Eskrigg Nature Reserve, August 2018

It is becoming a bit of a habit now that our little group will go on a summer outing, in the hope of inspiring some new pieces of writing. This year’s trip certainly didn’t disappoint as, notepads and pens in hand, we headed into the woods …

28-08-18 01 Welcome to Eskrigg Nature Reserve.jpg

On 28th August 2018, Lockerbie Writers ventured … well, just down the road really, to Eskrigg Nature Reserve. This tranquil woodland area, managed by Lockerbie Wildlife Trust, is home to all manner of birds, insects, squirrels and more. Off we headed in search of the wildlife, led by the Trust’s Jim Rae.

What a wonderful morning we had, enjoying stories about lonely apple trees, hardy rare plants, and the annual nut race (which we all agreed should be the title of Paula’s next children’s story). There were fantastical mushroom and plant names galore – my personal favourite was the amethyst deceiver mushroom, although I can also see the adder’s tongue fern popping up in a story somewhere.

28-08-18 06 Some of the group look at a rare fern

The day was overcast but it stayed dry for us, and the sun popped out long enough for a couple of butterflies to appear. Even the squirrels were obliging and entertained some of us by sauntering across the path right next to our feet – one even sat next to Frank to have his breakfast!

I, for one, had not appreciated the amount of hard work and community spirit which has gone into the reserve over the last thirty years. It really is a tribute to the community – and to Jim Rae’s dedication to the place – to hear him list all of the companies and voluntary groups who have donated their time and/or money over the years. It is such a great resource for learning but equally for a quiet morning’s walk or time for contemplation.

Led by our informative and enthusiastic guide, we spent a full two hours exploring the nature reserve, before returning to the picnic area for lunch and a chat about what we had seen. Most of us felt far too relaxed, surrounded by nature and birdsong, to think about writing much by this point – but we left full of ideas and inspiration, ready to produce our own stories and poems at home. I’m looking forward to our next meeting where we’ll all report back on what we have written.

Thank you to Jim Rae and Lockerbie Wildlife Trust for a fantastic and inspirational morning, and thank you to our own Paula for suggesting the venue and organising it. We look forward to sharing our resulting writing with Lockerbie Wildlife Trust and with you in the near future.

28-08-18 07 Sun coming down through the trees

Fallen Angels – Short Story

What would you write if given the prompt ‘Angela’? Would you draw on the memories of real-life people you’ve known with this name, or perhaps you’d already have a character in mind who would suit it?

This was the question faced by Lockerbie Writers this week and, while many of the group went down these more traditional lines, Kath chose to explore the meaning of the name and in particular the connection with angels. Sadly she didn’t get a chance to read her story out at this week’s meeting, but instead she has asked me to share it here on the blog.

Please take a few minutes to read this imaginative, clever story from one of our ambitious and enthusiastic members.

Enjoy!


 

Fallen Angels by Kath J. Rennie

Just like that: whoosh … I was transported from my heavenly place, where I’d been lounging on a pink-cotton cloud, to here – a cold, damp embankment, where I am to live for the foreseeable … or, what if I can prove my worth to Arc-Angel Mother? I will be allowed back through the pearly gates, and awarded my first pair of wings; small, compact, yet sufficient enough to fly from one’s friend’s abode to another.

The larger wing set I will have to earn, and only then will I become a fully-fledged Angel. Until then (after not adhering to the Mother’s rule-book), I will have to get used to this body (if you can call it a body), but at least I can still think for myself. This is something I would not have been able to do if not accepting this punishment, and instead, I would have been sent down into fiery pits of hell, where Satan had argued in the court of universal law … “She should have been mine! Not given a second-chance, allowing her to be reincarnated on Earth.”

Reincarnation, I’d assumed, would be in human form and in a different body so I could call on my husband to check on him – and her, I suppose: the woman who’d stolen his heart from me, breaking mine into smithereens, causing my personality to become inflamed with revenge.

I had heard on the grapevine of her distaste for anything slimy – worms, slugs, amphibians – and had scoured this area before, where I now sit, to collect as many nasties as possible.

One evening, on finding her car sat outside ‘my once home’ with a window rolled down, my finds were deposited.

“They had only been placed in the car to frighten her!” I’d pled in court. “How was I to know she would be called away in the dead of night; drive on one of the busiest freeways? And collide with an oncoming truck!”

Death by fatal injection was not a pleasant experience; especially with having a fear of needles. And, experiencing waking up in a kind of no-man’s-land was scarier, having not been a believer.

 

The embankment is becoming noisier, alive with all manner of night life: otters, birds, bats, as dusk falls.

It is now free of families with children, who’d tried to catch me! “Ha ha,” I’d thought when evading their imprisonment.

A male human fishes on, alone. He looks depressed.

He’s familiar?

Could it be?

My chest pumps with joy. I try to shout out to him … “I’m here! I’m so, so sorry. Can you forgive me? You have to forgive me! If not, I am cursed to live in this green warty exterior.”

He turns. He looks to where I wait with longing for him, confident that when he looks into my eyes he’ll remember with me … with love.

He walks towards me.  He speaks my name. I croak out his, then remember, and realise too late, as his boot heads vertically my way: he’s always hated frogs!

02-09-15 06 Frogs.JPG

Writing Challenge – August 2018

Thank you for your responses to our dog photograph last month – what a mixture! It’s always fantastic to see what you come up with.

Once again, Lockerbie Writers bring you a writing prompt, and this month we’re going a little bit different …

Writing Challenge – August 2018

In 100 words or less, write a story or poem in response to this instrumental piece of music.

*TIP* Try listening to the whole piece first, giving it your full attention, and then free-write for a couple of minutes.

Entry Details, Terms & Conditions

  • To enter, simply add your entry as a comment on this post, or as a comment on the Facebook post whenever this blog is shared to our Facebook page. Entries will be accepted until 31st August 2018.
  • There is no prize or winner – it’s just for fun!
  • The challenge is open to everyone, including members of Lockerbie Writers.
  • Entries should be fictional, maximum 100 words, based on the prompt. You can enter as many times as you like. All entries must be the entrant’s original work, must not infringe on the rights of any other parties, and should not contain anything which might be considered offensive. Lockerbie Writers reserves the right to remove any entries/comments which they decide do not meet any of these conditions.
  • By entering, you agree to allow Lockerbie Writers to publish your entry on this blog and on their Facebook page. You will retain the copyright to your work.
  • If you have any questions, please get in touch!

The Hedgehog Family Short Story

One of the joys of working with such a mixed writers’ group is the range of stories which you get to hear at each meeting – and this story is no exception. I enjoyed hearing this read aloud, but have enjoyed it even more being able to read it in my own time.

Thanks to Betsy, who has asked me to share with you this beautiful children’s story about a family of hedgehogs.


 

The Hedgehog Family by Betsy Henderson

Mr and Mrs Hedgehog had four children, two boys and two girls.  There was Harry, who was named after a prince because he had a ginger beard and was going bald on top.  Happy was called that because he was always happy, even when everyone else was sad.  He used to go around singing, “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands,” and everyone had to sing along with him.  Then there was Holly, because she was very prickly.  She used to get very upset for the slightest little thing and took it out on everyone else.  Last of all was Honey.  She was sweet and good and kind and everyone loved her.  That is everyone except the big horrible giant who lived at the top of the hill.

The giant’s name was Guzzler and he had a pet dragon called George who breathed fire every time he opened his mouth.  Guzzler dreamed of roasting the hedgehogs on a massive spit, and cooking them with the fire from George’s breath.  The thought of a giant-sized plate of hedgehogs, toasted worms, fried mushrooms and a salad made with nettles and dandelions made his mouth water constantly. He would order his slaves to collect all the ingredients and make a sumptuous gravy with mouse blood.

21-10-11 07 Squirrel.JPG

Most hedgehogs sleep nearly all day and hunt at night but this hedgehog family were vegetarians, so they didn’t eat worms and bugs.  They liked grass and other green stuff and their very favourite food was potatoes and turnips from the farmer’s field. This didn’t make them very popular and Farmer Joe often used to set his dog, Snapper on them.  He had very long legs which could run ten times faster than they could and huge teeth, which could tear apart even the largest animal in minutes.

So between Guzzler, George, Farmer Joe and Snapper, the hedgehogs led a very dangerous life.  Sometime Father Hedgehog talked of moving away to somewhere safer but Mother didn’t want to leave because her parents were buried in the next field.

They were just setting off for their morning walk one day when they heard Guzzler and George tramping over the hills.  Guzzler was so huge and his feet were so big that every footstep he took shook the ground like an earthquake.  George set fire to all the bushes and long grass around as he clumped through them and all the small animals scurried for their dear life in case they were burned alive.  Farmer Joe and Snapper were working nearby and they could see the clouds of smoke burling above the stane dykes and setting fire to the hedges.  They were very angry as the fields of crops were being burned to cinders but they too were powerless to stop them.

No-one knew what to do.  All the animals and humans for miles around were afraid of Guzzler and George.  They were much bigger and stronger than everyone else and it seemed as if they were going to destroy the whole neighbourhood and kill everyone in it.

“This has got to stop,” declared Father Hedgehog.  “I am going to send for Granny  Hedgehog.  She will know what to do.”

12-08-10 09 Logan Botanic Gardens - Paper bark tree.JPGGranny Hedgehog was Father’s mother.  She was very frail and could hardly walk but she was very devious.  She was so clever she just needed to think of a problem for five minutes and she could solve it.

The next day she arrived carrying a huge sack which shoogled and crashed into everything as she walked. Father heard her dragging her load up the path and rushed out to meet her.  “What have you got there?” he asked, curiosity almost killing the hedgehog, never mind the cat.

“I’ve got a magic potion which will beat the giant and his pal for ever.”

The following day Granny took eight water pistols out of her sack and filled them up with water from Farmer Joe’s pump and then mixed in her magic potion.  She also persuaded him to add the potion to his water supply and they all hid behind the barn and waited for Guzzler and George to come swaggering down the hill.  The two monsters thought they had beaten everyone and could do anything they wanted.

Granny, Father, Mother, Harry, Happy, Holly, Honey and Snapper all waited until the giant and his pet dragon were just a few feet away and then they jumped out from behind the wall.  They opened fire and drenched the pair with the magic mixture.  Behind them Farmer Joe turned on his hose and attacked the pair from another angle.

George tried to breathe on the group but nothing happened.  There was no fire – just breath like everyone else.  He blew and blew for all his might.  He blew so hard he almost fainted but still nothing happened.  In the end, there was so much water, it covered him completely and he nearly drowned.  He splashed about, legs and arms flaying everywhere trying to save his skin and screamed, “Help, help, I don’t know what to do.” When he looked round Guzzler was running back up the hill as fast as his huge legs would carry him.  George dragged his saturated, heavy body after him and neither were ever seen again.  It was rumoured they locked themselves in their castle but nobody cared as they didn’t bother anyone ever again.

As for Farmer Joe and Snapper, they were so grateful to the hedgehog family that they agreed to give them as many potatoes and turnips as they could eat.  Granny decided to stay with the rest of her family – just to keep an eye on them in case they ever needed her again.

 

Suffragettes in Writing, Part 2

I am delighted to share with you a story which was written by one of Lockerbie Writers on the theme of ‘Suffragette’. This is in addition to the magnificent stories which I shared with you in last month’s blog post, Suffragettes in Writing. Thanks to Kath for sharing this. Enjoy!


 

Ode to the Courageous by Kath J. Rennie

Documentaries I have viewed by the score;

The ‘Suffragettes’ movie

Repulsed and angered my sense of injustice, to my core,

Observing women beaten

Sexually assaulted

Placed in a state of distress

By the police force, of all people!

Who could not have cared less

Of the injuries they inflicted: on bodies, hearts, minds and souls,

Yet onward and upward, the cause continued …

Striving

To achieve

A goal

How brave they!

How resilient!

Standing their ground

When incarcerated …

… Several

Time, and time, again

Solidarity, they found,

Remaining unrepentant

Against a government’s immoral wrong …

Choosing starvation

Whilst freedom was silently longed for …

Whilst held down,

Force-fed,

A nutritional fix;

The oh-so-powerful

Deemed it

A life-saving mix,

But little did they comprehend

Women; truly scorned

Especially when losing a loved one

For whom the Suffragettes,

And onlookers mourned.

 

This still held no bearing.

It took a war to bring about change

As it was realised

Women were not weak,

Nor inferior to men,

Nor suffering mental disabilities,

And certainly

Not mild and meek

As they took on

Once considered

‘Man’s roles’,

Fighting against a foe,

Giving their all

As too

Their husbands

Uncles

Brothers …

No longer then to be treated

As just, a wife

Homemaker

Mother.

 

These warrior women

Who refused

To yield

Changed the course of history,

Our right to a vote,

And the government should take note!

For another movement has risen:

Waspi is their name,

And, as our predecessors,

We also will not be contained,

Constrained

And tamed.