Welcome all to my blog. It’s for anyone interested in writing and photography.

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Darwin’s Sidekick

Avenue at Broadstone Cemetary

Driveway into Broadstone Cemetery

Cemeteries may seem dismal places; it’s true of course that sad events take place there. However, visits on less traumatic occasions may divulge interesting facts. Many cemeteries are beautiful.


Most of us are familiar with Charles Darwin, but how many know much about Alfred Russel Wallace? Wallace was the joint author with Darwin of a paper on the theory of natural selection. He never achieved the fame which Darwin earned, but without his encouragement when he discovered the same facts as Darwin, the book on the  subject may never have been published.


Wallace plaque2


Wallace’s grave lies in Broadstone Cemetery in Dorset. It’s easy to find as it has a 7 foot  fossilised tree from Portland on top of the grave.

fossilised tree on Wallace's grave

Wallace was born in Usk, Monmouth in Wales, but  lived in Broadstone from 1902 until his death in 1913. He was actually a renowned British Naturalist, and has a hypothetical boundary between Oriental and Australian zoogeographical regions named after him – Wallace’s Line.


Broadstone Cemetery is an attractive resting place; trees are interesting to me and the shapes and bark on some of them is wonderful.

forked tree

tree bark

On the subject of my blog, I’m deleting the ‘links’ page, as it is not what I want. I don’t think many viewers will miss it!

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Devastated shoreline

During the ferocious gales of this last winter, the shoreline around the UK has changed irrevocably. Dorset is no exception; the Jurassic coast has suffered along with the rest of the country.

As yet I’ve not had the chance to check out how much it’s changed, but hopefully with the advent of spring (hooray) I’ll be getting out and about soon to find out. In some areas of course it’s dangerous to get too close for fear of further landslips. Here are a few photos of some scenes as they were before the winter.

Through the doorway
Durdle Door, always a popular spot, has evidently sustained some damage. I’ve heard that it’s not now possible to get down to the beach, although I’ve not had this confirmed.

Chesil Bank from Portland onwards has been attacked by the waves, and much lost to the sea.
View over Fleet and Chesil

There have been cliff falls at Burton Bradstock, and at West Bay and Charmouth.

burton bradstock beach

Jurassic cliff CBJ

Beach hut and cliffs, Charmouth

It’s not just the coast which has suffered of course. Many people were flooded out of their homes inland too, and remain so. Farmers have lost their crops and the ability to feed their animals, so it’s been a hard winter for many people although not cold. Let’s hope these unfortunate folk will have a brighter year ahead now.

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Magical Islands

On our way to Brownsea_2
Islands have an air of mystery about them; they hold a fascination for most of us.

As a child brought up around Poole Harbour, which was at that time classified as the second largest natural harbour in the world, I was always aware of Brownsea Island. This is the largest island in the harbour. When I was a child I was saving my pocket-money in the vain hope that I could buy the island!

I loved Brownsea, and its air of mystery was deepened by the knowledge that trespassing was prohibited. At that time Brownsea was owned by a reclusive lady, Mrs Bonham-Christie. She had guards patrolling the shore-line. Whether I ever actually landed on the island in those days I’m not sure. I like to think that I did, on a beach as far away from the castle where the owner lived as could be.

Nor was I the only person to be fascinated by Brownsea. Enid Blyton spent many holidays in the Purbeck area of Dorset and the countryside inspired her work. In her book ‘Five Have a Mystery to Solve,’ published in 1962, she wrote about an island sometimes referred to as Whispering Island and it’s likely that this was Brownsea Island.

The castle on the island was built during the reign of King Henry VIII for coastal defense. Forces were stationed there in times of conflict from that time, even when it was privately owned.

Mrs Bonham-Christie gained possession of the island in 1927 and proceeded to set it up as a nature reserve, evicting most of the islanders and just retaining those she needed. When she died in 1961 she left it to her grandson. In 1962 the National Trust took it over.

Bird totem pole by hide

Carved totem pole outside the bird hide.

Another claim to fame for Brownsea Island dates from before the time of Mrs Bonham-Christie. The very first Boy Scout camp was held there in 1907, under the supervision of Robert Baden-Powell. Twenty one boys attended, a mixture of boys from public schools and ordinary working-class local boys.

Statue of Baden Powell

Statue of Baden Powell

Now it’s said to be our favourite nature reserve run by the National Trust. It’s a beautiful island, a lovely day out. You never know which birds or animals you may see, even the fairly rare (in the UK) red squirrel.





giant chess board on island

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Two-Faced January

Shell Bay beach, end of season

Shell Bay beach, end of season

Welcome to 2014. The photos I’m posting today are from a day out last year. The beach on the left here was crowded all the summer, but what a difference when the tourists have gone. The photos are a reminder that after the gloom of the rain, wind and floods we will see the sun again!

Statue of Baden Powell

Statue of Lord Baden Powell

Lord Baden Powell held the first camp for Boy Scouts on Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour. More information in a future post!

The South West Coast Path

The Start of the South West Coast Path



At this time in the New Year, I suspect that a lot of us feel like Janus, the two-faced Roman God. Although we don’t have the advantage of two faces – one facing back to the last year and the other forward to the New Year, we do look back at our aims from the same time last year. We judge how much we achieved and how we’ve not lived up to our aspirations.

We’re probably also making plans for the coming 12 months. Let’s hope that some at least come to fruition.

As regards my own aims for last year, I did at least manage to submit some writing each month, but it didn’t lead to fame or fortune. Never mind, they are not the only measure of success in life.

In December I submitted a poem to another competition, had  a letter in the Purbeck Gazette, and another letter in the Daily Mail. So far in January I have had a letter in the Purbeck Gazette, and an article in Crystal, with a photograph to illustrate it, and another photo on the front cover.

For this year, the main aim as regards both writing and photography is to try to perfect my work and to enjoy the journey.

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Seasonal Greetings

Mince pies and sparkle
Festive greetings to all. Wouldn’t it be the best thing  if we could have peace and harmony throughout the world?


Do you ever feel that other people have more hours in their day? I know I do, but of course we all have the same 24 hours. It’s just that I’ve become slower with age, and very annoying it is too. Work has definitely expanded to fill the allotted time!

During November I had an article about William Booth, who founded the Salvation Army, published in Crystal Magazine. Also I submitted a poem to a magazine. I’ve had no reply, and one of my jobs for the end of the year/beginning of next year will be to check my submission list, to see who has replied. Not too many I suspect, but I shall begin to follow up with enquiries and submit elsewhere. Bill and Ellen's nativity scene

 I finished the article I’ve been working on for some time, but having studied my target magazine again, I realise I have some changes to make in the lay-out before I make my pitch. So, it’s not quite finished after all, not until I’m happy with my editing.

A friend in Australia has sent a lovely calendar of Australian flowers; this has inspired me to make my own during the coming year. I like macro photography, and while I don’t have a dedicated macro lens, my Nikon takes some really good pictures, so I shall be starting work on that in the New Year.

At the end of the year it’s time to review the efforts we’ve all made. Will you be making resolutions or goals in the New Year? 

Whatever your hopes and aspirations, may you all enjoy the festive season. Woolxmasdeer


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November addiction for writers

All around the world this month, people are writing like mad. How many of you writers are talking part in NaNoWriMo this year? If you think you cannot write enough words to complete the exercise, think again. It is very good practice and you may well surprise yourself. On top of that, you may end up with a novella ready to edit before publishing. It’s not too late – it finishes at the end of November, so you’d need to get cracking if you want to try it. 50,000 words are the goal.

I did complete it for two years running, but shame to say, the two efforts are still sitting on my PC with little polishing or editing. It is my hope to look at them again and see what I can make of them. The first year I took part I had several hospital appointments, and used the waiting time to scribble away like crazy. It certainly helped my word count.

Now I’d like to say a big thank you to Tania Walsh – her blog is http://tmewalsh.wordpress.com/

Tania has kindly nominated me for an award – Award Winning Blog.

Recently Tania has released two of her books on Amazon Kindle. They are ‘For All our Sins’ and ‘The Principle of Evil’ and I anticipate a good read with both of them. I can’t comment too much at present as I have only just begun to read ‘For All our Sins’. Judging by her previously released ‘Broken Palace’, an exciting short story, I am in for a treat.

I made little progress with my writing in October. I submitted an article to Crystal Magazine. The only success I had was a letter published in the Daily Mail. Sometimes when I am involved in longer work, I also try to write letters to newspapers and magazines. On occasions they pay quite well. Sadly not on this occasion!

How do you reward yourself when you’ve had a success, or finished a big project? Enjoying a glass of wine sometimes(!) I keep a bottle of bubbly – usually Cava – in the fridge. Unfortunately the current bottle is having a long wait, but it will be opened soon. After all, I can’t risk it deteriorating can I?Acer in autumn
Finally, an autumnal photo for you. The small acer tree is in our back garden, and sometimes the colour is just wonderful. Happy writing, enjoy autumn.

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Butterfly Summer and autumn cobwebs

Although summer is well over now, early autumn has so far been balmy here. I’ve even seen a couple of butterflies in the last week. It has definitely been a butterfly summer in our small garden. Apart from the usual Peacock butterflies, Red Admirals, and other more common (but still beautiful) varieties, this summer I’ve been lucky enough to see a Comma, and a Clouded Yellow. I had planned to set up my tripod and photograph them, but sadly each time I intended to do so, some family matters, usually genuinely urgent, stepped in to prevent me doing so. Perhaps next year?

With the advent of autumn, our garden became festooned with garlands of spiders’ webs. I did manage to capture some on the camera, with varying results. This spider was doing his morning gymnastics when I photographed him, so the web shook tremulously.

We caught the last of the warm sunny days last week with a return visit to West Bay, enjoying the reflections of boats and ending up with the obligatory fish and chip lunch.  Now the autumn rains seem to have arrived, although yesterday was still sunny.reflections cbj





On the writing front, in September I had a true story published in Crystal Magazine. I submitted a poem to a Writing Magazine competition, and an article to Crystal. I’ve had to remind my husband that I’m supposed to be the writer in the house, as he had two letters published in the Purbeck Gazette.

A photograph of mine was published in the Purbeck Gazette. This month so far has been difficult; I’m in the middle of writing an article which has needed a certain amount of research, but I’m getting there.

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Steam Trains and Autumn Mists

To quote Robert Burns, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft a-gley.’ Well, it’s not just mice and men. It’s women too! All this week I’ve been hoping to write my blog, but I’ve had intermittent connection problems with the internet and just haven’t been able to do much except look at a few blogs and write a few emails when it was working. Never mind, I think the ISP must have now fixed whatever was the glitch.


Autumn came in quite early with mists from the start of the month, which in this area at least turned to warm sunny days by lunch-time. On one of those misty mornings we took the steam train from Norden to Swanage, a trip we’d been promising ourselves for some time. It was a lovely little journey through the Purbeck Hills, with the ruins of Corfe Castle emerging through the gloom on the way out.

Corfe Castle ruins from train

It was good to see the castle from the train, a totally different angle to any other view.

As for my August writing, I submitted an article to Crystal magazine, which has been accepted. One of the 3 poems I submitted for a competition in May, with a closing date of 30th June, was short-listed, but didn’t make the prize. However, it has been accepted for an anthology to be published later this year. Surprisingly enough to me, it was the poem which I wasn’t sure whether to submit – a haiku. I’d submitted 3 different styles so I’m pleased that one of them at least has found a home.

What it does also mean is that I now have 2 other poems ready to submit elsewhere.

I'm in charge

I’ll finish this post with a photo of the steam engine which pulled our carriages. It’s looked after and polished immaculately. Well done to all the workers who care for this line and the trains and carriages involved.

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A few words about writing for magazines

Writing for magazines is never going to be easy. These days a lot of articles are written in-house to keep costs down. There is so much competition for free-lance writers for any remaining space, but we should not give up the effort.

If you are a free-lance writer or beginner, why not consider other markets as well as the glossy magazines? There are many on-line magazines (e-zines), and for printed work, there are small-press magazines out there.

Crystal Magazine is for subscribers only and publishes stories, articles and poems, and sometimes photographs. You can find details on editor Christine Carr’s website http://www.christinecrystal.blogspot.com

Christine does have subscribers from overseas as well as the UK. It’s a friendly magazine and we all enjoy reading each other’s work.

Incidentally, in my last post I made a small error. Published in Crystal in the July edition I had a poem and a small non-fiction article, not as I said, a true story (that was the previous edition.) I have posted the true story on my Jottings page.

Why not take a look at Crystal and see if you can write something to be published?

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Snatched moments for writing, and an experimental photograph.

A whirlpool of wild flowers
The photograph was a bit of an experiment for me. We scattered some wildflower seeds in the garden this year, to try to encourage bees, and they looked pretty so I thought I’d try to create a whirlpool effect. This is the result.



Writing sometimes has to be done in snatched moments. Life’s like that. Still, even these can add up to something worthwhile.

At present, these snatched moments seem to be all I can find, but somehow I’m sticking to my intentions to submit a piece of writing each month, be it an article, story or poem.

In July I submitted two stories – one to a magazine. This one was rejected because it had been previously published. I had retained the copyright though, and no money had been involved. I’d read the guidelines, and nowhere did they mention that they would not accept work which had been published before. Still, I know that is the case now.

The other story I submitted to a short story competition – no word yet, but at least it’s a new story and if unsuccessful in the competition can be submitted elsewhere.

The items I did have published in July were a poem in Crystal Magazine, and a true story, also in Crystal. On the photography side, I had a photograph of Corfe Castle published in the Purbeck Gazette.

I’m working on several things for my writing at present, progress is of course slow, but not at a standstill!

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