Posts tagged postaday20113

Posta2011: A short story

The Dawning.  By Marie Fullerton                                     word count 1137

   Jan looked around the Bistro; little vases of white and yellow flowers in the centre of each table stood out against the pristine, green tablecloths. She had seen the same cream walls and dark wood beams in a small bar she had visited in France. The canopy above the window outside sheltered most of the diners from the glaring sun but on one small table in the window corner, the sunshine streamed in. Jan took her cup and sat down there. She allowed the sun to play on her face as she watched tiny particles of dust dancing in the light through the window. Her mind wandered aimlessly. Enjoying the break, she sipped her coffee slowly.

          “Hello Jan, this is a surprise.” Jan jumped at the familiar voice that had intruded into her thoughts and looked up to see Mark standing in the doorway; he held his arms wide as if to welcome her. She stood up and smiled weakly. He hadn’t changed, the same old Mark.

          “Mmm, not forgiven me yet I see?”

          “What do you expect?” She allowed her coldness to confirm his suspicions but her hands trembled as she watched him saunter across the floor and join her at the table.

          “Let me buy you a fresh coffee; this place is new, I’ve not seen it before?”

          “Yes, fairly new,” she smiled as she added, “ I hear the food’s good.”

A family with two small children came in noisily and joined another couple already seated at a large table at the back of the room.

          “Excuse me,” Mark twisted round on his chair and called the waitress without noticing them.

          “Two coffees and two Welsh Rarebits, please love.”

As she came across to take the order, Jan widened her eyes and looked directly at her over Mark’s shoulder, shaking her head with the smallest of movement, she fleetingly touched her lips with a forefinger.

Mark turned back round to face her.

“I can’t eat alone, you must eat with me.”

Jan checked her watch,  

 “I only have half an hour. I’m not hungry, a coffee will do fine.”

Ignoring her statement, he asked, “Now, what have you been up to?”

          “Since you walked out on me you mean?” she cut in coldly.

          “Ah, come on Jan, we agreed to a trial separation.”

He leaned across and picked a hair from her lapel and watched as it drifted to the floor. She was beginning to get irritable as she relived all the emotions that Mark had unleashed in her on his leaving. But then, she had done all right for herself. OK, she was still single but she liked it that way and she’d done a lot that she wouldn’t otherwise have done; she’d gone to college for instance.

          “So where did you go?” She asked out of curiosity.

“I was in Australia for two and a half years and then…”

“You mean you went … on your own!” Realising she had raised her voice, she dropped it again and whispered, “Why, after all our plans, why?”

 “I’m sorry, please forgive me?” Her heart leapt at a sudden thought.

Mark looked down and brushed imaginary dust from the tablecloth.

“I dunno, I guess it had all been getting too much, I, I really don’t know. I nearly wrote to you several times but, you know how it is!”

          “I do?”

          “Two Welsh Rarebit and two coffees.”

Jan smiled and nodded her head at the waitress. “ Thanks, Emma.”

          “Ah,” said Mark triumphantly, “still eating out I see, not learnt to cook yet then?”

          “Meaning precisely what?” His assumptions tangled in her stomach.

          “Well, you were always pretty hopeless at cooking, you have to admit it. Even that dog wouldn’t eat it, remember?”

Jan recalled the picnic; how the sun played on the river’s surface. A small dog that she had thrown a stick for had jumped in and scattered the sparkling water. They’d fed it a sandwich and Mark had given it some of her quiche. He’d cut a small piece and, unknown to her until they’d got back home, had smothered it in pepper before throwing it for the dog to catch. How he’d laughed as it ran away sneezing. He’d laughed for days afterward every time it came to mind, ‘it’s only a joke about your cooking.’ he’d said.

“Long time ago now, come on, eat up.”

He picked up his knife and sliced the toast in half, in half again and again until he had eight little slices on his plate, he then picked each piece up with his finger and thumb before eating them noisily. Jan watched and sipped her coffee in silence.

          “ Eat up.” He repeated.

“I did say I didn’t want anything.”

“ You didn’t mean it, come on, eat with me.” Mark was insistent.

“If you want it you have it, I’m not hungry.” She watched as he slid her slice onto his plate and proceeded with the cutting ritual as before.

          “ I went through Italy, had some really good food there. Mmm, love this.” He added and stuffed another slice into his mouth. 

The mocking voices of insufferable people echoed through Jan’s thoughts. The warm smell of toast materialized the tiny kitchen of their flat, friends sat around chatting, Mark’s friends. Geoff had said something and she turned to listen. The toast she was making for everyone caught fire under the grill. Someone laughed and from that point on it had been a standing joke. ‘Visiting Mark and Jan, we’d better bring a take-away.’ Mark had laughed too.

“Pity you never learned to cook, you never know, I might not have had to go so far for a decent meal.” Mark was laughing at his insinuation.

His voice scattered the images. Jan sighed.

          “Mark, look, I have to go, I’m sorry, I’m working.”

He finished the last slice of Jan’s Rarebit and felt in his coat for his wallet.

          “Oh damn! I’ve left my wallet…”

          “It’s OK, have this one on me, I owe you that much.” Jan got up and walked across to Emma, she whispered something and they laughed.  As she turned to leave, Mark held his arm out for her but she brushed him aside and chose instead to walk before him. Outside the door she turned.

          “When shall we meet again?” Asked Mark.

His arrogant, self assured face smiled at her and the knot in her stomach untied. Jan leant across, gently kissed his cheek and smiled back at him.

“Actually we won’t; I won’t, and by the way, I’m ok and doing very nicely, thank you for asking”.

Mark opened his mouth to speak. Jan gestured with her eyes to the sign above the door, held up her hands in front of her, winked, and walked back into her Bistro.

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Postaday: Describe my dream vacation

With all the things I am interested in my dream holiday is difficult to pin down to one place. It would drive me nuts just lying around on the beach all day and visiting touristy foreign places would bore me silly and annoy me as the crowds well, crowd me. So I guess it would have to be somewhere reasonably quiet with history. I mean old history that my ancestors might have known. Personally, there are so many great places in the UK that I have still yet to visit and many would say but that’s not a holiday! but to me nothing would be better than walking round an ancient town and visiting all the museums, especially those with ‘ living museums’ like we have in Gosport.

 I love doing research and taking photographs and of course, reading. Castles and countryside are of great interest to me and the big 180 degrees of sky in all its many moods. Being able to find pictures to draw or paint is also important. Our last holiday was in Cornwall. What a fantastic ruse for a holiday – research for my book! Mousehole Harbour was somewhere I had wanted to visit for years, especially as one of our favourite cartoons was ‘Mousehole Cat’ which was based on a true story. On getting to Mousehole I was filled with such wonder, not just in feeling the atmosphere that had been created in the book but also on discovering the other histories of the place. A walk around the villages took us to another time almost. People sold home made produce on little shelves outside their cottages, plaques gave interesting facts about people who had lived there years ago. Ruined buildings had such great stories and many a local were only too pleased to share the stories.

We travelled all round the coast of Cornwall from the north to the south, me getting my fix of coastlines and skies, and going to places that most people wouldn’t find interesting at all but we loved every minute of it and I can’t wait to go back again. The tiny cottages that you climbed steps up to get in fascinated me because the door height was tiny. I mean really tiny. What was the history there? did the tide come in so a high step helped keep the water out? Another amazing thing was the narrowness of the roads. Obviously built when only horses were the means of travelling but we sat there on a bus holding our breath as the driver negotiated these roads with only millimetres spare to squeeze through. The place reeked with stories and oldness and I could spend months researching the history of each of the places we went to.

I think the best thing was when I met my Mum’s first ‘boyfriend’.  Now in his eighties, he told us such a sad and beautiful story. He loved my mum and everyone had thought they would marry but my father came along and whisked her away with promises of a new life. Bill got involved with motorbikes to get away from missing her. It was a serious accident on a bike that lost him his leg, right up to his hip. He never married, he hoped and hoped his Gwen would come back to him. Had she not gone he would still have both legs. He still waits for her and still loves her, no-one would every be anywhere near as good as his ‘Gwennie’. Bill is a lovely man, a great character, it shows in his face and I felt so sad for him. What a beautiful story of love. I took a photo of Mum for him and I think they do write to each-other but their lives are worlds apart. In spite of this, he still waits, spending his time now making and painting little model soldiers. I think he has to find a place in my book somehow, but I will write him a happier ending.

So I think the answer to the question of my dream holiday has to be the holiday that gives me something to see, think about and feel. Places with history and folklore that can be researched. Places of peace and quiet with time to reflect on the normal pace of life. Places that have beautiful architecture and interesting people who are pleased to share their stories and have the time to do just that. Northern Ireland and Cornwall did just that for me but I know there are so many other places, towns, villages, mountains and valleys, highlands and lowlands that wait for me out there. And I want to see them all and find out their histories. So, boring as it may seem for a lot of people. My dream vacation would be right here in the uk.

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Postaday2011: Something I never believed in…

The subject for this blogaday entry links in so well with yesterday’s. Thank you to a couple of not so good teachers, I left school at 14 having never sat an exam. My self esteem was low and was told I am never going to achieve so I might as well leave. I was fifteen in the summer holidays which was the legal requirement for leaving full time education in the sixties. I was handed a slip of paper with an interview date on it for a shop assistant in a town centre chemist and wished good luck. I got the job but hated it. I moved to another position in a stationers and then onto factory work where I could earn double the money. I was happy there and remained making fuses until I had my first child.  I even went back to do evening shift after he was born.

Those days from school coupled with lack of parental support left me never knowing there was more out there, I never knew I was intelligent. I loved being a mother and I went on to have eight children over 21 years. I had a dream fulfilled when we lived in the country for thirteen of those years. The experience was so much better than I could ever have imagined. Even though I feel sad at having to move to the town, I give thanks every day for the wonderful times and memories I have of rural living.

I wrote in yesterday’s blog about getting a degree in my fifties and the career I ended up with. That all came about because as we were nursing my elderly father in law I needed something to break the time. My husband had to leave work to help care for him in the end because it became a 24/7 task. I went to a ‘back to learning’ class in adult education at the local college just a couple of mornings a week. Local that is at 8 miles away from our country village. I achieved a good mark which really triggered off a faith in myself. I met a girl there who was using the course to brush up her English before going on to do a degree. It was her that dared me to apply to University College Chichester. Reluctantly, I did and after writing a book review, I was accepted. I went on to get my 2.1 Bachelor’s degree and then to do another three years teacher training whilst I taught on…..the very course I had started on.

If you had told me at any other time I would end up in higher education, let alone teaching, I would have laughed. That seven years of higher education gave me a self esteem and confidence I had never experienced in my life before. It changed everything for me. It also showed me the value of good education and support. We all need someone to believe in us, I was blessed to have people around me who did see my potential and supported me all the way. So the one thing that I never believed in before I experienced it properly later on in life was good teaching. A lot of people have failed at school due to poor teaching standards back in the fifties and sixties. Not all teachers were bad, I hasten to add, but it only takes one and any other number of circumstances to prevent a child from achieving. Thankfully the standard of teacher training is high and there is no excuse for poor teaching methods any more. It took me a lot of courage to try but I am so glad I did.

Unfortunately, arthritis stopped me teaching before I got my last years training that would have given me my PGCE, but I gained so much more because I did what I did. I gained self confidence and a belief in myself as well as some wonderful encouraging friends.                                                                                     

These days I write, working on a couple of novels, and I sell my paintings. Neither of which I could, or would, have done before I went back to ‘school’ because I never believed I was good enough. Thank you to Janis, Harry, Sharon and Bobby.

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Postaday2011:My worst teacher..

You mean only one? I grew up in the fifties in a poor family. My father wasn’t around after I was nine, I was the oldest of five children and the only girl. School for me was a nightmare but although I struggled, mainly because of what was going on in my life, there were some great teachers that believed in me from junior school and secondary school. My first nomination, I wasn’t going to name but the chances of anyone tracing him if I don’t name the school is remote. His name was Mr Pratt and taught me maths. I was a gifted child but circumstances had made me fail miserably, despite of that I was sent to a higher class for mathematics. Bad move. The numbers merged on the page and made no sense to me. Each sum mocking my inability and knocking my confidence but this teacher, bless him, thought I was being lazy and decided a slap on the back of bare legs with a ruler was the way to make me learn. You know, I love maths, it fascinates me and I can understand everything and have no trouble doing it if I am studying it but… as soon as I walk out of the room, it’s gone! Everything whisks over my head like I am dumb… Thanks Mr Pratt. Forgive me for saying it but your name suited you.

My secondary school teacher taught us sewing… in those days girls were still taught the domestic sciences, cooking, sewing, cleaning etc and I was at an all girls school. I mentioned earlier I was from a poor family so my clothes were never the best and this teacher, Mrs Darnell, bless her would think nothing of hauling me out in front of the class to make me look a fool because of what I was wearing. If only she knew my circumstances…

Her stature was tall and slim and I never really knew if her hair was naturally blonde or whether she dyed it, either way it was pulled back into bun so tight that it pulled her eyes up at the sides. The click of her heels as she, wearing her immaculate suits, walked along the concrete path outside the sewing room would drive a shaft of fear in my heart. I’d sit at the back hoping not to be noticed but I must have had radar that tuned into her fierceness and like a magnet she was drawn to me… Needless to say I played truant a lot in those days.

Thankfully, I am a good seamstress but I reckon that it’s nature rather than nurture that gave me that gift. I just wish my fascination for maths along with my understanding of quantum physics could have been a gift too. Wow! I’d be so clever… these bad teachers from those years have no idea of the damage they did. I believe in the ‘significant others’ in one’s life and for all the pain and embarrassment those two teachers caused me there were others who helped me to fly. Mrs Emery, Mrs Calder and Mrs Blann were their names.  Through them I learned believe in myself as I learned the things that mean so much to me now, to appreciate nature and art, music, English and writing but it wasn’t until I was 50 that I had the opportunity to show the world what I was capable of and do a degree. It was that 2.1 in English that changed my life and opened up so many things for me. I ended being a teacher myself but rest assured I was a far better teacher than the two from my childhood.

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Weekly photo challenge : Boundaries

This challenge is brilliant and although I am not a photographer, I do take lots of pictures with my little digital camera. The theme of boundaries has many connotations to me. I imagine stepping over the line and into extreme  behaviour, physical boundaries, those boundaries we put upon ourselves like shackles that prevent us growing. Walls, fences or natural boundaries created by nature, there are so many ideas in my head. As I don’t walk too well at the moment, I have delved into my albums and come up with these pictures that for me, represent boundaries.

 A double boundary here, the connection between man’s boundaries and those natural ones from the world around us.


The second picture has four boundaries here, man and nature, grass and sand, sand and sea then sea and sky.

The third picture, although a little dark I liked this one because of, once again, the contrast between man and nature. This time the world of spiders who have created their own barrier within the  fence barrier.

I chose the fourth one because this chain link fence was the only barrier that prevented anyone falling a hundred feet or more to the bottom of the cliff.

As I said earlier, I also believe that the biggest barriers are those we put round ourselves. All those negative thoughts we hold that prevent us from achieving our full potential. A long time ago my immediate phrase when anyone suggested I did something was to say’ I can’t do that!’ then give any number of excuses, not clever enough, too fat, too short, too busy, have something else to do.. I could go on but in the end the only reason I couldn’t do that was because  of fear. Fear of failure or fear that I wasn’t good enough and would make a fool of myself , yet in my heart I wanted to challenge myself and prove a point.

Most of my fears come from learned behaviour as a child, some were not even my fears but those I ‘borrowed’  from my mother. My mother would never use the phone, she hated it and guess what, I hate calling people on the phone in case I am interrupting them. Logic tells me they would ask me to call back if they were busy but no… I hold my mother’s fear. Interestingly enough one of my daughters also hates using the phone. As a young mother I had agoraphobia for many years and I was so afraid I would make my children the same. I never wanted them to have any barrier that would prevent them from growing and seeing the world. I worked hard at encouraging them to travel and now I have children in US, Switzerland, one recently moved back from Spain and all of them have travelled, some many different countries. I guess I broke that boundary for myself a couple of years back when I got on a plane for the first time –  another fear from my childhood.

So you see, for me, boundaries have many guises but I hope you like my photos representing a few of the more obvious boundaries that I have come across.

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Postaday2011: A Country Life.

Before I begin this blog I must have a moan. I spend ages sorting my photos and placing them carefully next to the text then when it is published they are all over the place and the words no longer match the pictures. Ah well, methinks I am doing something wrong. I have tried re-arranging the pictures and resizing them but it looks worse. I think I shall leave well alone.

Meanwhile, I have written before about country living. How much I miss it following moving back into town but, I have some wonderful memories of an idyllic life. Ok it is very different to the town, the rules are soo different, I mean two of my children worked in a pub, washing up and preparing salads from the age of twelve for their pocket-money. The boys would go out beating for the pheasant shoot, they had air rifles and so much more freedom than there is in the town.  It was harder in as much as there was no central heating in some of the cottages we lived, the weather dictated whether the phones or electricity worked  and buses were only every two hours. It was worth it though, some of  the wonderful memories have been captured on film and while looking for pictures yesterday, I found one or two to share.

We lived in working farm villages and Suzi loved the cows, so much so that she would spend as much time as she could in the barns with the babies. When she wasn’t on the farm she bred hamsters and rabbits.  This picture is just one of many with Suzi with her hand in a calf’s mouth.   

Quite often the children would find something to amuse themselves. When builders came and left a pile of bricks in a lean-to overnight, they came back next day to … a pyramid!   We have no idea what they thought about it but the kids found it very amusing.  If they were up at the farm, there was always a cart and a friend to lend a hand.                                                                    



 We were surrounded by farmland and in summer the cows would be let in the adjoining field. Our chickens were and really curious but I wonder if they knew they were being watched.                    When we were fairly new to rural life stupidly we planted runner beans next to the fence not realising the cows would let in the field later on.. Yes, you guessed, they stripped all the plants as far as their long tongues would reach. A definite learning curve there. The winters were cold, the valley had its own little biosphere and one winter we had a leaking pipe. The resulting icicles outside the back door were spectacular this particular year.

Finally, this last picture of the field next to the house showed me that there is not always a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. We searched where this rainbow ended in the field to no avail but it was still beautiful to think that we were lucky enough to actually experience standing beneath the glorious colours at the rainbow’s end.                                                                                            

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Postaday2011: Maybe tomorrow.

I started out today with a set of plans. I was really systematic and started off really well. Shower, breakfast – read a chapter of my book –  clean the kitchen, fold the laundry, iron my trousers, write my blog. I did most of it before 11am and was feeling pretty smug, just my blog to do. I looked out my photos and found some gorgeous ones to post but then I got wonderfully distracted. My daughter came over with Millie and everything goes out of the window because I cannot resist her. I haven’t seen her all week because of this cough and I missed them so much. Best laid plans etc. I have put the coastlines pictures off until tomorrow. They are marked priority!

I had an interesting afternoon, my daughter came with me to a hospital appointment to find out the results of aforeblogged MRI scan. I can report I do have a brain in there and nothing else. I am delighted, doesn’t explain, and no explanation offered, why I have gone deaf in one ear. Ah well. All the blood tests came back as insignificant except the RA one which wasn’t surprising since I have arthritis but even though the doctor was unable to help I am just so pleased there is nothing serious going on in my head.

So todays blog is a little short and on the boring side but I have found one picture of a painting I have done that was based on the view from the window of Harry’s sisters home in Port Stewart, NI . The pot in front of the picture is real btw, I’m not that good- yet!  Hope it whets the appetite for tomorrow’s blog x.

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