Visiting Alice Liddells Grave

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Any fan of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ will know that its eponymous heroine is based on a real person. Alice Liddell was the fourth child in the Liddell family. They were friends with Charles Dodgson AKA Lewis Carroll and it was on a boating trip that he whipped up the tale of Alice and the White Rabbit which Alice encouraged him to write down. ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ were born.

Alice lived most of her life in and around Lyndhurst in the New Forest. And it’s handily not that far away from where I live. It seemed only right that after photographing Lewis Carroll’s final resting place, I should do the same for Alice herself.

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You can find her around the back of the rather grand St Micheal and All Angels. A handy sign points the way. On the headstone, Alice is referred to as ‘Mrs Reginald Hargreaves’, which does jar, but put that down to the times in which she lived.

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The grave itself has a rather lovely white stone memorial. It contrasts with the very apt red and white rose bushes planted inside.

 

If you’re ever passing through, I would definitely recommend stopping by to  see this charming site.

 

Try these next…

 

Lewis Carrolls Grave, Guildford
Jane Austen’s Grave, Winchester
Take Five Books

4 Roadblocks to your Writing – And 4 ways to Steamroll them!

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For every writing problem you have, there is an answer.

Not necessarily an easy answer that involves lamps and Genies but an answer nevertheless.

Here are 4 common roadblocks that stop you from writing – and 4 ways to steamroll them flat.

1) I don’t have time to write

When I was younger, there was a TV show about a boy with a watch who could stop time. I think everyone would kill for one of those, writer or not.

You’re allowed to have a busy life, a job, a family, kids, pets and all sorts of other commitments. You’re allowed to have days when you don’t write. Don’t feel bad about them.

But –

the fact remains that your book/short story/poem/screenplay isn’t going to write itself. So you’re going to have to make time. That might mean making a few little sacrifices; you wake up a bit earlier, you write in your lunch break or skip an evening TV show for a couple of hours of writing instead. If you don’t drive on your commute, you could fit in a few words then. Or even keep a notepad in the toilet – multi-tasking to the extreme!

2) I’m just not inspired

You can’t write without inspiration right? Well…actually, you can. People who write for a living don’t have a choice. It may sound mercenary but if you have to, you’ll find something to write about.

If you’re stuck on a scene, skip it and move on. Try editing something you’ve already written. Or go and write something completely different to keep your mind active until you’re ready to go back to your WiP. Blog posts are good!

Physical activity can also get the creative juices flowing. A simple walk can work wonders for the old noggin. A trip to the Library is even better. Grab a book to find your inspiration.

3) I’m not sure my writing is any good

Join the club, we’ve got jackets.

Every writer ever, in the history of writing, has doubted their work or their writing abilities. And not just once either. It’s completely natural. And it may be that what you’re writing on isn’t going to work out.

Step back. Let your work breathe. When you return to it, give it a the once over and, if you decide to scrap it, don’t chuck it entirely. Keep a copy so that if nothing else you can cannibalise it for ‘parts’.

You also need to remind yourself why you writeWhy do these characters dance through your through your head and onto paper? Because they need to. Because you need to. You may not be the next Charles Dickens (I know I’m not), but you will always have to write. 

4) I keep getting distrac-oh a butterfly!

The internet is a wonderful and terrible place. So are Netflix and Instagram  and all the other distractions of the digital age. When you turn on your computer to write, you open up world of procrastination right at your fingertips. I know this. I’ve already been distracted six times in the last paragraph.

Hmm…what was I saying?

You can try swapping your laptop for a pen and paper. But if you’re anything like me, you type faster than you can write anyway. Then you’ll need to get serious and unplug the internet. You can do this literally or by using handy apps from Chrome or Microsoft. Use them to block the Internet on your computer for as long as you need to get things done.
Or try a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, with or without music, to help you focus.

And hide the TV.


 

What are your top tips to get past major writing difficulties?

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The Perils of On-demand TV
Write Every Day
Writer’s Block? Move it!
Get Paid to do your own Writers Retreat

An Explanation of the Continuous Necessity

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You write
so that when you fall,
your descent will be arrested,
by a silver net of words
tied in knots
onto the walls.

And you ask,
are they strong enough,
tough enough, tall enough,
what if they just break
so that you crash into
the floor?

So you write
and on you tie them
knots with bows
and knots with snarls,
knots with no one else around them,
knots fixed
into your soul.

For you know
the way you speak
in those tight,
serrated thoughts,
fingers stained with psychic ink,
so permanence
is taught.

And it never
ceases moving,
the story rolls forever,
blind and bullish,
never ending,
minds working
without a hold.

Related reads
In Short
The Torch is not the Only Guide
Words like Knives

Raised in the fantasy way

R2-D2 toy

I grew up surrounded by fantasy and sci-fi. Maybe that’s why it’s what I love to write now.  Bedtime stories were The Hobbit, Wind in the Willows, Roald Dahl. Daytime video viewing was Star Wars, Willow, Labyrinth and all the Disney films. It’s still seen as odd if you’re into fantasy and happen to be female. People assume you aren’t into it for the ‘right’ reasons, whatever they are. Sexist bollocks of course!

Anyway, all this leads to the fact I went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens last week. I went with my boyfriend, who’s decently into fantasy but didn’t grow up with Star Wars like I did. We had the toys, the books, the games, you name it. I was the one at the screening with the Star Wars T-shirt! They’ll be no spoilers, but suffice to say both I and the boyfriend loved it. It brought back the feeling of watching the original films, with the added bonus of being on a very big (IMAX) screen that practicaly swallowed me into the story.

What did you think of the film?  And are you a fantasy fanatic?

Related reads

An Open Fan Letter to Sir Terry Pratchett
A Froud and a Henson? A Match Made in Puppet Heaven
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Today

Woman looking out to sea

Today

I felt a moment

of sadness

flicked in from nothing

a moment given

for the mourning

of those who have no

other

I wondered

whose loss I had been assigned

who they had been

before the trap closed

whether they were always

anonymous

born and died with the

light touch

flying with dragging feet

Or were violently electric

bursting and

sputtering to the end

like a cardboard firework

I saluted

took the dip

waited it out

for the good of

life.

She’ll do Nicely

Old woman

They say when your senses diminish, other senses become more astute, so your eyes improve if you’re deaf, your ears if you’re blind. I don’t know how truthful that is, but it seems as my body has diminished the strength of my mind has grown.
All those books I read are now proving their worth. People used to tell me “you’ll never get a husband with your nose in a book”. As if I wanted that! I learnt a lot about the power locked in the human mind from those pages. I was a scholar, a teacher, a thinker.

Read more

A Visit to Lord Tennysons House, Isle of Wight, UK

I just can’t help stumbling upon literary locations apparently. We popped over to the Isle of Wight for a few days and ended up stumbling upon Farringford, the home of Lord Tennyson.

Farringford, home of Alfred Lord Tennyson

Lord Tennyson was a prolific writer and Poet Laureate of Great Britain during most of Queen Victoria’s reign. His famous works include ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ and ‘The Lady of Shallot’. He lived at Farringford from 1853 till 1869, when he moved to escape being pestered by tourists!

The Isle and the sea around the house definitely inspired the great writer and he was often seen strolling across the clifftops on what is now called Tennyson Down. A monument to him was erected there after his death.

I can definitely understand the attraction of the down. In the sunshine the landscape was glorious but I can imagine them being pretty spectacular in fog, snow or rain.

Tennyson Down, Isle of Wight

Farringford itself has a Victorian Gothic style and now sits surrounded by holiday cottages, a golf course and tennis courts.

Farringford, home of Alfred Lord Tennyson

It’s a pity that you can’t visit it like the homes of other famous writers but on the other hand it’s better to have it preserved in some state than being left to rot.

Related reads
Visiting Batemans, the Home of Rudyard Kipling
A Visit to The Charles Dickens Museum, London

Aged Thirteen and Late in Bed

(Written at 13, re-written at 20 and found in the archives at 30-and-a-bit)

Aged thirteen and late in bed,
I realised that one day I’d be dead.
My stomach gave a sudden jolt,
and in me found a strange revolt,
against the idea of ever ending,
and I wondered about bending,
time around me so I may stay,
ever alive and ever this way.

I wondered what colour death would be,
black and nothing or bright and free?
For the nothing brigade, I imagine a place,
within sleep, an endless space.
Before the dreams come, yet not remembered,
a remorseless void, the world surrendered.

For the bright old crowd will it be,
mists and light and jollity?
Will corporal bodies be permitted,
with halos and wings newly fitted?
Those who have visited have said,
Its like being inside love instead.

The thought of nothing leaves me scared,
although I’m also un-prepared,
for living through eternity,
in whatever form it may be.
A final peace of no more days,
or an endless, contented haze?
This is a choice I just can’t make,
to spout a platitude would be fake.

But though it left me feeling cold,
I have decided to be bold.
Even now when I am twenty,
I will admit that there’s still plenty,
of time to consider and time to live,
and time to come up with an alternative,
to going forever or standing still,
to coming to terms before I write my will.

The Sleeper and The Spindle by Neil Gaiman. Illustrations by Chris Riddell

Sleeper and the Spindle book

I finally used my Christmas book token to get my hands on The Sleeper and The Spindle by Neil Gaiman.

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The book is gorgeous, illustrated with Chris Riddell’s intricate black line drawings highlighted in gold. I’d say it’s a little work of art for your bookshelf (I wish my photography skills were good enough to show this). And it’s complimented perfectly by the story, a mishmash retelling of  Snow White and Sleeping Beauty where women  are front and centre.

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I definitely recommend it. Have you read this book? What did you think?

Related reads
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The Year Walks

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September has eyes,
opening red and gold.

January has fingers,
stretching frozen spindles.

August has toes,
digging deep in soft sand.

May has a nose,
catching scents in sunlight.

October has hair,
roots torn by the wind.

December has teeth,
standing stones into skin.

April has tears,
cascading on molted earth.

And July has legs,
running till the heart pounds.