Update Nov 2022

Hi Everyone!

Got away to visit relatives and then broke the homeward journey with a stop in Winchester, which makes for a decent city break especially when the Christmas Market is on. This year it ran from 18th November to the 22nd December, but there was some mixup on our last night when we intended to pop back just to have some chestnuts and the like. The website distinctly says it’s open for part of the week until 8pm from Thursday, but we found it closing at 6. We weren’t the only ones caught out. One woman who arrived the same time as us exclaimed, “But the email I got this morning said 8.” We had at least been and seen it in both daylight and in the dark, but had we gone there for only one evening to find it shut, we wouldn’t have been pleased to make a wasted trip. Now I feel the information’s untrustworthy. Still, we enjoyed ourselves, walking a tottering 7.5 miles on the first day, seeing the sights and staggering up to the viewpoint.

We’re nearing the end of Star Trek Deep Space 9 at long last. I had forgotten Dax died and oddly enough, recently discovered the reason was the actress wanted less screen time, so in a fit of pique they wrote her out entirely. Can’t help feeling it harmed the series a little. Out of all the series, we’re always felt DS9 was the most consistent.

We were undecided whether to watch Netflix’s film Don’t Look Up, but while away after an exhausting day, we put our feet up and watched it. Enjoyed it much more than we thought we would. Enjoyable satire not just on politics but on modern society and social media.

Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities on Netflix garnered mixed reactions and I can see why. People expect so much from him. I enjoyed especially the Graveyard Rats episode.

Aside from my personal project, I’m taking a break from writing until the new year, though I’m also reading for research, so it’s all related. Next year, I plan to do better.

Stay happy and healthy!
Sharon x

So, you think it’s cold out…

Well, yes, that’s because it is, but every time I feel like moaning, I spare a thought for those who are homeless and those who, for whatever reason, don’t have access to central heating, though with rising prices, that includes a great deal more of us this year. Honestly, I feel we’re returning to my grandparents’ time, of how ‘being cold’ was something they not only expected, but put up with without complaint. Not that I’m suggesting anyone should do so now. We’re supposed to move forward, not slip back. Every generation expects the next to see improvements, to have a better life.

The council found my grandparents on my mother’s side alternative housing owing to such supposed improvements (I say supposed because I’ve now have reason to believe they were told lies as to those reasons). I was an infant, but I have vague memories of the old house is the important issue here. The door opened on a long, narrow corridor, with a room to the right. At the end of the house, stairs on the left led up, or further along a corridor led to the right. The stairs were dark and steep, and I remember them distinctly because I once fell down them. They went to a first floor where my grandparents had their living room/kitchen, and their bedroom. Another flight of stairs went to another level, where there were two more bedrooms. There was no bathroom. The only room to have heating was the living room/kitchen, where a fire burned in the stove for heat and for cooking.

The corridor at the bottom of the house led directly into the scullery. I recall the house had some sort of furnace that provided a hot water supply, but the house definitely had no central heating. Few houses did back then. A large tin bath hung on a hook in the scullery, and when people wanted a bath, they would take this bath up to the living room, placed it in front of the fire, and filled with hot water. Owing to the difficulties of having a bath, many people didn’t bother to have a full wash nightly. We knew some families where a bath was a weekly ritual, but I recall my grandmother always made sure I was as clean as could be (I can feel her scrubbing behind my ears to this day), and that she wouldn’t go to bed without using a bowl of water for herself.

The scullery also contained a sink, and it was here that my grandmother would do the family’s laundry. I can still picture her green glass scrubbing board and the old wooden mangle. People didn’t have washing machines and were lucky if there was a local laundromat or could afford to use them regularly if one was available. Washing meant hard graft — soaping up clothes and scrubbing them against the ridges of the glass board, then setting all the washed clothes aside to rinse. Once rinsed, my nan passed the clothes through the mangle, then hung them in the yard to dry. Once dry, she ironed them, not with an electric iron, but a hot plate iron that was set on the fire. There was no temperature control, and one had to be careful not to burn the clothing.

The door from the scullery led out into the small yard — half concrete, half soil, the soil area fenced off and used by my grandfather to grow vegetables. Not because he enjoyed gardening as a hobby, but because they needed to supplement their food supply. He would also grow tomatoes up on the roof, but that’s a whole other story.

My grandfather would play football with me in this yard, which was surrounded by brick walls. There was one other door out in the yard and this led to the outside toilet. I only remember visiting and cannot recall using it, but I do recall stories my grandfather would tell of going out there late at night during winter and having to chip the ice off the seat before he dared to sit down, hoping skin didn’t stick.

This is making me sound as if I’m 90, but this isn’t so long ago. We’re talking late 60s and even into the 70s. I never had central heating until I left home at age 21. My parents never had central heating until two years later.

Did we moan? Yes. Sometimes we did. I can recall going to school in the snow up to my knees and they still expected us to get there. Occasionally, they turned us away at the gate and we had to trudge back home again. There were times we complained about being cold. We washed one limb at a time, quickly covering it. We got dressed under the covers while still in bed in the morning, and we weren’t the only ones doing it. I can talk to my mother-in-law, who had a completely different upbringing in a separate part of the country, and yes, I admit she’s much older than I; still, she can remember similar stories. She never had central heating until the late 1980s. Remembers coping because that’s just what people did. She tells me that people seldom got sick out in the country, although I can’t say the same for people I knew living in London, where some places were ill-looked after and sometimes damp. My parents didn’t even have an actual fire — they had to make do with electric heaters, which were costly.

So whenever I’m snug indoors, I’m reminded it could be much worse. I remember hard times that people didn’t even know were hard, but simply accepted as the way things were. I remember slipping and sliding, trying to walk to school, and I remember it feeling as cold inside as it was out, even while there was snow on the ground. Mostly, though, I recall with a nostalgic smile my grandfather drawing a jagged shape in the ice on his bedroom window, and telling me, “Look, Jack Frost is here.”

The way so many are struggling now doesn’t feel so nostalgic. Only painful and pitiful that the world has moved backwards.

Update Oct 2022

Hi Everyone!

Made some headway exploring some National Trust parkland. It’s so easy to only visit the houses and listed highlights, but many properties have extensive parklands we’d be stupid not to take advantage of. A strange thing about living in the countryside is city dwellers often exclaim over how nice it must be to live somewhere surrounded by all those fields. What they forget is that doesn’t always make for a walker’s paradise. Those fields are owned by farmers. You can only cross them on a public right of way, and even then that means brambles, and stinging nettles, and cow pats in your path, not to mention the occasional bull if you’re not careful. At least plenty of mud. Living in the countryside doesn’t always mean a ready amount of available and ready walks. It’s necessary also to remember that as far as you walk in one direction, you need to retrace your steps back to the car, or be fully aware of the landmarks of a circular trail.

I’m working on a personal project not for publication except possibly for a few friends, which sounds mysterious, but like I say, it’s personal. I will produce more work next year and all writing is good practice. The amount of work I’ve produced is poor this year, but that’s how it goes sometimes when living with chronic pain.

Stay happy and healthy!
Sharon x


Though famous as a time of harvest, turning, and falling leaves, a drop in temperature, and arguments over when it begins (equinox on 22nd or 23rd September, meteorological on the 1st, or traditionally known to occur on the 21st), the season no longer seems to offer the chill but crisp and sunny walks among crisp leaves it once did. I’m tired of hearing ‘it’s typical autumnal weather’ on the news reports when the weather forecasters speak of a recent deluge. Still, I cannot help but love the colours of autumn, in clothes and in nature, and the fun of Halloween. The weather doesn’t always obey the dictations of my heart, but still for me, autumn shall always remain the best time of the year. For me, ‘Tis the season’.

Update August 2022

With the new-look website, I thought I’d separate my updates from my recommended reads from now on to make things more accessible.


August was a month in which we visited relatives, did a lot of work on the garden, avoided the worst of the heat as much as we could, and complained summer’s almost over when the temperature cooled and the rain at last came, although I much prefer cooler weather. The garden’s complete as much as these things ever are. We got rid of some older plants which had turned woody, planted a buddleia in the ground as it’s had its prescribed two years in a pot, and opened up the gazebo by removing one side panel to the end as we now have established plants. Not buying any more plants. What lives, lives, and what dies, dies. If we absolutely must replace something, it will be with a plant we’ve learned from experience will survive here.


At long last got to see The Sandman from Neil Gaiman brought to the screen courtesy of Netflix. I have loved the graphic novels for years, and Gaiman is one of my favourite authors. I’ve also loved the audio dramatisations of Sandman, and own the bookends, so no way was I going to be disappointed to see it at long last filmed. Though there have been comments on the series being too ‘woke’, sometimes from people who have no inkling of the source material, and granted there were a couple of characters I would have liked to see translated to screen exactly as seen in the books, but overall the series was so well adapted (and certainly better than any adaptation we’ve been threatened with in the past—adaptations which might have seen The Sandman on screen sunk forever), I loved every moment. Part of me can’t help wishing the series was as dark as the books (Cain and Abel anyone? LOL), but I can understand why they softened it to make it more accessible.

We’re also watch the last series of Locke & Key, and while I’ve enjoyed all three seasons of a work again adapted from graphic novels by author Joe Hill (Stephen King’s son for those who don’t know), the characters irritated me somewhat for making stupid decisions a little more often than I’d like. That’s fine for season one when they don’t know what they’re doing and have been launched into a magical world, but characters are supposed to go through a transformation in all forms of literature which means they should have learned by the final season and mistakes should be fewer, not as many or more. I’ve not read the source material, so can’t comment on what Hill foresaw for his characters, and I did like the conclusion.


I’m still deep into a lot of self-editing and just as well. I’ve not been able to wear my wedding rings for weeks owing to a heat rash that came up between two fingers. Despite my best efforts and several creams, if the current one doesn’t work I’ll have to speak to the pharmacist in the hope I won’t need to contact my doctor. In short, it refuses to heal, and I’m having to wear something to separate my fingers, which makes typing difficult, so like it or not for the time being more editing it is, as that requires far less use of my left hand.

LOST the Plot?

I never watched LOST the first time around, so recently went through all six series, and I couldn’t help viewing some of the show through a writer’s perspective.

Warning: Spoilers.

Imperfect? Perhaps. I certainly had issues with the way certain characters died. I couldn’t quite believe Charlie’s death. What? He couldn’t make it out of the room, close the door, and fastened it somehow from outside? If the door had an outside wheel lock, he had the time. Failing that, he looked small enough to swim out of the porthole once the glass exploded and the room filled up with seawater. Escaping was definitely worth a try. Likewise, Jack’s attack of John Locke/not Locke was reckless where he appeared to give the extremely obvious, present and enormous bladed weapon no consideration at all. No human half gutted with that thing would have carried on to save the island. I have an issue with shows where they have characters slice their hands open for a splash and dash of blood, wrap any old rag around the cut (infection anyone?) and carry on with a perfectly useable hand apparently in no pain at all, so knife in the gut and twisted… I never understand why the public is supposed to swallow such rot.

And though we’re shown Caleb’s origins towards the end, that never explains the mystical elements of the island. At one point, we’re shown a hidden crypt with Mayan or Egyptian type symbols, which appeared to the home of the smoke monster — so I was prepared to believe in an ancient god, but then we’re shown the pool of golden light with no clear connection between the light and the symbols. Is this an ancient worshiping ground? Worshipped by who and why? Is this the source of good and evil? If so, why did in manifest in two boys? If the island needs protection, why doesn’t God make it untraceable? One minute it’s difficult to find or get to and yet seems to be more easily reached by sub than aircraft. Alas, LOST leaves us with far more questions than answers.

The major problem for most viewers seems to be the ending, with the question of were they dead all along. I never thought so, and I have no major issue with the show’s end. Not one large enough to have spoiled the experience for me; however, I feel that an alternative timeline where something Desmond did in the pool to alter the outcome yet left them all with the memories of what happened would have felt far more satisfying.

And on that note, the writers negated the specialness of Desmond. Sure he ‘pulled the plug’ and that made not-Locke mortal, so he could die, but he was trapped on the island, anyway. And what was he? The devil? One of the devil’s minions? Pure evil? Or simply a hurt little boy inside? Desmond might have destroyed the island and says he made a mistake. After all he’d been through, that seems poor recompense.

The afterlife idea leaves too many questions. Why would Sayid end up with Shannon and not Nadia? Which woman was the love of his life? Things like this and more pop into my mind, when presented by the ‘we created this space as a way to meet up once we all died’. When did they all make this decision? Does heaven automatically bring you all together with the people you spent the most important time in your life with? What was the overall purpose of the island? For it certainly wasn’t where good and evil battled it out for all eternity to keep the world turning — not if the end is the end and the island was at last safe. What was the light? And when the water returned, why didn’t Jack turn into a smoke monster? Viewers certainly saw someone else get thrown in and changed, so why not Jack? Because he had a virtuous heart? Questions, questions, questions.

This is a great illustration of a problem all writers face. It’s often too easy to come up with a fabulous idea and then write yourself into a corner. At the end of all drafts, the writer must look to see what questions the narrative raises and whether they can answer them all…. Although sometimes the writer may not wish to answer and may leave it to the audience to speculate, but it’s a tricky thing to pull off. I like some open-ended stories, but LOST isn’t one of those, and so I would have preferred a few more answers.

But, having said all that, the storyline spaced out all my niggles, and at least the show had an end, unlike so many. It remained consistent and I love well-plotted, non-chronological story-telling. I imagine some viewers might find that kind of narrative difficult to follow, but I had no trouble following the storyline at all. It’s an action series, a mystery, and, like all the best stories, heavily character driven. I enjoyed the show despite every glitch because I invested in those characters.

In all good character stories, the people populating the work MUST go through a transformation. They must change, to emerge a different and (in most cases but not all) better person. In that I found LOST to be a captivating show, especially when one realises that it’s not a story about people being lost on an island, but a group of lost individuals who discover who they are and what they’re capable of together and when facing adversity. But that is why a different ending would have been far more satisfying. An end where they got to live new lives, yet remember what they went through and thereby complete their transformations in a way more satisfactory than meeting again after death.

When writing, try not to get lost of where you are in your work and when typing THE END weigh up whether you’ve not only answered all the questions you wish to against reader/viewer satisfaction. It’s still fine to go against the grain if you feel that strongly, but make it an active decision, not a mistake.