A Grandmothers hand

Things have been busy. Have you ever noticed how life can become so busy that there doesn’t seem to be time for anything but when you look back you can’t remember what exactly you have been busy with?

I thought I would post a little poem about Grandmothers to make you smile. Its a little sentimental but I wrote it when I was about 14.

A Grandmothers Hand

A grandmother’s hand,
worn and warm.
It tells a story
of loves true form.

Each line and wrinkle,
a silent witness
of a mothers love;
every care and sadness.

Strength and hard work
these lines betray,
of early mornings
and happy days.

This hand that lies,
so close to my own,
so tired and old;
a proof of love shown.

 

 

 

 

A little short story

I recently took part in the open university’s free creative writing course. I LOVED it. It opened my mind to new ideas and methods of doing things. My writing, planning, editing, formatting, and idea processing have all improved. It has been a real joy and a pleasure to sharpen up my brain cells and learn again. (I finished my collage course 8 years ago!) In the final week of the course we were asked to submit a short story of under 1000 words which used some of the methods we have learned.

I am posting my short story here on my blog in the hopes that you like it and it makes you smile.

Broken ordinary

Charlies fist flew out with perfect speed and precision. He saw only the dark inky flash of her tattoos before he heard the sickening crack. Blood gushed from his nose and dripped off the end of his chin. Charlie gave a sweet smile, her voice full of sympathetic concern as she handed him napkins “Nosebleeds are the worst.” The few regulars sitting in Max’s bar stopped looking. Her smile dropped, her eyes, like 2 black chips of slate, punctured his drunken haze. The expression on her face could have frozen hell. She kept her voice low and deliberate. “Touch another girl in an inappropriate manner and I will break something else.” Clutching his nose he quivered and nodded once before hurriedly leaving. Charlie gave a grim smile of satisfaction, as she absently rubbed her knuckles.

Normally she was treated with a respect bordering on caution. She looked intimidating. Her father said resembled the unholy offspring of the Rock and a vampire. When she was younger, her interest in computers and technology had led her into a male dominated world where she was treated with suspicion and occasionally outright aggression. She was a woman, she did not belong. Charlie, with a stubborn streak which could have bridged the grand canyon, refused to be intimidated. At college her iron will demonstrated itself, her resolve hardened and her skin thickened, Her soft hair was mercilessly cut short, virtually shaved on one side, dyed a midnight black with blue streaks. Tribal style tattoos covered a full arm, shoulder and climbed up her neck. She had several ear piercings, and one in her nose. Her mother called it her ‘gang look’. Now at the tender age of 21 men did not try to intimidate her. She still was not accepted. She was infuriated as yet again she was passed up in favor of a spotty teen wearing a dirty star trek t-shirt. 12 interviews later, she was still working at Max’s. Something needed to change.
Giving the bar one last wipe, she hollered to Max that she was leaving. A short trip on the underground and she arrived at the theater. She sat, she was enraptured. The Tchaikovsky score fell upon her like a gentle rain on a parched ground. Her ears strained as if they could greedily gobble up every single note of the music. The ballet dazzled her senses. Her eyes, drew her to the stage where Prince Sigfried, the impossibly handsome ballerino, was falling in love with the swan princess. Although he was taller and stronger than the dainty ballerinas every movement he made had a smooth finesse. Her eyes devoured every second of the graceful performance. At the conclusion hot tears prickled, as they always did.
She stood outside. Waiting in the hopes she could get a signature on her program from Guy Stevens; primo ballerino. He looked strangely normal in black jeans and a warm coat. He smiled and chatted easily, posing for photos with a bright smile. She liked his clean cut look, it was a refreshing change from the endless bushman’s beards and dirty stubble. Charlie held back and looked away.
“Hello.” He said with a soft smile. Charlie turned slowly.
“Hi.”
His smile to widened to a cheeky grin. He held out his hand.
“My name is Guy. I work at the ballet.” she laughed as she shook his hand.
“I’m Charlie.”
“Charlie…I have seen you here a few times. You always cry at the end”
She leaned forward “Tell anyone and I will kill you.” It was a silly thing to say but the laughter eased the tension she was feeling.
“Look Charlie I’m know its pretty late but I am starving. I never eat before a performance, you only make that mistake once!” he quirked a wry smile. “Would you like to get a bite to eat with me?”
A dazzling but astonished smile flew across her face. She nodded.
Sitting in a cosy pub Guy took a sip of his hot tea and gave a sigh of satisfaction. “So Charlie, what is your story?”
She smiled, at once understanding the question. She spoke briefly, family and work.
“It must be tough trying to make it in such a male dominated industry.”
She gaped at him and fell a little more in love. “It really is. I get so frustrated. I’m excluded merely because I have boobs! I’ve got so many ideas, things that could really be something but getting a foot in the door is impossible.”
Guy nodded sympathetically. “I’m surprised your not trying to blow the door open.”
Charlie laughed “Don’t tempt me. “Its what I like about you actually.” he raised an eyebrow. “What I like about ballet I mean. You are a man, even though you are surrounded by ballerinas, you have your place, you dance just as beautifully as they do. Even though your tall and well…” she blushed “you have muscles but you are still lithe and graceful. Being a man is an asset to your dance.”
“Stop, please your making me blush.” He grinned at her. “Ok ok I will be serious, I understand what you’re saying. In ballet, male or females dancers, we all have a part to play. It wouldn’t work if we didn’t mix. It provides variety and artistry.”
“If only I could make the geeks understand that.”
“Charlie if you cant make them understand, why don’t you show them?”
“What do you mean?”
“Pick one of your ideas and go with it. You don’t need the proverbial ‘them’.” he said casually as if he hadn’t just dropped the biggest eureka bomb onto her.
“….OH MY GOOODNESS!” she grabbed his face and kissed him. “You are a genius!” her smile became electric, beaming out at him. “I am going to make my own company!”

15 signs you might be a Book Worm

Books, books, glorious books! There is nothing like curling up on a big comfy sofa in front of a roaring fire with a glass of mulled wine and a dog at your feet.

If this describes you then it is very possible that you are a book worm. This life long condition will make you laugh, make you cry, teach you new words, new cultures, new points of view. You will fall in love and break your heart. You will travel, learn and grow. Your soul will be nourished.

You might be a bookworm if:

  1. You commonly prefer fictional characters to real ones.
  2. You read every where including in impractical situations such as walking, cooking, and showering. (I am guilty of all three, I walked into a pole, burned my noodles and I got my book wet!)
  3. You frequently stay up until ridiculous o’clock to finish your book and wake up thinking it was worth it.
  4. The words “Just let me finish my chapter.” actually mean, “I will be with you in 1 hour.”
  5. You would rather read the book then watch the movie.
  6. You have paranoia that you are being followed and when entering a new place you look immediately for exits, in case someone is coming to kidnap you and you need to leave quickly. (For those who read the adventure/thriller genre)
  7. Your idea of art is the cover of your favourite book.
  8. When you enter a bookshop and realise you have been sucked into a time portal, by which your 10 minutes browsing is 3 hours of standard human time.
  9. You get irritated when someone tries to talk to you when your reading.
  10. You open your mouth to quote a line from your favourite book and then realise that no one else has a clue what your talking about. (The number of times I have said “The answer is 42” and got blank stares.
  11. Your family swears you said yes but you cannot recall the conversation because they had it with you whilst you were reading.
  12. You have a book under your pillow or on your bedside table.
  13. You smile at strangers who are reading.
  14. When you ‘people watch’ you make up stories.
  15. Your library card gets more swipes then your credit card.

Confessions of a bookaholic

I LOVE books. I am a typical book worm, I wear fat rimmed glasses, love my pjs, coffee and biscuits.

Here are 10  confessions of a bookaholic.

  1. If I love a book I will read it over and over and over again.  Literally I will memorize parts of it.
  2. I am a sucker for a happy ending.
  3. I will only read books with sad endings if the writing is exceptional. When sad or difficult subjects are handled by a good writer they can be beautiful, if the writing it bad my blood pressure will raise and I will throw said book out of a moving vehicle.
  4. I dislike vampires and werewolf stories.
  5. I have been know to judge a book by its cover
  6. I enjoy reading in the bath…I have also dropped a book in the bath. (oops! At least it wasn’t my kindle)
  7. When I was younger I would read as I walked home from school…I walked into a poll. It hurt.
  8. I have stayed up until 3am to finish a book. (This happens surprisingly often)
  9. I love reading children books, they are so full of real imagination, simple and fun. I like not having to worry about swear words or racy scenes.
  10. When I was a teenager I had a weekend job cleaning our village hall. Occasionally Once I had finished my work, I would stay there reading for an hour so I could read in peace.

He found someone else

One of my friends broke up with her boyfriend today. He has found someone else. (Which is the biggest misdirection of all times, he didn’t just find someone else like a £20 note left on the pavement. He was looking at other girls, talking to them, texting them, developing a relationship with them.) Her eyes welled with tears, as she told me; he didn’t want her anymore. My heart broke for her sadness. “She’s much prettier than me, big eyes, thinner…” As the words came out of her mouth my heart stopped breaking and turned into a snarling slobbering pit bull. NO! This is not your fault! Its not because your not thin, or pretty or anything. How dare he make you think its your fault! He has something lacking. There is a quality which he does not have. It is one of my favourite qualities, it’s very underrated, LOYALTY! This selfish man wouldn’t understand the quality of loyalty if you smacked him in the head with a dog. (Famed for being one of the most loyal animals on earth.) Don’t get me wrong people can fall in love, they can fall out of love, perhaps your just not right for each other. What I find frustrating is that fact that its not “I don’t think we are suited.” Its “I think I want to be in a relationship with this other girl who I’ve actually been in a relationship with for the last 6 months.” How RUDE! I treat my dentist with more loyalty then this man treated my friend. So here is what I want to say to you, if like my friend, you find yourself in this situation:

Do not let anyone make you feel like you’re not worth their loyalty. Expect and demand loyalty! Stand tall. You are strong, smart and beautiful. You have escaped a relationship which would only have ended in heartache. You deserve someone who will treat you with respect, love and loyalty. Do not blame yourself for his unfaithfulness. It is not your fault! His finding someone else wasn’t an accident it was a active choice on his part. You do not need him to make you happy or to make you whole. The pain that you are feeling now will get better. It will get easier. Learn from this, it can help you grow, it can make you stronger. It is going to be ok. Chin up!

Swimming with the fishes

Yesterday for the first time in my life I went snorkelling off the coast of South Africa.  It was incredible, terrifying and utterly exhilarating!

Although I grew up in the English country side an hour away from the coast I have always had a fascination with the sea. I am drawn to it. To be by the ocean always gives me a feeling of inner calm. I sometimes think, rather fancifully, it is in my blood. Way up in my family tree are lines of ancestors would lived, worked and loved the sea.

Being short, with small hands and feet I am not the ideal shape for swimming. Whilst I am competent I do not pretend to be a strong swimmer. I have a very healthy fear of the ocean. I am under no illusions of the dangers of powerful rip and under currents, sets of large waves which can push you under or onto the rocks, jelly fish, sharks, and even dolphins. All of which can be found in abundance off the coast of  South Africa.

Taking my courage in my hands though I asked my friend Charlie, a strong swimmer who has been diving since she was a child, if she would take me snorkelling. Since it was my first time Charlie wanted to wait for the perfect the conditions, it needed to be flat as possible, sunny, low tide, and clear water. After months of waiting, rather impatiently, we went. It was amazing. I can’t describe the freedom of being in the water, the gently rippling sea stretching out before you to the horizon. I LOVED it! The water was beautiful, underneath I could see the rocks, encrusted will all sorts of shell fish, barnacles and wonderful things I have never seen before and have no idea as to their names. With my fins on, in the deep water I felt like a mermaid. At one point Glade grabbed my leg and I had a mini heart attack thinking the local ragged nose shark had decided I was worth a taste. It’s surprisingly easy to hyperventilate through a snorkel! Once I calmed I carried on with my underwater exploration, I saw beautiful blood red and vivid purple things that looked like flowers and schools of fish darting about here and there. Its not just what you see, it’s the sense of peace, mingled in with utter excitement and a tingle of fear.

I think I have found my sport. For those who also love the sea – you have to try snorkelling it is awesome. For everyone else, challenge yourself! Try something new. Do something that excites you. It sounds silly but that one snorkelling session changed me. I felt braver, stronger.

My no poo adventures

‘No poo’. It does not mean what you think it does. No poo is the term I use, (as do lots of people on the internet. I didn’t come up with the term. I am simply a user of the term), to explain to people that I no longer wash my hair with shampoo. (Its ok I do still wash my hair.)

Whilst trawling through Pinterest looking at dog shaming memes, and books I somehow came across a post about going ‘No Poo,’ intrigued, I am a woman with uncontrollable hair after all, I started reading.  It didn’t take long for me to decide to give it ago…it has occurred to me that I might be easily influenced. On my first day, I told my sister about it, since she has always had hippy leanings she instantly said she would try it with me.

The idea of no poo is not to use shampoo or conditioner.  Instead you mix Bicarbonate soda with water to make the shampoo and use lemon or vinegar as your conditioner. If your hair is dry or, like mine, slightly afro a little coconut or argon oil after will work wonders.

Results

Week 1 = Little greasy

Week 2 = Complete grease bucket – wear a hat!

Week 3 = Hair feels sticky

Week 4 = OH MY GOODNESS I LOVE IT!

Yes, I am pleased to report ‘No Poo’ is a success for my hair. I love it so much! I have had to try different things and I brought a new brush, a bristly one, but settling into my grove I have discovered, not only have a saved a fortune on shampoo and conditioner, (I was a herbal essences girl)  but my hair looks happy and healthy! I can also tell you that my hair grew ALOT in a matter of months!

My father when he heard about our little hair experiment called my sister and I crackers, I’m pretty sure I heard some grumbled mutterings about “crazy women”. My mother when I told her immediately sniffed my hair….yes she SNIFFED my hair. No Mum it doesn’t smell. That’s mums for you. It took a long time to convince her that the bi-carb did actually clean my hair. She is now semi converted, she made her way to Lush, brought their chemical free shampoo and now makes everyone touch her soft hair. What can I say ‘no poo’ is infectious!

 

 

 

The power of dreams

For the title of my page I have written my name: Juniper Shaw along with three words. Writer, dreamer, adventurer. They describe me, not only the me that I am but the me that I want to be.

When I was a child I would read, there was hardly a time you would find me without a book in my hand or under my pillow or in my pocket, to carry a book with me was probably the only reason I ever carried a handbag. Some might call it an obsession but I prefer the word passion. I had a passion for the written word, I devoured it all, the far away places, adventures and noble characters. Having a vivid imagination books could bring me to places and emotions and worlds in a way that movies and TV never could. As I grew the passion for reading and stories naturally evolved to day dreaming, imagining my own stories and the trying to catch them with words.

As a teenager, you would find me in my classes scribbling stories and poems, day dreaming of the day I would become a world famous writer. Then as adulthood loomed, reality reared its ugly head and sneezed disgusting goop all over my rosy fantasy’s.

But reality can not change who you are inside. So those moments, the ones were I wasn’t working or doing all those annoying things adults have to do, I would day dream my stories and I would write. I came to realise it’s all about baby steps. Just keep moving forward. It has taken time, more time than I want to think about. It has taken energy, frustration, terror and tears, but, I did it. The thing that in my heart of hearts I never thought I would accomplish. I wrote and published a short story.

 

Today, Thursday 11th May 2017, is the launch of my very first Short story. Fat Girl Hiking.

 

YAY! WOOOHOOO! YIPIEE! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!

I know I am not world famous, and its not a full sized novel which will change the world. But its mine, I wrote it and this is just the beginning.

What is my story about about I hear you ask?

‘I might have the neurosis of a writer, the body of a Buddha and the fitness of an asthmatic elephant but I have the soul of an adventurer.’

When 24 year old, English girl Piper agrees to go on a 6-day mountain hike in the middle of summer in South Africa she forgets to take one thing into consideration: she’s fat. Fat and unfit.
Join her journey as you read this brutally honest account of the ups, downs, and hilarity of being a fat girl hiking.

It is available on Amazon and the kindle store for only £0.99

 

 

 

The rise of the spiders!

Spiders, whilst I have never been a fan of spiders, I have never been a girl that screams at the sight of a spider. However I feel like I am developing a fear of them and it is completely and utterly their own fault. As a child neither my mother or my sister were afraid of spiders, they would routinely pick them up and throw them out of the window. (Looking back that seems a little heartless but better than flushing them down the toilet right?) My mother often told me there is nothing to be afraid of when it comes to spiders.

However mum,  I have come to the conclusion that spiders enjoy being sneaky. Whilst staying in south Africa I have discovered rain spiders; these range from the size of a large English house spider to the size of your hand, with large black bodies and thick bristly legs. Recently, I was just standing, minding my own business, enjoying the view when I hear my husband literally shrieking at me “Juniper,JUNIPER,JUNIPER!” I screamed, instantly on alert, my blood pressure raised, my adrenalin pumped, by the fear in his voice. I did a rushing, screaming, hop skip and jump until I was standing next to him. I promptly smacked him on the arm for terrifying me witless. “Look up” There was a spider sitting on the ceiling right above where my head had been second ago. It just sat there. I could swear it was laughing maniacally at me. I shuddered. The thought of that big spider dropping onto my head and creeping around in my hair made my skin prickle and crawl. This has happened to me 4 times in 3 months. 4 times! That is way too many times! I have many spider stories, ones were the spider comes running towards me causing panic and chaos. Ones were they are on my clothes, my towel, my cushion, in the shower and even were I woke to find mr.spider on my pillow – I think I cried at that one. Suffice to say, I am getting suspicious. Are the spiders organised? What are they planning the sneaky little blighters?

So now here I am, distrustful and extremely paranoid. Does anyone else think the rise of the spiders is a possibility in the future?

 

 

I’m so sorry I am running late…..again.

 

So I missed a couple of days, I’m not sure if that’s allowed? Am I supposed to blog everyday? I think perhaps I am, in which case I offer you my apologies. Anyhoos, I am here now with a few words to (hopefully) make you smile.

My husband and myself are both “late” people, to clarify we are always late to everything. I can hear your sigh of disappointment. It’s not something we are proud of, it’s something we are working very hard to rectify. If I am honest though, we always seem to have a good reason, we are the kind of people that things happen to. I swear I am not making this up, one time my husband was playing golf, the ball flew into a tree (his aim leaves something to be desired) and hit a pigeon so perfectly in the head it broke its neck and killed it…when does that ever happen to anyone?? That is not normal. I have a 100 stories like this…well most of them don’t contain dead pigeon’s but still!

So the other day, we where going with a group to meet a friend at the airport. They told us we had to be there at 5. That’s great, no worries, we knew what time we had to leave, we had a plan, and then as always we began to run late. We cannot be late to the airport! We drove like a bat out of hell, desperate, I mean desperately desperate, to get there on time. We arrived, after literally running from the car park, at 5 on the dot! The plane didn’t land until 5:30, our friends had told us 30 minutes early because they knew we where always late. I believe your smiling right now for 1 of 2 reasons; either you are person A who does exactly the same thing to their late friends or you are person B the late-ee and your friends do this to you. Whilst I was grateful, we did after all get there in time, it was also slightly lowering to realize my “late” was a recognized and preempted fact. I think we might need to work a little harder on our “late issues”. For all you other “laters” out there, I know how you feel, the struggle is real! But we can do this, we will harness the power of punctuality!