Lightning And Chips

Another blast from the past!

I am curled up on the sofa resting before three long work days ahead. I can hear the rain is pouring outside and the wind is howling. No thunder and lightning tonight. But there is lightning and thunder somewhere, I am sure of it. Apparently there are around 45,000 thunderstorms every day. If you grab a calculator and check, that means there are more than 16 million each year. Right now, around the earth there will be around 2,000 thunderstorms occurring.

lightningWhen lightning strikes we see tremendous amounts of energy. Researchers, who have studied the incredible clouds in a thunderstorm, state that the clouds in just one thunderstorm are brewing energy equal to ten or more of the nuclear bombs dropped in World War II. Only a proportion of that energy is seen as in the spectacular flashes and strikes of lightning.

But as well as being spectacular and rather humbling, lightning has remarkably beneficial results. It produces forms of nitrogen that reach the soil, where plants absorb them as natural fertilizer.

When we were children, my parents would often let us buy a bag of chips on a Thursday night, when the whole family were together. I remember one night Dad parked the car outside the chippy and left Mum and the little ones waiting, while he and I ran through the rain towards the chip-shop. There were great claps of thunder and the whole sky seemed to flash with lightning that night. I held Dad’s hand tightly as we ran through the pouring rain, because I was nervous. It was super scary for me. Dad always wanted me to ask for our chips. Then he gave me some money to pay whoever was working that night. He wanted me to count the change I received, and then say “thank you very much”. My parents never took a day off from training us 🙂

While we ate our chips at home in the kitchen, Dad told us we could be thankful to the lightning for our delicious chips. I stopped being afraid of thunderstorms and lightning after that. After learning that lightning helps to make the soil rich and produces such fine potatoes, that become the best chippy chips – I was grateful for the lightning from then on.

It’s amazing to think that right now around 2,000 thunderstorms will be occurring isn’t it – think of all those chips!


This post was in response to the WHAT DO YOU SEE? Challenge hosted by Hélène Vaillant, the creator of Willow Poetry:

Pebble Stones and Flower in Tropical Garden

A Che*sy Treat!

I have been following Bethany’s Vegan Kitchen for quite a long time. I love her blog because she shows budget friendly vegan versions of very popular family food. I have tried her ideas and have always been super pleased.

Jack has also become a fan of Bethany’s ideas and says she knows what families in the UK eat and what vegans want to eat.

But this weekend, Bethany featured something that really temped me in her post below:

Yes, that’s right, once I saw Bethany’s photos of vegan cheeses from Foods By Sumear, I was tempted. Giving into temptation, I went straight to Sumear’s website:

….and ordered a cheesebox. It arrived today via a “knock & run” DHL delivery driver (I give this one brownie points for actually ringing the intercom, normally, they just “drop & go”).

Jack says we should have a vegan cheese and wine night. But I was quite keen on trying some of the recipes on Sumear’s site using his vegan products:

It is all very exciting for me!! I love cheese – but cheese does not love me. I have been vegetarian since I was six years old, and then in my late twenties, I developed a sensitivity to dairy. I had to cut out all milk, cream, yoghurt, ice-cream and cheese for several years. Eventually I was able to reintroduce a little bit of cheese, which is the only form of dairy that I really missed, and I can “get away with” a little cheese every now and then.

But dairy free alternatives to cheese are better for me. I am so looking forward to trying Sumear’s products. I will report back when we have tried them!

Oh, and thanks Bethany!!!

Learning About Life

“I have learned so many things, Father. Not just how to make vichyssoise or … a sauce vinaigrette, but a much more important recipe. I have learned how to live, how to be in the world and of the world, and not just to stand aside and watch. And I will never, never again run away from life, or from love, either.”

Sabrina Fairchild

I have a friend who keeps asking me what is the story between Goldfinch and Jack. She seems to think I just flitted between the two of them out of a fickle nature.

Already I have shared with her my story several times, but she still seems to think very little of my relationships. I get tired of explaining what at the end of the day is between myself and Goldfinch, and myself and Jack.

One thing I do know is that before I was attacked, other people were influencing me too much when it came to my relationships. Other people, friends, colleagues and strangers made it impossible to enjoy a relationship with Jack at all.

I learnt how to not be so easily influenced, not be so worried about what others thought when they did not know my true situation. I may well have learnt how to live I guess. I was not going to be running away any more – neither from life, nor from love.

The Editing Never Really Ends – Does It?

As many of you know, when I wrote The LEARNERS AT LOVE Series, it was the formation of many short parts published over the period of around six months on my blog – around four or five a week.

There were several reasons I was writing and several influences. I think I started writing Annabelle’s story because I had just come back from Australia wondering how it is that you can be on the opposite side of the planet from someone you love. How do you cope? What happens when someone else takes an interest with you and flirts with you? I had been through a lot that year, including a miscarriage, and my great adventure to spend the summer with Goldfinch – lots of mixed feelings, lots of inspirational experiences and lots of love.

It all came out in Annabelle’s story – love, romance, disappointment, humour, grief, major decisions, inspiration from the people around you, frustration with the people around you, warmth and encouragement, self-isolation and feeling lost, putting a brave face on for everyone around you, hiding things that are crushing you from within. It al came out in a fictional character, with a fictional story, with a lot of very real input from real life.

Airports sometimes feel like gateways to another world – another life. I kept on dreaming about being at the airport with Goldfinch – an experience I have had five times now. Annabelle too was going to journey through several airports along her voyage. I think that the 10,100 mile trip I took was why Annabelle ended up travelling so much. It seems a little odd after the Pandemic that she travels with such ease.

It was too intense to give Annabelle my story, it was just too much. But I found myself wanting to bring into her story other things that had happened in my life and the experiences of friends. I have a friend who almost lost her husband when he was in a serious traffic accident. I have a friend who has battled with very dark thoughts towards herself. I have family members who have made mistakes in the past with debt, gambling, alcohol and Class A drugs – and remarkably they have fought those battles and turned their lives around. I found myself weaving in things they have said, conversations we have shared, the experiences they have had with other people, the health service, and their own emotions as they tried to make progress with their battles.

As many other writers will have found, it is incredibly cathartic to weave lessons from life you have picked up yourself or from others, inspiration from real life, real people, real emotions into your fictional story. Writing Annabelle’s story was hugely helpful to me.

However, I sometimes wonder if I deluged Annabelle Riley with too much of an impossible situation at the point we meet her. I have never stopped editing the books I wrote, as far as correcting silly spelling mistakes and typos, and trying to liven up the narrative. However, I have come to a slight dilemma over how much she has been through in a short time. I have read Annabelle’s story several times with a red pen and updated my manuscript with minor amendments to improve the text.

Photo by George Milton on

There are some parts of her story which are essential and cannot disappear because otherwise the rest of her story won’t make sense. I cannot tamper with her relationships with her parents and siblings or her ex-boyfriend. They all have to stay. But from the point she met Robin, I keep looking at all that happens in a short space of time – and of course this is all backstory, because we meet Annabelle several years after she meets Robin – him leaving because his contract has ended and his Visa has expired, her pregnancy, her trip to England, the car accident, the post-natal depression, the grief, the nervous breakdown Robin experiences.

I sometimes wonder if it is too much for one person to endure? Why did I give her so many challenges? Then I remember, well, I guess that I was the one doing the writing, and perhaps part of what fueled me was my own experiences, being trolled and slandered by Jack’s fans, being sexually assaulted and violently attacked, moving around to find somewhere I felt safe, settled and could work independently, falling in love, him leaving because his contract had ended, my pregnancy, my miscarriage, my trip to Australia, my sadness that I had to come back to London and carry on without knowing what the future would hold. All that was bottled up inside, and it came out in Annabelle’s story.

Does Annabelle have too many challenges on her plate? I don’t know. But what I do know is that cliches do not solve her challenges. She has journey on through life, learning about herself, making peace where she can with her past, enduring judgmental comments from others, struggling to communicate, feelings of isolation with her challenges, fear and mistrust, being knocked down by her own failings and sensitive to harsh words from others who seem to be judging her harshly, trying to build a life for herself and realizing that things beyond our control can knock us way off track.

I need to do some brutal editing to the first book. I know there are some passages that are repetitive, and I think repeating her challenges over and over can drag a reader down. But at the same time, I know that when I started writing Annabelle’s story, I was in a way at a crossroads in my life, having been through some very traumatic and painful events, and not being sure what the future held. I think I need to preserve the weight of her challenges, and that she is sort of in a state of “limbo” when we meet her. But the brutal editing ahead of me is about not letting the challenges dominate, but finding the right balance of humour and heartwarming characters to carry Annabelle forward as she continues her voyage of a lifetime.

My Thank You For This Day


I slip under the covers and close my eyes tight

Not long until I will be dreaming through the night

My eyelids are heavy, my mind begins to doze

I never like to let the day draw to a close

Without saying thanks from the depths of my heart

That in the doing of your will I have a part

When I think of all those I know who face trials

Yet share the same love, hope, faith and joyful smiles

You give us the strength we need to face each new day

Until the time you can wipe every tear away

We sing your praises as our father up above

I know you will act soon, for you’re the God of love!

Come On To The Love Festival

Jim Adams, aka Newepicauthor, the creator of A Unique Title For Me, is hosting SONG-LYRIC-SUNDAY and this week he has chosen the truly delightful theme: CARNIVAL/FESTIVAL/GALA/JAMBOREE/PARTY

Almost every Saturday evening I come home from work and I wait for Jack. He is always busy busy busy on Saturdays, and over the past couple of months he has been able to resume visiting projects near and far. I am not sure what time he will arrive. Sometimes, it is just half an hour after I arrive back. Other times to is close to midnight.

Jack arrived late last night – around eleven o’clock and the first thing he asked me was: WHICH SONG HAVE YOU PICKED FOR SONG LYRIC SUNDAY? Well, he was so excited about a song he had thought of…I just had to change my choice.

I asked him how it came to his mind, and he said he was showing some of the volunteers he saw today some of the posts from THE GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE OFF FESTIVAL OF LOVE…and one of the volunteers started singing this song and others joined in.

Jack’s song choice for today is “Love Festival” from the fabulous Kool And The Gang! Now we are going to bed….for our very own love festival! Have a great weekend!!!

Come on, baby, come on
You’ll be dancin’, everyone’s romancin’
Come on, baby, come on
You’ll be dancin’, everyone’s romancin’

Baby, it’s so good to see you
Did you bring your friends
Ladies, I’m so glad to greet ya
Now the fun begins

Because we’re havin’ a party
We’re gonna dance and groove all night
Rhythm working through your body
Who makes you move and groove ’em all night

Come on, baby, come on to the love festival
We will dance and groove all night
Come on baby, come on to the love festival
We’re gonna party till the morning light

Come to the love festival, baby, come on
(There’ll be joy and love’s delight, yeah)
Come to the love festival, baby, come on
(There’ll be fun because the mood is right
Love festival, love festival, love festival tonight

Wanna see you
You’ll be dancin’, everyone’s romancin’
Come on, baby, come on
You’ll be dancin’, everyone’s romancin’

Baby, feels so good to be here
Are you havin’ fun
Ladies, keep your body movin’
We just begun

Because we’re havin’ a party
We’re gonna dance and groove all night
Rhythm workin’ through your body
Makes you move and groove ’em all night

Come on baby, come on to the love festival
We will dance and groove all night, yeah
Come on baby, come on to the love festival
We’re gonna party till the morning light, yeah

Come to the love festival, baby come on
(There’ll be joy and love’s delight, yeah)
Come to the love festival, baby, come on
(There’ll be fun because the mood is right)
Love festival, love festival, love festival tonight, yeah

Come on
Oh, wanna see ya

Come on baby, come on to the love festival
(Baby, come on)
We will dance and groove all night
Come on baby, come on to the love festival
(Baby, come on)
We’re gonna party till the morning light

Come on baby, come on to the love festival
(Baby, come on)
Hey, bring your baby
Come on baby, come on to the love festival
(Baby, come on)
Love is in the air and I gotta see you there

Come to the love festival, baby come on
(There’ll be joy and love’s delight, yeah)
Come to the love festival, baby, come on
(There’ll be fun because the mood is right)

Come to the love festival, baby, come on
(Everybody who’ll be there, come on and join in there)
Come to the love festival, baby, come on
(Love is in the air, got to be there, come on)

Come to the love festival, baby, come on
(Hey, bring your baby)
Come to the love festival, baby, come on
(Ooh, we’re gonna party, party, yeah, yeah)

 Written by: James Taylor, George Brown, and Charles Jay Smith


This week I was settling down after a long day of work, looking forward to an episode of Masterchef, when I realized the BBC had been tinkering wit their schedule. Ten minutes into a documentary showing that horrible footage from Tuesday 11th September 2001, I realized I was going to find it hard to sleep if I watched a minute more.

But a colleague of mine was raving about this particular documentary, which apparently was all about what it was like the be the President of the USA (one of the Bush family I believe) at the time of the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Honestly, I don’t think I can sit down and relive that day, we all remember that day, we all have those images ingrained on our minds.

Another colleague told me about a different documentary they had watched this week on PBS America – which showed the effect that day had on America. She told me it focused on the disturbing crimes “America” (or I should say those in authority) went on to commit as a result of that day.

I am not going to search out either documentary. I expect over the coming week or so there will be repeated broadcasts reminding the world of that day, and perhaps more discussion about the awful mess that has resulted.

But what stood out to me was the media – the media, the media, the media, add to that social media (which was not really a thing at all back in 2001) and it is like a horrible, sickening rollercoaster of strong emotions, gripping fear, seething anger, outright blame, extreme resentment and more.

You know – that day was probably the most impactful day our generation has ever seen. I am not always sure what to make of the various media coverage analysing that day and it’s aftermath. It is very hard to digest how much of a political quagmire resulted. It is hard to swallow the mess.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on

The only thing that makes sense is that it was forecast that things like this would happen as a result of humans trying to go it alone. But the turbulence is sometimes ghastly to live through. Even when we live in a fairly quiet neighbourhood, the turbulence in the world is always there on our screens. It’s astonishing, and I think many people fear there is more turbulence brewing.

The longing to see a healed mankind, a human family at true peace, living life to the full, just gets stronger and stronger. The longing to see tears wiped away and smiles of deep joy. The longing to see the memories of trauma and terror faded away and replaced by trust and security.

So close to the pivotal chapter.

Do I Look Like The Kind Of Person Who Would Collect Disney Cards?

I often nip into the supermarket on the way home to pick up some fresh salad or fruit. Normally I go through the self check-out tills nowadays. But the other day, I had rather a lot in my basket, and there was no queue and a smiling cashier was sitting there beckoning me to go through her checkout.

She asked me, “Are you collecting Disney cards?” I did not hear the question first time around, so I asked her to repeat the question. I shook my head and told her there are no children in my household. The cashier said to me, “Well, they are not just for children, adults collect them too.”

“Really? Do they?” I exclaimed.

The cashier said to me, “Surely there is an inner child in you.”

Photo by Benjamin Suter on

I laughed to myself, I am sure the inner child in me took over and decided to reply, “The inner child in me was never particularly impressed by Disney. She was out climbing trees and playing sports. She always thought that magic and princesses were rather boring compared to the fun she could have in real life.”

I am sure there are many children and adults who collect Disney cards – and I am sure they have lots of fun. I still prefer the fun I can have in real life though!

Gorgeous Galaktoboureko!

I made galaktoboureko – yes, it is a real thing – it’s Greek and it’s fabulous! I was hoping to make it before the BAKE OFF, but time escaped me, so I made it afterwards.

Now today has been a long day. Work was tough. So I don’t have the energy to prepare a proper post sharing the recipe etc. But here is a photo of the results. Along with the galaktoboureko I made an orange syrup, which was extremely yummy!

Calling Londoners!!

Three free tickets to attend The Royal Festival Hall this Saturday 4th September 2021 !

Yes, that is what our lovely blogging friend in Canada, the creator of Cyranny’s Cove is giving away for free. She was supposed to be in London this weekend, watching a performance by Danish rock band Mew, but the Pandemic has of course effected her travel plans.

So, rather than see the tickets go to waste, she is asking if anybody would like the three tickets for free. You probably know already that The Royal Festival Hall is on the South Bank, a stone’s throw from The London Eye. So it’s ideal for us crazy Londoners!

These two posts on Cyranny’s Cove will tell you all about her hopes that someone will be able to enjoy a fantastic performance from Mew. It is this coming weekend, so please do take the chance to snap up three free tickets for a very cool night out!