Wednesday, 30 October 2013

What's up Wednesday

What's up Wednesday is run by the lovely Jaime Morrow and her sister Erin L.Funk. You can check out their blogs by clicking their names. It's a really simple blog fest. Each week we answer the questions below and you get to learn a little about what we are up to.
So let's get started. 

1) What I'm reading. 

I haven't had a lot of time to read this week, so I am still reading The Dream Thieves by Maggie Striefvater. As with The Raven Boys, I found this a little slow to get into, but now I'm being sucked in and finding it harder and harder to put down. 

I haven't fully decided yet what I will be reading next, as I have so many great choices and am not sure I will be getting all that much time to read next month, as I've decided, after much deliberation, to take part in NaNoWriMo next month, but we shall see. 

2) What I am writing. 

Well, I've stopped working on pretty much everything at the moment; partly due to life being pretty hectic and partly because NaNoWriMo is going to see me writing like crazy.

I plan to try to complete Finding Kelsey's first draft and get a good way through editing Memory Book during the month of November, so things may get a little crazy. 

3) What inspires me, right now

A few things, actually. First, I learned a new term this week; it's pantser. Apparently, this is someone who doesn't plot their novels out first, but just sits down and goes for it; something that I've always done. Curious, I asked my writer friends on facebook the question, "Are you a plotter or a pantser?" and was amazed, when most of my friends declared themselves pantsers. Having, for years, listened to people talking about their plotting process and feeling like a freak, I now feel much better, knowing I am not alone in my approach and that has certainly inspired me. 

Another thing that has inspired me has been working out my total weight loss this year; a whopping 10 stone! I still have a long way to go, but I am feeling so much more confident now, especially as the last time I was this small was before I had my son. 

I really let myself go after I had my son; largely because I felt really depressed about my back pain. Slowly but surely, I am getting it off and am aiming to reach my ideal weight as quickly as possible, without taking the drastic step towards weight-loss surgery. I just personally feel that tax payers shouldn't have to foot the bill to get me out of a mess I got myself into, not when I can get myself out of it. That's not to say I think people are wrong for having weight-loss surgery, because I don't think that at all. My sister-in-law just had it and it has done wonders for her. Also, Paul Mason, who I discussed on my blog recently, also took that step. For Paul, it was very much a case of that or die and for some, losing it themselves is just far too difficult over the long term. It is just my own personal feelings that stops me taking that route; plus I would not want the worry and guilt that would come, should I fail to keep the weight off later, after having had such an operation. 

Anywho, my weight loss has really inspired me to keep pushing forward with that and to keep pushing forward in all things in life, no matter how difficult. 

4) What else I've been up to. 

Well, I had my personal independent payment (PIP) examination on Monday. I was so nervous, my anxiety really kicked in big time. Not because of the assessment itself, but because it was being held somewhere I hadn't been before, which is always a worry with my wheelchair because it is wider than most chairs and you never know if it will fit through the doors. Thankfully, it fit through all but one and the distance I had to walk was very very short, just a few steps, so that was okay. 

The big bad storm the night before, I just went and slept right through, so that was okay. We didn't see much in the way of damage the next morning either, when on the way to my appointment, just a lot of flooded fields. The roads, however, were clear, meaning the relatively new flood defenses are holding up well. 

Also on Monday, our money finally came through, which means we were able to pay off my mobility scooter completely and are now able to do up our house. At last! We are all very excited about that. 

Hubby is even going to treat me to a nice mobility scooter canopy that turns my mobility scooter into a funny looking like car slash green-house. Okay, not very stylish, but at least I will be warm and dry throughout the winter. Just have to wait for it to be delivered, now. 
how my scooter will look with new canopy. 
My lovely Hooch is doing a lot better. There is still a lot going on internally that they are not to sure about, other than that it is not good, so he doesn't have to much time left with us. They don't want to risk putting him under, given his age and breed, so we are seeing how it goes for now and tackling the rest, should he go down hill again.

Last of all; a little bit of sadness/happiness. I tried on my fav jeans from before I was pregnant, only to find that I had gone past the stage where they fit to the stage where they are now too big. :( I was half-tempted to put a bit of weight on, just so I could wear them for a while, but decided to just wear them anyway and walk around everywhere, holding them up like a fool. Well, they were my favourite jeans, ever. I, sadly, can't wear a belt due to having an injury where the belt would rest, so it was holding them up or nothing. :) 

So, that's me. What have you been up to this week?  

Love and hugs, Joss xxx 

P.S If you are doing NaNoWriMo and would like to be writing buddies, please add me, Jossie Marie Solheim and put a note of your name below, as a comment, so I can add you too. :) 

Monday, 28 October 2013

Person independent payment assessment

So, today, I had my PIP assessment and knowing lots of people still have theirs to come, I thought I would share my experience. First of all; from signing up for PIP to having my assessment has taken nearly two months. It would have taken longer had I not called up, trying to find out what was happening and then offered someone's cancellation.

The appointment itself was at a medical centre in Holsworthy Devon. Disability access was good for the most part, as long as you don't have a wider wheelchair. We encountered one door we couldn't get through.

The appointment took about an hour. I was asked lots of questions about my disability, all of which, in my opinion, were very reasonable and what you would expect, such as how you manage on a daily basis? Do you have good and bad days and if so, how many in a week and how many in a month?

You need to take a form of identification with you, also; a driver's license, passport, birth certificate or marriage certificate.

They ask you to perform some simple movements, depending on the extent of your disability, but they were very good about realising what I couldn't even attempt to try with my back. 

The woman I saw was lovely and really helped to put me at ease. Obviously, there are many different locations, so not all will be as easy access as this probably, but the assessment was fine, in my case, and mainly just reviewing what I had already put in my forms. Now, I just have to wait and see if they accept my claim or not, fingers crossed.

As a final quick note, I also made the last payment on my mobility scooter, today, so it is officially mine now. YAY!!!! 

Friday, 25 October 2013

Celebrate the Small Stuff

Hello dear readers,

This week, I do not have a post for Celebrate the Small Stuff, as it has been a very hectic week and I couldn't get to it. Worry not. I will be back next week.

Love and hugs, Joss xx

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

What's up Wednesday

What's up Wednesday is run by the lovely Jaime Morrow and her sister Erin L.Funk. You can check out their blogs by clicking their names. It's a really simple blog fest. Each week we answer the questions below and you get to learn a little about what we are up to. So, lets get started. 

1) What I'm reading 

Well, I just finished reading Dangerous Depths by Karen Amanda Hooper. I was so privileged to get to read the ARC for this book and being the massive fan that I am of Tangled tides, the first in the sea monster memoirs, I was absolutely thrilled to be one of the first to read the second in the series. If you haven't read Tangled Tides, you should. It has love, determination, compassion and adventure, and is an amazing book with such incredibly vivid characters that it is really hard not to adore them. 

If you get it now and get reading, you can be ready to go straight-away with Dangerous Depths, when it is released on the 20th of November. Both of them are brilliant reads. 

I also just started reading The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater. I can't tell you too much about it at the moment, as I am only a few pages in, but I really enjoyed Raven Boys, the first book in this series; so, I have high hopes for this one, too. 

2) What I am writing

To be honest, I haven't got a whole lot of writing or editing done this week, other than blog posts. My poor rottie, Hooch has been very poorly; so poorly, we actually came close to losing him. Thankfully, because of our amazing vets and a lot of close care and attention, he is slowly coming back to health. As large parts of my days have been spent trying to coax him to eat and drink, I've not had all that much time to write. I hope to get back on track next week. 

3) What's inspiring me right now 

The strength and bravery of others. I watched a lot of documentaries yesterday about people facing difficult situations. It was actually to do with some course work I had, but it has really helped to inspire me. It also put my own struggles into perspective. 

One of the programs I watched was called The World's Fattest Man. Paul Mason was incredibly brave to go on camera, while dealing with an incredibly difficult time in his life. People can be so judgemental when they see people struggling with weight. It seems all too easy to forget that food can be just as addictive to some people as drugs. Paul battled his food addiction to lose an incredible 48 stone, allowing others to watch his struggle to beat his addiction, and has since gone on to find love. He is also in the process of writing an amazing book about his life. 

Another really inspiring man is Kenny Easterday. A rare disease meant that he did not develop normally in the womb. After birth, he sadly lost part of his legs and later, all of his legs. He learned to walk on his hands and to cope with people's stares and has not allowed anything to stop him in life. He can do anything any of us can do and probably more than most of us; a truly inspiring man, who still has a lot of trials and painful operations ahead of him. 

4) What else I've been up to

Mainly, I have been taking care of my poorly pooch and reinstalling all my programs and games into my laptop, after my hard drive decided to stop working and had to be replaced; that and reading, so there really isn't too much to report, I'm afraid. I hope your week has been a little more exciting. 

Love and hugs, Joss xx

Monday, 21 October 2013

Express yourself

It Monday and for me that means it's time for the Express yourself meme, check out others post here.

This week's question is what candy were you most happy to see in your trick or treat bag as a kid?

For me, it was always candy apples. Not many people gave these out, but those who did, I adored. I think it probably was, in part, the rarity of this item that made it so appealing and it just felt like a real Halloween treat.

Now, I would be a lot more reluctant about candy apples, as the last few years there has been a trend for people to candy onions instead, giving you a very nasty surprise, when you bite into them.

I can see the funny side, as most will have a mixture of candy apples and candy onions, so that it's a kind of lucky dip as to what you get.

A friend of mine had both her children come home with what they thought was a candy apple. One bit in and got what she'd expected, while the other bit in and got an onion. You have to feel sorry for the little cutie that got the onion. She must have been so disappointed.

What's your favourite trick or treat candy and have you ever had some nasty trick or treat candy surprise?

Love and hugs, Joss xxx

Friday, 18 October 2013

Celebrate the small stuff

It's Friday and that means that it is time to Celebrate the Small Stuff and I have a huge celebration today, as yesterday, I got my ARC of Dangerous Depths by Karen Amanda Hooper.

Dangerous Depths follows on from Tangled Tides, one of my all time favourite books. I have been waiting what feels like a lifetime for Dangerous Depths and am so honoured to be one of the first people to get my hands on a copy.

If you love fantasy then you'll love these great books. In fact, even if you don't, there is a very good chance you'll love them because they really are amazing. I am working my way through Dangerous Depths as we speak, gleefully turning each page, desperate to read it all, while at the same time petrified for it to end.  I mean, what if there are no more after this, or there are more and it means more waiting? (Cries) The story is a bit different from any other book that I've read in this genre, as it deals with Merfolk, Selkies, Sirens, and Gorgons, among other things.

Now, only having just started Dangerous Depths, I can't tell you too much about it, but I can tell you about Tangled Tides. Tangled Tides is an epic love story with many twists and turns, lots of issues and doubts to overcome, and beautifully crafted characters that left me torn as to just who I wanted to route for.

Karen really did work magic with Tangled Tides and I can't wait to fully lose myself in the sequel; so, on that note...

My Celebrations for today are:

1) Those long awaited items finally arriving, whatever they may be.
2) The joy of a good Arc
3) A great author, continuing to write great books.
4) The ability to lose yourself in a magical world and escape, at times, dreary reality.
5) The fact that out there right now, all over the world, authors, writers, and perhaps even some who consider themselves everyday Joe's, are sitting down at keyboards, or with pens in hands, and creating new worlds, new places, and new stories for us to explore, so there will always be new books to transport us out of the norm.
6) And of course, getting my ARC for dangerous depths :)

Love and hugs all. Happy Friday and I hope you all have an awesome weekend, too. Now, I'm off to get lost in an underwater world.

Joss xx

For those of you who don't know, Celebrate the Small Stuff is an awesome blog hop, hosted by The Vikilit's writing blog.  It enables the blogger community to come together, every Friday, and check out what everyone is celebrating this week. If you want to join in or find out what others are celebrating, just click the link (in blue above) and sign up to the linky link on the Viklit's blog  :)

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Photo art.

Today, as a bit of a change from the norm, I thought I'd blog about a hobby of mine that I occasionally use to brighten up my blog posts a bit.

For quite sometime now, I have been into photo art, and with the aid of apps and some basic drawing skills on my part, it has never been easier to do. 

So, I am going to share with you some of my photo art; old and new. I hope you like them :) 

This is a fairly old piece of photo art that I did
I really loved the colours on this one
and made it using a free computer programme called
This is a piece of photo art I actually created yesterday and then turned into a cover for my
latest WIP Finding Kelsey.
I drew the art work, then used photo apps to play around with it a bit until I had what I wanted. 
I drew this little angel and did much the same process as the above, although I did not turn this one into cover art.
One of her wings was a little too small though but considering it only took me about 10 mins to get to this stage. Including the drawing itself I was relatively happy. 
I did this little Rat for a blog post a few days ago. About my furry friends. He was another
quick draw that actually came out pretty well. 
Another take on the eye and flower drawing above. I can't decide if I like this one or not. 

I did this moose drawing quite a while ago and thought it looked pretty good in this pop art style. 

I did this tree quite a long time ago now. Again I drew the image myself and then played around
with my photo apps to get this finished product. 

These are my twin kittens Tizzy and Timmy. I loved this picture of them
so much that I had to play around with it a bit and see what I could come up with
I don't think it turned out to bad.
I was certainly happy with the overall result.

This was a very simple image of my dog Harley de,
even the most basic of images can make great photo art. 

Another really old piece of photo art, created with the ait of Gimp

Second life avatar photos can also make great photo art.
This was from a fun day out on second life with the love
Chuck Jolly. Both our avatars decided to go a bit retro. 

This piece of photo art just goes to show that you don't have to have the greatest
drawing skills to create fun photo art. 

The Drawing aspect of this one didn't come out quite so well as I had hoped but
I liked the overall effect. So figured I'd still share it. 
You don't have to be a great artist to create photo art. It's a fun hobby that pretty much anyone can have a go at, especially with the creation of photo apps that are available for smartphones and the like.

Just choose a picture, load it into your app, and play around. Trial and error can lead to some great pictures and best of all, some great content to brighten up any blog or help you create the perfect book cover.

Let me show you, just what I mean.

My cover for my novel Insane Reno was created with photo apps on my phone. I started out with a very plain image that was in no way special, as you can see below.

Yep this was the Original Insane Reno covers, picture. 
I then played around with several photo apps and turned it into this...

So, why not give photo art a go and see what you can come up with. I'd love to see your photo art, when your done, and hear about the experience. Did you enjoy it? Would you try again?

Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read my post.

Love and hugs, Joss xx

What's up Wednesday

What's up Wednesday is run by the lovely Jaime Morrow and her sister Erin L.Funk. You can check out their blogs by clicking their names. It's a really simple blog fest. Each week we answer the questions below and you get to learn a little about what we are up to. So, lets get started. 
1.) what I'm reading. 

I am currently reading The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvater. I'm about half way through it now and really enjoying it, although it did take me a little while to really get into this one. I seemed to stumble a lot over the words, in the beginning, and had to keep going back to re-read parts of it; which is unusual for me with Maggie's books.

Before this, I read The Scorpio Races, also by Maggie Stiefvater, and I absolutely loved that. From the first page to the last, I was hooked. 

2) What I'm writing. 

Currently, I am still editing Memory Book and working on my new WIP, which finally has a name, Finding Kelsey and a possible cover, too. 

I'll probably come up with a few covers, before I make an actual guaranteed choice, but here is the first one I have come up with. I would love to know what you think. The art work for this cover is all mine I drew it, then photo edited it, before transforming it into an actual cover. 

I love playing around with cover ideas to go along with what I write. If anyone wants a cover at any time, I'd be happy to have a play around, if I have time. I won't charge for covers, as this is something I really just do for fun, So, if you ever want me to have a play on your behalf, if I have the time, I'd be more than happy to. :)

3) What's inspiring me right now.

Other people's kindness always inspires me. There was a time, when I struggled to see any kindness in the world and now I am seeing it everywhere. I have always been the kind of person who feared others judgement and am slowly starting to realise that those that do make unfair judgements are normally unhappy in their own life and it causes them to ridicule and belittle others. You have to forgive these people for their hurtful words and their pain and move on; while, at the same time, being grateful for all the good people out there, and there are a lot of good people, if you open your eyes enough to see them. 

4) What else I've been up to. 

Spending lots of time with my lovely little family; something I really needed, after what has been a fairly rough time of late. Also, clearing excess junk out of my life, in order than I can move forward; something I have been struggling to do for quite a few years now, due to old ties, holding me back. 

I've had a difficult relationship with some of my closest blood relatives, my mother especially. We had been trying to fix the damage with therapy, but it all became too difficult, when my mother admitted that she had known her partner was abusing me and done nothing. It was something I had always suspected, but actually hearing it aloud was incredibly difficult; especially as she had gone out of her way, all my life, to accuse me of being a liar about the abuse, despite some of the very serious injuries I received because of it. 

The stupid part is I understand now why she went out of her way to make me look like a liar. It was a desperate attempt to protect herself, because of her lack of action. What I struggle to understand is how a mother could sit back and do nothing, knowing that her child was being beaten on a regular basis; especially given that my own mother was abused as a child herself. I could never do that to my own child, but then I suppose everyone is different. 

At any rate, this week, I finally put a pin in that part of my life and broke away from my mother completely; something I probably should have done a long time ago, but I guess I clung to the hope that one day things would change; she would change. 

I am very lucky though, as I have found and built a beautiful family of my own with my wonderful husband and beautiful little boy. Not to mention a lot of great friends, who I think of very much as my family, and a whole host of wonderful furry friends, too. 

I thought it would hurt a lot to finally say goodbye to my blood relatives, but I actually feel lighter, somehow. 

The only time I find it hard is when I see people talking about the importance of mums and how they should be respected and loved. I wonder, if they'd had my mother, would they feel the same?
People reassure me that I have done the right thing, but I am sure, for a while, there will be doubts. Hopefully, with time though, this will change; because, deep down, I know I did what I needed to do. The only mistake I think I made was leaving it so long before taking this step. 
Onward and upwards, as they say. 

As a final note, I need to give a big thank you to my awesome husband, who brought me a lovely box of Milk Tray yesterday. I am not sure what I did to deserve it, but I really appreciated it and will be enjoying them immensely, over the next few days. 

Well, that's me. What have you been up to this week? 

Love and hugs, Joss xx 

Monday, 14 October 2013

Lost furry friends

Recently, a dear old furry friend of mine called Scbu passed away. Scbu was a calico cat that I got as a little kitten, who later went to live with my sister-in-law, where she enjoyed a wonderful life.

Since her death, I have been thinking a lot about the furry friends that have come and gone in my life, over the years, and decided to do a blog post about it; starting, of course, with Scbu.

The Beautiful Scbu
Scbu came into my life when I was just a teen. I've always been animal mad, but back then I rescued animals like crazy. I guess because they brought me so much joy to my life, when I was far from happy.

I first found out about Scbu, when I was told about a lady, who used to breed Calico cats and now had hundreds of them at the back of her huge house. This was something I just had to see and so, while my mum was at the hospital visiting my sister, who'd just had a baby, I set off to meet this intriguing woman. 

When I got there, the house was a huge, hulking thing; its windows, all dusty and full of cobwebs and the garden, so overgrown it was a struggle to get to the front door.


Once I did get to the door, no amount of knocking seemed to gain a response. 

All remained gloomy inside; it really was creepy. 

I was just about to leave, when someone called to me from the driveway and there, at the very end of it, stood a very bent, old lady. 

I had yet to see a single cat yet; however, so I was starting to think I had the wrong address. 

I already knew that she had kittens for sale, I'd seen an add in the little shop, nearby; so, using that, I said, "I'm trying to find the lady with the kittens for sale. Do you know where she lives?" 

"You've found me." She replied, then hurried me around to the back of the house, where she began to explain that I should not hang about, at the front, because the ghost wouldn't like it. 

I was already creeped out by this house, without her mentioning a ghost, so her words had my anxiety levels flying.

The back of her house was even worse than the front. There were falling down sheds, heaps of clutter, and dotted among it all, cats; lot's of cats, several of them, eyeing me suspiciously. 

There were big cats, small cats, black cats, white cats, short hair, long hair, tabbys, and gingers, and scattered among them were the Calico's I'd come expecting to see.

I was bustled into the back of the large house. Two rooms is where the old lady lived, because she was to afraid to enter the rest of the house, due to the ghost she had mentioned before. 

The result, she'd claimed the kitchen and a small bathroom for herself and locked the door that led through to the rest of the house.

The kitchen was old and falling apart. Everywhere you looked was cat food and a tiny bed was shoved to one end of the room; the blanket on it, so thick with cat hair you couldn't tell what colour the fabric underneath might be.

I asked her about her cats and she told me that she'd, once upon a time, only had the Calico's, but they'd breed with local cats, when her pens got to old to keep them in, and she now had all sorts.

She went on to explain how the cats weren't hers, they'd just claimed her as their servant, so she fed and cared for them, as best she could. 

They were well looked after, better than she was herself. They were all well fed and healthy and she told me how a relative helped her get their food and take them to the vet. 

Something had clearly happened in this lady's life that led to her strange living arrangements and her fear of the ghost, but she was relatively happy in herself.

You see, I went to visit her many times after that first visit; but, it was that first visit that I met Scbu. She was one of the tiny kittens the lady had for sale and she had a poorly paw. 

"Rats," the woman explained, when I asked what had happened to her, "She's been to the vets and has medicine for it. Her mother had her in the shed and the rats took a liking to her." 


She had the little kitten, along with her siblings, in an old fruit box. She was trying to keep it clean, as the vets had told her to, to stop infection, but she wasn't so hot at keeping things tidy. 

I knew right then and there I had to have Scbu, as she would later be named. 

I had ridden my bike to the house that day and brought nothing with me, as I hadn't intended to take any cats home; but, the old lady was so keen to get Scbu out of there, so her paw could heal, without risk, that she insisted I take her, there and then.

She gave me a wire basket, filled it with newspaper, and placed beautiful, little Scbu inside. Then she shoved her antibiotics in my pocket, instructed me when her check up was due, and how I was to bring her the bill, and sent me on my way.

It was a long walk home and an awkward one. It's not much fun, trying to push a bike, with one hand, and carry a cat basket, as steadily as possible, in the other, but I didn't want to ride my bike, in case the poor little cat got scared.

Mum was not best pleased about the newest addition, when she got home, but when she saw her and heard her story, she agreed, she could stay. 

Scbu's paw healed well and never seemed to give her any trouble, later in life, and she grew into a beautiful cat, as you can see above.

Her name came from the Special Care Baby Unit, which people had nicknamed Scbu and where my sister's baby was currently residing, having been born premature. 

Scbu was a baby of one of the old lady's prize winning cats, who did very well in shows until the lady retired from them. Scbu's father could have been one of hundreds of cats, so he is an unknown. Whether he was calico or not is also unknown, but Scbu had the Calico markings of her mother, although a little lighter in colour. 

She grew up to be an incredibly sweet and gentle little cat with a lovely nature and she will be very sadly missed. 

I've been so lucky to have an amazing collection of furry friends in my life. 

Another one, dear to my heart, was old Sweep, a border collie cross we owned, back when I was a kid. She was really the first dog we owned that I was old enough to fully remember.

She was black with a few white bits, here and there, and so gentle and sweet. She was the perfect family dog and I adored her. 

She came to us from a man, who owned an old canal boat, apparently, (I was too young at the time to remember it myself) and he used to have a ramp, so Sweep could get in and out of the water, whenever she pleased, as she loved to swim. 

He was disabled and was finding it harder to live in the boat, so was having to move away. 

Knowing how much Sweep loved the water, he didn't want to take her away from it, and so he re-homed her to us, so she could stay in Bude, near the canal and the beach, and continue to enjoy her passion. 

I adored that sweet girl, but sadly old age and cancer claimed her. Seeing her go devistated me. I was losing a best friend. 

Sweep had always been one of those dogs, who just knew when you needed a hug. She was a star. 

Sadly, I no longer have any pictures of Sweep. We moved around a lot, when I was younger, and lots of things would get left behind in the process.

The best way to describe sweep was similar to a flat-coated retriever, which we actually believe was what she was crossed with, but with a little white around the neck, muzzle, and paws; similar to the Border collie's more classic markings, as well as a slightly more collie shaped face. :) 

The final story I'm choosing to tell you is a love story. 

When my hubby and I first met, I had a very scruffy, little rat, called KD. He had free roam of my bedroom and was a real character; often climbing up on people and trying to steal things from them. He once stole a rollie, not lit thankfully, as she had only just made it, from my friend mouth. 
(A rollie, for those of you who don't know, is a DIY cigerette) 

Anywho, we'd had KD a couple of years, when a friend of ours told us they had a rat, called Cako, they needed to re-home. Knowing how much we loved our rat, I guess they wanted us to take Cako, too. We agreed, but explained that we'd have to get KD done first. We didn't want baby rats. 

Once KD was done, Cako came to live with us. We introduced them slowly, as you do, starting off with just cage to cage meetings, then putting KD in his cage, so that Cako could roam around his new space for a bit, meaning the room.

It didn't take long before they were both happily living together, for the most part; however, there were a few issues. Cako liked a clean cage, everything in it's place, and KD like to make a mess. Like an old married couple, Cako would tell KD off for taking food up to bed and would also try to groom his scruffy fur into some semblance of neatness. 

For the most part, KD would take it in his stride, by ignoring her and filling the bed with food anyway or trying to protect himself from her tongue with raised paws; but, one day, Cako's cleaning became to much for old KD and he gave her a good telling off and chased her from the cage. 

As Cako flew out the cage, she caught her tail and ripped the skin half off, so that the bone was clearly visible. We hurried her to the vets and they had no choice but to amputate half of her tail. 

When she returned, KD was so attentive to her, even cleaning her, which KD never did, that all was quickly forgiven. 

We also tail-proofed the door, to ensure the same thing couldn't happen again. 

KD and Cako lived together happily for years, until KD, suddenly died from old age. We were all devastated, but none, more so, that Cako, who refused to eat or drink. 

Just a week after KD died, despite the vet's best efforts to help Cako, she too, passed away. She just didn't want to live without her KD, bless her. 


What some people see as just pets, others see as family, and that has always been the case for me. My pets have been a huge part of my life and they have all had such varied characters.

Animals leave paw prints on our hearts, just like people, and these are just some of the little furries, who have left paw prints on mine. 

Has a pet left paw prints on your heart? If so, I'd love to hear about them. 

Our pets may be gone, but they are never forgotten. 

Love and hugs, Joss xxx

Express yourself meme

It Monday and for me that means it's time for the, Express yourself meme, check out others post here.

Each week, we are given a question to answer and I have been dreading all the Halloween questions, because, quite frankly, I've never really been big on Halloween. I'm not sure why. Even back in my pagan days, I never gave too much thought to the holiday, and my only involvement in it now comes from buying candy for the visiting kids, in their cute costumes, and likewise, taking my son out, sweet collecting, lol.

Halloween was always, to me, just a thing for kids more than adults and I think it is the same for a lot of people in the UK, as none of my friends really celebrate Halloween; unless, like me, they have kids, who they take out trick-or-treating.

As a result of this, I can't really remember any costumes I have worn for Halloween in detail, not even the more recent ones I have worn on Second Life, except one that my bestie purchased for me, just the other day. It is actually pretty cool and the one, therefore, I am going to use for this post today.

For those of you who don't know, Second Life is a virtual world in which you live as an avatar. You can create your own content, purchase other people's content, play games, go to virtual clubs, churches, theme parks, all sorts. Pretty much, if someone can imagine it and create it, Second Life will have it. It also hosts some great writer's groups, too.

So, my outfit, I believe, was called Sexy Bat Girl. I can't check, as I am currently on my netbook, which won't run Second Life, and my laptop isn't working at the mo  :(   although, it should be up and running soon.

This is probably best costume I have ever had, as I have never really put that much effort into costumes.

What was your favourite Halloween costume like? 

Love and hugs, Joss xx 

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Haunted Bodmin moor part 2: Charlotte Dymond

Smuggling, mining, beasts, and ghouls; Bodmin moor has them all and for the month of October, in celebration of Halloween, I’m going to be exploring some of the moor's spookier goings on.

Last week, we looked at a brief history of Bodmin moor, along with the haunted Jamaica Inn. If you haven't read it yet you can find Haunted Bodmin moor part 1 here.

This week we are focusing on the ghost of Charlotte Dymond. I first discovered Charlotte several years ago, when I became fascinated with ghosts around Cornwall.

Living very close to the moors, Charlotte's tragic story, with it's mixture of murder, mystery, and love intrigued me immensely, especially given that it all took place on the moors that I adore.

Charlotte's tale is now commonly taught in schools, as English students, all over the UK, study her story, including reading the Ballad of Charlotte Dymond.  

The Ballad of Charlotte Dymond 
by Charles Causley

It was a Sunday evening
And in the April rain
That Charlotte went from our house,
And never came home again.

Her shawl of diamond redcloth,
She wore a yellow gown,
She carried a green gauze handkerchief
She bought in Bodmin town.

About her throat her necklace
And in her purse her pride
As she walked out one evening
Her lover at her side.

Out beyond the marshes
Where the cattle stand,
With her crippled lover
Limping at her hand.

Charlotte walked with Matthew
Through the Sunday mist,
Never saw the razor
Waiting at his wrist.

Charlotte she was gentle
But they found her in the flood
Her Sunday beads among the reeds
Beaming with her blood.

Matthew, where is Charlotte
and wherefore has she flown?
For you walked out together
And now are come alone.

Why do you not answer,
Stand silent as a tree,
Your Sunday woollen stockings
All muddied to the knee?

Why do you mend your breast-pleat
With a rusty needle’s thread
And fall with fears and silent tears
Upon your single bed?

Why do you sit so sadly
Your face the colour of clay
And with a green gauze handkerchief
Wipe the sour sweat away?

Has she gone to Blisland
To seek an easier place,
And is that why your eye won’t dry
And blinds your bleaching face?

“Take me home!” cried Charlotte,
“I lie here in the pit!
A red rock rests upon my breasts,
And my naked neck is split!”

Her skin was soft as sable,
Her eyes were wide as day,
Her head was blacker than the bog
That licked her life away.

Her cheeks were made of honey,
Her throat was made of flame
Where all around the razor
Had written its red name.

As Matthew turned at Plymouth
About the tilting Hoe,
The cold and cunning Constable
Up to him did go:

“I’ve come to take you, Matthew,
Unto the Magistrate’s door.
Come quiet now, you pretty poor boy.
And you must know what for.”

“She is pure,” cried Matthew,
“As is the early dew,
Her only stain it is the pain
that round her neck I drew!”

“She is guiltless as the day
She sprang forth from her mother.
The only sin upon her skin
Is that she loved another...”

They took him off to Bodmin,
They pulled the prison bell,
They sent him smartly up to Heaven
And dropped him down to Hell.

All through the granite kingdom
And on its travelling airs
Ask which of these two lovers
The most deserves your prayers.

And your steel heart search, Stranger,
That you may pause and pray
For lovers who come not to bed
Upon their wedding day.

But lie upon the moorland
Where stands the sacred snow
Above the breathing river,
And the salt sea-winds go.

This is a picture of Roughtor, taken very close to the site of
Charlotte's murder.
This file
 is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.Attribution: Andy F at en.wikipedia

Charlotte's story makes for a classic tragedy; a young, beautiful maiden, brutally murdered by her less attractive lover with his crooked teeth, lack of height, and prominent limp, a lover, whose only attraction for Charlotte, probably lay in the belief that he'd recently come into money. 

To Charlotte, an illegitimate girl, disowned by her mother, and left with no support in life, Matthew Weeks must have seemed like a dream come true.  

Matthew was not Charlotte's only suitor. Thomas Prout also had a fancy for her. He was the twenty-six year old nephew of Philipa Peters; an old widow, who owned Penhale farm. where both Charlotte and Matthew worked as live-in servants, along with John Stevens. Also residing at the farm was Philipa's son, who was also named John.

Prout was a labourer, who worked with Matthew from time to time. It was said that they did not get on, and it is not surprising, as it appears Prout intended to steal Charlotte's affections from Matthew; a fact that was disclosed by servant John Stevens, who overheard Prout stating that he intended to move to Penhale Farm and that, when he did, he would easily take Charlotte from Matthew.  Later, it was revealed that Prout and Charlotte may have actually been planning to elope. 

It was not to be; however, for on the 14th of April, 1844, Charlotte was murdered. The 14th of April, that year, fell on a Sunday, so all the household would have been dressed in their Sunday best. For Charlotte, this was a green striped dress with a red shawl. 

She left the farm that day around 4 pm, with Matthew weeks by her side, making it clear that she would not be back in time for milking, but that Matthew would be. Later that evening, Isaac Cory, a sixty-three year old farmer, who was related to Stevens, Prout, and Mrs Peters, turned up at the farm. He mentioned to the residents that he had seen Matthew, who he claimed to have recognised at once, due to his limping gait, in the company of a young woman; a woman that he apparently could not identify. He did; however, manage to describe her clothes, the same green striped dress and red shawl that Charlotte had left in.  

Mrs Peters expected her servants to be in at half past nine, each evening. That night, when Matthew returned home, the family set about  questioning him on the whereabouts of Charlotte, to which Matthew said, he did not know.

The men went to their beds around half past ten that night, but Mrs Peters claimed she was concerned about Charlotte and decided to stay up and wait for her return. She remained awake for another hour, before heading to bed, herself. 

Monday meant wash day at the farm and still there was no sign of Charlotte. As a result, Matthew was again questioned and once more, he stated that he did not know where Charlotte might be. 

Mrs Peters claimed that, later that day, she discovered Matthew's blue stockings, which he had worn the previous day, were muddied, up to the knees. Although there had been some rain that Sunday, she felt that it was not enough to get the stockings in such a mess. The mud, she explained, was like that found in the turf pits on the moor. 

Again, Mrs Peters went to Matthew and asked about Charlotte. She claimed that, this time, Matthew told her that he had accompanied Charlotte, only as far as the gate in Higher Down Field, just before the edge of the moorlands. From there, he said, Charlotte had gone onto the moor, alone, while he had gone in the opposite direction, towards Halworthy; where Mrs Peters' daughter, Mary, and her husband, John Westlake, lived. He said that they had not been at home and that he had then called at the house of John Westlake's mother, Sarah. 

This naturally puzzled Mrs Peters, as Isaac Cory claimed to have seen Matthew the previous day, walking on the moors with a girl, who had matched the description of Charlotte. 

On Tuesday, John Stevens allegedly noticed that Matthew's shirt was torn at the collar and a button was missing. It is said that Matthew insisted on mending it himself, which led to the other residents of Penhale farm becoming  more suspicious. 

Later that day, Matthew also mentioned to a visitor that if Charlotte were to be found dead, her mother would be tried for her life. This led to Mrs Peters challenging him again, resulting in Matthew revealing that Charlotte had gone to take up a new position at Blisland, ten miles away, because she had received a weeks notice from Mrs Peters. (Mrs Peters denied this).
Matthew went on to say that, as it was too far for Charlotte to travel in one evening, she had intended to stay the night at a friend's house. 

When Wednesday came, Mrs Peters had given up on her questioning and was now openly accusing Matthew of doing away with Charlotte, out of jealousy. Matthew; however, stuck to his story. 

Despite these accusations, it seems that work on the farm strangely continued as normal. That Friday, a pig was to be killed by the local butcher. Matthew, still wearing the shirt he'd had on the Sunday of Charlotte's disappearance (since there would be no clean shirts till the coming Sunday) asked if he could kill the pig himself; which he did. 

By this point, news of Charlotte's disappearance had spread all over the moors; not surprising, as nothing, it seems, travels faster than gossip. The result was the whole moorland community, openly voicing their suspicions about Matthew. 

It was at this point it was decided that action must be taken, and so John Peters and John Stevens went to check and see if Matthew's story was indeed true. Matthew also went out that day and Mrs Peters and her daughter decided to search his room, while he was gone, but found nothing particularly suspicious. 

Still, two handkerchiefs and a newspaper clipping regarding a murder committed by a man in prison, found at the time of the search, were used as evidence against Matthew at his trial, despite having no relevance. 

When the two Johns returned to Penhale, suspicions were raised further. Charlotte had never stayed at her friends, nor had there been a job in Blisland. It was clear that someone was lying. Either Matthew had made up the story to account for Charlotte's disappearance or Charlotte had lied to Matthew. 

On Sunday April 21st; a week after Charlotte's disappearance, Matthew put on his best clothes, took his umbrella, and walked out of Penhale farm, never to return.

Washday came around again. Mrs Peters said she found the shirt Matthew had worn on the day of his walk with Charlotte and as well as the already noticed wear, there were also now spatters of blood. The case against Matthew, suddenly seemed complete, especially given it seemed, as if he had fled. It was time to search the moor. 

The following day, Charlotte's body was found by John Peters, John Westlake, John Stevens, and a neighbor, who was not related to the others, at the base of Rougtor, beside a small stream that runs there. She was found, face upwards, about a foot from the stream; her throat slit and her coral necklace, broken around her. 

A search went out for Matthew and he was later found in Plymouth. He was found guilty of Charlotte's murder and was subsequently sentenced to death by hanging. 

But, did Matthew really kill Charlotte? 

Some believe not, saying that the only people closely involved with Matthew, after Charlotte's murder, were all related to Prout; a man who, despite having an attraction to Charlotte, seemed to stay away at the time of her disappearance. 

So, was it all a set up? Did Prout murder Charlotte and did his family, on hearing about it, set out to frame Matthew to save their own family's reputation?

Did Matthew leave the farm, simply because he could not cope with their constant accusations? 
Monument on Poldue Downs The inscription reads: 'This monument is erected by public subscription in memory of Charlotte Dymond who was murdered here by Matthew Weekes on Sunday April 14 1844'.
Rod Allday

One of the most suspicious parts of this story happened after the trial of Matthew Weeks, when Mrs Peters and her family went out of their way to have a monument placed at the site of Charlotte's death, not simply to remember her, but to remind others that Matthew Weeks was the killer. Yes, they actually had this engraved onto the monument. 

Why would the family go out of their way to do something so extravagant for a mere servant? Some believe that it was their attempt to ensure that no one would forget that Matthew had been found guilty of the murder; a murder that he, in fact, did not commit, but rather a member of their own family had. 

The truth is we may never truly know, but something prevents Charlotte's spirit from moving on; because, to this day, Charlotte is still seen around the area of her death, walking the lonely moors. Sightings are more common on the anniversary of her death and so, on the 14th of April, people often head for Roughtor, in the hope of seeing Charlotte's ghost. 

I have done this, on many occasions, with my husband and it is incredibly creepy. We've even heard someone running towards our car, when there is no one to be seen; their feet causing the gravel to crunch, and have witnessed other phenomena, so it is really worth a visit. 

I hope this post is clear and not too rambling. I'm a bit tired at the moment, and though it wasn't, perhaps, the best time to tackle it, I didn't want to keep you waiting too long for the second part of this series. I will try to find some of the pictures from our visits to Roughtor and post them up at a later date. (They're hidden somewhere in our stack of disks)

Love and hugs,
Joss xx