Off In Search Of The Sun

Hisaronu bay, courtesy of beachzone.com

Hisaronu bay, courtesy of beachzone.com

Most Brits, or certainly Scots, will agree we’ve had a pants summer so far. To remedy this, and to get away from the building site that is our house for a while, long-suffering hubby and I are off in search of some sunshine.

In a week’s time we’re going to Turkey, to Hisaronu. We have a mountain view resort, pools to lounge by and cool off in, lots of beautiful sights to visit, and SUN! Sooo looking forward to it. I can catch up on my to-read list, as well. Also looking forward to having a Turkish bath again. We did this last time we visited Turkey and it’s refreshing, relaxing and leaves you all smooth and silky.

In spite of the chaos round here, we’re quite well-prepared. Just need to get currency, sort out clothes and do the packing. Oh, and make sure the house is stocked with cat food, so our kindly neighbour who feeds the little scamps while we’re away isn’t left short.

Therefore, I am signing off the blogsphere for a while. Brace yourselves for holiday snaps when I return. Also, lots of moaning about the final phase of our renovation project. Have fun while I’m gone – but no having wild parties in my empty house, now! :D

Normal Service Will Resume Shortly (Or Maybe Not…)

Writing this blog amid total chaos. In order to have a moan about the total chaos. Readers: do NOT go about organising your life like we do. By we, I mean me and long-suffering hubby, as he’s partly responsible for the chaos. Here’s what’s happening in this madhouse at the moment:

The whole downstairs has no floor. Well, of course it has a floor of sorts – we’re not levitating everywhere (how cool would that be?), or balancing on beams. We are living with chipboard flooring while we wait for a new laminate floor to be laid. The original (and admittedly crappy) flooring had to come up, along with the skirting boards, so that hubby could hide all our sound system cables and whatnot under the floor or in the walls. This is all so that it will look fabulously tidy once the whole downstairs-rejuvenation-project is completed. Meanwhile, we are walking on squeaky rough chipboard. Ugh.

Who else calls this a 'Dulux Dog'? ;)

Who else calls this a ‘Dulux Dog’? ;)

This project has also, understandably, resulted in some plastering. So there is plaster dust everywhere. No matter how long you leave it or how often you clean, that s**t just re-settles. Grr.

In the middle of this, we ordered new bedroom furniture. Then it seemed a shame to put that in our old tired bedroom, so we redecorated that as well! Aarrgh! At least that job is done, and the new bedroom looks fab. I just need to put pictures up.

Bedroom looking all pretty, unlike downstairs

Bedroom looking all pretty, unlike downstairs

In two weeks time, we go on holiday. Right in the middle of the project. Great planning! However, I do think the break will do us good. Due to the situation in Tunisia, our original destination, we had to change our holiday plans. Cue much stressing while we found a resort that had space within our time frame (hubby couldn’t change the time he had off work), and for roughly the same price.

Frodo Cat decided to become ill in the midst of all this. He had an infection, which was dealt with by antibiotics, but he disappeared for a whole day before I could get him to the vet. He never goes far or for long, so I was freaking out thinking that something had happened to him. I am pleased to report that after his course of antibiotics, he is back to his normal self. He didn’t eat for several days. Unheard of! ;)

Frodo Cat making the most of being sick and refusing to let Sam have the top bunk

Frodo Cat making the most of being sick and refusing to let Sam have the top bunk

And to cap it all, hubby’s car was hit by another on the way home from work a week ago. Everyone was all right, just a bit shaken. Apparently the other driver ‘didn’t see him’. Do not get me started. The poor car was taken away for repair yesterday, and should be back within the week. So hubby is having to get the bus to work, much to his great disgruntlement.

I know, I know…these are first world problems. We are lucky to have a house, which we can afford to redecorate, a car, and a holiday. And a cat. Actually, four cats. I’m just having a vent, mainly because in the midst of all this I’m struggling to get any writing done. Never mind. Roll on September and the completion of the work, where everything will look fabulous and life will be back to normal. Well. what passes for normal round here… :D

Don’t Cheek Witches (Even If You’re A Dragon)

Recently I guested on the Beer and Bacon Babes blog with Through The Rainbow, a tale of a witch, a dragon and some magical mayhem. I explained that the two main characters were in my head already, and that was all because of the story that follows.

I have an awesome friend (who may or may not be a dragon) on Twitter, where he goes by the name Of The Wilds. He writes amazing dragon fiction himself. The ladies in his stories are NOT wilting violets enslaved by their dragons – quite the opposite. He was feeling a bit fed up one day and wondered if anyone would tell him a tale of a maiden kicking a dragon in the unmentionables, to cheer him up. How could I not oblige?

Have you ever tried writing a story on Twitter? it’s a great exercise, getting it to break at 140 character intervals. Anyway, here it is, edited slightly but very much the same as I tweeted it. Introducing Ellie and Arith… :)

**********

‘Arith!’

Ellie’s voice echoed round the cave entrance. But he didn’t appear.

‘Damn,’ she muttered. ‘Where is that dragon?’

A beating of wings and a roar sounded from above. With a flourish, Arith landed on the soft riverbank. His regal walk up to the cave was rather spoiled by the squelching of his talons in the mud.

‘What do you want, witch?’

Ellie glared at him. ‘Have you been talking to the castle firedrakes again?’

Arith swished his tail, red scales shimmering in the weak sunlight.

‘I am a noble creature. I should not be indentured to a mere spell caster.’

The young sorceress crossed her arms. ‘Firstly, you wouldn’t be indentured if you hadn’t done what you did. Secondly, that bunch of reptiles up at the castle has ideas above their station.’

The dragon flared his nostrils. ‘Do you mean the humans, or the firedrakes?’

‘Both. And thirdly…’

‘Yes?’ Arith was affecting a bored tone, one hind leg in the air, idly scratching an itchy shoulder.

He didn’t notice Ellie stepping closer. Until a fiery pain shot through his loins, causing him to howl and fall over in the sludge.

‘Thirdly, don’t ever call me a mere spell caster! I am Elenore, the River Witch!’

‘Oww!’ A few startled cormorants flew off their nearby perch on the rocks. ‘You kicked me in the balls!’

‘I’ll shrivel them off if you speak to me like that again!’

Arith curled up, licking his tender testicles and grumbling to himself.

Ellie suppressed a giggle. Arith was indeed a beautiful, noble creature, but right now he was just like any male after a kick in the stones. She knew it galled him to be in servitude to a witch, especially one as young as her. It wasn’t forever, though. She would demand his respect, but she also valued his friendship.

‘Oh, stop complaining.’ She gestured to the cauldron, already set up in the cave mouth. ‘Do me a favour and light this thing. Once the morning’s work is done, we’ll fly up to the castle and have some fun.’

Arith’s ears perked up at this. ‘Do you have some mischief planned?’

‘How about we go and annoy the firedrakes, and I damp down their fire when they try to flame us?’

A grinning dragon is a sight to behold. With a toss of his head, Arith flamed the branches under the cauldron.

‘At your service, Mistress Elenore.’

What Is A Kelpie, Anyway?

The Kelpies

The Kelpies

Well, nowadays it’s one of these magnificent things. See my post Two Huge Horses And A Walk In The Park for more on these amazing sculptures, which were modelled on two Clydesdale horses. But where does the name ‘Kelpie’ come from?

The kelpie, or water horse, is a shape-changing aquatic spirit of Scottish legend. They are said to haunt rivers and streams. Not lochs, so that calls J.K. Rowling’s story that the Loch Ness Monster is a kelpie into question. (There is another water horse, the each uisge, which lurks in lochs. Maybe Nessie is one of those..?)

The kelpie is a malevolent spirit. It may appear as a tame pony beside a river, to attract children – but once on its back, its sticky magical hide will not allow them to dismount. The kelpie will drag the trapped child into the river and then eat him. Nice.

These water horses can also appear as human. They may materialize as a beautiful young woman, to lure young men (or, indeed, other young women) to their doom. There are stories from all over Scotland of them appearing in various human forms, young and old, fair and ugly, to wreak havoc on us mere mortals.

Kelpies can also use their magical powers to summon up a flood and sweep a traveller away to a watery grave.

The sound of a kelpie’s tail entering the water is said to resemble that of thunder. And if you are passing by a river and hear an unearthly wailing or howling, take care: it could be a kelpie warning of an approaching storm.

But there is some good news: a kelpie has a weak spot – its bridle. Anyone who can get hold of a kelpie’s bridle will have command over it and any other kelpie. A captive kelpie is said to have the strength of at least 10 horses and the stamina of many more, and is highly prized. It is rumoured that the MacGregor clan have a kelpie’s bridle, passed down through the generations and said to have come from an ancestor who took it from a kelpie near Slochd, in the Scottish Highlands.

One tale from the Hebridean island of Barra has the kelpie appear as a handsome young man, but his canny female victim steals his bridle and puts him to work in his equine form, on her farm. In the end, the kelpie chooses to remain as a mortal man if the lady agrees to be his wife, and they are married.

The offspring of a kelpie and a normal horse are impossible to drown, and therefore also highly prized.

There are legends all over the world of creatures similar to the kelpie: the Welsh ceffyl dŵr, the Germanic neck, and the wihwin of Central America.

So next time you are strolling by a pretty Scottish river or stream, be vigilant; you may be being watched from the water… ;)

Through The Rainbow

Pic courtesy of stuffpoint.com

Pic courtesy of stuffpoint.com

I’ve been invited to guest again on the wonderful BBBGals blog. You’d think they’d have learned their lesson the last time. ;) My story was inspired by a musical prompt this time. No, not rock music. What?!

It’s a bit of fantasy fun, with a witch, a dragon, and some magical shenanigans.

Follow this link to look Through The Rainbow

I’ll Get Round To It…One Day…

Where has the flippin’ weekend gone? Honestly, I need a weekend to do the things I ran out of time to do at the weekend. What’s that all about?

Actually, I got lots of things done: delivered driving lessons, bought new bedroom furniture, cheered long-suffering hubby on at his 10K race, helped my mum with jobs around her new bungalow. But sometimes it would be nice to just stay at home and work through that to-do list that never seems to get done. Do you have one of those? The stuff that always ends up getting put off? Here’s mine:

Hanging up washing
Getting it into the washing machine isn’t the problem. But when it comes to hanging it up, or transporting it to the dryer, it all goes wrong. Yes, I’m one of those minks (Scottish word alert) that leaves their washing (that’s laundry, to my American friends) in the machine overnight so it has to be washed again the next day. And sometimes, again the next day. Yup, the last lot got washed three times. I’m pleased to say it’s now on the clothes airer. Phew!

Sorting out ‘paperwork’
I need to change the payment date of some bills. And change others to online billing only (save the environment). And do my tax return…blah, blah, blah…when it comes to this stuff, I’m the world’s worst procrastinator. Or best, depending which way you look at it.

Tidying up photo albums/theatre programmes/collections of this, that and the other
Who gets round to this ? At best, they’re stuffed in a cupboard. At worst, they’re all over the spare room floor. At least I have a spare room…

Mowing the grass
Now, this is really hubby’s job. Mainly because I’m a wimp and can’t start our petrol strimmer and mower. But it always seems to get put off, until the cats are doing their best ‘Tyger! Tyger! burning bright’ impersonation through the jungle. Maybe we should just leave it a bit longer, and make hay? Or have a wild garden? Which leads me on to…

Weeding
What is the point? The buggers just grow again. Or, while being handy with the weedkiller, I accidentally kill off a ‘proper’ plant instead. Yes, I’m looking at you, dead ground creeping conifer. How dare you be so pathetic? Now I’m going to have to pull you up. More work!

That’s my list. I’m sure there’s more. What are yours? (Note: if you don’t have any, don’t tell me. Clearly you are too perfect to actually exist. You must be a character from ‘The Good Housekeeping Book Of Handy Household Hints’ or some such). ;)

Of course, I could be getting some of these jobs done now. But that’s not as much fun as writing about not doing them. Or writing about anything, really. Or listening to music, or playing with my cats, or going for a walk with hubby, or any of a hundred things that are better for the soul than cleaning, tidying or arguing with a lawnmower. It’ll all get done! One day… In the meantime, where’s that new Slash CD? I want to see if I can teach Arwen to meow along to ‘Paradise City’… :)

Sing along, Arwen! And get off the printer...

Sing along, Arwen! And get off the printer…

Of Ravens

I love ravens.

I know, I know, I seem to love a lot of scary pointy things. Cats, dragons (yes they are real, shut up), birds of prey, and now ravens. Sue me. Cute and cuddly gets boring after a while. ;)

I first saw ravens at the Tower of London, when I was 14. I love the legend that the kingdom will fall if they ever leave. Of course, England cheats and keeps their wings clipped. There are signs everywhere advising tourists not to feed them. Some people try it. I think being pecked is a just reward for being stupid, myself.

Pic courtesy of hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon

Pic courtesy of hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon

Since then I’ve seen them in various locations in Scotland, where they are often a bit harder to find. One such place is Threave Castle. Its lonely island location and bloody history fit well with croaking of the ravens who nest there. Of course, the bloody history part is true of most Scottish castles – several of which house ravens.

Pic courtesy of flickr.com

Pic courtesy of flickr.com

Ravens feature strongly in Scottish myth and legend. The Brahan Seer of the Highlands was purported to have found his ‘divining stone’, which he held up to his eye to see the future, in a raven’s nest. This seer met a horrible end, burned to death in a barrel of tar for telling the Countess of Seaforth things that she did not wish to hear. He prophecied that a raven and a dove would circle above the place where he was executed. If the raven landed, he was bound for hell, but if the dove landed, he would go to heaven. According to watchers, the dove landed and the raven flew away. Ravens also feature in many of his other prophecies.

Who doesn’t love Edgar Allan Poe? If you’re a fan of the creepy and macabre, that is. His poem ‘The Raven‘ has long been a favourite of mine. (Not to mention that a line from it is used in one of my favourite movies ‘The Crow’. Yes, okay, mixing up crows and ravens – I don’t care, the movie’s great.)
Anyhoo…I wrote a little micro fiction for Friday Phrases a few weeks ago. Friday Phrases, for those who don’t know, is a micro fiction party on Twitter every Friday (strangely enough). It’s great fun and good practice in being concise. There is a theme each week, although you don’t have to follow it. That week’s theme was ‘Never mind’. This is what I wrote:

‘Nevermind.’

‘It’s “Nevermore”, you stupid raven.’

Thanks, Edgar Allan Poe, I thought, as my eyes were summarily pecked out.

Sorry, Edgar! My tweeps seemed to like it though. ;) I’ll finish with a great pic I found. Hope Mr Poe would approve.

Pic courtesy of Twisted Synapses

Pic courtesy of Twisted Synapses