Carnelian and Compassion for Cats


These cats are breaking my heart… I have a stray cat problem as I am sure I may have mentioned before. With the onset of winter and the colder, wetter weather, I am seeing homeless felines everywhere,

Why? Why do people do this? I will never understand why people take on the responsibility of an animal and then as soon as it grows up or loses its cuteness or does something wrong then the animal is abandoned. I would sooner chop off my own arm than abandon one of my cats – they are family.

Another new face on the stray circuit, a battered looking black and white tom, found refuge in our conservatory on a cold night last week. My partner had to go out and move him on:

I’m sorry, I’m afraid you’ll have to leave. Can’t have you upsetting the ladies.”

All right Guv’nor, all right, just give me a minute to get me things and I’ll be off…”

I don’t want to make light, really of what is, after all, a heart breaking problem, but I just wish these owners would have a little compassion and think what these animals suffer as they are deprived of a home through no fault of their own, and face an uncertain future.

_mg_8508Boris, the stray, in happier times

This is why we must never ignore these charities such as the Cats Protection League, RSPCA and the PDSA, that do such amazing work. These charities, both here and abroad, do such amazing work, like FACE Foundation, with TNR programmes and empty shelter days, where they try and re-home every animal need our support and help.

And it’s not just cats. Dogs too. Animals that we assume responsibility for and then forget as though these little lives mean nothing. I’m not going to turn this into a rant, but I would urge everybody to donate, help, volunteer, foster, adopt, whatever you can.

I have my four girls obviously, but if I could afford it, then that four would probably become fourteen. And I do think it is about time our government addresses various issues that beset our animal population, for example, look again at the Dangerous Dogs Act, implement policies that would regulate the breeding of animals and protect their lives, set aside some funding for a nationwide programme of trap, neuter, return… If we cannot exercise compassion for our animal friends, then how can we hope to extend that to our own species?


Carnelian, a stone I have not personally experienced although I own several pieces, is a crystal that both stabilises and encourages… It can help you be realistic whilst giving you the energy and motivation to put thoughts into action. My son is fond of this crystal – it is useful in the dramatic arts and can also help cleanse and recharge other crystals, just by being near them.

Carnelian is a very empathetic crystal, it can help to banish fear of the unknown, of death, whilst promoting positive life choices and instilling courage in its wearer.


Linked to the Base chakra, it gives the courage to overcome abuse of any kind and its physical benefits include aiding the absorption of vitamins and helping with depression, back problems and rheumatism.

Carnelian is kind, yet practical. It banishes mental chatter to improve clarity of thought and enhance perception. It removes emotional negativity, protects against other peoples’ negative thoughts and enhance perception. It removes emotional negativity, protects against other peoples’ negative thoughts and promotes a love of life, with all its ups and downs.

Everybody has room for a little piece of Carnelian in their crystal repertoire… everyone has room for a little compassion too.


If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

14th Dalai Lama

Oh How Lovely! One Lovely Blog Award


I would like to thank the truly lovely ladies Shoko, Kali and Jean for nominating me for this award. Please visit their blog, Canadian Cats, for humour, art, entertainment… well what more can I say, they’re just lovely!

Now, I must confess, I’m a big fan of the word ‘lovely’, but sometimes, ‘nice’ just isn’t enough… here are my facts:

  1. I love cats. Oh. That’s not particularly random is it? Ah yes, I currently have thirty seven pieces of Rose Quartz… how’s that?

  2. I love a good cup of tea, a cure-all for most ills, my brand of choice at the moment is Yorkshire Tea.

  3. My favourite colour is white, a wonderful choice when combined with varying shades of cat hair and muddy paw prints.

  4. The John Lewis Christmas adverts generally make me cry…

  5. A lot of adverts generally make me cry… I have been told I am over-emotional!

  6. My favourite vegetable to eat is asparagus (with a lightly poached egg and toast…)

  7. My all time favourite band is The Rolling Stones… amazing music for an era I really wish I’d been a part of.

_mg_8131A lovely view over the lake in the grounds of a local stately home

The rules are:

Thank the person who nominated you

Post 7 random facts about yourself

Nominate 7 blogs…

Let your nominations know how lovely they are!

This is where I have a problem… I’ve been here before… WHO do I nominate… All the blogs I follow are lovely. I love them all for different reasons and they are unique for the ideas they express, the talents they show or the friendship they offer…

Listen, to all of you who have been kind enough to stop, and have a read, a like, a subscribe, thank you. Take away a share of loveliness with you… to say thank you, as always.

_mg_9917My lovely cat… on my lovely clean sheets, with her lovely dirty little paws…



For the past couple of weeks, I have been ill. Quite ironic, really, in light of the fact I recently wrote ‘Ketchup and Catsick’ and mentioned in great detail my tremendous horror and phobia of being sick.

For the past fortnight I have felt like a fragile vessel, filled to the brim with noxious fluid, resting on a rickety, three-legged chair. The slightest push, the merest wobble, and the evil liquid has slopped out.

My mother has taken my attack of sickness extremely personally, it just happens to be coincidence that I have thrown up extremely violently after I have eaten anything she’s cooked. However, she is comforting herself with the thought that perhaps I have Norovirus… that would explain it. Me? I don’t know, I just know whatever it is, I don’t want it any more and they can have it back…

I’m not very good at being ill. I have a couple of physical issues that I have learned to deal with, but I don’t like the humiliating brand of illness that leaves you clinging to the toilet bowl like a close friend you haven’t seen for many years… I don’t like feeling sorry for myself and I’m not very good at receiving sympathy, or my partner and son’s tentative efforts to care for me…

Are you all right?”

No. I’m decaying from the inside out. Go away.”

Can I fetch you anything?”

“No. A new stomach. I don’t know. Go away…” as a clammy wave of sweat rolls over me and I lurch towards the bathroom…

In my quieter moments, I have been able to sit and watch a little television. This is no word of a lie – thank you Universe for thinking I need humour in my life at a time like this – EVERY programme I have watched had someone throwing up, talking about vomit, an advert for medication…

Charlie jumped on the bed and I thought: “Oh bless her, she’s come to comfort me…” she sniffed enquiringly at my head, pulled the ‘OH MY GOD’ face and left.

I have become extremely close acquaintances with the bathroom floor. Lying in a sweaty, clammy heap, propped against the side of the bath, I amused myself by picking out pictures in the speckled pattern of the lino… a bull… the local supermarket… the Ursa Major constellation…

This whatever-it-is I have is sneaky too. I mentioned to a friend that I felt less like a microwaved sock and more like myself again… then IT came back. With a vengeance. I can’t even wear a bra at the minute, my ribs ache so much…

I have tried various herbal and homeopathic remedies but my stomach remains resolute…

Let’s fool you into a false sense of security… yes you can keep that biscuit and cup of tea – OOPS no you can’t! Ha ha ha!”

So now I’m just going to sit very still. Not a wobble. IT might just get bored and go away…


Septarian and Serene Cats


Look! Look at this crystal! Doesn’t it just seem a divine combination of delicious things… like an expensive handmade chocolate. The paler brown, like the foam on a good quality hot chocolate, the darker blocks and lines of brown, rich unctuous milk chocolate and finally the golden chunks of calcite, like wonderful crystallised pineapple…

I must mention In The Autumn of My Life and thank her for bringing this crystal to my attention – she did a wonderful post about her Septarian egg. I’m still getting to know my piece, but I was overjoyed to see a little piece – just right for me – when we visited my son’s crystal lady a couple of weeks after reading In The Autumn of My Life’s post.

Septarian itself is a crystal stew of Calcite (yellow), Aragonite (brown) and Bentonite (grey) and this combination brings the qualities of patience, tolerance and nurturing to the fore in anyone who wishes to work with this stone. It has strong links to Mother Earth and acts as a physical reminder that we must take care of and nurture our environment, our home. Septarian is a marvellous crystal to encourage unity within any spiritual group; and brings harmony and serenity as an almost physical object to any home.


Septarian is a distillstion of pure love and the joy of being alive, it is supportive, nurturing, willing to help those who suffer from SAD and encourages the body to kickstart its own process of healing. Serene, comforting, nurturing and harmonious. Think happy feline…

I must also thank Marc at Katzenworld for his brilliantly helpful review of Feliway Friends.

After last week’s unpleasant happenings, a modicum of harmony has been restored to my fur family. I purchased Feliway and use it religiously…


No, it can’t be it’s a synthetic pheromone and they are scentless…”


I didn’t bother answering him. I didn’t want to point out what he had obviously stood in something outside… I just left the room…

We have more litter trays – the usual rule is one per cat and one spare – we have one per cat, one spare and one ‘just in case’. We have instituted a timetable of outdoor hours and the Girls know when they have to be in so Daddy can lock the catflap to keep intruders out. After Christmas I REALLY want a microchip operated catflap… Brilliant inventions.

There is a definite easing of tension in my little cat. She still prefers it if either my partner or myself goes out with her, and I was touched to see Ting, our Siamese accompanying Charlie on her usual walk round the garden. Charlie didn’t grumble or hiss at her, it was more:

Oh, yes, of course, if you happen to be going this way…”

Ting: “YAY! Does this mean we’re friends now and you’re going to be my big sister now?”

“No… Just… no.”

Lily is quite happy now to come in and go to bed where previously she was a little bit of a wanderer. Any bed will do, she makes it hers. The cooker. The sink. The coffee table. And you can’t move her. She has a way of opening an eye – just the one, mind, and evil things are implicit in that slice of emerald green, evil things that can happen to you if you move her…


My garden has returned to its usual state of splendid isolation. My New Leaf lady gave me a plant that she said repelled cats. I brought it home and my partner and I eagerly planned to place strategic clumps around the garden… then Ting ate it… I carry my Septarian with me every day at the moment, to re-establish links of love and compassion.


By some happy coincidence, my Septarian mirrors my little cat’s fur, brown, gold, chocolate, grey… a veritable cornucopia of fur and crystal colouring.

A Lucky Save


It was one of those perfect late summer mornings, where the sky is sapphire blue, gently cradling a few fluffy clouds. My oldest son was away with the Army Cadets so my younger son and I decided to take the dog for a walk, and meet up with my mother, who had two dogs at the time. My little dog, Lulu, was sister to Mum’s dog Rebel, and she also had her beautiful German Shepherd dog, Rowan.

It was one of those mornings where there was just a hint in the air of Autumn ahead, a crystalline quality to the light that showed the sun was nearing the end of the Summer Equinox. There was a light breeze, just enough to necessitate a thin jumper, with pockets, loaded as always with dog biscuits, tissues and poop bags. Most of the regular dogs knew I had a ‘magic pocket’ and I remember being alarmed yet pleasantly surprised, one day, when an extremely large Rottweiler raced towards me one day, then stopped abruptly in its tracks to sit at my side politely, yet hopefully, nosing the ‘magic pocket’.

The biscuits were both a bribe and a reward for my dog. She was elderly and a little dog, so she tended to wander too far ahead. Consequently she had already had one trip to the vet to remove a blockage from her gut as she had run ahead and eaten a dirty tea towel someone had left. As I could not rely on her to not eat rubbish, I had to muzzle her, not the very tight sleeve types, but the basket ones, that allowed her to move her jaws freely, drink, and eat a biscuit posted through the front. Just not rubbish.

It was a lovely morning. The temperature just right, not too hot, not too cold, with a gentle breeze to lift our hair and stir the fur on the dogs’ backs. As we strolled, my mother and I chatted amiably about what to have for dinner, and noticed the strands of blackberry bushes, prickly cages that held imprisoned orbs of dark purple sweet juice. We would have to come back without the dogs, we decided, to go blackberry picking, as they got bored and couldn’t really see the point of what we were doing in the bushes for so long. They weren’t even particularly interesting bushes, as far as the dogs were concerned… just fruit smells and spikes, not even a hint of fox or mouse.

A few leaves on the trees were starting to turn yellow at the edges, and slide from the trees to the floor, to gather in little groups at the side of the path, along with the discarded and empty husks of beech nuts, thorny on the outside, yet lined with the softest golden velvet on the inside, to cradle the precious seeds. We were walking past a stunted little apple tree when one leaf detached itself and fluttered to the floor, about ten paces in front of me.


“Oh look!” my son cried eagerly. “It’s a little bird!”

“Don’t be stupid,” I replied, making a mental note to get him to the optician’s before school started, “It’s a dead leaf!”

“No, no, look!” my son said, more definitively and darted off ahead. Lulu, noticing his sudden interest was way ahead of him and beat him to the spot where she pounced, and held the yellow leaf between her paws. Luckily, she was wearing her muzzle, or she might have had a bonus bird on top of her normal biscuit treats…


The two other dogs approached Lulu with interest, wanting to see what she had found, and my little dog, normally the gentlest and most fun-loving of dogs, growled fiercely, hunching aggressively over this dead leaf. But was it? No, my son was quite right, it was a little bird, a budgie. A budgie? We were accustomed to seeing sparrows, blackbirds, wrens and even a few jays, but a budgie was absolutely not your usual resident of this park.

“It is a bird! It’s a budgie! Can we keep him?” my son asked hopefully, face alight with excitement at this added twist to a pleasant dog walk.

“Well, I really don’t know, you’ll have to let me see if I can catch it first…” I replied somewhat reluctantly. I had previous experiences with budgies and had learned to my personal cost that they are not the sweet, cheerful companions of dear little old ladies; rather, they are feathered and feisty balls of fury, only too ready to lash out with curved beak and hooked feet…

I retrieved the dog, and passed her lead to my mother to hold, while my son danced about anxiously, keeping a careful eye on the budgie.

“Hurry up! We can’t leave him here… he’ll DIE!” my son stated with suitably dramatic emphasis.

The budgie, meanwhile, relieved from the grasp of dog paws, was pecking about listlessly in the dust at the side of the path, fluttering a few aimless steps, then dropping to the floor again. I gathered my courage, crept forwards, leaned down and – carefully cupped my hands around the despondent little bird.

I stood up. The budgie and I regarded each other, suspiciously. He made no attempt to bite me, or claw his way out of my hands. I knew he was definitely a “he” as the cere at the top of his beak was just starting to turn blue, a sign that the bird was, indeed, male. Now what was I supposed to do?

As if sensing my indecision, the bird made one last attempt to regain his unlooked-for freedom, pushing his feathered head between my fingers with some force, then subsiding as if too weak to put up much of a fight. That decided me. My mother’s house was nearer, and she had a cockatiel. The budgie could stay there until this afternoon when we could pick him up, having gathered the essentials, like a cage, seed…

“Oh PLEASE can we keep him!” My son cried, dancing in anticipation at my side.

“Well, I suppose so, I’ll have to ring your father, but let’s take the bird to your grandmother’s until this afternoon.”

Leaving my mother with three dogs and, a bewildered air, “You can’t have a budgie, Samantha, the cat will eat it!” (despite the fact that my cat at the time, Walter, was gentle and somewhat elderly and had never caught a bird in his life, caged or otherwise.) Nevertheless, we set off, budgie carefully enclosed in my hands back towards my mother’s house. The cockatiel actually belonged to my oldest son, and lodged quite happily at my mother’s, screaming every so often in some sort of avian rage… He seemed quite pleased to see the budgie. We poured some bird seed into my son’s hand and he pecked desperately at the seed.


“Poor thing, he was starving!” my son cooed tenderly, before leaving to find a suitable water dish. We left the bird safely enclosed with seed and water, the cockatiel screaming amiably at him every so often, to return to my mother and collect the dog.

I rang my partner. “Hi, it’s just me, we found a budgie on the dog walk and Alex wants to know if he can keep him.”


“You know, one of those little caged birds that tweet.”


“It was lost, and it just came flying out of the trees, and it just came flying out of the trees, and the dog – oh never mind, I’ll tell you when we get back.” Having explained in great detail exactly how we found the budgie and yes, it was definitely a budgie, I, too knew what one looked like, and no, we didn’t know who he belonged to as he was in the middle of the park, my partner agreed my son could keep him.


Cage, sandsheets and all the avian paraphernalia duly purchased and installed, we returned later that afternoon with the budgie and introduced him to his new home. That was eight years ago. During his residency with us, this bird has cheated death no less than three times… The stray cat we adopted, Billy, decided one day, to pad his cat kibble ration with a little meat on the wing, so to speak. There was a loud crash from my son’s bedroom so en masse, my partner, two sons and I all rushed upstairs to see the bird cage lying on the floor on its side, the budgie half out the door, half in the cat’s mouth, my youngest son screamed in rage and fright at the cat who released the budgie and left hurriedly…

“Really, gov’nor, no need to take on… but when a bloke’s hungry what is he supposed to do?”

The budgie was soothed and checked, no injuries other than a somewhat chewed tail. Next my partner in a fit of thoughtless ‘kindness’ gave my son’s budgie to his mother, while I was out, without asking me or my son, just assuming, that it would be fine to give my son’s pet away to entertain his mother. I was enraged.


“Not my fault and not my problem.” was my retort as I comforted my son. A week passed. His mother gave the budgie nothing but millet. The budgie had diarrhoea and looked poorly and thin.

“Oo, ‘es gone right miserable ‘e ‘as. ‘e don’t tweet, he bites me when I want to take him out the cage…”

I replied somewhat sharply:

“He’s probably dying , because he misses my son, he was his pet and his father had no right to give him away.”

I got the budgie back. My son was overjoyed, as was the bird, he sat on his shoulder and murmured confidingly into his ear about the terrible time he’d spent away from home…

Another close encounter with a cat, this time just the cage was pulled off the stand and upended, seed and feathers everywhere, alarmed cat, angry budgie:

“Woman! What have I told you about those fur beasts! Keep them out of my room!”


And yet he developed a fondness for Charlie, my cat. When, accompanied by me, she was little, she would come and play in Alex’s room. The budgie, perhaps enchanted by her antics, edged closer to the bars so he could see her better and made an odd creaking sound, which I assume to be his version of a laugh. She is the only cat he will not scream an alarm for, and if I lift her up to look in the cage, he will come closer and tweet to her.

This budgie is the bane of my life sometimes, with the tweeting and screaming, the seed throwing and careful directing of crap up the walls, but my son loves him. What else can I do but put up with it….

The name of the budgie? Why, Lucky of course!





Summer of ’76


I yearn for the days of summer,
The red, the white and the gold.

When swifts flew high
In the summer sky
And the sun shone hot
And bold.

Solitary child, outdoors
And wild.
Barefoot and dusty,
Bike grew rusty.

I roamed the fields about
Our home.

I prodded toads
And frightened pheasants
And laughed at pigs in fields.

I yearn for the days of summer,
The red, the white and the gold.

When the days were long
And full of song,
And I never felt the cold.


Words Copyright © 2016 Samantha Murdoch

All photographs Copyright © 2016 Alex Marlowe




Hematite and Hurt Cats


Well. What a week it’s been. And not just in the wider sphere of the world, but within my own little parameters too.

I may have mentioned before that we have a stray cat problem … Over the summer, we acquired another face, co – incidentally around the time of “Brexit” and Mr. Cameron’s resignation. I don’t know if you noticed, but some of the key members of government disappeared… then one day a tabby and white stray cat appeared in our garden.

Jokingly, we called him “Boris”, after Boris Johnson, although I’m quite pleased to say we never had George Osborne turn up… Perhaps remembering Billy, our adopted stray, my partner began to leave Boris the odd dish of food.

Having conducted a series of wars with Stalincat and Ginger Ugly, I was reluctant to welcome this interloper, although I did feel sorry for him. However, as the saying goes, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” Boris began to pick on my girls. Not too much, at first, just a bit of playground hissing and chasing.

Then, one day, Lily didn’t look very well. She’s quite a secretive little cat – not like Ting –


OH NAOOOH! I’ve broken a nail!! HELP me …”

So when Lily entered the kitchen I casually seized her and began to check her over. She’d been bitten. Quite badly. On her head, and she was beginning to sport a nice infection too.

I promptly burst into tears and rang the vet and was lucky enough to get an appointment for the same day. Poor little Lily’s head was clipped and cleaned; she was given a pain killing and antibiotic injection, and we returned home, with more antibiotics.


It never even entered my head that Boris could have been the author of this bite, treacherous and double dealing…

Earlier on this week, my little princess Charlie was looking hunched and unhappy.

What’s the matter, my love…?”

Grr – waaoh – grrr …” she replied threateningly.

She jumped off the sofa and walked painfully, LIMPING away.

Oh my God she’s broken her leg!!”

I promptly burst into tears and rang the vet …

She’d been bitten. On her leg. Quite painfully. The vet clipped it and cleaned it and gave my little girl a painkilling injection and antibiotics, and tactfully asked me if I had a stray cat problem…


So. I am afraid Boris is now out in the political wilderness once again. Like his namesake, he is canny and sharp and has managed to avoid all attempts at capture, but I am deploying isolationist policies to protect my princesses and property; whilst brokering a suitable plan for his future… We have cat-proofed the garden and I’m buying a micro-chip operated cat flap, and the Cats’ Protection League is on speed dial…

Perhaps I should just construct a barrier of Hematite…

img_0512A precarious looking barrier, but these are actually Magnetic Hematite, stuck together to create this structure…

Hematite is a wonderful crystal, satisfying to hold and full of useful purpose and intent. It’s a very “solid” crystal, having a definite strength to it and as such, can be used to give confidence to a fearful person, boost self- esteem and encourage the ability to adapt and cope with any situation in which life may place you.


Hematite can help overcome addictions – another stone I carried while giving up smoking (74 days and still smoke-free!) – and can also help you to accept any mistakes you may have made as a learning experience. It is beneficial for concentration and can help awaken original thought and enhance memory and logic.

It is a very good stone for grounding and protection as it gently dissolves negativity and can restore harmony and equilibrium to mind, body and spirit.


A beautiful example is Specularite… my Planet Sneeze … but Hematite can also be red in colour, and the powdered mineral was in fact used as rouge, many years ago. ‘Haima’, originally from Ancient Greek means blood, so this crystal is particularly good for helping with the treatment of blood disorders.

A versatile crystal, it has a strong impulse to restore balance and unity and dissolve negativity; also preventing dark energies from penetrating the aura and promoting peace and harmony from within the body.

So then. A useful and versatile crystal, a stone of strength, learning and progression. Qualities that are to be encouraged and developed in any situation, for this world that we live in.


‘When You Go Home,
Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Their Tomorrow,
We gave Our Today’.

Kohima Epitaph

Thank you to all those who serve, and have served, and gave their lives.

img_0533Brecciated or Poppy Jasper… a crystal for balance and protection and a reminder to mankind to help and nurture each other always.

Hedges and Herons


When we first moved into our present house in 1999, it had an eight foot high privet hedge running all along one side, between us and the park. I quite liked it, as it gave us a degree of privacy from people using the park facilities, and also acted as a shelter and windbreak.

I remember, when I was a little girl, privet hedges were not quite so popular, and, of course, we had stick insects … my sister went on regular forays to “borrow” from the neighbours’ hedges to supply sustenance for our pets. My father had planted Lleylandii, a quick – growing type of conifer tree that very soon became the bane of his life as he tried to trim and shape them. They remained resolutely wild and … hairy, smelling of cat pee and harbouring small brown spiders with white markings on their backs, like hot cross buns …

What is it with men and hedges? Eight years after moving in, my partner decided it would be a good idea to rip all the hedge out and replace it with climbing roses, fuchsias and the like … I tried my best to persuade him not to do it, pointing out it would take years for the cover to be replaced. Faced with the answer:


The hedge’s days were numbered and, much to my regret, it went. I insisted we kept half.

img_6630-2My back garden… I wish!

Apparently though, this is one of the things that has led to flooding where I live. People are ripping up their hedges and their front gardens to make way for paved patios and parking. The natural soakaways are gone and some areas are now prone to flash flooding when it rains, causing damage and misery.

These front gardens were such a bonus when these houses were built. A little patch of earth to plant some bulbs and nurture a lawn, a treasured symbol of going up in the world … hope, that after the slum clearances finished around the 1930’s, that things were looking up … promise, a young couple’s first home, away from the necessity of “Living with Mother”…

We are a nation of gardeners, after all. (My secret celebrity crush is Monty Don …) Perhaps this love of gardening bloomed with the prospect of owning our own little piece of land. Although I love the grandeur and glory of the gardens attached to stately homes, I also enjoy humbler, more accessible gardens.

At this point, I feel I must confess … I’m not the world’s best gardener. Possibly too impatient, as I like to dig things up to check on their progress, to compare them with pictures on the Internet and berate them for not behaving as they should … Despite this, we have a reasonable garden, filled with a variety of plants designed to encourage bees and butterflies.


Not really herons, though. My partner has a pond, stocked with goldfish and shubunkins, home to frogs, newts and a pair of toads. Some of the fish are older than our sons, who are 17 and 22. Indeed, some of his fish knew him before I did. Justly so, then, he is proud and fond of his fish, and we have been lucky enough to have had several lots – litters? – of baby fish.

One morning, it, was an early spring morning, so still quite fresh, I went outside for the first cigarette of the day. I lit up, inhaled with relish and looked around the garden…

Have to cut the grass soon… that clematis could do with tying up… not sure what that heron wants, but it can’t stay there… WHAT!!”

Sitting on the hedge was an enormous grey bird. It was huge and splendid. I froze, somewhat afraid, actually, because it was the biggest bird I had ever seen in real life. It was sitting, quite unconcernedly, looking in the pond – oh dear – from the top of the hedge, and it turned to regard me with great, round, golden eyes.

I was at once struck by the elegant, yet powerful neck, the sweeping black eyebrow feathers and long, sharp beak. The compact, feathered body, neatly clad in business suit grey and long, scaly, greenish legs. It was Jurassic.


Um, I’m afraid you’ll have to go elsewhere… you can’t have these…”

I stammered nervously.

What was I thinking? With a beak that size, it could come in the house and I’d make it a cup of tea if it wanted … It looked somewhat contemptuous at my words and shook its wings out, with a sound like flapping sheets, then slowly rose into the sky.

I was transfixed. As it flew steadily and majestically away, I was reminded of nothing more than its prehistoric relatives, the Pteradactyls of years past, its snake – like neck folded in, legs tucked underneath and massive wings beating.

My partner was horrified. And at once purchased a net to cover the pond, although I drew the line at a plastic deterrent heron. Now our hedge is gone, the pond is not such an enticing sheltered fishing spot. I still see the heron, though, as there is a large country park to the West of us, where I presume it has better fishing grounds.

Its silhouette is unmistakeable in the sky, a remnant of our pre – history, sailing monstrously against a skyline of houses and taller buildings… out of place, somehow, as if its backdrop should be huge trees, ancient forests and old times…


All photographs Copyright © 2016 Alex Marlowe

3 Day Quote Challenge Day #2


HThank you to Dolly once again for this challenge, please do stop by her blog… Some wonderful recipes and fascinating history.

This beautiful piece of writing is new to me, but it personifies how intensely I feel about the sanctity of this world that we live in, the caring we must share and the inter-connectedness.

You carry Mother Earth within you. She is not outside of you. Mother Earth is not just your environment. In that insight of inter-being, it is possible to have real communication with the Earth, which is the highest form of prayer. 

Thich Nhat Hanh


The rules of this challenge are:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you, and link back to their blog.
  2. Post one quote a day, for three consecutive days.
  3. Nominate three other blogs to pick up the challenge and run with it.
  4. Obviously, let your nominations know!


Todays’s nominations are:


All photographs Copyright © 2016 Alex Marlowe

3 Day Quote Challenge Day #1


Thank you Dolly of Kool Kosher Kitchen for putting me forward for this challenge. Please drop by her blog for some great recipes and fascinating history.

I have done this challenge a couple of times now, but I don’t mind giving it another go as I enjoy the conversations and trains of thought that follow.

I chose this quote as it is spoken by one of my historical heroes, Richard III, in the play of the same name by William Shakespeare. Although he is not favourably portrayed in this piece of Tudor propaganda, I love the ringing beauty of the blank verse.

My younger son intends to be an actor one day, and I look forward to seeing him interpret this classic Shakespeare role in a slightly less… biased way.

Now is the Winter of our discontent. Made glorious summer by this sun of York ; And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.

‘Richard III’ Act I, Scene I, by William Shakespeare

The rules of this challenge are:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you, and link back to their blog.
  2. Post one quote a day, for three consecutive days.
  3. Nominate three other blogs to pick up the challenge and run with it.
  4. Obviously, let your nominations know!


My nominations are:


All photographs Copyright © 2016 Alex Marlowe