SPRINGTIME IS HERE

 

Come with me as I take a stroll along the costal path and woods. I’m taking my faithful companion Connie, my German shepherd, it is definitely a stroll as I’m not able to go as quickly as I used to with my artificial knee and the old arthritis. I have to laugh as Connie is the same as she hobbles along in front sniffing the new wondrous smells that assault her now greying snout.
We see the first amazing signs of spring snowdrops, they are beautiful dancing gaily in the breeze as white as snow under the shelter of the trees.

Connie continues to snuffle around as I spy crocus, a dark shade of yellow just opening to the pale spring sun. They too are under the trees and as I look up I see the new buds just starting to form here and there. There are a few hanging catkins swaying gently back and forth.

We wander on and come to the path that leads to the sea, our favourite place, the Old Harbour with its pebbles on the top part of the beach leading to the coarse sands.

Connie is now only interested in her ball; I throw it with the ball chucker and she runs fairly well to retrieve it. As she trots back she paddles in the small stream that runs to the sea, she loves it so much here splashing about and then lying down in the icy water, I smile – rather her than me!

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I sit on a low wall recovering my breath and she lies beside me panting with a lop-sided grin and her tongue hanging out. I scratch her head and talk my usual nonsense to her as if she understands every word I say – between you and me I’m sure she does.
Even with the sun shining it’s still a tad nippy but it’s just too nice to return. I watch the sparrows pairing up singing their love songs to attract their mate. There is a blackbird in a tree puffed out and trilling to his heart’s content calling for love, the sound of the birds singing is wonderful and puts a warm glow into my heart.
As I return to the car smiling I see daffodils, they are early and they stand to attention, proud heads up looking at the spring sun. I sigh, yes, the winter is coming to an end.

Ruffling Connie’s ears I let her into the car with a helping lift from me, I laugh at her comical expression, yes it’s time to go home and warm up on the outside because for sure what we have seen has certainly warmed the inside

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AN INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL E. WILLS

Harvey Jones
Hi Michael, please tell us a bit about yourself.

Michael
Goodness, when I consider how to describe myself I realise that am very much a ‘jack of all trades’, (and master of none!). I am a retired language school principal with so many spare time interests that I wonder how I ever had time to work. As well as writing novels, my interests include sailing, carpentry, electronics, (I’m a radio ham), walking and playing the guitar. I’m a granddad to nine little lovelies and I really enjoy the young company. Oh, I forgot to mention that I work part-time as an Ombudsman for a national organisation. I deal with complaints from clients.

Harvey Jones
What inspired you to write children’s books?

Michael
Now this is going to sound arrogant, but hand on heart I don’t mean it to be – I know I have much to learn as an author. I used to frequently read the children bed-time stories, (now I am surplus to requirements in that department as they can all read). Well, occasionally I found myself wondering how on earth some of the things I read ever got published. Often there was just no story, no excitement. Not just that, but I seriously wondered about how the language was filtered by the author, often there were abstract or obsolete words which were just not useful to young children. (My English as a Foreign Language background showing!)
I decided to have a go myself at writing stories with a beginning, a middle with some excitement, and a thrilling end. I tried everything out on my two oldest grandchildren, they took no prisoners! There were many re-writes.

Harvey Jones
Why Vikings, what is the appeal of this era?

Michael
I lived in Scandinavia for 13 years and for part of the time I worked in Uppsala, Sweden. This was the site of the last pagan temple; it was still in operation in 1050 when the rest of Europe was Christianised. I found the history fascinating. You just can’t live there and ignore it. The more I learnt the more I became aware of the enigma of the Vikings and the contradictions. They were courageous explorers, pioneering traders, extraordinary navigators and craftsmen who made exquisite objects, yet they were ruthless, cruel and totally merciless. I return to Sweden regularly to write; I have a small cottage just ten minutes from a Viking graveyard – inspirational!

Harvey Jones
Do you write any other genres? If so what?

Michael
Yes, within historical fiction I have written a novel about the American War of Independence – “The Wessex Turncoat”. Hurry, hurry it is available as a free download on my website at the moment.
However, about eighteen months ago I decided to write a thriller. I had had a story going round in my head for years and eventually I thought I must try this genre. The novel is called, “One Decent Thing”, and tells the story a self-centred, dissolute, womanising, university administrator who gets into a real fix with seriously violent men when his greed gets the better of him.
Harvey Jones
What influenced you to write?

Michael
I wrote a number of English language teaching books many years ago. I enjoyed the work, but it was very restrictive and was very tightly edited to fulfil the precise needs of curricula. I decided that if I ever got the chance, I would like to do things my way! Of course my editor still has much to say about what I write, but there is a lot more freedom.

Harvey Jones
What advice would you give a young writer?

Michael
That depends very much on the genre, but as regards historical novels I would have things to say about research. Read, read and read again the background material, but don’t stop there. Visit places relevant to the story. Try not to see them through the prism of modernity, but dream about what they were like then. Let your imagination run when you see artefacts from the period of the story, touch them if you can. Eat the food of the period, go to a costume museum to see what was worn, find out how people spoke and how they loved, lived and cursed. Transport yourself to the time you are writing about. Risk being an eccentric! It helps.
Harvey Jones
What are you working on at the moment?

Michael
I have three projects on the go! I am writing a Viking novella for a publisher who is starting a new venture. The story is based on a discovery I made in a tiny hamlet in central Sweden. I found two rune stones outside a church. They were made in the 11th C. and celebrated the daring-do of a local man who travelled to England three times with different Viking chieftains and each time they caused such mayhem that they were bought off by King Ethelred and paid to go away. My protagonist collected three piles of Danegeld over a period of forty years and lived very well on it.
I am also working on the fourth novel in my quartet of Viking stories for children – Children of the Chieftain.
Last but not least, I am trying to find a publisher for a young children’s story called “Sven and the Silver Purse”. I run children’s activities at some literary festivals and I wrote this for my story telling sessions. It is wonderful to see the big eyes and the open mouths when I get to the exciting bit!
My Face Book page is Michael Wills Author, you can follow me on Twitter at mwillsofsarum and there is lots of information about my writing and a catalogue of blogs on my website, http://www.michaelwills.eu

Harvey Jones

We thank you for this opportunity to delve into your mind and we wish you every success in your work.

An Interview with Author Kellie Steele

Welcome back to our author of the month interview, today we welcome a young inspiring author Kellie Steele

.
Harvey Jones
Welcome Kellie please tell us something about yourself.

Kellie Steele
There’s not really much to tell about me, aside from the fact that I am an albino I guess. I have ocular albinism, which means I have the genes but not the red eyes.

Harvey Jones
Who is your inspiration, and what book left it’s mark on you?

Kellie Steele
I don’t really know if I have any inspiration other than that of my own imagination. But a lot of books left their mark on me. The Twilight series, the Harry Potter series and the Cirque de Freak series were all a main part of my reading while I was growing up.

Harvey Jones
Do you have a preference for your writing?

Kellie Steele
I prefer to write young adult, as it is most of what I read, and fantasy/supernatural/dystopian are the styles I do and will write in.

Harvey Jones
Which of your books have had a lasting effect on you as an author, and what character of yours is your favourite?

Kellie Steele
It’s hard to pick a favourite character, but as I’m reading the Shiver series at the moment, I would have to say Sam from those books. He is such a likeable character, and I feel a strong connection to him.

Harvey Jones
What hobbies do you have outside your writing?

Kellie Steele
I play a lot of video games, and I’ve just started recording them to put on YouTube as well. I like losing myself in a story, whether it’s a book or a game, if the story is strong, it’s a winner for me.

Harvey Jones
What are you working on at the moment, can you give us a brief insight?

Kellie Steele
At the moment I’m working on Chronicles of Araxx – Darkest Night, the second in the Chronicles of Araxx series. It continues the story of Lee, Adz, Jay and Gray as they attempt to find the object the Alpha werewolf Kane is searching for.

Harvey Jones
What advice can you give to young authors who are looking at starting ?
Kellie Steele
If you have a story in your mind, no matter how small, start writing. You never know, it may develop as you write. That’s what I do with mine. They start as a basic idea, then each book brings its own ideas, expanding the story and keeping things a mystery even for me.

Harvey Jones
Would you please supply any links so readers can find your works?
KS
My newest book is at http://goo.gl/rqkR9q
My Facebook is https://m.facebook.com/SteeleKellie/?ref=bookmarks
My twitter is @steelekellie

Harvey Jones
And lastly thank you for your time, we at Harvey Jones wish you much success.

Kellie Steele
Thank you for the lovely interview Jan.

Time Counts

 

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So we have a beautiful frosty morning this bank holiday, and I’m off to work. I blow on my fingers to warm then after scraping the ice off the car’s windscreen.
It’s nice to see the lighter morning today, the last few have been dark and damp requiring headlights to be full on, but today I don’t need them and this in itself makes me smile.
I head off to do my calls with the roads fairly quiet due to a bank holiday – yes I’d like to have stayed in bed, but some jobs don’t stop just because it’s a holiday day. I do appreciate all those who work in all sectors of care or those whose jobs need to be done no matter what the date.

 

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It strikes me as I drive to various calls the number of people I see on mobiles; wow how these gadgets are taking over our lives! A parent talks rapidly down her phone as her child lies on the floor having fallen off her scooter, she is completely unaware. A dog walker texting as his dog does its business, oblivious to his dogs action and so leaving the mess for someone to step in. Then the drivers – gee it’s incredible, so many are driving and on their phones, it’s unreal, so dangerous – but it seems no one cares.
Is this our society now? Is this what we’ve become? Can we change our ways and start noticing our children, pets and other people? Can we? This is a question I ask myself frequently now, have we become too advanced with technology and forgetting what is really important?

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Take yourself, how much time do you spend on your phone talking, playing games or just going on Facebook? Time yourself, go on, check how much time you’re losing out on with the important things in your life, you might just surprise yourself.

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Interview with Ryan Woods, author and poet

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Welcome back guys, and Happy New Year to you all. We are going to take a peek at a few authors this year, and have a look behind the scenes.
Our first guest is Ryan Woods, author and poet, so let’s welcome him;.

Harvey Jones – Hi, Ryan. Happy New Year to you.
Ryan Woods – Thank you ladies. Thanks for having me (if you’ll pardon the expression), and Happy New Year to you and your readers. I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas, and I hope that the New Year holds wonderful things in store for all.
HJ – Can you tell us a little about yourself, Ryan.
Ryan Woods– Certainly. I’m a Lancashire lad, born and bred. I’m married (coming up to 17 years), with two children, two dogs and a small tropical fish collection. I love to read, write (obviously) and cook; and I also enjoy indulging the kid that still lives inside of me, by playing with my son on the PS4. It’s also a great way to relax and unwind, without running the risk of a hangover that alcohol can bring. I have a lifelong love of horror, both in its literary and cinematic forms, though I shy away from gratuitous violence and gore. I prefer character driven horror. I am an unashamed animal lover, particularly dogs, and often feel like my dogs understand me more than my wife, though I probably shouldn’t admit to that, just in case my wife is reading this. LOL
HJ – Now I have read a few of your poems, and have been mesmerised by your words. Who inspired you, and what is your favourite poem?
RW – First of all, thank you for the wonderful compliment, that is very kind of you. Currently, I draw a lot of inspiration from the spoken word poetry of Shane Koyczan, who in my opinion is a pure genius when it comes to expressing emotions in both written and spoken form. I also enjoy the poetry of the likes of Robert Frost, Charles Bukowski and Edgar Allan Poe, to name but three. My interest in poetry however began around 20 years ago, fittingly enough, as a result of a horror book that I was reading at the time. The book was The House That Jack Built by the British horror author, Graham Masterton. In one scene, a man is in a bar chatting to a woman, and he asks her if she likes Mallarmé, to which she responds, “Is that a drink?” As it turns out, the man was referring to the 19th Century French poet Stéphane Mallarmé. I began to research his poetry, and that is where my appreciation of poetry began, with Mallarmé’s poem Hérodiade remaining to this day, one of my favourite pieces of poetry, along with Frost’s The Road Not Taken.
HJ – You also have a dark side to your writing, where did that stem from?
RW – When I was a kid, growing up, every Saturday night there used to be a Universal Studios Double Bill of old black and white horror movies on, starring the likes of Lon Chaney Jnr, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, so I kind of grew up watching them. After that, came the Hammer Studios horror movies, which introduced me to Christopher Lee as Dracula. My love of horror stemmed from these times, and naturally overflowed into literary horror, at which point the likes of Stephen King, James Herbert, Clive Barker and Dean Koontz became my inspiration, and an appreciation of literary darkness was awoken.
I often draw inspiration for my writing (particularly my poetry), from my emotions, the things that I’ve experienced and how I might be feeling at the time, which probably indicates that life hasn’t always been a bowl of cherries. Having lost both my parents, my Mum most recently in 2014 to bowel cancer, survived a car crash that should probably have killed both myself and my wife, and watched my wife almost bleed to death as a result of a placental abruption, I’m no stranger to the darker side of life and the all too constant presence of the Grim Reaper.
HJ – I believe that you have a children’s book out which involves Zombies. Can you tell us about it?
RW – Now you’re talking. LOL. I could wax lyrical about my beloved Cinnamon Paige until the cows come home. My novel is entitled The Journal of Cinnamon Paige, Un-Death by Chocolate and centres mainly around the struggle for survival of the titular character, her family and friends during a small-scale Zombie outbreak. I usually bill it as a cautionary tale of Chocolate, Voodoo and ultimately Zombies. Rather than being an all-out horror fest, it is a more character driven story. I personally am not a fan of the current trend for extreme horror, so “Un-Death by Chocolate” is a blend of character driven horror, studded with nuggets of humour. As the title suggests, it is the journal of Cinnamon Paige, and her account of the events leading up to, and during, the aforementioned Zombie outbreak. Though it is horror, it has been written to appeal to a wider audience, from teens to YA and adults.
Though the novel is not currently available, I am in the process of trying to find a publisher for it, either mainstream or independent. Failing that, I will self-publish it. Either way, expect to see The Journal of Cinnamon Paige, Un-Death by Chocolate coming your way in 2017.
It is my intention for the Cinnamon Paige character to appear in a series of novels, perhaps taking over the mantle of Buffy as the next generation of slayer of foul beings. The sequel is tentatively titled, “The Journal of Cinnamon Paige, and the Death Metal Messiahs”, as each subsequent novel will be a subsequent journal, recounting Cinnamon’s further misadventures.
HJ – I have watched your Facebook with interest and see that you cook. What are your favourite things to cook?
RW – Ah, my first stalker. LOL. Just pulling your leg. You are correct. I love to cook. I find it very therapeutic and relaxing. My love of cooking developed from way back, at high school; in what we called at the time, Home Economics, but I believe is now called Food Technology. I love to cook, in general, but my particular passion is baking and desserts; with my pièce de résistance being my Tiramisu. In the past, I have been asked, and made, my Tiramisu for people who were hosting dinner parties. I create my own little bit of decadence by adding grated chocolate between each layer of sponge and mascarpone. I also make my own fudge.

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HJ – Would you share your links for your book for our readers.
RW – Perhaps soon, I’ll be able to share the link to my book, once I secure a publisher for it, or upon me self-publishing it; but until then people can get a taste of The Journal of Cinnamon Paige, Un-Death by Chocolate by checking out the Facebook page where they can read brief excerpts from various chapters of the novel, and perhaps in the meantime I will post the first couple of chapters in their entirety to give your readers a better insight into my Cinnamon Paige character.
Some of my published work can be found in various publications, including my Bigfoot short story in Devolution Z horror magazine, available at
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Devolution-Bigfoot-Special-Horror-Magazine/dp/1519787286
http://www.amazon.com/Devolution-Bigfoot-Special-Horror-Magazine/dp/1519787286
My published poetry can be found in the following anthologies at
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Moonlight-Dreamers-Yellow-Haze-Contemporary/dp/1530456762
http://www.amazon.com/Moonlight-Dreamers-Yellow-Haze-Contemporary/dp/1530456762
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Apple-Fruits-Old-Oak-Contemporary/dp/1539428974
http://www.amazon.com/Apple-Fruits-Old-Oak-Contemporary/dp/1539428974
Further poems of mine will be appearing in the upcoming anthology, Dandelion In A Vase Of Roses, which is expected to be available on Amazon in January.
Furthermore, I have a planned collection of my dark poetry for some time in the new Year, which I envision being called “Vices and Verses”, and a planned collection of short stories, which has a working title of “Burnt Offerings”.
HJ – Who are your favourite poets, and why?
RW – Going back to poets that I previously mentioned, I would have to say Stéphane Mallarmé, on the strength of his poem Hérodiade, an excerpt of which I’d like to share with your readers if I may :-

Oh mirror!
cold water frozen by ennui in your frame,
how many times and through what hours,
distressed by dreams and searching my memories,
like leaves under your ice in the deep hole,
have I appeared in you like a shadow far away,
but, horror! in the dusk, in your austere pool
I have known the nakedness of my scattered dreams!

Probably my favourite poet, currently, is Shane Koyczan; whose emotionally charged, spoken word poetry is simply breath-taking. Videos of his can be found on YouTube, and I urge everyone to check them out. He writes the kind of poetry that I aspire to.
HJ – Finally, Ryan, thank you for chatting to us. Please share your Twitter and Facebook links etc. with us; and we at Harvey Jones wish you a successful New Year.
RW – The pleasure and the privilege are all mine. Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to share a little of myself and my work with your readers. I wish you the best of everything for the New Year and beyond, and thank your readers for taking a little time out of their schedules to take a peek into my life and my mind. My very best to you, one and all.
http://www.facebook.com/ryanwoodsauthor
http://www.facebook.com/thejournalofcinnamonpaige
http://www.facebook.com/poetryfromthewoods
http://www.twitter.com/ryanwoodsauthor
Ryan has graciously written a poem for us – many thanks Ryan

Searching for my Harley Quinn.

You are mistaken if you think
that I am here to paint the world
in shades of pastel pink.
Nor am I here to decorate it with
ribbons, or pretty bows.
I’m afraid that’s not the way it goes.
Life can be a bitch…
It can be an itch
that you can’t scratch,
a stick of dynamite
and a match,
with which to light the fuse…
Do not confuse my former silence
as a sign that I am weak.
Do not speak,
unless you have something good to say,
was my ethos.
A rolling stone gathers no moss,
but just in case you thought
that my sticking around
was an indication
of my commitment
to this relationship,
you are wrong.
It merely goes to show
that I no longer
had the will to move on…
Gone,
is the fighter;
but the pen is mightier
than the sword,
so now my words
are my weapons;
high velocity,
designed to convey
my animosity;
each one wearing an F.M.J.
with your name on it.
So, put on your flack-jacket,
and run for cover…
I wanted to be a lover,
not a fighter.
Our future was once brighter…
The grass will be greener
on the other side,
because living with you
has become a landslide
that threatens to bury me alive…
If I am to survive,
then I must adapt,
before I snap
and find myself descending
towards the bitter ending
that lurks in the shadows
like a phantom.
Writing is the lantern
that lights my path.
It allows me to rebuild
in the aftermath
of the earthquake…
You left a path of destruction,
and with the abduction of my heart
you set in motion
the wheels that would run me over.
What started out as fun,
turned into a hit and run,
that left me emotionally paralysed…
I should have realised
that you didn’t play fair,
but you didn’t care
about the consequences.
So, now I build fences,
to keep you out,
and to keep me in.
The grin
that you see on my face,
does not originate
from a happy place…
It is the mask that I wear
like The Joker
to hide from the world
the true emotions that lie within…
But I know that one day, I will find
my Harley Quinn.

Copyright © Ryan Woods 30/12/2016

 

An Inspiring Poem from Ryan Woods, a dear friend

imageIt’s nearly 4.30 a.m. in the morning, it’s raining outside; but I’m snuggled up in a warm bed. Each night when I pick my wife up from work, and drive down the city’s main shopping street, I see the less fortunate, the homeless (some of them young, some of them female); and I wonder how comfortably they will sleep tonight? My latest poem touches on the plight of homelessness and the inherent plight of society in general, when we sell ourselves out in the name of money and power. It is always the little people who suffer, those without voices, so to speak. Power and money are consumate seductresses. On these themes, I offer my latest poetic creation, “There, but for the grace of God…”

‘THERE, BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD…’

“Hey, man; you got a quarter?
You ain’t got nothin’?
That’s OK man; that’s OK.
Hey, God Bless you anyway…’

Blessed…
What does that even mean anymore?
These days, I am little more
than a whore to society,
and its predisposition to choke me
with its uniformality;
force feeding me
its belief system…
But, if I don’t believe
in the system,
then where does that leave me?
By day,
I am a mere puppet,
dancing to whatever tune
my faceless puppet master
sees fit.
By night,
I sit,
and watch from my window,
like a curious voyeur,
as I observe the Danse Macabre
in the streets below;
and the world pirouettes
in the afterglow
of the fallout
from our sell-out
to corporate greed;
as we continue to feed
the rich,
while ignoring the needs
of the masses…
It’s time to wake up,
and get up off our asses.
I witness the corruption
of society…
Noteworthiness, losing out to notoriety;
as we betray our morals
and sell our souls,
in the single-minded pursuit of our goals…
Simplicity got kicked to the kerb,
like a tin can;
or a newspaper
displaying yesterday’s news,
as wealth became our religion,
and money; our muse…
It’s hard to wash away the sin,
when the sin
comes from within;
but without
a doubt,
the truth will all come out
in the wash…
Life has become a mosh pit,
of controlled violence,
and uncontrolled greed;
into which we dive head first
without any consideration
for the consequences
of our actions.
The lure of power
can have a fatal attraction…
Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth;
so, they say;
so, we neglect the needy
and give birth
to avarice…
They say that ignorance is bliss,
so, we unwittingly
become an accomplice
to their complicity.
Perhaps, Karma will put the world right;
but,
I don’t believe in the afterlife,
and I’m not convinced
that there is a heaven…
But I know, that there are Seven
Deadly Sins,
and I have been crossing them off my bucket list,
one by one.
I have missed the opportunity to redeem my soul.
There is no rhyme, nor reason
to my madness.
My days are governed by sadness,
and my nights
by Nightmares…
Sometimes, it feels as if nobody cares.
So, I learned to roll with the punches,
and go with the flow;
but the current
affairs
that surround me
threaten to drown me.
I am lost…
I am broken…
Of all the words that I have spoken,
the ones that were always sincere were,
“Daddy loves you” …
They are etched into my heart,
with a shard of glass…
Time passes, and
once more,
I find myself in the underpass,
amongst the lost,
and the strays;
and see you with your tin can
full of nickels and dimes,
and I wonder to myself
what crimes
did you commit against society
to deserve to live like this?
But, I guess that you and I have different perspectives
of what constitutes hardship,
and hard times…
I sit down by your side,
and I offer you, not pity;
but my hand;
and in turn, you help me to understand…
Where you see rhythm,
I saw the blues,
so
we both watch,
from our different views;
as a legless veteran
in a rusty old wheelchair
rolls on by,
and you turn to me and say…
“There…but for the Grace of God; go I.”
Copyright © Ryan Woods 06/11/2016

I would like to credit the rock group, Savatage, for loosely inspiring this poem, and for the opening stanza, taken from their song “Jesus Saves”, from the album Streets; A Rock Opera.

© 2016. Ryan Woods. All rights reserved.

Charity begins with YOU at Home!

 

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What can I say? I woke from a dream where I was cold, covered in snow and in a doorway. This is so far from my real life, but sadly a reality for far too many people in this day and age.
This dream has played on my mind all morning, I took Connie out to walk in the fields and the cold chill of the winds kept pricking at my conscience; what can I do, how can I help some of these poor people?
Going home after visiting a friend where we drank a nice cup of tea in a warm house I decided I must do something. Until now I never realised just how fortunate I really am – and that grieved me.
Well I took the bull by the horns so to speak and rang a local homeless shelter. What did they need and how could I help in some small way? They told me that blankets and sleeping bags were a godsend so hanging up the phone I dived into my walk-in wardrobe.
An hour later with six pillows, a duvet and covers, three sleeping bags and some very thick jumpers I don’t use, I found myself on the way to the shelter to donate items that are of no use to me stuffed in a wardrobe, but are a possible life saver to someone who needs them.
So all my fellow friends and followers take a look in your glory holes. What have you got that would be a godsend to someone who really needs it as it’s cold now and with winter around the corner – and a harsh one is forecast – give a little , it will warm you in a way you would not think possible.