Dear Wen: Imaginary Isles…

Dear Wen,

‘I don’t know. I wasn’t there…It’s impossible to say…’

Well, not having been invited to Ashbourne of course…

blackpool 066The bell clapper sounding hollowly is an analogy of a lost soul… The bell or the ‘silent shell’ is the body, or hell, or both…

The discovered or found soul in contrast resonates or sounds in harmony… and harmony as we know from Ben’s tireless efforts is seven-fold…

So the Saint’s and Angels could well be referring to the Elohim and since they were ‘instrumental’ in creating the days of the week your suppositions may well be correct… but I would have to take a closer look at the windows.

blackpool2 026Yes, the ‘Man’ thing has been surfacing in my consciousness a lot since the weekend. What I saw all those years ago was a ‘sort of mirage’.

Continue reading at France and Vincent

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Thursday photo prompt : Shadow

Positive Side Of The Coin

Copyright Sue Vincent

From all that I look I only see

Shadow of the dusk

Devolve on earth

The day is gone

It is dark all around

Evening shadows melt daylight into darkness

But when I walk through my torch

With gentle smile on my lips

All that I see, look clear and bright

And then I realise how often I see this world with open mind

It’s all about my prospective towards life.

With love,

This is a response to the #writephoto Prompt – Shadows curated over at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

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Shadows #writephoto

Trent's World (the Blog)

shadows Photo by Sue Vincent

Note – this is now Chapter 14 of the story Of Wind and Wings, a story inspired by these prompts of Sue’s.


It was the infinite room of pillars again, columns running in every direction.  It was the same, but different.  A bright green light off in one direction extended the pillars into long shadows.

Strangely confident, Ed strode up to the light.  As he expected, it was the waystone again.  This time he followed the sign.  It didn’t surprise him that he soon saw his tower.  But as he approached, the tower grew, expanded, changed.

On reaching the tower Ed climbed up to an open window and peered in.  The structure was just a shell, open to the sky.  But that wasn’t the first thing that struck Ed.

“Pillars,” Ed said out loud.  The room of pillars again.  Was he back where he started?

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Today, I Visited My Grave

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shadows © Sue Vincent

Seventeen-year-old Keisha Davis had been in this world twice before. The first time was, from her frame of reference, two years ago, and the alternate reality resembled her world of about 1910, except arcane technology combined with steam power, enabled fantastic machines to be created, including improbable cyborgs, submarines, and even zeppelins which could fly to the edge of space.

The second time was last year, two days after her sixteenth birthday, but in this world, twenty years had passed, and now Tony Stark-like inventions were running on oil and diesel. Three-year-old Leah and nine-year-old Josiah, the children of her other reality mentors Isaiah and Eralia Covington, had grown to be twenty-three and twenty-nine respectively.

Three months ago, she had turned seventeen, and yesterday, he once again mysteriously materialized in the alternate realm, only now, another twenty years had passed, and the environment was reminiscent of the 1950s…

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Iain Kelly

Private Michael Boyd was not cut out for war. Or for a life in the army for that matter. He was too slight in build, too short in stature and too vibrant in spirit.

But when war was announced he signed up, caught up in the fervour of patriotism. He had never met a German before, nor an Austrian, nor a Hungarian, but he knew they were the enemy.

With basic training behind him, in which he passed without excelling, he was shipped over to France and marched onwards to Ypres in Belgium.

There he adapted to life in the trenches. He suffered trench foot in the wet winter months and lost a big toe to gangrene, but was ordered back to the front. He suffered split eardrums from a shell exploding close by and never lost the ringing in his ears.

He lost many comrades by his side but…

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Magic and mystery…

Each year, the Silent Eye holds several events, open to all, where you can come along and meet us, find out what we do and how we work. Our annual Derbyshire workshop is a residential weekend, in which we use the ancient technique of sacred drama as a means to explore spiritual concepts that are relevant to our daily lives in this modern world.

Throughout the year, we also run three informal workshops, visiting historic, ancient and sacred sites in some of the most beautiful corners of the British landscape. The land itself, and the marks mankind has written upon it, can teach us a great deal about who we are and how we can more fully embrace our own chapter in the greater human story.

We have recently announced new events for 2019 and places can now be reserved for all our workshops. The weekends are informal, no previous knowledge or experience is required. We ask only that you bring your own presence and thoughts to the moment. Full details, costs and booking forms are available on our Events page.


Full Circle?  – Finding the way home…
Penrith, Cumbria, Friday 7th – Sunday 9th December, 2018

Home. It is an evocative word. The images it conjures are different for each of us, yet few other words touch heart and mind in quite the same way. Birth and death, laughter and love, longing, fear and aspiration… the cycle of human life plays out within its walls.

For many, there is another ‘home’ beyond the physical confines of this world. That too may seem different for each of us and the path it its threshold is shaped by dreams. Few places illustrate this as clearly as Castlerigg, an ancient stone circle ringed by mountains and one of the most spectacular sites in the country.

The people who have walked this world before us have left traces of their lives and belief, written in stone upon the landscape. From church to stone circle, castle to cavern, finding the way home has always been intimately linked with the land. Join us in a winter landscape to explore these hidden pathways of mind and heart.

Lord of the Deep

The Silent Eye Annual Workshop
Great Hucklow, Derbyshire. Fri 26- Sun 28 April, 2019

‘Gilgamesh is among the greatest things that can ever happen to a person.’
– Rainer Maria Rilke.

A workshop based  upon the Epic of Gilgamesh, the oldest written story known to man…
What spiritual treasures lie hidden in this, five thousand-year old, Epic?
What can this ancient civilisation teach us about the questions of existence?
Join us on this quest of a life-time, next April, to find out…

The Silent Unicorn
A joint magical workshop between Lodge Unicorn na h’Alba and The Silent Eye.
Grantown-on Spey, Northern Cairngorms. 14-16th June 2019

Join us in the northern Cairngorms where, from mountain to coast, we will explore the magic of Macbeth Country in a triangle from Cawdor Castle to Findhorn Beach, down to Glenlivet. Through the Archetypes of Lord and Lady Macbeth, the Witches, King Duncan and a Unicorn! We will use the writings of The Scottish Play and other media to discover these characters within us…..

Rites of Passage: Seeing beyond Fear
Derbyshire, Friday 13th – Sunday 15th September 2019

We are all afraid of something. There are the fears of the everyday world, from arachnophobia to a fear of the dark, and the deeper fears of the personality, that play upon the mind and heart.

What purpose might such fears serve, beyond protecting us from potentially harmful situations? How have our ancestors addressed such fears across the centuries? Can we learn from the past a way to see beyond our fears to a future lit by serenity and hope?

Come along and join us for the weekend!

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Lair of the Black Shade…


…A flutter of recognition flicked across his gaze.

“What is it?” Asked Wen, her icy tone slicing through the summer haze like a frosty stare.

“There’s an old lay, I can’t quite remember how it goes…”




“I don’t know, something about a green valley between two hills…”



Continue reading at Stuart France

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Reflect #midnighthaiku

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Guest author: Sheila Williams ~ St Tropez, a story extract and a NEW book!

When I was fifteen my parents considered me sensible enough to go on an exchange holiday to France. Little did they know. I was excited, nervous. I had never been on holiday alone; I had never been in a plane; my french was execrable which didn’t matter anyway because being shy, I always became tongue-tied with strangers.

I flew from what was then, in the sixties, Yeadon airport (Leeds/Bradford airport). It was just a big shed really in comparison to airports now.  I arrived at Nice airport in the afternoon. It was then that things started to go wrong. No-one came to meet me. I waited and waited, getting more and more anxious. I considered ‘phoning my parents but I knew they would only tell me to come home. The stubborn streak in me wasn’t going to let that happen!

The problem was that I didn’t have the full address of the family I was to stay with. I had their Paris address where my parents had sent all the details of my flight but what we didn’t know was that they had decamped for the summer to their villa…somewhere near St. Tropez.

Tired of waiting, in a fit of bravado I took a taxi from Nice to St Tropez. The taxi driver took all the money I had with me when he dropped me off at the Gendarmerie. Gathering what shreds of courage I had left I marched in to explain my problem. By now it was about ten o’clock at night. The gendarmes were surprised but kind.

‘How is it you came without having the address? How could your parents let you come?’

Reasonable questions. I tried to explain that I had the Paris address but not their phone number.

Around midnight, after much telephoning and gesticulating as the gendarmes tried to track down the family, the sergeant decided they would keep me for the night. I had no money for a B&B so they put me up in one of the cells at the back of the gendarmerie. It was hot, humid and smelled of pee…but at least I could get some sleep. I was tired and not a little scared but still a dusting of bravado stuck to me. Before getting onto the slab of wood called a bed, I slathered myself in a fake tan cream. If I were to be sent back to England the next day as the sergeant threatened I was damned if I was going back maggot white! The following morning I was a glorious shade of orange.

Eventually the gendarmes tracked down the family’s holiday address and around mid-day they turned up to collect their lost property. Things were looking up…weren’t they?

To an angst-ridden teenager, riddled with uncertainties, the month I spent with the family was, to say the least, difficult. The daughter of the family was a couple of years older than me. She did her best. She introduced me to her crowd of friends and we idled away the days on the beach. But I just didn’t fit in. My clothes were all wrong; I wore pretty summer dresses, the girls wore bell-bottoms and skimpy tops. I wore a swimsuit they wore bikinis. I had (thanks to my taxi ride) no money whilst they seemed to have unlimited amounts. The first few days I felt like some newly-discovered species as people came to inspect L’Anglaise.

It wasn’t all painful though. My french improved. One of the girl’s in the in-crowd befriended me and guided me through the norms and culture of teenagers on holiday on the Cote d’Azur. I found a boyfriend and danced the night away. We stomped to the strains of Woolly Bully by Sam the Sham (the song of the moment) still echo in my head. I visited the Casino in Cannes, spent lazy days on a boat out in the bay, ate food I’d never dreamed of, discovered wine, walked the wooded hills behind the villa and watched, horrified as those trees burned in a forest fire one night.

I took my first steps towards independence and self-reliance that summer together with the realisation that there was more to the world than the loving yet cocooned existence in suburban Yorkshire. It was the start of my love affair with France. As an adult I returned to France whenever I could discovering more of its history and culture until I took the final step and moved to a small village in the south-west and here I hope to stay.

The following is an extract from a short story taken from my book The Siren and Other Strange Tales. Whilst the family life of Sukie, the girl in the story in no way resembles that of my childhood, some of her experiences in France are culled from my own. Hope you enjoy it.

Extract from ‘1966 – Sukie’

So there I was, fifteen years old, alone on a plane for Nice airport. I had a suitcase full of new clothes – dresses, shorts, tops, the lot. I’d wanted to buy a bikini but when I tried one on I felt too embarrassed and I knew I’d never wear it. So mum chose a red white and blue striped bathing costume that made me look like a barrel and I chose a tiger-skin patterned one with a daring keyhole cut in the front. I’d also wanted a pair of blue jeans but oh no, mum said, “They’re far too common, Sukie. They’re not for a girl like you.” So she bought me a pair of those trousers that have the little straps to go under your feet to keep them in place. They were a ghastly mustard colour.

I was a bit nervous on the plane, travelling alone and abroad for the first time ever but I’m not stupid and I watched what everyone else did and followed their lead. I even bought a carton of duty-free cigarettes. At Nice I recovered my suitcase safely and stepped out into the arrivals hall. The heat was incredible and the air was filled with the pungent smell of cigarette smoke. I could feel damp patches forming under the short sleeves of my pink gingham dress. My new bouffant Mary Quant bob wilted into flat straggles. I stood there for about five minutes feeling utterly lost and bewildered watching as people rushed up to greet the other passengers, hugs and kisses all round and a babel of voices. Eventually I found the Information Desk where I was supposed to wait for the family to meet me and waited and waited.

Finally as I began to worry and think about how to get home…no never, there was no way I was turning tail – a large lady with a shock of curly ginger hair approached me. She wore a garish sleeveless dress which displayed the extent of huge sunburned red arms. She had a bust like a balcony large enough for a 5 piece orchestra to play on and into this I was subsequently enfolded and kissed. But it was the girl with her that I looked at in dismay. Tall, bronzed, unfairly slim with brown curly hair held back with a golden alice band. She wore dark green trousers with huge bell-bottoms and a skimpy gold crochet top.

“Welcome to France Susan” Madame spoke to me.

I nodded but relief that I’d been found warred for supremacy with anxiety because I knew this wasn’t going to work.

I said thank you in a tiny voice.

“This is my daughter Marie-Laure. The tall, unfairly thin daughter held out a slim hand all the while taking in my crumpled, damp dress and wilting bob. I knew what she was thinking because I was thinking it too – ‘What can this bedraggled, dumpy English chick in a prissy pink dress possibly have in common with me?”

And there you have it. What indeed?

The answer of course was nothing. For the next few weeks I was doomed to tag along after this fashionista and her friends. True we had considerable freedom; Mme Balcony Boobs was too indolent to worry herself about us. We had our routines; she knew that and so contented herself by giving us a peck on each cheek in the morning as we left for the beach just across the road from the villa. The routines were simple: beach, gossip, flirting, lunch; afternoons were a re-run of the mornings followed by dinner in the evening followed by a party somewhere or other, dancing to the Beatles and the Stones and yet more gossip and flirting. It was all torture for me. I got sunburned. I was sick after eating mussels for the first time. The fashionista and her friends laughed at my attempts to speak French (which actually I thought were pretty good). I cringed when Marie-Laure sifted through my wardrobe.

“You wear this in England? And this?”

She turned in a virtuoso performance with her supercilious expression and eyebrow raising that would reduce a grown man to tears.

In short, I was thoroughly miserable and, truth to tell, I missed mum and my books and my room full of all my things. So I skulked away the days under the parasol on the beach. Occasionally I tried to join in the gaggle that collected around the beach side bar but I was like a drab brown hen amongst a flock of colourful tropical birds as they chattered about how far someone got with someone else the night before.

The only bright spot for me was Giselle – one of Marie-Laure’s friends and again, tall, blonde, leggy, unfairly thin (but not as much so as ML) but, unlike the others, innately kind. She sought me out, chatted to me and helped me with my French and generously tried to engineer some sort of entente cordiale between me and the others. She also knew that I longed, oh how fervently I longed, for a pair of bell-bottom trousers to replace the mustard crap mum had bought. I felt that if I dressed a bit more like the rest of them, I might fit in better – a vain hope probably and anyway I hadn’t the money to buy a pair.

One morning she ducked under the parasol.

“Here, let’s go. You’ve got to try these on”

‘These’ were a pair of turquoise bellbottoms.

I squinted at them. She smiled.

“You want a pair don’t you? Well these aren’t the right colour for me but I think they’ll suit you really well.”

It was a blatant lie of course, but a kind one. What she really meant was that they were too big for her but I might just be able to squeeze myself into them. I tried them on. If I breathed in really hard and long and wrenched the zip up quick I could just about make it. There was nothing I could do about the roll of flesh that draped itself over the waistband – puppy fat mum called it. She said I would lose it as I got older but, of course, I never did.

That day Giselle and her mum drove me into Ste Maxime to a little dressmaker’s shop and after being prodded, poked and pinned, a few discreet alterations were made and voila, I had my bell bottoms. I looked like Barnacle Bill the Sailor, but I did feel better for a while.

Into my third week I got a letter from mum and step-dad Smugsy enclosing a postcard with my ‘O’ level results. I had passed nine out of the ten with top grades. Later that day I met Giselle and told her my news.

“But we must celebrate.” She smiled.

So her mum took us into Ste. Maxime in her little car and left us at a café/bar in the shade of some pine trees overlooking the promenade. That was my last happy day. We celebrated, chatted, laughed and eyed up all the passing talent.

When it grew dark Giselle’s mum came back to pick us up and I made my big mistake. I lied. I said I was meeting Hector and we were going out for the evening.

Who was Hector?

A sweet, shy Scottish boy I met at one of the endless parties. I wish now I’d never used his name because the police gave him some hassle later.

Why did I lie?

Because sitting at the table next to us was a Sean Connery look-alike. He was so gorgeous and I was sure that he’d been eying me up. Me…not beautiful Giselle…can you believe it?

Giselle’s mum looked a bit doubtful but I convinced her. Once they left I ordered a glass of white wine and lit up one of my duty-free ciggies. Oh I felt so sophisticated. Then I cast what I thought was a subtle sultry glance across at Sean Mark II. With hindsight I probably looked more like a hungry hippo in search of its first good meal for a year. Whatever! It worked and Mark II slid his chair across to my table and in a rich melted chocolate voice asked,

“May I join you Mademoiselle?”

Read what happened next in The Siren and Other Strange Tales

sheila williams About the author

Sheila Williams, author, slipped into this world on Guy Fawkes night, under cover of fireworks and bonfires. Outraged to find other nurslings in the nest, she attempted to return to her own world but found the portal closed.

Adopting a ‘make the best of it’ attitude (which has remained with her to this day) she endured a period of indoctrination to equip her for her place in society.

Freeing herself as soon as possible from such torture, she embarked on a series of adventures; hospital manager, business consultant, life coach, sheep farmer. She attempted to integrate into society by means first of marriage and then partnered before setting out alone to discover another world, known as France, where she now resides.

Always fascinated by these humans amongst whom she dwells, she has developed an interest in psychology, magic, the supernatural, ghosts, Ghoulies and things that go bump in the night. Dark thoughts and black humour lurk within her.

Her outlets from this unfathomable world include nature, animals (especially funny videos of), books and writing stories. This latter occupation enables her to create her own worlds, populate them and dispose of the residents as she thinks fit. She finds holding the fate of these poor souls in her hands immensely satisfying.

Find and follow Sheila Williams

Blog  Website    Facebook   Twitter   Amazon

A NEW BOOK by Sheila Williams

weaveAvailable NOW on Amazon!

Other books by Sheila Williams

THE SIREN AND OTHER STRANGE TALES is a collection of six short stories spanning the twentieth century and each with a spooky twist.

•Double-dealing care assistant Mandy Robinson meets a mysterious cat. The cat knows when death approaches but does Mandy?

•On a lonely road in France, self-absorbed artist Gavin is given some ghostly marriage guidance.

•A holiday in France proves to be one life-lesson too far for rebellious teenager Sukie.

•In German-occupied France collaborator Jean Fourrier pays the price for his betrayal.

•A simple game of cards between four respectable middle-aged ladies. Nothing could be more natural…could it?

•A stranger comes to a remote seaside village in the middle of winter. What haunts him? Is it grief or guilt…?

Close to the Edge – Tales from the Holderness Coast

The Holderness Coast in East Yorkshire is a 38 mile stretch of English coastline between Flamborough Head to the north and Spurn Point at the southernmost tip. It has the dubious honour of being one of the fastest eroding coastlines in the world. Over the centuries more than 30 villages and settlements have disappeared and ‘gone back to the sea’. Close to the Edge – Tales from the Holderness Coast captures some of the history of this unique coastal strip before it fulfils its destiny and falls into the sea. Close to the Edge offers a selection of stories bringing to life people, places and events from past times. You will discover: Why Fat Willy gave land to found a monastery; what happened to the port of Ravenser Odd; who murdered the Rev. Enoch Sinclair; why the Holderness Coast is shrinking; who were the Naughty Nuns of Nunkeeling…and much more. Illustrated with both contemporary and old photographs and maps, Close to the Edge offers an entertaining and informative account of this remarkable coastline.

Launching a book?

If you are a writer, artist or photographer…If you have a poem, story or memoirs to share… If you have a book to promote, a character to introduce, an exhibition or event to publicise… If you have advice for writers, artists or bloggers…

If you would like to be my guest, please read the guidelines and get in touch!

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Dear Don: Imaginary Isles…

Dear Don,

It was an interesting weekend with the research. The south transept window from Ashbourne has opened a whole set of mysteries to track down and so far I’ve only got a little way in. I enlisted the help of our friend who is interested in these things and she will look at some of her sources over the next week or so. I’ll be damned if I can find out anything about this Inbal person except the meaning of the name, ‘the clapper of the bell,’ or ‘that which makes music in a silent shell’.

blackpool 029On the other hand, all the personages in the window are either Biblical characters or saints associated with music, or more specifically, with song. And they are all depicted with halos and a dove above their heads. Of course, that would tie in with the octave… especially as there are seven of them… Wonder if that ties in with the Creation and the Word? Are the notes of the octave tuned to our days and to the seven of Genesis?

While I remember, I missed a fair bit when I was there, including an odd angle in the construction of the church itself. It has been suggested it mirrors the position of the body of Christ Crucified.

Add that to the other anomalies we had already identified there and I think it is going to need a second visit.

Continue reading at France and Vincent

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