Thank you to the fabulous historical fiction author Judith Arnopp for tagging me to join in this blog tour. You can read about Judith and her novels here:
What do we truly remember as a first memory or what inspires us to recall a scene, a moment in time from the past? My earliest memories focus on my dad, the most loving, generous and kind man I have ever known. Dad loved the sunshine and the sea so the salty smell, wind in my face and seagulls overhead remind me of him. My earliest memories are of happy seaside holidays at Cliftonville, near Margate in Kent. During the year I would save 1d from my 4d a week pocket money so I had spending money for our yearly one week holiday. My savings would buy me a Seaside Special comic and an icecream for the whole family, though in retrospect my Dad must have subbed this enterprise. Sat in the sand in my swimming costume with cardigan on top, I created fairy castles and pirate ships, surrounded by moats and bridges so when the sea came in, they stood proud of the tide for a time until washed away, they were reduced sand, a new medium for the following day’s play.
When the tide went out, Dad would take me by the hand to the rock pools. In his beach sandals, he tiptoed across the rocks before pulling back the sea weed and depositing a small crab in my little yellow bucket. The children on the beach loved him. Like the Pied Piper he would lead them across the sand. He showed me how to pick up the crabs gently and encouraged all the children to return the crabs to the pools once parents and siblings had been shown the wonders in their buckets.
Sat in a deckchair in his shorts, white vest and Panama hat, smiling in the sunshine….my first memory.
My brother left for University when I was twelve years old. I was a lonely child. Mum didn’t believe in play school so I began school not knowing anyone and I lacked the social skills to make friends. By the time I started senior school, I had learned to hide in a book, preferring the fictional lives I read about to the isolated existence in which I lived. Books transported me around the world and to other worlds I was free to imagine. I wrote stories of my own, creating little books that I attempted to tape together. An inspiring English teacher encouraged my creative writing, set me on a path to discovery within a reference library and prompted me to challenge the careers teacher with my desire to be a researcher for the BBC, rather than a secretary. Her lack of support propelled me into office work but now, research for my own books is a joy and I love nothing more than reading a book and adding to my knowledge.
My children were surrounded by books from the moment they were born. Bath, stories and bed was the norm and they were encouraged to write themselves.
I rarely leave the house without a book….who knows where you may be held up and have the opportunity to read.
Libraries or bookshops
On Saturday mornings, from age 12 to 14, I spent my time in the library. It was a long walk, through the twittens (alleyways) up to the town but I didn’t mind because once I was there, I had the world at my finger tips. Libraries are opportunities, free reading for everyone and should always be fought for. Recently, phone box libraries have appeared, recycling a space and giving it a new, important place in our community.
I love bookshops and frequent them with birthday or Christmas tokens. Finances have never allowed for me to purchase new books regularly, reiterating my love of libraries. I love second hand bookshops even more but just before we left Essex, our favourite one in Maldon closed down due to competition from the internet. My partner and I spent happy hours in that shop over the years, discovering dusty treasures from the shelves and curling up in a tatty armchair to peruse them.
I’m not a fan of pumping information into young children, requiring them to take tests and meet standards. I’ve always believed that if you instill a sense of wonder into small children, you give them the desire to learn and they will do so for the rest of their lives. Giving children opportunities and introducing them to new topics, ideas and cultures helps them decide their own likes and preferences and leads them to the subjects they wish to study further.
My infant and junior schools did all of the above and though senior school was not so good (newly formed comprehensive school from old grammar and secondary modern), I emerged with both O and A levels. I ventured into the world of work, desperately to leave home and start my own life and, over the years, regretted not attending university but in the past twenty years, I have pursued areas of learning that have always intrigued me….history, archaelogy and magic.
Apart from writing, I love dance and I love cats. Labelled a fairy elephant as a child, I was dissuaded from dance and learned piano from the age of four. I was forty before I walked into a bellydance class and asked if I could join in. Since then, I’ve passed on my love with my company Phoenix Bellydance, teaching Egyptian dance to over 300 women and girls and in the past five years, have danced and trained with Tribal Unity in ATS® Belly Dance and have been teaching as Tribal Unity Wales this past year. ATS® Belly Dance is a blend of styles of Egyptian belly dance, Flamenco, Kathak (classical Indian dance) and African Tribal. Moves and cues are danced by a leader and dancers follow, creating an improvised dance which is inspirational, uplifting and a full body work out.
I’ve never passed a cat in a street without saying hello. Not allowed pets as a child, I’ve taken in rescued cats for many years and now live with Tiggy and Jibby, the latter living in an old barn when we moved here in November 2013. Two seems too few cats to have around but while the large building work has been taking place here, nervous new kittens would not have felt at home here but now we have a roof, it won’t be long before we give more cats a home.
Jibby helping with my writing.
I hope you’ve enjoyed your stop of the Lovely Blog Tour and will continue to follow it. I’m passing the baton to two authors who I met via social media and who support Indie authors in many ways. Look out for Kim Scott aka Lydia North and Clare Plaisted on your travels.