Of Moors and More


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The Moors 1

The day had begun with a quiet sunrise over the bay at Scarborough.  Our long weekend was over and it was soon to be time to begin our journey homewards.

Our route took us through the Yorkshire Moors, and area of unspoiled natural beauty.  We came across falls, rugged landscapes, and field after field of heather, gorse,  and wildflower.  It was spectacular.

So awesome was it, that we made several photo stops.  While there are towns and cities in the area.  Today’s focus on Travel Tuesday is the moors themselves.  They can be bleak, and much literature makes this bleakness almost a character (think Brontë).  But in the spring and summer months the moors are transformed.

Much of the North Moors has been designated a national park, and the park covers an area of 554 square miles (1,430 sq km).

For many it is a place for hiking, and bird watching and the general communion with nature.  Sadly for us, it was just a pit stop on a journey home.  But oh, what a pit stop.

The Moors

Growing brightness the coming of day

Sparkling reflection upon the bay

Journey outward through moor and hill

Awed by beauty and the quiet still


Vast tracks open before us

Given to flower and heather

Stop we must

To enjoy the views and fine weather


Decorated by nature

Rolling hills and rugged views

Filling my heart with rapture

With its vast purple hues

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The Moors 2


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Sunrise Scarborough


OFMARIAANTONIA #2019picoftheweek: Natural Beauty



NannyCon ’19


“Welcome Ladies, oh and Sir,” the receptionist said. “Please sign on the dotted line, and collect your information packs and name badges.

The receptionist was a kind looking woman of indeterminate age wearing long ankle-length skirts and a small boater-like hat with a large ribbon on its band.

The annual convention of Magical Nannies Union (and now its first ever “magical Manny”) was about to begin.

The delegates were quickly taking their seats in the auditorium and the General Secretary, Miss Poppins smiled at the gathering with bright eyes and a warm smile.

“Please fill in from the front,” she encouraged, and those of you with broad brims or ostrich feathers would you kindly remove your hats for the session so we will be able to count your votes.”

When the last of the delegation was seated, the president, Mrs McPhee, joined Poppins at the podium. Together they greeted the gathered governesses.

“It is simply scrumptious to see you all here, and I trust everyone found a place to store their brollies before entering,” Miss Poppins said.  “It really is exciting the to see so many new additions to our membership, and I hope everyone will have a super time.”

“And it thrills me,” McPhee said, “that this is a momentous day here at NannyCon ’19, as we welcome our first ever male member.  Steven will you please stand and will everyone give ‘Manny’ Steven White a round of applause.”

Steven stood and gave a nod to those in the room.  He was greeted with smiles and applause all around.

“Thank you, Steven,” McPhee continued. “Now if everyone could turn to item one on your agenda papers . . . .”



The Haunted Wordsmith

Prompt B (sentence starter): “Sign on the dotted line.”

Prompt C (photo): Above


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Moving Up Country – Korea

Picture the scene.  It is the early 1980s, and a squad of young Marines, recently deployed from Okinawa to South Korea, are in the back of a “deuce and a half” travelling through the countryside going northwards.

They are cold, tired, and to be honest scared and disoriented.  The Cold War is still real, and no peace treaty has ever ended the Korean conflict of the 1950s.  To be fair, they are cocky, and totally confident in their own abilities, their training, and in the Corps.

They ride without conversation, some doze, and each is caught up in their own thoughts.  I sit among them, cold and desperately missing my wife and infant daughter.  Then one of the guys pushes the button on his small portable cassette player.

To the backdrop of rolling hills, and rising mountains, the strains of Mr. Mister’s Broken Wings pour from the little device.  Its rhythmic opening chords begin just as the image of a Buddhist temple comes into view in the distance.

The melody is a perfect soundtrack to the rugged foreignness of the scenery.  The lyrics touch the loneliness of a young husband far from his wife and home.  “Baby, I don’t understand, Why we can’t just hold on to each other’s hands . . . Baby, it’s all I know,
That you’re half of the flesh and blood makes me whole I need you so!”

It is not only a significant moment in “Music and Me,” but one of the enduring memories of my entire life.




Haunted Wordsmith Nonfiction Prompt: Music and You

The Initiation


Image by Peter H from Pixabay


Brother Valens was nervous, but full of excitement.  He had found a note upon his blanket which said he had been chosen to be entered into a special circle within the monastery; one which very few novices had ever been called to.

He was told that he was to go to the library after dinner and before vespers and there to seek a tome called De Joung’s Testimonies.  He was to read the first chapter and then return the book to the shelf, but to replace it upside-down on the shelf.  This he dutifully did.

The next day he found a simpler note on his mattress which merely said, “Repeat.”

After dinner he returned to the library, and pulled the right-side up De Joung from the shelf.  In it was a slip of paper which read, “Well done, turn to page 148.”  He did and found a penciled notation in the margin, “Fountain of Abbey garden, before chapel.”

The next day he finished his morning duties and rushed to the gardens.  As he approached the fountain he could make out the form of a brother siting on the edge of the pool, his face obscured by his cowl.

“Sit,” the hooded figure instructed, in a voice very similar to Brother Thomas’.

Valens sat, and waited for more information.

“You have done well so far brother,” the monk said.  “Return to the book for a third time.”  Just then the bell rang for chapel, the hooded man stood, and pointed to the path on the right which Valens made his way to.  The man however took the left hand path and each made their way to the chapel individually.

After dinner,  Valens again returned to the library.  The tome was on the shelf, but with its spine pointing into the shelf and the yellowing pages exposed into to aisle.  Valens carefully removed the book, and found another slip of paper.

“Your journey is nearly complete.  Turn to page 311 and then return the book properly to its place.”

Young Valens turned to 311 and read in the margin, “To enter the Circle of Four, go to the chapel at Midnight, pray three rosaries, and then descend the stairs into the crypt below.”

Valens returned the book, spine facing outwards, and then headed to vespers with a sense of elation.

At midnight he crept from his cell and entered into the chapel.  He knelled before the altar and carefully prayed upon his beads. When he was finished he cautiously made his way down the stairs into the gloom below.

“Come on down!” a voice echoed through the chamber, as he neared the bottom.

When he was all the way down he could make out a light at the end of the long crypt where some sort of table had been erected.

As he approached he could make out the forms of three men seated around it with an empty chair nearest his approach.

There was Brother Thomas dressed in a red track suit, Father Patrick wearing his clerical “street clothes” but without his dog collar, and Father Rodrigo wearing a bright Hawaiian shirt and gripping a cigar between his lips.

“Welcome Valens,” Patrick said with a thick brogue, “You do know how to play poker, I trust.”

Valens looked down at the piles of chips and deck of cards which Thomas had just shuffled.

Valens took his seat and said, “Deal me in.”


Haunted Wordsmith Prompt:

Prompt A Comedy (Maybe, as humour is in the eye of the beholder)

Prompt B (sentence starter): “Come on down!”

Prompt C (photo):  Above

Miscellaneous Prompted Micro-Poetry 8


Go left for North or right for South –
Or turn back West from which you came –
Straight ahead to be “outstanding in your field”-
Or of course you can just at the crossroads remain

Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo Decisions #writephoto 17 May 19


Spire reaching skyward-
Faith to Direct –
Arms opened wide – Energies to collect

Three Line Tales, Week 172  16 May 2019

Greenish bristles upon a purple frame –
Minty paste soon to spread –
A pearly smile to bring – free of every stain

TLT Throwback – Year 3: Twenty 16 May 19


A Globe Warmed

Ceramic soil, cracked and split –
Long unaccustomed to the kiss of rain –
Crops lay ruined in fallen rows –
Like those on a battlefield slain

Nature, she can be so cruel –
Her wrath shall be our bane –
Is this the cost for all of us,
Because of a few’s economic gain?

Weekly Short Stories Contest and Company!: Draught 17 May 19






Aunt Polly’s Fence

Image result for tom sawyer fence

Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Designed by Bradbury Thompson – Public Domain


Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie’s Saturday Mix challenge is to create a musette.  Shadow Poetry defines musette as: “The Musette, created by Emily Romano is a poem that consists of three verses of three lines each. The first lines have two syllables; the second lines have four syllables, and the third lines have two syllables. The rhyme scheme is a/b/a for the first verse; c/d/c for the second verse, and e/f/e for the third verse. The title should reflect the poem’s content.”

So with apologies to Mr. Twain, I present Aunt Polly’s Fence.

Aunt Polly’s Fence

Big Deal!
The thing you did –
No skill

Whitewash streaks
Flow down

Tom Sawyer, boy –


I have often wondered how Aunt Polly would have viewed Tom’s enterprising approach to getting the fence painted.  He was only tasked with the chore as a punishment for perceived laziness in the first place. Would his God-fearing aunt think him clever, or would it just prove his waywardness all the more?


The Gourmet

Food, Objects, People, Paper, Bowl

image: Pixabay

Danny set the grocery bag down on the counter top.  He then took the printed screenshots from his pocket and perused them again.  He then started to remove items from the bag.

Emmer wheat egg pasta. Check.  Isle of Mull Cheddar. Check. Hard-set Parmigiano-Reggiano. Chh-eck. A little Roquefort and buffalo Mozzarella.  All good!  he thought as he laid out the ingredients.

With everything laid out, he began.  He diced three shallots and a garlic clove, and then carefully measured out two tablespoons of salted butter into a pan.  Just a little above medium, he thought.  Then he added the shallots and garlic to the pan. He stirred the veg purposely until it just started to brown.  He removed the pan from the heat, and checked his notes.  “Perfect,” he said aloud.

He then grated 250 grams of the cheddar, and fifty each of the Mozzarella and Roquefort.  He then sprinkled a teaspoon of ground mustard over the cheese.

He then measured out the water into a large pan and added a pinch of salt before putting it on to boil.  That done he preset the oven for 200C.  Liz is going to love this, he mused in self-congratulations.

When the water came to boil, he poured in the macaroni.  Two minutes less than the packet says, so six minutes.

When the six minutes elapsed he drained the pasta, and then melted another two tablespoons of butter in a saucepan.  Then he added two tablespoons of flour and made a quick roux.  He slowly whisked in 500 mils of whole cream milk until he had a lump free sauce.  Gradually he mixed in three quarters of the grated cheese until it melted and thickened.

What time is it? he wondered glancing at his watch. Half past four, all according to plan.

He added the shallot mixture, butter and all to the sauce and removed it from the heat.

He dug under the counter and pulled out a casserole dish and poured the pasta into it.  He then covered the macaroni with the sauce and mixed it together well.  He then added the remaining grated cheese.  He then grated 30 grams of the Parmesan over it and a half teaspoon of dried parsley.

Popping into the oven, he gave a relaxing sigh and checked his watch again.  Twenty minutes, then let set for five more.  So, about ten past five.  Perfect, Liz is due at quarter past.

He then began to set the table and even put out the candle sticks.

At five o’five he took out the casserole and placed it on the serving tiles.  He lit the candles, and opened a bottle of wine.

Just as everything was ready he could hear keys in the door lock.

“Ta Dah,” he said as she entered the dining room.

“What’s all this?  said asked in astonishment.

“This morning you said you really fancied some Mac & Cheese tonight.  So here it is Sweetie.”

“Oh, Danny you numskull,” she said giving him a quick peck as she passed by him.

She stepped into the bombsite of a kitchen, and opened a cupboard.  “Mac & Cheese,” she said as she rattled a box of Kraft M & C.”


The Haunted Wordsmith Prompt A (food challenge): Mac & Cheese [I loved this prompt as it allowed a great medium to embed a recipe into a story].


Hummus and Caramelised Onion Wrap

It has been a while since I last posted a sandwich idea.  I have recently been eating more salad based meals, and wraps.  Theses are quick to prepare and easy to transport.  One of my recent favourites unites hummus, hard boiled egg, and caramelised onion.


  • Plain Flour (or Tomato) Tortilla 1
  • Standard Hummus (Though caramelised onion type works too) 2  heaped Tbs
  • Egg (Hard-boiled) 1
  • Onion 1/2 medium
  • Vegetable Oil splash
  • Tomato
  • Sugar 1/8 tsp (optional)
  • Water (as needed)


In a small frying pan heat the oil.  Dice the onion and add to the oil.  Fry this off until it begins to brown.  Splash with small amounts of water to deglaze and add sugar if used and stir fry well.  Remove from heat but leave in the warm pan.  Shell and dice the egg, and dice the tomato.  Lay out the tortilla on a large plate and spoon the hummus into the centre.  Spread the hummus evenly over the centre half of  the wrap.  Then add the onion and spread in the same way.  Add the chopped egg and tomato and season with salt if desired.  Fold the bottom eighth of the tortilla upwards and then do the same with the top.  Fold the two sides over the centre to complete the wrap.

That’s all folks.




Mildred’s Lair

Image by Ylanite Koppens from Pixabay

As a teen, I hated visiting Gran in the care home.  The place smelled of Bengay and peppermint, and the day room was even worse with fifty different perfumes and colognes competing with the last remaining oxygen.

The rooms were small and claustrophobic, and each had the identical floral wallpaper which also featured in the lobby.

I have to be brutally honest about it.  I loved my Gran, but when Saturdays came around I came up with whatever excuse I could to avoid the visit.  I even started getting better grades because of all of the homework I actually did.

It’s thirty-five years on and my mom’s sister, Aunt Mildred, has recently moved into a “care facility.”  Although the unpleasant memories of my teenage years still lingered, I felt it my familial duty to at least pay one visit.

When I arrived to ‘The Meadows,’ I was greeted by, what I swear must be, the exact same wallpaper.  Were they trying to be retro or was it just something in the DNA of these places?

“Hi, I am here to visit Mildred Smith,” I said at reception.

“Please sign in on the screen, and don’t forget to put your vehicle registration number in so you don’t have to pay for parking,” the what seemed to be twelve-year-old receptionist said.

I punched in my details, and the screen lit up with a smiley emoji.  I must have blanched at the image, as the receptionist said, “That means you are on Ms Smith’s preferred visitors list.”

“Oh,” was all I could say.

“You will find her in the day room.  It’s at the end of the hallway past the double doors,” the receptionist said. “She will be expecting you.”

I made my way down the pastel coloured corridor and through the double doors.  I then came into the day room.  It was bright.  MTV was on the television screen, and above all there was air!

About a dozen “Oldsters” were in the room, and not a zimmer frame or house coat in sight.

“How are you doing, my darling?” my aunt said as she came up and gave me a hug.

“I, I am okay,” I said returning her hug and then proffering her the basket of grapes I had brought, which now seemed really inappropriate.

“Annie, this is the gang. Gang, this is my niece, Annie,” Mildred announced loudly.

“Hello Annie,” the group chorused.

“Hi, ah, um, Gang,” I replied sheepishly.

A ninety-year-old gentlemen wearing a stylish track suit stood and came and kissed my hand, and then gave me a wink.

“Oh, that’s Alfie, he’s such a flirt,” Mildred said as she shot him a sly wink and then mouthed the word “eight.”

He blew Mildred a kiss, and the heavy gold disco chain glistened from his wrist with the gesture.

“Come along, Darling,” Mildred said and she then led me down a different corridor which was totally devoid of the floral print.

Three doors down she stopped and gave two soft taps on a door before opening it.  She stuck her head in an said, “Is seven still good for you?”

A male voice responded, “Perfect Milly, I can’t wait.”

We passed two more doors and she repeated the process, though this time inquiring if “six was okay.”

Another male voice replied, “Lovely, Mil.  Any later and you’d wear me out.”

She then crossed the hall and opened the door to a spacious room with a thick blue carpet, which accentuated her leopard print bedspread and the the zebra patterned pillows.  On the walls were framed photos of scantly clad young men in what seemed to be erotic poses.

“Come in Darling,” she said, and patted her hand on a the seat of a chair in tiger print.

I sat and then asked, “How have you been doing?”

“Lovely, lovely.  This place really makes me feel alive, and I am so busy,” she said.

Busy indeed, I thought remembering the journey to the room.

“Aunt Mildred, I know its none of my business, but . . . ”

She held up a hand to cut off the rest of the question,  “Yoga, Dear.  I give private yoga lessons,” she said with a sweet smile.



The Haunted Wordsmith Prompts

Prompt A (setting challenge): Elderly person’s home

Prompt B (sentence starter): “The place smelled of Bengay and peppermint.”

Prompt C (photo): Above

The Search

Bedroom, Bed, Pillows, Headboard, House

image: Pixabay

“Ma’am what makes you think this isn’t just a missing person’s case?” Larue asked dispassionately.

“Because my daughter would never go away without telling me,” Mrs Carmichael said weeping.

“Yes, Ma’am,” the detective said unconvinced.

Mr Carmichael returned from the kitchen with four mugs of coffee, and set in down in front of the officers.

“ . . . And you say you last saw her on Thursday evening?” Larue questioned looking at his pad.

“Well we didn’t actually see her,” Mr Carmichael said. “We heard her coming in about eleven and I assumed she had just gone to bed.”

“Okay, so when was she actually seen?” the detective asked, a little impatiently.

“At seven,” Mrs Carmichael said, “She had on her new jacket, I bought her, and the Gucci bag.”

“But you are sure it was her who came back in?  Did she say something?” Larue asked.

“No, but who else could it have been?” Mrs Carmichael challenged.

“No way to tell, Ma’am.  Could have been anyone who had access to her keys.”

Mrs Carmichael’s eyes filled with terror.  “A stranger?  In our house?”

“Just a possibility, Ma’am.”  He paused, and then said, “Is there anything missing that seems unusual?”

“No just her, her phone, and her Gucci bag,” Helen’s mother replied.

“Can we have a look?” Larue asked.

“It’s the first door on the left,” Mr Carmichael responded.

Larue and his sergeant stood up and walked to the room.  The bed was freshly made, and all of the clothes seemed to be hanging in a colour co-ordinated arrangement.

Larue noted that the room was devoid of dust, and everything was in absolute order.  I wish my twenty-three year old had a room as clean as this, he thought.

“And this is how she left it?” the detective asked.

“Why heavens no,” Mrs Carmichael said defensively. “With people coming round to see it?  What might you think of her if you saw it in that state?  No, I cleaned it before you arrived.”

So much for evidence, Larue reflected. “That might make finding clues a little more difficult,” he said.

“I told you not to spoil her,” Mr Carmichael said accusingly to his wife.

“Okay, Phillips dust for some fingerprints just the same,” Larue ordered.

“Is there anything else we can do to help?” Mr Carmichael asked.

“No, I think you’ve done quite enough,” the detective said gruffly.

Tale Weaver – #223 – Search – May 16th

The Haunted Wordsmith Prompt

Prompt A (genre challenge): hard-boiled mystery

Prompt B (sentence starter): “I told you not to spoil.”