally write her first children’s book with important messages she wanted to teach her children. Mandy finds books a fantastic way of inspiring play, she shares these ideas and her books on her Instagram @mum_tells_a_tale - 81 -


Angus’s Not So Lonely Road By Maggie Cobbett When he’d bidden farewell to the other mourners and closed the door behind them, Angus’s grief was mixed with an unexpected feeling of liberation. He’d been the main carer for his disabled parents since leaving school and now both had gone within a few months of each other. His father’s last words were ringing in his ears. ‘You’ve nothing to reproach yourself with, laddie. I’m the one who feels guilty that looking after your mum and me as best you could all this time has cramped your style. Rent out or sell this old place and have some fun before you decide what you want to do with the rest of your life. You’re still a young man and not bad looking. Go travelling, maybe, and find yourself a

Thumbing his way across the USA Jack Kerouac style, maybe, or backpacking to Australia? Money wouldn’t be a problem in the short term

and he could turn his hand to most things when he needed to earn more.

nice girl.’

A few hours later, after his first ever flight and taxi ride, Angus was in the bustling heart of the capital. The days that followed, though, proved just how lonely a newcomer unwilling to pay for company – the concierge in his hotel had offered several times to fix him up – could be in the middle of a crowd. Unused to striking up conversations with strangers and having done the rounds of London’s main tourist attractions, he decided that it was high time to venture further afield. The summer months stretched out before him and he’d kick himself if he wasted them.

The latter might be more easily said than done, thought Angus as he boarded the ferry to the mainland. He was in reasonable shape and the face he glanced at in the bathroom mirror was pleasant enough, he supposed, but young women were bound to be put off by his lack of experience. Travelling, though, was something that he’d always wanted to do.

‘A long term rental vehicle is what you need, sir,’ said the ever obliging concierge, ‘and I know someone who’ll find you the very thing at a great price. Just let me make a call.’ - 82 -


The shiny blue and white VW camper van had been recently fitted out with a new engine and given a thorough facelift inside. It had a fridge, cooker, sink, storage for a portable toilet, seating that folded out into beds and ample storage space.

‘Well, actually...’

‘Or just you and your girlfriend?’ ‘Well...’ ‘Whatever. Look, here’s the manual. You look like a practical sort of chap and I’m sure you’ll cope.’ He was right there. Angus was indeed a practical sort of chap because he’d always had to be. It was a relief to leave the London traffic behind and head for the south coast and another ferry. Angus, who had prudently invested in a multilingual phrasebook, soon learnt to his delight that his cosy van was going to make him friends wherever he went. During his very first night on a rain soaked campsite in northern France, he found himself dispensing hot food and drinks to a family whose tent had sprung a leak and allowing their children and dogs to take up residence under his awning.

‘Good little runner,’ Angus was assured by the man who brought it round for his inspection. ‘And there’s plenty of room for the wife and kids. Let me show you how the pop-up roof works.” - 83 -


‘Merci mille fois, Monsieur. Vous êtes trop gentil.’ Madame wrote their address in Paris onto a scrap of paper and pressed it into his hand together with an invitation to come and stay, if ever he was in the area. Nice lady, but spoken for, he reflected ruefully. A couple of days later, Angus slept under the awning himself, having given up the narrow beds inside his van to another nice lady, a young Belgian woman in an advanced state of pregnancy, and her anxious husband. Their car wouldn’t start and, very early the following morning, he was obliged to drive them to hospital in Antwerp.

on judd mat gaardebounen, which turned out to be smoked pork in a creamy sauce, served up with broad beans and chunks of potato. As the accompaniment to the national dish was fruity white Moselle wine, liberally dispensed, it was very late the following day that Angus took to the road again. Impressed by the warm hospitality he’d just received, he thought it would be churlish to drive straight past a group of bedraggled hitchhikers and squeezed them all into his

‘Ik ben U erg dankbaar,’ she gasped. Their door would be open to Angus at any time, the equally grateful-soon-to-be father assured him, as medical staff descended on them from all sides. What else his other half said between increasingly frequent contractions wasn’t easy to understand, but Angus was left with the distinct impression that the baby, if a boy, might well be given his name. Maybe even if it was a girl!

van, dropping them off in Strasbourg. ‘Arrivederci, Angus! Visitaci in Roma!’ chorused the girls as he drove away, another clutch of names and addresses added to his rapidly growing collection. More promising, perhaps?

In Luxembourg, he helped an elderly farmer struggling to change a tyre and was invited to follow him home and park up for the night in their yard. The lady of the house fed him royally

In the Black Forest, he encountered a family with a flat battery and was happy to offer his jump leads. In return, they invited him to a barbecue and overnight stay at their home in Stuttgart. ‘Auf Wiedersehen, Angus!’ Before he left, they insisted on stocking his fridge with enough delicious local delicacies to keep him going until he reached Switzerland. Near Innsbruck, he rescued a very pretty American girl standing forlornly by the side of a quiet country road. Her problem, as it turned out, was - 84 -


she arrived without further mishap and got out his, by now very well thumbed, phrase book. ‘Mein Auspuff ist kaputt?’ she giggled. ‘Gee! Is that for real?’ Angus nodded, trying in a gentlemanlike manner to avert his eyes from her straining T-shirt. The design printed on it was of a pair of white birds with orange feet and beaks. The girl laughed and pointed at her ample chest. ‘They’re called loons,’ she said. ‘You’ll see a lot more of these when you visit me in Minnesota.’ Angus didn’t care what she called them but thought that a transatlantic trip might definitely be on the cards for next year. Minnesota, as far as he recalled from his school atlas, was conveniently central. In the meantime, there was plenty more of Europe to explore and he was no longer afraid of being lonely.

a simple one. Angus realised quickly that the loud complaints coming from her hired car were due to nothing more serious than its exhaust having blown, leaving it safe enough in theory to drive to a garage he’d passed a few miles back. Sensing how nervous she was, Angus followed close behind to make sure that

A Yorkshire girl through and through, Maggie Cobbett lives on the edge of the Dales. With five books to her credit, she also writes short stories, features and even the occasional poem. Her many travels, as well as careers in modern language teaching and television background work, have furnished an inexhaustible supply of inspiration. http://maggiecobbett.co.uk/

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Around America in 50 Books by Wendy H. Jones

Arizona Geronimo. What’s the connection between these two women? Is this a case of murder/suicide or is it a double homicide? And if someone else is responsible, is it possible that the perpetrator may, even now, be on the hunt for another victim?

Review J.A. Jance is a talented author, and this comes through in every word of this book. The storyline itself is strong and there are numerous moments of tension in this taut mystery. As a mystery it works extremely well; I love the way new information is teased out, little by little, throughout the narrative. I was shocked in several instances. The ending itself took me completely by surprise, although, on thinking about it, the clues were there to be discovered all along. There are also red herrings aplenty.

Downfall by J. A. Jance This month’s literary trip takes us to Arizona, next in the alphabet of the American States. I’ve always been fascinated by Arizona as it seems majestic and wild to me – slightly exotic in a rugged way. So, I was excited to get to this month’s review.

The characters are also convincing, and I believed in every one of them. Love them or hate them, they are extremely true to life. I was particularly impressed by how realistic the teenage characters

Description Arizona sheriff Joanna Brady returns in this outstanding new mystery set in the beautiful desert country of the Southwest. With a baby on the way, sudden deaths in the family from which to recover, a re-election campaign looming, and a daughter heading off for college, Cochise County Sheriff Joanna Brady has her hands full when a puzzling new case hits her department, demanding every resource she has at her disposal. Two women have fallen to their deaths from a small nearby peak, referred to by Bisbee locals as - 86 -


were; I could feel their emotional angst in every instance. The main character, Joanna Brady, leaps off the page and into your conscious. A hotbed of differing emotions due to personal circumstances and pregnancy, she is still focussed on the case and determined to get her man (or woman). What of the setting, does it give me a feeling of Arizona? The answer to that is a resounding yes. I felt as if I was there, right in the middle of the action, and living in Arizona itself. The majesty of the landscape comes through strongly and I could picture it perfectly. Arizona is definitely somewhere I want to visit - despite the fact I was reading a mystery. I would hope I didn’t find myself in the middle of a murder investigation if I did visit. I would have no reservations in highly recommending this book. https://bookgoodies.com/a/B017R4JVOC

Wendy H. Jones is the award winning, international best-selling author of the DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries, Cass Claymore Investigates Mysteries, Fergus and Flora Mysteries, Bertie the Buffalo children’s books and the Writing Matters books for writers. She is also a writing and marketing coach and the President of the Scottish Association of Writers. As copy editor for Mom’s, she works hard to ensure content is appropriate and free of grammatical and spelling errors. You can learn more about Wendy on her website: https://www.wendyhjones.com/ - 87 -


Mom’s Favorite Reads Author Lisa Shambrook I began weaving intricate stories inside my head early, but these days my words find themselves bursting forth in the forms of flash fiction, short stories, and novels. I'm a sensory writer and I delve into sensitive subjects that will lift your spirit and steal your heart, and I conjure worlds of fantasy and postapocalypse which will ignite your imagination. I was born and raised in vibrant Brighton, England, and living by the ocean heavily influenced my lyrical and emotional writing. I work with the senses, description, and colour, and my readers will easily visualise the narrative. I draw inspiration from my chaotic family, my memory, and imagination. After I had my first of three children we moved to Carmarthen, West Wales, a market town also rich in legend and lore. I'm highly creative and own an Etsy shop, Amaranth Alchemy, where I breathe new life into old pages and create bookpage gifts and art from old, worn, torn, and abandoned books. I love family time, walking in forests with our dog, watching waves crash on the beach, photography, crystals, art, and last but not least, writing.

Connect with Author — http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lisa-Shambrook/e/ B005AV9M8K https://www.facebook.com/LisaShambrookAuthor https://twitter.com/LisaShambrook

https://www.goodreads.com/author/ show/5140393.Lisa_Shambrook

There’s nothing better than losing yourself

http://www.amaranthalchemy.etsy.com/

inside your imagination…

http://www.pinterest.com/lastkrystallos/ - 88 -


Beneath the Distant Star Discover what you already have. Jasmine knows her very existence reminds her mother of something her sister will never have—life. Craving love and acceptance, Jasmine struggles to become her own person, and fragile relationship with her mother shatters. https://bookgoodies.com/ a/B07HSY116Y

Beneath the Old Oak

Beneath the Rainbow

Turn dreams of escape into hope…

It's those silly dreams that keep us alive.

Meg’s mother is having a breakdown, and Meg can’t cope. Seeking to escape bullies and overwhelming anxiety, she discovers an old oak tree whose revelations begin to change her life.

Freya won’t let anything stand in the way of her dreams – not even her death. Now her family will need to uncover the clues to her secrets before it’s too late.

https://bookgoodies.com/a/ B07HT1Q8W9

https://bookgoodies.com/a/ B07FCS4DJC

A Symphony of Dragons Let the song of dragons lead you... Lose yourself in the enchanting worlds of fantasy, contemporary, steampunk, and postapocalyptic, and let your imagination soar on a chorus of dragon wings. https://bookgoodies.com/a/ B079R2K6N7 - 89 -

Human 76 Fourteen authors take you on an unprecedented post-apocalyptic journey. https://bookgoodies.com/a/B01KIJCPVO


Genealogy: Meet My Ancestors by Hannah Howe

The Day They Married My 3 x great grandparents William Howe and Mary Hopkin married on 24 August 1850, a Saturday. They married in the church of St James, Pyle, two miles from their homes in South Corneli. Originally, this church was built in the nearby medieval town of Kenfig. However, due to frequent sandstorms during the thirteenth, fourteen and fifteenth centuries, the burgesses abandoned Kenfig and settled elsewhere, including Pyle, where they re-erected the church, transferring it block by block. A wall plate in the nave confirms that the burgesses had transferred the church of St James to Pyle by 1471. One of the walls of the church was built ‘upside down’ with the smaller stones placed first, as they arrived from Kenfig.

walk fifteen miles to the market at Neath to sell bonnets, made at home. No photographs of Mary exist, but the fact that she used to walk such distances suggests a high degree of physical fitness, and that she possessed a slender frame. Certainly, her walks to Neath market ensured that she had plenty of exercise. Her sister Anne probably walked with her to the market and there she met her husband, David Price.

In 1850 the Great Western Railway arrived in South Corneli. On the day William and Mary married, the chairman of the Great Western Railway announced himself pleased with the profits the line was making, despite missing a thirty-mile section of track between Gloucester and Chepstow. Those profits, including £1,084 accumulated during the third week of August, came from passenger services. At this time the Great Western Railway had yet to secure goods or mail contracts.

As stated above, no photographs of Mary, or William, exist. However, maybe they did have their pictures taken at some point. In 1850 the newspapers carried advertisements for photographers and a number of photography businesses did establish themselves in the area, in Kenfig Hill, Porthcawl and Bridgend. Indeed, in 1875 J Bowtell was listed as a photographer living in South Corneli. It’s highly likely that William and Mary knew him, but there is no evidence to suggest that he took their pictures.

The arrival of the Great Western Railway with its steam locomotives must have been quite a sight for William and Mary, particularly as the railway line ran at the top of their street. Maybe they boarded the trains on occasions. I have found no reference to that, but Mary was mentioned in the newspapers along with her friend, Mary Francis. They used to

On 24 August 1850 the newspapers were reporting outbreaks of potato blight, a disease responsible - 90 -


for the 1840s European, 1845-1852 Irish and 1846 potato famines. While not to the degree of the sad events listed above, potato blight did trouble local farmers and gardeners at this time. The Merthyr Guardian reported that the use of lime without dung, as recommended by some farmers, alleviated the problem. Margaret Hopkin and Catherine Lewis witnessed William and Mary’s wedding. Born on 19 November 1825, Margaret was Mary’s younger sister. She married William Phillips, a coal miner, and the couple produced four sons. At the time of William and Mary’s wedding Catherine, a friend of Mary’s, was in her early thirties and unmarried. She survived financially by lodging labourers - men, women and children - who had moved to the village to work on the local farms.

eighteen, he found himself working as an agricultural labourer on Cadogan Thomas’ farm in Merthyr Mawr. From there he travelled five miles further west to South Corneli where he met Mary Hopkin.

When William and Mary married, Mary already had a child, Thomas Reynolds, born on 15 January 1842 in South Corneli. Mary was twenty-three at the time and three years older than baby Thomas’ father, also Thomas. Thomas Reynolds senior died in 1845. He did not marry Mary and it would appear that he had no plans to do so. Thomas was baptised on 18 January 1842 in St James’ church, Pyle as Hopkin and Reynolds, but he carried his father’s surname throughout his life.

Where did William and Mary meet? There is no definitive answer, but a farm, market, pub or church are the main contenders. I suspect they met through his work on the local farms. Incidentally, Mary was born on 27 August 1818 in South Corneli and baptised on 20 September 1818 in St James’ church, Pyle, so she was five years older than William, a slightly unusual age difference, but by no means unique. William and Mary’s first daughter, Margaret, was baptised on 16 February 1851, which means that Mary was three months pregnant when she married William. Unlike Thomas Reynolds, at least William did the honourable thing and married Mary.

Thomas lived with William and Mary after their marriage. He worked on the local farms as a carter and on the developing railways. On 15 May 1875 he married Mary Morgan and the couple produced three children.

Mary gave birth to five children: Thomas Reynolds in 1842, Margaret Howe in 1851, Hopkin Howe in 1853, William Howe in 1855, and Mary Ann Howe in 1858. However, only one of her offspring, my direct ancestor William, survived her.

William Howe was born on 31 August 1823 and baptised on 14 September 1823 in Southerndown, St Brides, Glamorgan. As a teenager, he worked his way west to labour on the farms. In 1841, aged - 91 -


Margaret, sadly, died of ‘brain fever’ on 30 December 1853 in St Brides, Glamorgan. Through her husband, William, Mary had a number of relatives in St Brides, but it’s not clear why Margaret was there and why Mary wasn’t with her. Did Mary have the fever too and was too ill to look after her child? Whatever the reason for Mary’s absence, Margaret’s death was a deviating blow for the family. Mary Ann was born on 20 June 1858 in South Corneli, Glamorgan. Like her mother, Mary Ann was a dressmaker. Amazingly, a letter written by Mary Ann in 1877 survives. As well as sentimental value, the letter is interesting in that it was written in English by a native Welsh speaker, it mentioned using the recently installed railway network and, more poignantly, Mary Ann stated that she was well ‘at present’. Mary Ann endured poor health throughout her short life and died on 21 January 1886, aged twenty-seven.

Mary Ann Howe Mary Ann Howe died of ‘cardiac syncope’ or heart failure. Her brother, Hopkin, a Methodist Minister, was at her side. She died at Alexandria Road in Pontycymer, fourteen miles north of Corneli. What was she doing there? In 1882, the people of Pontycymer built the Bethel Methodist Chapel with modifications added in 1885. The design incorporated a Romanesque style with two storeys, a gable-entry plan and round-headed windows. It seems highly likely that Hopkin was visiting the chapel, accompanied by his sister, Mary Ann. Mary Ann fell ill and was taken around the corner to a house in Alexandria Road where she died. Because of her letter, I feel close to Mary Ann as an ancestor and remain grateful for her words and the insight into her life.

South Corneli, October 3, 1877 Dear Cousin, I have taken the pleasure of writing these few lines to you in hopes to find you well as I am at present. Dear Cousin I could understand in Mary David’s letter the note you sent me that you was greatly offended to me and I don’t know the cause of you being so offended to me unless it is the cause of not sending your hat. The reason I did not send it because you told me you was coming to the tea party. You said that nothing would not keep you from not coming and I have not had no chance of sending it after unless I send it by train. Please write and let me know for what you are offended to me for. I am very uneasy ever since I did receive the note and I do think you don’t care much about me ever since you went away. I do only wish for you to write to me to tell me the reason by return. So no more at present. From your cousin, - 92 -


Born on 16 June 1853 in South Corneli, William and Mary’s son Hopkin became a blacksmith, learning the trade from an uncle, David John. In 1871, Hopkin was living with a Welsh family in Stockton, Durham while he plied his trade. However, his dream was to become a Methodist Minister, and he fulfilled that dream when he returned to Wales.

William’s working life reflected the changing landscape. Instead of labouring on the land, he left farming in his twenties to become a collier in the recently established coal mines. He returned to the land only to work in the local limestone quarry during the second half of his life. Meanwhile, Mary was a homemaker and a dressmaker.

Hopkin married Elizabeth Jones in 1884. This event brought great pleasure and tragedy. Elizabeth gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth May Gwendoline Howe, on 27 November 1885, but died in childbirth. Deprived of her mother, baby Elizabeth died in infancy. One can only imagine how these events must have tested Hopkin’s faith.

Mary had strong maternal instincts. She brought up her niece, Ann Price, and looked after an orphan, fifteen-year-old Anne Beynon. Anne was the daughter of John Beynon and Anne Nicholl, who owned a shop in Corneli. John died in 1837 while his wife Anne died five years earlier, in 1832. With Anne Beynon facing destitution, it was generous of Mary to take her into her home. Later, she brought up her grandson, Edward Reynolds. Her house was a home for waifs and strays.

Hopkin married again, Sarah Ann Jones, in December 1890 and he toured South Wales preaching the gospel. However, he died four years later, of a lumber abscess, an infection in his spinal cord, on 19 February 1894. He left a will bequeathing £119 to Sarah Ann, the equivalent of a year’s wages. Mary was 75 at this time. She still had her husband, William, at her side while her only surviving son, William, lived with his family next door. Life for my 3 x great grandparents, William Howe and Mary Hopkin was hard, typical of working class Victorians. They lost four of their five children, in infancy, young adulthood and middle age. They also lost three of their grandchildren.

On 12 July 1897, aged 79, Mary died of ‘senile decay’. Her son, William, was at her side. The inscription on her gravestone, written in Welsh, reads, ‘To walk in honour to the land of peace. May the good lord return her soul to me.’ Those words on Mary’s gravestone were obviously written by her husband, William. He died of bladder and prostrate disease, and exhaustion, on 31 December 1903. Edward Reynolds’ wife, Rachel Thomas, was at his side thus maintaining a link with the Reynolds family that existed for sixty years.

Hannah Howe is the author of the Sam Smith Mystery Series, the Ann's War Mystery Series and the #1 international bestseller Saving Grace. Hannah's books are published by Goylake Publishing and distributed through Gardners Books to over 300 outlets worldwide. Her books are available in print, as eBooks and audiobooks, and are being translated into ten languages. Discover more on Mom's Favorite Reads website: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/hannah-howe

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Coloring Page By Adrian Czarnecki Though I love dreaming up and putting together my Siberian Husky themed children’s illustrated picture story books, Adventures of Hot Rod Todd, I don’t think of myself as an ‘author’ or as a ‘writer’. ‘Story teller’ sounds better. My books are so dependent upon the illustrations. That’s where illustrator Cameo Anderson http:// www.cameoanderson.com/ comes in. Cameo really can see into my mind’s eye interpreting my often rambling page descriptions into works of art; there’s a saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words” and with a children’s book that is so important and Cameo nails it every time and then some. So, for your enjoyment, here is a page from the Coloring Book featuring some of the characters and scenes from the books.

Coloring Book FREE PDF download available via website www.adventuresofhotrodtodd.com

Adrian S. Czarnecki is a semi-retired writer of Siberian Husky oriented children’s books based on an actual litter of 6 puppies born to his Dam Empress Maya and Sire Damien Czar on March 14th 2019. Born in Huddersfield, England, Adrian has travelled the world extensively pursuing careers in journalism, photography, PR / Marketing as well as print and sales. Adrian now lives in Idaho, USA with his wife Meta and their Siberian Huskies who keep them on their toes. - 94 -


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That Sinking Feeling by Father Ian Maher

Luke 2.41-52 crowd. It’s a mixture of anxiety and guilt, matched only in intensity by the feeling of relief when the child is found. Anyone who has had children, or had the care of children will know what I mean.

One of my earliest memories is from around the time of being three years old. My mother had taken my sister and I to a very busy local fete, and there are two things I recall vividly. The first was a marching band, and I remember walking alongside it as if I were one of them. The second was being firmly caught hold of by my mother, who was both annoyed and relieved. I had wandered off in the crowd and got myself lost, but oblivious to the dread experienced by my mother as she realised I was missing.

In this gospel reading, Joseph and Mary experienced something similar when they lost Jesus in Jerusalem, albeit when he was a little older at the age of 12. They were there for annual Passover visit having travelled, most probably, with other family groups from Nazareth, so it would not have been unusual for Jesus not to have been in the sight of his parents all the time. They assumed he was with the group, only to notice his absence while on the journey back.

Many years later, with children of my own I can fully appreciate the sinking feeling that my mother must have had with her young child lost in the

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I like to think that 12-year-old Jesus also reflected on that event, and the dread that his parents went through when they thought he was lost, the selfawareness of his own humanity heightened by seeing, perhaps especially in his mother’s face, the despair changing to relief and joy at finding him safe.

Returning to Jerusalem, no doubt sick with worry (remember, Jerusalem would have been packed with visitors), Mary and Joseph find Jesus after searching for three days. Where? Not in any teenage delinquency, but in the Temple, sitting among the teachers listening to them and asking questions. This did not prevent Jesus from receiving a relieved telling off from his parents for causing them so much anxiety.

After all, isn’t it often the case that the most difficult and heart-stopping experiences in life, those times when circumstances give us that sinking feeling, or when we see in our loved ones the worry or sorrow that we have caused, become profound moments of learning? Even if only in hindsight?

Beyond that anxiety of course, Joseph and Mary must have marvelled at what they saw in their son. Luke, in fact, records how Mary treasured all these memories in her heart in the years to come. No doubt, she reflected on Jesus’ reply in which he said, ‘Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’ Of course, where else.

Though I had little understanding of what my mother went through when she lost the three-year-old me some 60 years ago, clearly something did change for me in that moment of being found. Never again did I wander off, and maybe my mother never again took her eyes off her toddler.

I am a priest and minor canon at Sheffield Cathedral. My last post prior to retirement from stipendiary ministry was as the Multifaith Chaplaincy Coordinator and Anglican Chaplain at Sheffield Hallam University, where I worked for 12 years. https://imaherblog.wordpress.com/ Twitter @IanMaher7 - 97 -


Senryu Poems by Alison Rasmussen During the Halloween event Drawlloween of 2021 I decided to include short stories with my illustrations as a lot of them are based on the characters from the ghost story I am writing. When it came to writing a story based on pre-existing characters that are not of my own making, I just didn’t feel comfortable using someone else’s words to go with my artwork, so I decided to write little senryu poems for them instead. Senryu is quite similar to Haiku poetry, and I first discovered it through a very sweet anime called Senryu Girl (Senryuu Shoujo, 2019) which is about a girl with social anxiety who communicates through senryu poetry.

There’s a nice explanation here about the differences between Senryu and Haiku:

https://akitahaiku.com/what-are-haikusenryu-and-tanka/

Edgar Allen Poe Raven (Senryu poetry 5,7,5)

The Bitter Raven bald and melancholy, shall visit Poe no more

by Alison Rasmussen October 2021

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Jareth (Labyrinth) (Senryu poem 5/7/5)

O lively maiden, Soothed his fiendish heart, but she'll dance with him no more. By Alison Rasmussen October 2021

Alison Rasmussen is a self-taught illustrator who also loves to write. She creates fantasy creatures and whimsical gothic art and is writing a ghost story where lots of her characters go to play. She’s done illustration work for children’s stories and a zombie series, and is now illustrating her own story, just for fun. Alison has a young son and works at home, running her online art shop and creating art to go in it. When she isn’t writing about her imaginary world of ghosts, she works on improving her drawing with traditional media - mainly graphite, soft pastels, and coloured pencil. She gets inspiration from Asian art, anime, fairies, and folklore. https://paynesgreyillustration.com/

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Conspiracy Test Card by TE Hodden

Why Do Conspiracy Theories Matter? Some weeks ago now, I was having a conversation over a coffee, and I made the mistake of mentioning some of the more outlandish proposals to deal with immigration, that the Home Secretary had announced over the last few years. Politics, you see, is a sport I follow with the same casual interest as many might follow a football team. I don’t claim to be an expert, by any means, but I try to keep up with the fixtures, and read the latest headlines. (Of course, for the sake of these articles, unless discussing specific myths shared by specific people, I will try to keep away from partisan bias, and my own feelings out of this). I made the mistake of thinking I was on reasonably safe ground. I was discussing policies that were on the record, and had been widely reported. Certainly in this age of Trumpian “Post Truth”, the Russia Report, and high profile cases of targeted misinformation being used in the run up to the Brexit referendum, it is hardly an outlandish notice that a prominent politician may want to be seen to investigate the plausibility of an idea they have no intention of making reality, but that will resonate among some supporters. Over the last couple of decades, Conspiracy Theories, and other cartoonish ideas have been integrated into the political playbook. They are ideas that spread quickly over the internet, root down deep, and can be quickly, and easily, called back to mind with a simple meme, or soundbite.

But very quickly I saw the eyes of my acquaintance glazing over, and as soon as possible they made a dismissive gesture because “that sounds like a conspiracy theory”. Which, infuriatingly is both the point, and absolutely missing the point. You see, the biggest problem with talking about Conspiracy Theories, another of my passing interests, is the assumption that a lot of people have that an interest in them means a belief in them, and all too often, that even now, any conversation that has the faintest whiff of the conspiracy theory about it may as well be about little green men, and alternate realities. The truth is, that whatever you or I may think of a conspiracy theory, no matter how silly and distant from reality you might think it, there will be those who believe it, and those who are willing to play along. When Donald Trump tweeted about no-go areas in London run by Muslim extremists, back in 2018, there were people for whom he was confirming the truth. When Boris Johnson stood in the House of Commons, and repeated the claim that Kier Starmer, the leader of the opposition, had, in his previous career, chosen not to prosecute Jimmy Savile, there were those who believed it. And playing with those beliefs has consequences. - 100 -


Looking now at the footage of the mob who tried to storm the Capital Building, in Washington, with the intention of overturning the results of an election, and reinstate Trump as President, it is hard to ignore the number of flags and placards that reference Q, of QAnon, the fictitious QClearance Government agent, who has been drip feeding all kinds of tall tales into certain circles. In the ranks of those storming the building were those who believe, at least to some degree, that Donald Trump was a true hero, forever a few days away from exposing, and arresting, the sinister cabal of Liberal Elites who rule the world, and traffic children.

We would like to believe that Conspiracy theories are the domain of a small, fringe element of society, and to dismiss the stories they believe as fairy tales, but over the last two decades they have grown in popularity, and have been tied directly into the rise of political beliefs, most notably (or at least most notable to me because of my other interests) the rise of the Far Right, and its influence on mainstream politics. On the one hand, there is nothing new to this. If we look back at our history, we can see the role that conspiracy theories about the jews, the Liberal elites, and the ‘real’ reasons that Germany lost the war, played in the rise of fascists and Nazis. But… on the other hand, the internet, and social media have changed the way that we play the game of politics, and at the moment our establishments are trying to react to the new rules, ranging from

how social media detects poor quality information, or biases new sources based on reaction, to the scandals of targeted misinformation, and the influence of foreign hackers, it quickly becomes apparent that fake news and conspiracy theories are effective weapons. Headlines that make people angry get more reactions, and get more traction. Depending on the platform, by the time bad quality information is identified, and edited or retracted, more than enough people will have seen, and reacted to the story to spread it far and wide. They don’t even have to convince somebody. They often only have to make somebody think ‘but what if it is true?’ and hit share. If we see the same claim being shared by a number of sources, especially if shared in good faith by those we trust, or think we should be able to trust without question, we are more likely to consider it plausible enough to tuck it away somewhere. It is the same mechanism why some strange little stories, or urban legends, hang around long past their sell by dates, and occasionally resurface unexpectedly.

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So, to answer the important question… why do Conspiracy Theories matter? Some don’t. Some are just quirky, fun, and odd little ideas that have grown in ways that nobody expected, but… others are there to justify racism, bigotry, and hate, being used to rile us up and draw out the worst of our nature.

And they matter because ideas can be stubborn, and if you rile people up to win a few votes, the consequences might keep on growing, in ways and directions that you can’t predict or control. So, as always my advice is to read an article before you share it, check the sources, and spend a few moments fact checking.

T.E. Hodden trained in engineering and works in a specialized role in the transport industry. He is a life long fan of comic books, science fiction, myths, legends, and history. In the past he has contributed to podcasts, blogs, and anthologies. Discover more on Mom’s Favorite Reads website: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/t-e-hodden/

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The Benefits of Quartz Crystals by Val Tobin Quartz crystals, usually clear quartz, are typically the first crystals one works with when exploring the use of crystals in energy work or healing. Quartz amplifies energy and many tools used in energy work are made from quartz, such as pendulums, crystal balls, and singing bowls. Many wands have a clear quartz crystal tip. Using quartz in spa products and services is becoming more mainstream as people discover the benefits of using quartz crystals to assist healing on all levels (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) and manipulate energy in and around the body. Quartz crystals are beneficial and powerful when used in energy work.

Using Quartz Crystals in Meditation and Crystal Therapy

There are various ways to make use of quartz crystals. You can include crystals in your meditations to help boost your energy or work with your energy to promote healing and enhance your meditation experience. You can either put the crystals around you, on your body in the appropriate area, or just hold them in your hands while you meditate. Some people use crystal singing bowls for healing and relaxation during meditation.

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Crystal therapy sessions are available from some holistic practitioners or spas. This involves laying the crystals on or around the body in a variety of patterns, depending on what the client needs, and then allowing the crystals to do their work. Sometimes, the practitioner uses Reiki or another energy modality to enhance the session. Note that if the placement of a crystal ever feels uncomfortable anywhere on your body, whether you have placed the crystal there yourself or a practitioner has done so, then remove the crystal or let the practitioner know you would like the crystal removed. Sometimes the energy from a crystal can feel overwhelming, especially if you are very sensitive to energy. I have encountered a few people who experience pressure or get a slight headache when placing an amethyst on their third eye, and putting clear quartz crystals under the pillow at night can cause insomnia in some individuals.

Quartz Crystals Used as Jewelry and in Elixirs

Quartz crystals used in jewelry provide energetic benefits to the wearer. Keeping the stone in your pocket and handling it will also allow it to interact with your energy field, though if it is worn over the

clothing, the clothing will act as a barrier. It is always better to have the crystals touching the skin whenever possible. Elixirs, also referred to as essences, are made by putting the crystal in purified or spring water to transfer the essence of the stone to the water. The water containing the stone is then left to charge in sunlight. Michael Gienger, in his book Crystal Power, Crystal Healing: The Complete Handbook, recommends setting it out at sunrise and sunset, and then using the elixir in the bath or even taking it internally, provided the stone used is non-toxic.

Quartz Crystals Used in Aromatherapy

Quartz crystals are also used in aromatherapy mixtures. It is possible to find aromatherapy crystal elixirs already made. Some spas carry aromatherapy elixirs and use them in massage therapy and other treatments for their clients. They have a mix of oils that include a clear quartz crystal in the bottle to increase the effectiveness of the aromatherapy oils. Clear quartz is a powerful energy booster that strengthens the ingredients in the mix.

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(amethyst) or dissolve in water (selenite). Always verify with a qualified expert what you can do with the stone you are planning to use to make sure that you are maximizing its benefits and avoiding any toxic effects.

A Warning about Crystal Toxicity

Be aware that some crystals are toxic and should not be used in elixirs. Malachite is an example of a stone that should not be used directly in an elixir. As well, some crystals will fade in sunlight

References

Gienger, Michael, Crystal Power, Crystal Healing: The Complete Handbook, New York: Sterling Publishing Co., 1998. Hall, Judy, The Crystal Bible: A Definitive Guide to Crystals, Cincinnati: Walking Stick Press, 2003. Disclaimer: The information presented here is not intended to substitute advice from your physician or healthcare professional. Before beginning any health or diet program, consult your physician.

Val Tobin writes speculative fiction and searches the world over for the perfect butter tart. Her home is in Newmarket, Ontario, where she enjoys writing, reading, and talking about writing and reading. Discover more about Val on Mom’s Favorite Reads website: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/val-tobin

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Birthstone Crystal Grids by Lisa Shambrook March — Aquamarine This crystal grid is for Growth and Harmony. Centred with Aquamarine, also known as Blue Beryl and the birthstone of March, this grid connects with water and the moon offering empowerment, communication, and cleansing. Malachite, a powerful metaphysical stone, absorbs negativity and encourages growth. Moss Agate and Rainbow Moonstone bring peace, inner calm, and harmony, and Apatite, a stone of manifestation, offers clarity and attunement. New leaves from bluebells and ivy bring hope, strength, and growth. Let’s welcome spring.

Crystal Grids made by Lisa Shambrook for mindfulness, meditation, and art. Prints of some grids are available at: www.amaranthalchemy.etsy.com.

You can find out more about the sensory author and artist, who will lift your spirit, steal your heart, and ignite your imagination at: www.lisashambrook.com. She also loves dragons and squirrels.

Lisa Shambrook is an author, artist, and dreamer who loves dragons. Born and raised in vibrant Brighton, England, living by the ocean heavily influenced her lyrical and emotional writing. She now lives in Carmarthen, West Wales, another town rich in legend and lore. A sensory writer, Lisa delves into sensitive subject matters that will lift your spirit and steal your heart.

Find out more at her website lisashambrook.com and her Etsy shop - 106 -



National Umbrella Month by Melanie P. Smith

March Cover design created to honor National Umbrella Month

National Umbrella Month was officially established in 2013, making it a fairly new holiday. March is one of the rainiest months of the year, but umbrella’s aren’t just for rain. Summer is just around the corner, which brings a day at the beach, a backyard BBQ or a relaxing afternoon by the pool. Having an umbrella handy is a great way to keep the sun out of your eyes. They are extremely versatile and protect you in any weather — rain or shine or wind. They also make great fashion accessories, props for photoshoots and they are often seen on the most glamourous runways.

History of the Umbrella…. Did you know the basic umbrella was invented over 4000 years ago? They were first made from palm leaves and bamboo and considered synonymous with wealth. It wasn’t until the 11th century when the Chinese waterproofed

the umbrella. It became a stylish fashion accessory in the 16th Century. The foldable umbrella wasn’t invented until the 20th century. During the 1800s it was not considered appropriate for a man to go out in public using an umbrella because they were accessories for women. In the 19th century, it is said that no article was borrowed more frequently or returned less than the umbrella. How to Celebrate — •

Read the popular children’s book Mary Poppins, or you can watch the movie — if you must.

Have a family photoshoot and include an umbrella as a prop. Encourage family members to purchase a new umbrella.

Have a contest — Require participants to submit a video singing or dancing while using an umbrella in their routine.

Use umbrellas to create art. The sky’s the limit — pun intended.

We are excited to announce that Goylake Publishing has teamed-up with the Fussy Librarian and in partnership we are offering you 20% off your first book promotion with the Fussy Librarian. To qualify for this promotion, your book must be either permafree or listed free during a special offer. In our experience, the Fussy Librarian is the best book promoter in the business. When we promote with him, our free books always reach the top five of Amazon’s genre charts, most often they reach the top three. We promote with the Fussy Librarian every month and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future. Prices start from as low as $15, minus our special discount of 20%. Click here: https://authors.thefussylibrarian.com/?ref=goylake for full details. And, at the checkout, be sure to enter this code: goylake20 to claim your 20% discount. Thank you for your interest. And good luck with your promotion! - 108 -


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Marketing seems to be one of those areas that every author struggles with. It’s the same struggle companies world-wide have been dealing with for decades. How do I get my product in front of my target audience? Connections eMagazine can help. The publication is free to readers, bloggers and to authors looking for a little extra exposure. Visit our website for details. https://melaniepsmith.com/ https://melaniepsmith.com/emagazine/

Connections eMagazine is a FREE quarterly publication founded by authors Melanie P. Smith and Rhoda D’Ettore. It is currently produced entirely by Editor, Melanie P. Smith. Over the years, the magazine has evolved and it now features promos, freebies, blog articles, and short stories in every issue.

Discover more about Connections eMagazine on their website here: https://melaniepsmith.com/emagazine-landing/ - 109 -


Editor In Chief—Hannah Howe The Editor-in-Chief is the key figure in every publication. Hannah Howe works closely with the editorial staff to ensure the success of each publication. She is the author of the Sam Smith Mystery Series, the Ann’s War Mystery Series and Saving Grace. Get to know more about Hannah, her projects and her work on Mom’s Favorite Reads website here: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/hannah-howe/

Executive Editor | Graphic Designer—Melanie P. Smith The Executive Editor / Graphic Designer is responsible for developing the layout and design of MFR eMagazine. She also works hard to create new covers each month that captures the essence of each publication. In addition to the editorial staff of Mom’s Favorite Reads, Melanie P. Smith also produces Connections eMagazine. She is a multi-genre author of Criminal Suspense, Police Procedural, Paranormal and Romance novels. Get to know more about Melanie, her projects, and her work on Mom’s Favorite Reads website here: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/melanie-p-smith/

Managing Editor, Art Director & Proofreader —Sylva Fae Our Managing Editor oversees the physical content of the magazine and coordinates the production schedule. She administers the day-to-day operations of the publication, manages submissions, sets realistic schedules and organizes each edition of the magazine. Sylva is is responsible for the amazing graphics that appear throughout the publication each month. She works hard to ensure the images capture the spirit and message our author's convey in their articles and stories. In addition, As Copy Editor, Sylva works hard behind the scenes to correct any grammatical, typos and spelling errors throughout the magazine. Sylva Fae—Mum of three, fairy woodland owner, and author of children’s books. https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/sylva-fae/

Copy Editors / Proofreaders — Wendy H. Jones and Sheena MacLead Our Copy Editors for Mom’s work hard to ensure content is appropriate and free of grammatical and spelling errors. Wendy H. Jones is also our Feature Editor and works hard to provide content that is interesting, informative and professional. She’s the award winning, international best-selling author of the DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries, Cass Claymore Investigates Mysteries, Fergus and Flora Mysteries, Bertie the Buffalo children’s books and the Writing Matters books for writers. She is also a writing and marketing coach and the President of the Scottish Association of Writers. You can learn more about Wendy on her website: https://www.wendyhjones.com/

Sheena Macleod lectured at the University of Dundee, where she gained her PhD. She now lives in a seaside town in Scotland. Reign of the Marionettes is her first novel. She currently has two additional books: Tears of Strathnaver and Women of Courage—A Forgotten Figure—Frances Connolly. You can learn more about Sheena on her website: https://www.sheenas-books.co.uk/

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Story Editor—Allison Symes Allison Symes works diligently each month to generate flash fiction writing prompts that will stimulate creativity in our authors and entertain our readers. As Story Editor, she also ensures each entry is professional and polished. Allison Symes is an award winning, published flash fiction and short story writer. She also writes a weekly column on topics of interest for writers for online magazine, Chandler's Ford Today. Allison's fiction has appeared in anthologies (CafeLit and Bridge House Publishing) over many years. Allison judges competitions, runs workshops, and is always happy to talk/write about flash fiction writing. https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

Marketing Director—Grant Leishman Our Marketing Director, Grant Leishman, oversees marketing campaigns and social media engagement for our magazine. After an exciting career in accounting and journalism, he now focuses on his true calling—writing. Get to know more about Grant on Mom’s Favorite Reads website here: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/grant-leishman/

Young Writer Content Editor—Poppy Flynn Poppy Flynn works hard each month to generate ideas, proofread submitted content, and provide stories, articles, poems and other pieces that are creative and relevant from young writers around the world. Get to know more about our Young Writer Content Editor on Mom’s Favorite Reads website here: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/poppy-flynn/

General Content Writers Our Content Writers are freelance authors who contribute articles, short stories, etc. to the eMagazine on a regular basis. They work hard to make our magazine interesting and professional. Get to know our Content Writers here: T.E. Hodden — https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/t-e-hodden/ Val Tobin — https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/val-tobin/ Stan Phillips — https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/stan-phillips/ Father Ian Maher — https://imaherblog.wordpress.com/

Discover more amazing authors… https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/

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