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Club Page for our Readers
This is all about you - your ideas - your activities and what you are up to. Photos, recipes, flash fiction and poems are welcome too. Feel free to also comment on our blogs or add further information! Please keep it clean :-) and inclusive, and we will post it for you. All contact details will be kept confidential.
Weekly mini travel quiz
9. Nicknamed the Pearl of the Orient, a densely populated city with more sky scrapers than anywhere else, this is where East meets West.  
city at night
8. Tobacco for revolutionary cigars. This cow understands Spanish. Where is this? 
man cutting tobacco
man and cow
7. This is one of four dragons guarding a bridge in the capital city of which European country tucked between Austria and Croatia?
dragon on bridge
6. This is a re-imaging of the palace of the Roman Emperor Diocletian and a photo what it looks like today. Popular with pirates and holiday makers, this beautiful city overlooks the Adriatic Sea. 
5. This lovely island has hosted Winston Churchill and Elisabeth of Austria (Empress Sissy), who came here for holidays. The island shares its name with a drink.
4. What place and person is this lamp associated with? Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote about it - the year was 1775.
lamp
3. Built by a Fred, this neoclassical monument is now a symbol of peace - yet it has seen some terrible things. Where and what is it?
2. Where is this?
metal building detail
clue: gate to the world
1. Whose livingroom is this?
elvis living room
Clue: a royal livingroom always on my mind

HELP! Anne from Yorkshire found these two cute feral kittens in her carport and has been domesticating them. They are now ready for a new home. Please contact us if you can give one or both a home.  
two kittens

Louise Symonds has sent us her poem on the relationship of man and dog. 
The dog to human bond in life
is next to God the most profound
higher than lover man and wife
or mother and daughter bound
to the centre it is, being to being
the dog only pure spirit seeing

a person just cannot inflict
their weirdness on a dog
whatever phobia they pick
be it narcissistic demagogue
or mild and irritating meek
martyrdom, phobias, ill will
never silent constant speak
attention seeker questions shrill
A human may as well sit gruff
a dog just doesn’t get that stuff

with jaunty gait tail in the air
a dog can never be serious
without hindrance or self aware
just joy in rubbish mysterious
no social conditioning, life is fun
digging, tussling, smell and run

the dog is first to make the link
decides where I am in the pack
herded in, adored, boss, I think
no word is said we don’t look back
the slightest sign can mean a walk
the overwhelming great sense of it
we have to jump, roll bounce stalk
explore holes, paths, animals, shit
earth grass then - Other Dogs aha
friend or foe is sensed from afar

communication is suppositional
but better than talk notwithstanding
based on loyalty unconditional
it makes a good understanding
this is how a dog so happy and crude
knows you perfect from the multitude


woman and dog
Sylvia and Jack

My Singles Walking Holiday - interesting blog from Becky (England)

I had in my mind to walk from where I work in Milton Keynes, south across country to a reconstructed Iron Age house 60 miles away. I didn’t know if I would be able to do this but thought I could, after all (I reasoned) it is the height of summer (hmm) and Bucks the most populated county, perhaps in the world, with footpaths and pubs and shops (hmm, wrong again). I wanted to sleep in fields and be free so I took a tent and sleeping bag and nuts and raisins and loaded it all into one robust back pack. The route was all on one OS map with Aylesbury in the middle – neat, should be easy.

people cycling on country lane
Well yes, so it was, mostly, with adjustments and I managed it. It was raining when I set off and continued for three days, the last two days the sun came out.

So now, things I learnt. It is VERY hard to read a map in the rain, especially if you wear glasses and it is VERY hard to go north to south on footpaths as they tend to go in circles, from farm to church or to some long lost spring in the corner of a field. Also, hardly anyone is out there, walking the fields and woods of England, so paths are lost, overgrown, and believe me, you can get completely disoriented. I did on numerous occasions and this is how I ended up in Aylesbury when I really wanted to go to Waddesdon. But no matter, that was one of the wettest days, so I went with the flow as it were, caught a bus from the edge of this whole new town I didn’t know existed ('Berryfield') and stayed in a Travel Lodge on the canal. The next morning I continued out along the canal and then south more or less on my route, across a motorway and up into the Chilterns.
town centre clock
pub, church and road
On the map Bucks is called 'The Three Hundreds' and this is a more suitable name for it (though I suspect it is about something else entirely). It doesn’t hold together as a unit at all and I don’t know why it was ever joined. In the north is Milton Keynes, all housing estates and walkways, in the middle are the low claggey lands where streams hardly know which way to flow and farms are isolated between giant arable fields. In the south are the chalky wooded hills of the Chilterns with some of the (now) most expensive housing in the world and south of this is Burnham Beeches on acid sands set in timeless wood pasture with some of the oldest trees in the world, a play ground for Londoners.
All of the districts are interesting with their own people (though van man and golf men are very prevalent), every mile is different, every place something to attract and intrigue.

English landscape, green and gently rolling
Did I enjoy it? Yes hugely, despite that my pack was so heavy I couldn’t lift it, I could only really carry it on my back. But once strapped in I liked it, in fact I felt better walking with than without it. I liked the walking. The putting of one foot in front of the other with the pack, it didn’t matter so much where, through ugly towns (Chesham, Aylesbury – sorry towns) pretty ones (Amersham, Chalfont, Jordans) along country roads or footpaths, and I was mostly on footpaths, all of it had its charm. Some days I felt wobbly but carried on, I didn’t fall but was super careful in the wet. I lost my appetite, which is just as well as I couldn’t look at nuts and raisins after just Day 1 and ate cakes and biscuits from cafe outlets whenever I saw them (rarely). I didn’t miss food. I felt secure with plenty of money and my house on my back.
Would I do it again. Well I would like to be doing it now. It is strange how quickly humans get used to new routines and ways of life. The waking, packing and walking by Day 2 was normal for me. My mind was largely quiet and didn’t torment, my mood was good, the people I met were kind, I felt they were all looking out for me. In all I walked 60 miles from my work, to the Iron Age house, to Burnham station where I waited 15 minutes for a direct train home, to tea, bath and bed.

Thank you Becky for sharing your walking experience with us. You are more adventurous than I am, for sure, and hardy. Nuts and raisins, gosh, and all that rain...
(Toria)

A bold garden design with a spiritual dimension
a brief visit to Jill's garden
 
interesting rock
woodland garden
I’d like to tell you about Jill’s unusual garden, a spiritual oasis in Ontario, just north of Toronto, which she has designed herself. She has modelled part of it on a four-leaf clover where each part symbolises one of the classical elements – fire, water, air and earth. The centre, which is also a portal, represents ether. 

garden feature
Jill has placed many wonderful items within each area: fossils, chimes, birdbaths, statues and driftwood. You can sit on a bench and meditate. Some visitors experience a healing energy and no doubt everyone leaves with a greater sense of peace. 

Our latest action girl, Pat!
woman abseiling
This is Pat abseiling from the Forth Road Bridge in Scotland - bold indeed. It was for an Alzheimer's Scotland fundraiser. 

group of women
Some of Marion's Zumba Gold class in Knaresborough (I take the class too and it's amazingly good fun)
 Sandra on her way to Zumba! To drive a convertible in North Yorkshire is indeed bold!
woman in convertible car
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Becky, an archaeologist and book seller by trade,  tells us about her latest sewing project:

This is my 2017 summer dress, designed and made by me. I make a summer dress every year, I get the feeling of what I want in the spring months when there is a whiff of warmth in the air. Last year my feeling came from an opera, it was Richard Strauss's Elektra in cinemas from the New York Met. The designer had gone for a quasi 1950s working women look and I thought, yes this is what I want to be in 2016. I made a Royal Blue Italian linen princess line plain dress with tiny sleeves, just below the knee, close fitting with split at back. It was cool and easy to wear and I had many, many compliments on it. This year I got the feel for the opposite, a loose, fine print dress. The feeling came again around February. I buy my material from the 'Indian' material shops in Shepherds Bush and searching there I found a Liberty print.  

I am not a Liberty's person, they are too flowery and feminine for me, but this one I liked, it is a grey cream, beautiful. It was expensive, about £12 a metre if I remember right. I bought 2 yards of 1.4m wide and went home and thought about it. The feeling for a shirt dress came, but loose and free. I make clothes to suit my body. I have small breasts, curved in back, small waist, narrow ankles and, post trauma (long story), not fat upper arms, so I design clothes to bring out these points. They are not necessarily 'good' points but they are me. For the small bust I do gathers and darts, I make fitted waists, short sleeves and put the hem just below the knee.
With such a fitted dress I have to think about how to get into it, in this case I left a small gap at the waist with hooks and eyes, I can just about get it over the head and shoulders. It wouldn't go on a dummy but will go over a live body.
Several things went wrong with the idea, I put the pockets in the wrong place, one is higher than the other, I got the waist an inch too high, the sleeves are pulling and a bit too voluminous, but, overall, I really like it. I like the material and it is lovely to wear, especially in the hot weather. As last year, I have had several compliments on it, many from young people, so I consider it a success.
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Here is Liz's blog about life after 50, a veritable rebirth!

Well, there I was fifty and clinically depressed with little hope of getting out of bed never mind actually achieving something until … with the help of my family, I decided NO MORE! A revision of medication, a change in lifestyle and a fantastic Dynamic Therapy counsellor set me on the path to recovery.
I had always dabbled in writing but lacked the focus and determination to further it. I had a pile of half-written manuscripts and stories on my lap top and a vivid imagination. When I saw the advert for the MA in Creative Writing at Leeds Trinity University I applied, despite feeling unsure of whether I could commit to such an undertaking.
Thank goodness, I did! At my interview, the tutor told me to complete the first draft of my crime fiction novel so that we could fine-tune it during the MA. I did that and with the stimulus of being with like-minded, supportive writers, I thrived. I started approaching agents again and after many rejections I was lucky enough to be offered a two-book deal with Bloodhound books. Now, less than a year after graduating with a distinction, I have two books published Unquiet Souls and Uncoiled Lies. I’ve just signed a further three-book deal and my third novel Untainted Blood is due out late summer.
So, what has this whole experience taught me: Well, certainly that I need to take charge of my depression and find ways to manage it. I do this by being vigilant of the warning signs that signal a mood dip and I take action. I allow myself space when I need it. I use my SAD light and most importantly I share my feelings with my family.
However, it’s also taught me that I can achieve things that I never thought possible before. My age is no barrier and in fact can help. I accept my limitations, but whereas before I would have been confined by them, now I push them… I accept that my concentration is poorer than before and so I adapt how I work to accommodate that. I know that retaining information takes longer than previously and so I take copious notes and use a variety of brightly coloured pens and note pads to help me. I ensure that I look after myself by doing the things keep me healthy … my writing is my escape, but it’s also my salvation. It restores my energy and stimulates my brain. Mind you, it also on occasion frustrates me… but that’s what lets me know I’m alive and living life! 

Answers to mini travel quiz
1. Elvis - at Gracelands in Memphis
2. Eiffel Tower in Paris (it was designed to be the entrance to the 1889 World Fair.
picture of Eiffel Tower
3. The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, built by the Prussian King Frederick William II in the 1730s.
The Brandenburg Gate
4. Paul Revere's lamp which is now in a museum in Concord, Massachusetts. Just before the official start of the American War of Independence Revere rode all night from Boston to Concord and Lexington warning the local militia of the impending arrival of British troops. 

For the story of Paul Revere and his midnight ride, see https://www.paulreverehouse.org/the-real-story/

The poem by Longfellow has inaccuracies, but it's a good read nevertheless:

'Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,-- ...'

to read to the end follow this link: https://poetry.eserver.org/paul-revere
5. Madeira
6. Split in Croatia
Roman soldiers in Split
7. Ljubliana, the capital of Slovenia. 
Ljubliana
8. Cuba
musicians in Cuba
field of tobacco plants

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