Be Careful What You Wish For

I received an invitation last week to join the new social media site Ello, so that in itself should tell you its clearly not that exclusive if they let me join. Like yourselves I’d read all the reviews and thought I’d see for myself what it’s all about particularly as we’ve all discussed many times our frustrations with Facebook.

I was delighted to find an eclectic mix of very talented creative people; a bit like yourselves! In my first couple of days I was invited to take part in a Flash Fiction project so taking all that I’ve learned from the Queen of Flash Fiction, Valentine over at QBG_Tilted Tiara, I rolled up my sleeves and got stuck in. It probably helped that I was partnered with the talented photographer Ricardo over at Porto Street Shooting. So basically this is the fruits of our labour; hope you like it! And if any of you are already on Ello, give me a holler!

It was wrong; she knew it was wrong. If only she hadn’t uncorked that second bottle of Shiraz which had been the start of her undoing. Well that’s not exactly true, her problems started way before; six months’ ago to be precise when the conniving tattooed harlot had moved into the house next door.

Now she was damned and was going to Hell as Father Mullaney had constantly predicted when she was forced to attend Sunday school several lifetimes’ ago. She was strangely comforted knowing that the old bugger had been right all along so she couldn’t help but smile as she poured herself another glass of the Shiraz.

During their courtship Rick, her husband, frequently teased her about her strict Catholic upbringing but over the last few years the gentle teasing had developed into more sinister accusations of being cold and frigid. So it was no surprise that it didn’t take him long to notice the manipulative minx next door and pretty soon he was popping over there on the pretence of mowing her lawn or clearing her guttering despite the fact that their roof had been leaking throughout the winter. Whilst she struggled alone to unblock drains her next-door neighbour enjoyed her husband’s attentive ministrations.

But that had all changed today with the uncorking of that second bottle. The kitchen door banged opened and she anxiously asked “Is it over?” her voice shook slightly as she emptied the bottle into the second glass. A hand snaked out to take the crystal goblet from her as a warm light kiss brushed her neck.

“I dumped the body in the quarry, they’ll never find him” the conniving harlot whispered.

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The Great Escape (Part Two)

If you missed Part One you can catch it here

The following day Barbs and I discussed strategy over a hearty breakfast at the local organic café as my mother insists on giving us porridge, muesli, prunes to keep us “regular” but superheroes can’t march on granola alone and neither would it help hone my cat-like reflexes ahead of our stealth invasion.

As soon as we had finished our Big Girls’ Breakfast we returned home to gather “intel” for the covert mission ahead. Two discarded Toy Story walkie talkies were retrieved from the loft where the kids had left them a fair few years’ ago. The fact that they were now in my possession suggested that they were some toys you never outgrew and some adults who never grew up.

With the batteries replaced they were as good as new and the range so clear that I could probably have safely guided a Boeing 747 in to land on my Dad’s lovingly cultivated lawn.

Barbs’ late mother used to knit balaclavas which would have been ideal for the job in hand but sadly as she was no longer with us I had to make do with one of my Dad’s old gardening hats but as I picked up the scissors to insert eye holes my mother snapped “Deborah, don’t be using my good scissors for those” As opposed to the naughty ones!

We spent the next couple of hours assembling our outfits for the covert mission ahead and agreed on our radio pseudonyms; Barbs would be “Roller Chick” and I would be “Lawn Mower Girl” for use over the airwaves. We giggled as we finalised the details of our cunning plan and envisioned victoriously retrieving all our lost booty. We waited until midnight or the witching hour, which as you know is when Barbs and I do our best work.

It was a clear crisp night with a full moon and having disconnected our security light we snaked over to the privet hedge. I tried to persuade Barbs as the littlest and most lithe to venture across the great divide but she wisely declined which meant that I was going to have to be the one to defend the family honour.

“Now be careful with that garden shed; it was put together on a wing and a prayer like all his other DIY projects. One slight tap and the roof’ll fall off” hissed Barbs.

As I struggled to heave my ample bottom over the hedge I couldn’t help but think it would have been a damn sight easier if we’d got the local WICCA coven (one of the members makes jam with the old dear at the Women’s Institute) to create some potion or other for us; one that involved a good deal of discomfort, of course.

Sitting astride the hedge with the blackberry brambles ripping me to shreds, Barbs handed me the walkie-talkie and as I slid down into enemy territory, I nodded “See you on the other side” as they do in the movies.

Having landed safely on Turbo’s decking, I crawled across to the shed. Crouching I gingerly reached up for the handle and carefully opened the door.

“Lawn Mower Girl calling Roller Chick, come in Roller Chick” I hissed into the walkie-talkie “I’m going in”.

I sneaked into the shed to retrieve as many familiar items as I could and handed them across the hedge to Barbs who was stood on tiptoe on the other side. After locating my Dad’s last spade, I whispered into the handset “mission accomplished Roller Chick, I’m coming home”. However, my excitement was short-lived as suddenly there was a creak followed by a large groan and the shed collapsed leaving me holding just the door handle.

Immediately the light in the upstairs window came on and I hightailed it back to the safety of the hedge. Across the airwaves, Barbs dulcet tones screamed “abort, abort”.

Well aren’t you a little late to the party, my little vertically challenged friend I thought as I scampered over the top of the hedge. I was literally one minute away from being undetected when the bedroom window swung open and a torch was shone in my direction.

“Who’s there? Dallas, is that you?”

Cringing with embarrassment I recovered quickly informing him that we were doing a little blackberry picking as a surprise for the old fella’s breakfast. He asked if I’d seen any intruders and with a sharp intake of breath I shook my head unconvincingly.

Hedgehogs” I exclaimed “loads of them around this time of year looking for somewhere to hibernate”

Without missing a beat that’s when my partner in crime piped up “they’d have to be ninja hedgehogs on steroids to bring a shed down”. After throwing me under the bus, she giggled softly “told you to be careful, didn’t I.”

Turbo scratched his head and said “Can’t understand it but the instructions were in Japanese so I just bodged it when I was putting it up. I’ll get your Dad to give me a hand with it in the morning.”

Relieved that we’d dodged a bullet, I  realised I was in dire need of  some fortification so we had a shot of my Dad’s dandelion wine but after Barb’s flagrant display of disloyalty I decided to save the good stuff until she’d departed for home.

hedgehog

No Hedgehogs were harmed during the writing of this post

We’re All Gifted, We Just Unwrap Our Packages At Different Times

Hello friends, it’s been a while. This past month well real life has taken over, I even had my bestie for a visit and her new-found hobby of roller skating was the focus for a week; but that really is a story for another day.

Sadly these days I’m up at 5am to start work and return to be carer, gardener, scrubber, shopper extraordinaire. I don’t get to spend as much time blogging as I would like but I think of you all often but ironically when we’re up against it, the thing we enjoy the most tends to be the thing which is sidelined. I’d love to keep up with you all so you can find me on either Twitter or Facebook. My other announcement is that I have started serialising “The Honeymoon Stories” on Wattpad. It’s still early days and I certainly couldn’t have done it without two years of support and encouragement from the best bloggers in the world (you might want to check out the dedication on Chapter One)

As I’m late to the Wattpad party, I would be happy to hear from any of you that are frequent users and have any tips or suggestions for me.

So signing off for now but I hope you all find time to do what makes you happy this weekend.

With fondest thoughts and a grateful heart, your blogging friend Dallas

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The Quiet Place

Each of us has a quiet place, somewhere where we go to write, reflect, create or just be alone. Of late I seem to have lost the key or forgotten the combination to the door of my secret place. Overlooked or misplaced either way I am struggling to find my way in where previously the door had somehow always been left ajar.

I envy my father in that way, that the second he plucks at a weed or picks up a shovel he becomes blissfully immersed and emotionally invested in his joyful occupation whilst the worries of the world just slip away. I seem to have lost my way to my own happy place and writing no longer beckons me or offers me solace in the way it has before. I envy those that find comfort in much-loved pastimes but I have always struggled to write if my soul is in disquiet.

Maybe all I really need is a little faith, trust and pixie dust but there again it might be that old familiar thief called time has stolen away my happy place when I wasn’t looking. What will help me find my way back? I’m not sure but when I find that magical road map, I’ll let you know.

So wherever you are today, I hope you find your quiet place and spend it doing just what makes you happy.

And then there were four!

And then there were four!

The Ugly Duckling

Today it’s the turn of the fabulous Wivi over at myguiltypleasures whose little swan family inspired one of my stories. Wivi and I share a love of food and music – although she’s a much better cook than me! So thank you to Wivi and thanks to all of you for reading!

Her hand trembled as she applied another coat of mascara; she wasn’t sure if that was because of the excitement or just nerves getting the better of her, but one thing was certain she was going to surprise a lot of people tonight. No one believed her when she had announced her plans. They’d all scoffed when she started and pointed out her shortcomings and the more they doubted her, the more determined she had become. Admittedly, she had in the past started projects and become disillusioned very quickly; like when she became an Avon Lady which lasted all of four weeks when she realised it would require working weekends and evenings. So you couldn’t really blame folk for not having faith in her.

She’d never really been what you would call pretty although her old Dad used to say that what she lacked in the appearance department, the little oneshe made up for in personality. And whilst she had always been overlooked at school discos when her more attractive friends were asked to dance, she had smiled good-naturedly and ignored the hurt.

For years she’d run around after her sisters and their offspring; babysitting, driving her young nieces and nephews to various after school activities, attending endless school plays and never once forgetting a birthday. At family gatherings she had laughed off the jibes about always being the bridesmaid and never the bride; she’d been maid of honour to all three of her siblings so maybe there was something in the old wives tale after all. qutieIt had been taken for granted that she was content with being the family stalwart and “go to” girl but deep down her heart ached for more and besides she knew that there was a swan inside her just dying to get out.

Smoothing the satin lines of her expensive cocktail dress, she took a deep breath and hearing the compere announce her, she walked onto the stage into the spotlight to cheers and applause. Proudly she grinned as last year’s winner placed the silk sash over her head proclaiming her “Slimmer of the Year”. She blew kisses to her family who were standing in the front row cheering her on along with her new man who she’d met at fat club. Who’d have thought that there would have been romance across the weigh-ins, shared tips and recipes. As he winked back at her,her heart somersaulted and she knew that every agonising gym session and every bar of chocolate she had gone without had been worth it. There was no doubt about it, her future now held promise and hope; it was no longer filled with nights spent babysitting and watching TV soaps in front of the telly. This was her time and she didn’t intend wasting another precious moment.

this years family

The Other Woman

Today it’s the turn of Team Gunta. Gunta over at Movin’ On and I have been following each other since I started blogging and living in a fishing community I was naturally drawn to her wild seas pictures & stormy skies with the briefest suggestion of smugglers on the beach. She’s provided me with some great advice and laughs over the past twelve months or so and I loved the pictures she selected for this post but the last one I think is pretty amazing. Let us know what you think!

She’d lived in the small fishing port all her life and had never spent more than a couple of nights away from home when she’d broken her arm as a small child and had to stay at the local hospital. Her father and brother were fishermen as were her uncles, grandfather and their ancestors.DallasX-1240Their daily routines revolved around tides and weather forecasts strongly interwoven with old wives tales and superstitions. One of her earliest memories was running down to the harbour to welcome her father and his crew home, when her father would pick her up and swing her onto his shoulders to carry her home. If she closed her eyes she could still smell the sea and engine oil from his old jersey.

Unlike many of her contemporaries she had never yearned for far shores, big cities and bright lights. She was content living in their small cottage with her parents and brother and waking up every morning watching the boats in the harbour from her bedroom window. It was always a good day in their small village when one of the trawlers appeared on the horizon surrounded by swooping gulls and then sailed into the quay to unload their catch. An abundant haul could mean the difference between paying the rent and having to seek work for the winter with a road construction gang.

Her childhood sweetheart, Jan, lived a few cottages behind them and he had skippered his own boat ever since his father was tragically lost at sea. As children they had played kiss chase and the pigtail tweaking had progressed into stolen kisses under the apple tree followed by moonlight walks along the beach as they became older and shared their hopes and dreams under a starlit sky.

She had always known, in the way that women do, that he had a first love that she would never be able to competeDallasX-4823 with and as her love continued to blossom and soar so did his obsession with his mistress. The intoxicating rush of adrenalin that he felt when he was alone with his lover was addictive and he failed to heed the many warnings. He became reckless in a way that young men could, without giving any thought to the consequences.

It was fate that his mistress had taken him in the end leaving her with just empty promises and broken dreams. She was bitter no doubt about that; he had been dismissive of her heartfelt pleas in the cruellest of ways. They’d never found his body although the broken hull of the trawler had been retrieved from a nearby cove. Dallas-0917The storm the night he was taken was one of the worst that their region had seen but he insisted on taking the boat out despite the weather forecast of impending squalls. The magnetic pull of the sea had been irresistible and the desire to fight destiny too seductive.

Of course, that was many years ago now and her parents were long gone along with most of their neighbours and friends. There had been many changes in the village; restaurants and cafes teeming with tourists now line the quay where once the trawling fleet used to line up waiting for their crew to fire up the engines and cast off.DallasX-008 Hard to imagine looking at the crowds of visitors that this had once been a thriving fishing community; well, that had been another time. The only remnant of the village’s history remained in the small museum on the quay next to the church where the book of remembrance documented all the lives lost at sea.

She didn’t need any cheap trinket or memento to remind her of Jan; he was always in her heart and there wasn’t a day when she didn’t think about him and what might have been. As she sat on the bench with sunshine warming her face, she smiled secretly to herself. She knew that he was waiting for her as she had waited to join him and it wouldn’t be long now before they were reunited. She’d lived a good life albeit a lonely one but she knew that she could no longer fight this debilitating disease and she was ready now. As she sat there dozing she felt a calloused hand in hers; he’d come for her, just as she knew he would.

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Footprints

When I asked for volunteers for the story/photo collaborations, I was delighted when Suzanne over at the travelbunny stepped up as I have long been an admirer of her work, particularly her Turkish pictures which remind me of sunshine days and happier times. In fact I have one of her pictures as a screen saver on my laptop to lift my spirits on blue days. I’m grateful that she agreed and I hope you like her pictures as much as I do.

On one of my forays into Didim shopping centre, I decided to browse the Saturday morning market on my own. Not always an easy task, as most of the stallholders spoke little English. This particular morning as I was struggling to understand a wizened old lady selling chillies; an American woman seeing my discomfort translated for me in fluent Turkish. She was a stunning looking mature bohemian lady who exuded style and joy. I’d seen her a few times weaving around the market in her big floppy hat and designer sunglasses, stopping for a chat and smile here and there, or to make a purchase. Her laughter was musical and infectious which matched her sunny disposition.

“Call me Nia” she said “Back home it’s actually Lavinia, but that’s not so lovely is it” she giggled “But then that’s the beauty of being an expat, you get to start over. I’m guessing you’re not a holiday maker judging by your purchases so if you live here I’m guessing………….it must be for a Turkish man.Let’s catch a çay over there in that café and you can tell me all about it. I’m a romance junkie so I’m dying to hear your story”.

Over çay I learned that she had lived on her own on the outskirts of Altinkum for several years tending to her animals and garden. She was an American with a family back home but divorced and to her regret, she said that she’d never had any children but as she had travelled the world so much, she’d never settled down long enough to start a family. She had flown to Turkey after the breakdown of her last marriage, become enchanted by its magic and somehow never left.

 

“Dallas, life isn’t all about playing safe, but of course, you already know that or you wouldn’t be here. It’s about finding what makes you happy and doing it; and if you happen to find someone along the way that you love and loves the same things you do, then you’ve found the secret to happiness. Even if it’s only for a short while but grab it with both hands whilst you can and when it’s over move on with thanks in your heart for the love you’ve received”

I thought then that perhaps that was a maudlin thing to say but didn’t dwell on it too much as Nia soon had me laughing with tales of her Turkish neighbours. She told me that she lived on the outskirts of Maveshir on the sea front and suggested that I visit her.

So a few days later, Ahmed dropped me off at her house on his way to the Cash & Carry. We stopped en route once or twice for directions and when we pulled up, I was amazed to see that she lived in one of the whitewashed beachfront villas that I had so admired. The surrounding gardens were also lovingly cultivated and full of the colourful Mediterranean flora and fauna that I had become accustomed to. As I opened the gate I was greeted by two street dogs that Nia had adopted and as with many a rescue animal, I never failed to be amazed by their trusting natures despite their often poor treatment at the hands of humans.

Nia was gardening and shouted a greeting so I made my way to the front of the villa to where she was tending her plants. The view was breath-taking and I felt that I arrived in a Mediterranean oasis and each time a breeze blew past me, I caught the heady fragrance of the surrounding flowers and citrus trees. I envied Nia her little Turkish paradise and as she finished up weeding her little vegetable and herb plot, her face was aglow with pride and contentment. I could tell that she was completely at ease with her surroundings and had clearly found the secret to her joy.

I followed her inside where she suggested we sit down and indulge in some of her homemade lemonade. The villa was every bit as stunning and stylish as the outside, framed pictures filled the walls of her villa, which was simply but tastefully decorated. She seemed to have had her picture taken with nearly every Head of State over the past twenty years not to mention a few celebrities. One of her ex-husbands had been a diplomat she explained and they had travelled extensively. She laughed when I enquired about ex-husbands and explained she had three but the real loves in her life she had somehow never got round to marrying. She admitted she was a free spirit and had married to keep her old Bostonian family happy but regrettably it hadn’t worked out and neither had any of her other marriages but she remained on good terms with all the men that had been an integral part of her life. She confided in me that she lived here alone but she said that although it had taken her a lifetime she had at last found real peace and didn’t miss her old lifestyle at all.

I saw her frequently over the next year or so; often we’d meet up for a çay and a chat. She had a way of making shopping expeditions so much fun and I was grateful for her continued friendship. As summer rolled into Autumn she cancelled a few of our outings claiming a migraine but the next time I saw her, I knew that it was something far more serious although she laughed it off with her usual charm. I noticed that she tired easily when we did meet up and our days out would be cut short as she excused herself on some pretense or other. As we took leave of each other at the end of another successful shopping trip, she hugged me fiercely and said

“Remember Dallas, we pass this way only once and life is far too brief to spend one moment being bitter or regretful”.

Of course, I didn’t know it at the time but that would be the last time I saw my good friend. A short while after she disappeared from my life as quickly as she had swept in without fuss or ceremony. I heard that her family had come and taken her back to Boston; her phone was disconnected and her villa deserted with the “For Sale” sign hanging forlornly outside. All traces of my vibrant friend were just an echo now and I wondered whether the next owner would cherish it as much as Nia had. Hellos and goodbyes are such an integral part of life in Tinky Town and many friends pass through and touch your lives for such a short time but with such heart which makes them hard to forget along with the lessons which they taught you.

Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same

― Adlai E. Stevenson II

turkish garden

Put your blog out into the world and hope that your talent will speak for itself

Like me, many of you have recently celebrated your one year blog anniversary so cast your mind back, if you can, to when you first decided to start. I never had a problem with what I was going to write about; that was the easy part for me. However, I was overwhelmed by all the various themes and gadgets available to me; especially as most of you know how incompetent I am when it comes to the mystifying world of technology. For the record I’m still hopelessly pants at Twitter and aren’t hashtags a new breakfast cereal?

Having trawled through many of your sleek and glossy blogs, I can now admit to being a little intimidated and awed at the very beginning; in fact, some days I still feel that way. Twelve months on and I’m delighted to say that it’s no longer just my Mum who reads my blog; although I’m sure she was my only reader initially!

I have absolutely loved this journey of discovery and there isn’t a single day when I don’t learn something new. I have, of course, all of you to thank for welcoming me warmly into the blogging community and you have all at some time given me the very best of counsel and encouragement. So as you were all kind enough to share your knowledge with me, what would be the one piece of advice that you would give any new blogger starting up?

Blog word.

Every Picture Tells A Story

Whilst I was reading through some of your blogs on Sunday, I came across a post by the human picture regarding creativity; the pictures along with the thoughtful narrative just drew me in. I have always loved monochrome pictures as I find them enigmatic and atmospheric not to mention very old Hollywood. There’s something about certain pictures that just speak volumes to me and before I know it, I’m already weaving a story around it. I love the idea of a fleeting moment in time captured for all eternity. Whilst I am not at all talented with a camera, I most certainly admire those with a natural gift and I can appreciate the amount of patience and hard work required to produce some of the spectacular pictures that I see daily in your posts.

There are so many gifted photography bloggers on WordPress and as I’m not one of them, I am hoping to hook up with one or two of you who are happy to provide the pictures for a couple of my stories. So over the next few days I hope that I can bring you a joint project. Why don’t you give it a go but don’t forget to ask first for permission and link back to the blogs concerned. I’d love to see any of your collaborations so please let us know and maybe this might be the start of many. Oh and don’t forget this is just for fun and because you can ……

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much more.
Helen Keller

kindly provided by my diva photographic side-kick who only "does" landscapes!

kindly provided by my diva photographic side-kick (My Dad) who only “does” landscapes!

Aim For The Moon; If You Miss, You Might Just Hit a Star!

I’ve made the papers and not in a “kiss & tell” kind of a way either as predicted by my old headmistress. In fact the closest I ever got to a celebrity was when Kevin Costner whizzed past me on a golf buggy in Istanbul airport and I restrained myself from running after it stalker-like screaming “Kev I love you”; as I knew I may have been detained by security and my story could have ended so very differently.

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So how surprised was I when on one of my trips to the tatty little Kahramanmaraş internet café, where everyone knew my name, to open up an email from Andy Probert, the editor of Voices, Tinky Town’s English printed newspaper asking if he could serialise the Honeymoon Stories.

There and then an uncoordinated and very vocal happy dance was performed to the bewilderment of the other clientele who had already become accustomed to the craziness of this English woman.

I owe a big debt of thanks to Andy, who is a journalist of some twenty-six years standing both in the UK and Turkey, for taking a chance on me. I am pleased to report so far so good and no posse has been ‘rounded up to run me out of Tinky Town just yet.

To write what is worth publishing, to find honest people to publish it, and get sensible people to read it, are the three great difficulties in being an author. Charles Caleb Colton