Puddings And Press-Ups

When I read this post back it brings back so many memories of High School to me. Sometimes I think I paint my English teacher too harshly, but the fact is, he was memorable! We were ok with it. So I know the contents of this post might seem concerning, and I don’t think teachers could get away with this now, but twenty-something years ago we took it on the chin with a grin. Nobody could forget English lessons with the infamous Mr Turner!

Steinbach, Mennonite Heritage Village

Mr Turner was a riddle. There was a very jovial side to him. He clearly had a sense of humour as indicated by his huge guffaws, which made his belly wobble and his face crimson. Yet he had also won the reputation of being one of the most fearsome teachers within the school.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is dfhgejrog.pngI remember my English lessons during the first year of high school vividly. He would ask a question. If you didn’t have your hand up he was likely to single you out for attention, which was always rather embarrassing. So I quickly learnt it was better to raise my hand, even if I did not have anything to say – and just hope he would not pick me.

It did not always work though!

You,” Mr Turner said as he was looking over in my general direction. I looked around at my classmates sitting around me to see if he could be referring to someone else. “Yes you…you have your hand up. What’s your name girl?

Melody Finch Sir.”

Well come along Finch, speak up, we don’t have all day!”

What was the question again Sir?”

What was the question? Finch, why did you put your hand up if you don’t know what the question was?”

My mind has gone blank Sir.

Finch you are a pudding. A right pudding. What are you?

A pudding Sir.” I could hear some of my classmates sniggering.

That’s right. A real pudding. Can you spell that backwards?

Erm, G-N..erm..E, no I mean I-D” I did know how to spell “pudding”, but under pressure, I struggled to think clearly.

Wrong! I asked you to spell “that” backwards, not “pudding” backwards! Finch you really are a right pudding. Look at me when I am addressing you Finch! Do you know what you are?

A pudding Sir!”

Very good, but you’re a right rum pudding too. I am only teasing you Finch, don’t sulk. Now who can tell Miss Finch what the question was?”

There was silence. Nobody else was willing to hazard a guess. Mr Turner’s stare rested on a boy named Henry Wilson who sat at the back of the classroom. “Wilson! Are you asleep? You look as is you have only just crawled out of bed. Stand up! Shirt! In! Tucked in! Do you own a comb? Tell your parents to buy you a comb so you can straighten your hair in the morning. Don’t scowl Wilson! Come here, bring your exercise book. Come on lad, we don’t have all day!

Although, I felt some relief now that Mr Turner seemed to have forgotten about me momentarily, I felt a sickening anticipation of what was about to happen. Almost every lesson somebody ended up at the front of the classroom. Mr Turner would find some reason to humiliate them in front of the class. In the case of Henry Wilson, it was the dishevelled state of his exercise book. Before long Henry was made to do one hundred press-ups at the front of the classroom with a dictionary on his head. It kept slipping off, and so Mr Turner rested it on his back instead.

It was usually the boys who ended up doing press-ups. None of us escaped being called “puddings”. As a group of students we were divided in our opinion of Mr Turner. I guess in some ways we found his lessons funny, but we all had nervous knots at the same time. He gave me very poor grades for months, until I wrote a very long character study on Ruth Balacki from the book we were studying “The Silver Sword”. He gave me an A and wrote that it was the first time my homework had not sent him to sleep.

I have to admit I was glad to find out that we would have a change of English teacher for my second year at high school. We had Mrs Lawton, who told us she was a humanist and a was very kind and encouraging in general. She taught us English until she ran away with Mr Colbook the games teacher when he moved over Buckinghamshire. But that’s another story.

Reminiscing

Beach, Beautiful, Blonde, Enjoyment, Female, Girl

For the past couple of months, I have been re-blogging some of my older posts. There are a lot left….but I wondered would it confuse you if I republished some of older posts about the gorgeous Goldfinch? They are special to me. He and I are still in touch you know. We had a little flurry of emails on Sunday.

I know sometimes re-blogging personal posts sometimes can cause confusion, but just to make it clear – I am with Jack – we are engaged. But Goldfinch and I are still friends and he will always be special to me. I would love to reminisce over all those happy memories I wrote about. But I am struggling to find time to get back to all the comments that are stacking up on my blog – so please if I do re-publish older posts about Goldfinch – please don’t send me questions about what has happened to Jack!

Jack is super smashing great! We have these bizarre conversations about weddings. I still think it is too early to plan. I don’t even want to book a holiday to Norfolk I am so doubtful about cancellations and more messing about as things open up. But Jack is wonderful. He is making me so happy. So much of pain just melts away when peace is restored. It’s weird I can now talk about the past without the pain rising.

Caramel Is Decorating!

You may remember that one of the surprise outcomes of me starting this blog two years and ten months ago is that I have ended up writing and publishing a bunch of books! Never expected that when I started blogging! Hardly know what came over me!

The amazing thing is, I managed to do most of the writing and editing before the Pandemic began, which was good because work has been bonkers with this virus. Work has been incredibly taxing and for every right reason, I have had to cut back on the amount of time I spent blogging and writing. But it has always been a hobby I have enjoyed whenever I had the opportunity.

Too often I don’t get a break at work, we are often just too busy. But when I am able to sit down for ten/minutes (or on the rare occasion half an hour) I have pulled out a paperback copy of one of my books and a red pen and circled corrections I needed to make. Slowly slowly I have continued to make corrections and update my manuscript. At last that process is complete! I now feel my books will not embarrass me with really silly mistakes. So I am trying to find a way to add pictures of my books with Amazon links to them to my site.

However, I have realized….I cannot do that with my current WordPress theme. So….I am dreading this….but I am going to start messing around with finding the right theme to allow me to do what I want. That is going to be a complete nightmare! I know it. I should have done it before now. But I could not face it.

There was a stage when I was on top of all the widgets and menus on my site – but I gave up about a year ago when things started getting too busy. But I know that changing my theme is going to be a momentous task – momentous! I am going to be searching for a theme that allows me to stay that blue colour I like so much and that allows me to to have a few simple widgets. I don’t want lots of them. I just want some kind of easy navigation widget (is there one?) and to be able to feature my books.

Playing about with the theme is something I am frankly terrified about. I do believe my site will be a mess for a while. But now is the time it would seem. So…while I play around until I find what I want….I do sincerely apologise for any confusion I cause. Caramel is decorating her site – yikes! This could be one of the craziest disasters ever seen on WordPress – are you ready for this?

A Walk In The Woods

CARAMEL'S CORNER

Today I am reviewing a marvellous book penned by Esther Chilton, the creator of estherchiltonblog. This beautiful story book “A Walk In The Woods” (front cover art work by talented Charlotte Newton) is a book I have admired greatly from the moment my paperback copy arrived.

As I began to read this exquisite collection of stories, my thoughts applauded what I was reading. I just kept thinking to myself, “My! Esther is such a clever writer!” Why do I say that. Well, besides the obvious quality, perfect editing and quality production than shine throughout the book, Esther’s style in her short stories is notable. Each finely crafted story has impact.

Before I started blogging, I never read flash fiction or short stories, I only ever read long dramatic epic novels. I have marvelled at the talent of so many writers who know how to craft a meaningful story in few yet precisely chosen and arranged words and phrases. Well Esther’s short stories in “A Walk In The Woods” are a model of telling a powerful tale, often with an unexpected twist or a pithy veridical conclusion.

As I would expect from Esther, “A Walk In The Woods” excellently showcases her talent as a writer and editor. Not only will readers enjoy her compilation of stories, but also admire Esther’s superb crafting. Esther Chilton really is such a very clever writer!!!

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You can find out what Caramel has been reading in her very own little reading corner, as she published book reviews of books written by WordPress bloggers each Saturday.

If you have any recommendations, please leave a message in the comments below.

CARAMEL’S CORNER

Relax, Read, Silhouette, Woman, Dog, Hang, Tree, Pet

CARAMEL’S CORNER 2020

Well….by now you may have noticed that I have taken on the challenge of reviewing the books published by other WordPress bloggers – which was a terrifying prospect before I began, but now I am enjoying! I began publishing reviews back in August 2020 – roughly one every two weeks.

In case you want to check out some of the fabulous books – ALL WRITTEN BY WORDPRESS BLOGGERS! – featured on CARAMEL’S CORNER, I have put together a little list of the 2020 CARAMEL’S CORNER posts:

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/08/08/climbing-over-grit/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/08/22/let-love-speak/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/09/05/preposterous-tales-from-the-newbury-short-story-teller/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/09/19/managing-the-depression-puzzle/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/10/03/wish-upon-a-leaf/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/10/17/heart-songs/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/11/07/zion/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/11/21/swinging-sanity/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/12/05/we-hide-what-we-hate-about-ourselves-2/

There is more to come in 2021 – in fact I have a long list of reviews that need to be completed in my drafts folder. There are books I have read and reviewed from Ritu Bhathal, Stephen Black, Tom Burton, Esther Chilton, Nora Edinger, Sarah Fennell, Iain Kelly, Jenna Kirkpatrick, Gabriella Marie Milton, Frank Prem, Kevin Morris, Julia Tannembaum and more!

Writer, Typewriter, Author, Blogging

If you are a WordPress blogger and you have published your own book – please free to drop by and say hello and please tell me about your book! I am always interested in coming across other bloggers who love to write (as opposed to the countless robots than seem to be following me). I do have my limits, so I won’t always be able to read your book if it is graphically violent or glorifies demons etc. But I do like to support other bloggers, just as I have been encouraged and supported by other bloggers. Please feel free to leave a comment on one of my posts.

Relax, Read, Silhouette, Woman, Dog, Hang, Tree, Pet

Consider The Context

Aquatic, Background, Beautiful, Beauty

Please don’t examine me so closely

Please don’t analyse my every shade

In the stark light of this cold world

Devoid of warmth and colour

Take a few steps back if you will know me at all.

View me in the context of my family

Together we are a vibrant shot of life

A pretty and kindly haven of joy

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 10-monet-painting.preview.jpg

Look at me in the greater scheme of things

How I interact in my world of friends

How I bloom even during dark days

Dancing with glee in the kaleidoscope I play in

View me as a tiny yet wonderful ingredient

In this grand and splendid universe of delight

I am only who I am due to a lifetime of others

Who’ve coloured every moment of my existence

My homage to all who have made me “me” and made me happy to be me

Attention Please…

…I have an announcement to make! It’s about the scheduling of posts on my blog over the next few weeks.

Laptop, Computer, Business, Table, Paper, Flowers

I have a thousand ideas, and literally over two hundred unfinished posts in my drafts folder. But I really do have an frightfully busy month ahead and I think I need to give attention to some projects at home I have been neglecting.

Therefore…over the next few weeks I will be balancing my blog out with some fresh content – CARAMEL’S CORNER BOOK REVIEWS and SONG-LYRIC-SUNDAY – with some republishing of some of my older posts. That will just help me to take the breather I need at the moment to get on top of everything and also everyone who would like some attention from me right now.

So….are you ready for some highlights from CARAMEL (LEARNER AT LOVE) published over the last two and a half years? I truly hope you enjoy these flashback posts as much as I do!

Switching Positions

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is caramels-corner.png

I am very pleased to be reviewing one of the books I have bought and loved, written by one of my very favourite bloggers, Paula Light, the creator of Light Motifs II. Today I am reviewing “Switching Positions”, her romantic comedy set amidst the build up to THE American presidential election.

My biggest enjoyment factor from “Switching Positions” was the humour and energy that started from the very first page and flowed right through to the conclusion. This is why I love Paula’s blog and her books – she has what sometimes seems like an effortless comic touch. I often read just before bedtime when I am very sleepy, but I found when I was reading Paula’s rom-com than my heart was laughing so much as I read the dialogue between characters and the inner thoughts of the main characters, I did not want to sleep – I just wanted to keep reading because it was so refreshing to read such light-hearted clever wit.

White House, Usa, United States, America

So does politics drag the storyline down? Nope, not at all. I don’t even understand American politics, but Paula very cleverly and also carefully painted some of the main political leanings in what seemed like a fair and yet very funny way. I actually found it very interesting that she referred so much to how every day Americans may perceive politics and how their own changing circumstances may perhaps prompt them to weigh up their political opinions. I did feel as if her main characters are very interesting examples of how a young person may at some point ask themselves – are their ideas based simply on that of their family and friends? Or are they using their own mind, researching for themselves and making a decision that reflects their outlook on life, people, work, values?

But I want to repeat, Paula skilfully juggles the scenes in which her characters think over or voice their political opinions so that the story never becomes weighed down. Every internal conversation, and every passage of dialogue gives you a wonderful opportunity to laugh. After watching the media reports of the 2020 election, I think it is an extraordinary feat for Paula to have tackled a political setting and pulled it off in a way that makes this book so joyously playful to read.

I grew very fond of the two main characters quickly and could happily have read another twenty chapters of their developing relationship. Paula captures all the excitement, nerves, uncertainty, and wonder of a couple falling for each other and thought there are some very sweet moments, the humour is always right behind.

2020 has been depressing at times – so if you want a refreshingly playful, genuinely romantic tale, full of clever comedy and a well rounded view of the different political views that people hold in the USA (but all within that light hearted comic framework) – I would heartily recommend “Switching Positions”.

It is a delicious read and great fun! We all need more fun in 2021!

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You can find out what Caramel has been reading in her very own little reading corner, as she published book reviews of books written by WordPress bloggers each Saturday.

If you have any recommendations, please leave a message in the comments below.

CARAMEL’S CORNER

Relax, Read, Silhouette, Woman, Dog, Hang, Tree, Pet

The Bloggers Who Smashed 2020!!!

New Year'S Day, New Year'S Eve

It struck me a few days ago – am I supposed to do one of these HIGHTLIGHTS OF 2020 posts I have seen floating around? Deep breath. Let me say that again…the “highlights of 2020” – aaaaah sigh! Should we laugh or should we cry?

At least there has been one part of 2020 that has never failed to delight us – WordPress bloggers have been amaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazing!!! So my 2020 round-up is dedicated to the bloggers who have made this year on WordPress one to remember!

THE BLOGGERS WHO BECAME VLOGGERS DURING 2020!

While many of us were tested to the limit of our patience just trying to figure out how on earth to use the new block editor, some bloggers have ventured into the realm of videos to bring something extra special to their blogs. Here are two of my favourite bloggers who have delighted us with video productions:

Jeanne the creator of A Jeanne in the Kitchen has been recording videos of her culinary creations and they are just brilliant.

And to my absolute delight Kristian, the creator of Tales from the mind of Kristian, has been recording songs and broadcasting them on both his YouTube channel and on his blog. I cannot tell you how much Kristian’s videos have lifted my spirits throughout 2020!

What an inspiration these talented bloggers are! What are you planning for your WordPress blog in 2021? Will you venture into video productions too?

THE BLOGGERS WHO BAKED IN 2020!

One of the highlights of 2020 on WordPress for me was “THE GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE-OFF SUMMER PICNIC” – an entire weekend of baking and picnic creations from our magnificent international blogging community and a huge shout of support from so many WordPress bloggers who joined the party!

It was a pure joy to open up my inbox day after day and see more and more photos sent in from other bloggers. The response was tremendous! I am so grateful to all of the fantastic bloggers who were a part of THE GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE-OFF 2020 SUMMER PICNIC – whether you were baking or cheering on all of those who baked. It was just so joyful!!!

I am so glad to both Gary, the creator of A Dad trying to cope with the loss of his Partner and becoming a single parent, who had the idea originally of a BLOGGERS’ BAKE-OFF and who injected so much fun and unforgettable baking creations (and please accept our sincere apologies over the soufflé – it has been dealt with by special security forces and is in a nuclear containment facility until it can be safely destroyed) and our marvellous baking guru Jeanne the creator of A Jeanne in the Kitchen, who is the most superb judge!

If I had to pick my personal favourite, I should pick Jack of course, however, as he got to see his family last week, and I did not, I am going to pick another blogger who I was just overjoyed with. You may remember that in the 2019 GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE-OFF, Amanda Cade baked a chocolate cake that although clearly delicious had some issues with gravity! But Amanda was not going to give up easily! In 2020, she smashed THE GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE-OFF producing not just one but an array of sensational cheesecakes.

Back in July I published a thank you post…

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/07/20/thank-you-for-a-perfect-day/

…but I cannot thank you all enough! What a perfect weekend that was – a real highlight of 2020 for me without doubt! I always choke up when I hear the line of this song “you just keep me hanging on”.

As you may know 2020 for me has meant a lot of work. The NHS like other health services has been put to the test. So many times I have come home from work feeling exhausted and deflated. But it has always been a delight to see the heart-warming and uplifting posts of bloggers on WordPress.

I know many of you have had a very tough year. I know some of you also work for health services or are key-workers in other vital sectors. I know you have had to deal with an increase of stress and frustration from customers as well as adapting to adjusted working practices. I know some of you lost loved ones during this year. I know some of you lost your jobs. I also know that many of you have found it hard to be separated from your nearest and dearest for long periods.

But I also know that the vast majority of you have been brilliant! You have been a positive influence on others. You have kept our spirits up! You have encouraged people to take the warnings seriously, to be diligent in applying the safety guidance issues – YOU HAVE BLOGGED ABOUT WASHING YOUR HANDS, WEARING FACE-MASKS, SOCIAL DISTANCING AND THE MANY SACRIFICES YOU HAVE MADE TO PROTECT OTHERS.

That is special!

2020 has been a year where unselfish love has been shown on an enormous scale!

During 2021, please keep up the positive influence. We are an international team who can make a difference. We can support and encourage others. That might involve being honest about what we are finding challenging, but also commending others for all of their unselfish sacrifices.

Please remember that some are overwhelmed with their challenges – A LITTLE KINDNESS CAN MAKE A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE to a person. Even though you are often interacting with strangers, the power of your words in your posts and in your comment can be constructive or it can be damaging. Please CHOOSE KINDNESS. Do not crush others at a time they may feel as if their whole world is falling apart around them.

What will you do with your blog to encourage and inspire others during 2021?

THE BLOGGERS WHO SUPPORTED MY BOOKS!

Something that was new to me and also very exciting for me during 2020 was seeing three novels and one poetry book leave my WordPress blog and be transformed into real Kindle and Paperback publications available on Amazon.

What started as a short story written in response to a blogging prompt became a series of over one hundred posts. But the story of Annabelle Riley became a three part novel series: LEARNERS AT LOVE.

Back in the spring of 2019, I published a series of little ditties – poetic verses that were expressing the range of feelings I experienced on losing the tiny life growing within me. Well as I wanted a permanent record of such a momentous event in my life, we turned my little ditties into a poetry book.

So many bloggers have been encouraging throughout my journey in starting out with writing fiction to finally holding paperback copies of my books and seeing my friends reading them and hearing their feedback (everyone seems to love rock star bad boy Dean Mathers!)

I am especially grateful to the bloggers who very kindly reviewed my books! Ashley, the creator or Mental Health @ Home who has read and reviewed all of my books has been such a phenomenal support and encouragement. It is so touching to receive that level of support! But she is not the only one. I am also deeply grateful to Iain Kelly and Paula Light, who also read and reviewed my work.

As I am sure anyone else would agree, publishing your writing is a personally rewarding process. I know this is something I would probably never have done without the inspiration, support and encouragement from other WordPress bloggers.

THANK YOU FOR MAKING WRITING SUCH A JOY!

THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU HAVE DONE TO MAKE WORDPRESS A GREAT PLATFORM TO BE BLOGGING ON! THANK YOU FOR HELPING US GET THROUGH 2020!

Before And After

Jenna wants a post from us about foreplay and afterplay – but I am going to defer sharing that level of information about Jack and me. Instead, I am going to find a few tweaked paragraphs from my first novel “We Hide What We hate About Ourselves”.

Just to explain the context of this passage….after an absence of eighteen months and very poor communication while away, Annabelle’s partner has returned to visit her. A lot of stress and pain has occured between this couple, and yet they want to try to repair the damage. While Annabelle is still grappling with the shock of Robin’s confessions, he is eager that what the two of them need is some time alone...


In one swift movement, Robin grabbed Annabelle’s wrists and spread her arms outwards pinning her arms down onto the bed. He looked into her eyes. Annabelle hadn’t seen that look in a long time, it always made her insides churn. A look of pity and hunger, as if a predator preparing to devour wanted to check on the well-being of his prey. Annabelle tried to relax as she surrendered to her lover who was taking pleasure in removing her shirt and unclipping the pretty gingham balcony bra she had chosen to wear.

As Robin’s kisses descended further down, Annabelle let out gasps of pleasure. Robin smiled at her flushed face and gazed into Annabelle’s eyes. Stroking her hair he murmured, “Love you.”

Those two words caused a sob came up into Annabelle’s throat, preventing her from expressing her emotion verbally. What escaped from her mouth was a whimper.

“No tears!” Robin kissed Annabelle’s forehead. Annabelle shook her head and pursed her lips together determined to keep control of herself. Robin pulled back and looked at her and sighed. He drew back from the bed. Annabelle watched him, anxious as to why he was leaving her.

Robin began to unbutton his shirt and pulled it off letting it fall to the ground. He unbuckled his belt and tugged down at his jeans. Almost without realizing what she was doing, she loosened the buttons of her own jeans and raised her hips so she could push them down. Annabelle forgot her own nakedness as she kept her eyes fixated on her lover as he walked to the side of the bed and lent forward to kiss her. His hand stroked the back of her head.

Annabelle felt sick in her stomach. She was not ready for this. She still hated what he had done in London. If it was down to her to forgive him, she needed more time. This closeness was too early. Yet, with every look and every touch, her hurt over what he had done faded. Pain gave way to pleasure. The hunger for him swallowed up the resentment. Soon the couple were unabashed in making love to each other with great energy.

That morning spent in each other’s arms, there was very little conversation, but a great deal of communication. The two lovers had no difficulty remembering their first year together before challenges had come along. They both craved to return to that period of excitement and comfort and fun.

There came a point in Annabelle’s mind when she realized that whether she had been ready or not, by consenting to the intimacy between them, she had agreed to let go of the past. There was no question of punishing Robin for the grief he had caused her, after the two of them had re-established this bond. Her insides were nauseous with the awareness that this was a choice she might end up regretting, despite the magic of being with him again.

Robin ran his left arm underneath Annabelle and wrapped her up in his arms. The two of them lay there, whispering to each other, stroking each other. Their legs became entangled, and gradually they both drifted into sleep.  The kind of sleep that two people who trust each other and feel no fear and no shame enjoy.