Sunday, 27 February 2011

I am a Stylish Blogger!

I'm so pleased ... (big smile ...idiotic grin from ear to ear).  I have received a Stylish Blogger Award from Ann over at Inkpots n'Quills.  Now there's a first! ... for me, not Ann!  It was a lovely surprise when I checked in to update my blog.  However, by the time I stopped by and read several of the other Stylish Bloggers ... well it was time to retire for the evening and save my ramblings .. I mean ... writings for another day.   Now the award does come with some instructions.  As a receiver of this prestigious award I need to share seven things about myself and pass on the award to three more bloggers.   I'm going to let this special award sit on my mantelpiece for a day or two before I pass it on ... this has made my day!  Thank you.

Seven things about me
  1. I love writing and enjoy blogging.
  2. I dislike clothes shopping but can spend ages in a book store, a charity shop, anywhere that sells books and cards.  Have been known to get lost there too!
  3. A long time ago I made an LP (yes, you've read correctly! ... a very long time ago).  Actually it was part of a fund raising event.  And no it wasn't a worldwide success nor did it make me rich and famous.  But I do remember we had a lot of fun doing it and we raised lots of money too!  Emmm ...wonder if that electric blue jumpsuit would still fit?  Oh I was so trendy back then.
  4. I love going to the theatre and would happily go every week if I could afford to do so.
  5. My heart place is a cottage in Co Donegal, Ireland with a real peat fire that smells wonderful especially on  cold autumnal days.  Peace, tranquillity, a good book and lots of white wine thinking.
  6. I admire people who can make beautiful storytelling patchwork quilts ... never was the star of Mrs P's needlework class at school but have learned to be very creative with paper clips and Velcro.  I think, as a past pupil, I may have made her proud  ...well maybe just a little  ...
  7. I'm a hoarder and love to keep mementoes  ... a nightmare when it comes to moving!  My husband will vouch for that.  Thankfully we don't move often.

And now ....(roll on the drums)  ... I would like to pass this award to

  1. Betty over at Bossy Betty
  2. Tess at Willow Manor
  3. Niamh at Words A Day
Have a good week one and all.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Stitched Up

The Man has been trying out his new camera lens this weekend. I attended a writing workshop and met some lovely people there. This picture captured my imagination for a story.

She stood across the street staring at the window. She knew it would fit perfectly. She just knew it. She had painstakingly sewed every single stitch of that dress under the watchful eye of Madame Fontaine. Madame ensured that all her dressmakers were needlewomen of the highest calibre. Years of training in the fashion houses of Paris meant that when Madame came to London, her expectations were so high that only the best seamstresses were employed in her workrooms. Kitty Delamere worked in Madame’s rooms in Windsor and was one of her finest needlewomen.

“Go on, try it on Kitty, we won’t tell,” shouted Daisy.

“I couldn’t. What if Madame came in?” said Kitty.

“Go on, I dare you, Kitty. We’ll watch out for Madame,” cajoled Esther from across the workroom table.

Kitty had spent weeks stitching the intricate mother of pearl beading onto the bodice and around the neckline. She took great care not to snag the thread or pinprick the silk of this exquisite gown. She held the beautiful white wedding dress in her arms and gently caressed the softness of the material. What a fine gown for a beautiful lady, she thought.

Her thoughts drifted to her own impending wedding to her sweetheart Edward, a war photographer who had been posted to the front line. There had been no correspondence from him for weeks.

“Hurry up, Kitty. Try it on. Pretend that you’re the bride,” giggled Daisy, the youngest seamstress.

With a little help from the girls, Kitty Delamere carefully donned the wedding gown. She took great care not to allow the train of the dress to trail along the workroom floor. It fitted her perfectly, as if it had been made for her. It felt good, really good. She felt elegant and beautiful. She felt like a lady. She wished that Edward could see her. She knew she could never afford one of Madame’s fine gowns on a seamstress’s wage of four shillings a week.

“Oh Kitty, don’t you look a proper lady,” quipped an fascinated Daisy.

The door opened suddenly.

Madame’s tall and wiry frame filled the doorway.

She shrieked loudly in her flowing French accent, “Kitty Dela-meere, the dress, take it off this minute!”

The girls reeled back in horror. Kitty blushed furiously at being caught. She stepped out of the wedding gown and made her way to the office to endure the wrath of the outraged Madame.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Magpie Tales – Streets of gold

Photo from Tess over at Magpie Tales

"But … it’s not!”

“Not what?”

“Gold, you said the streets would be paved with gold and they aren’t!”

“Keep digging, you probably haven’t dug deep enough. Not enough blood, sweat and tears from you yet, young man.”

“But Da, my hands are blistered and my back is killing me. I didn’t imagine it would be as tough as this!”

“And how did you imagine it would be?”

“I thought the land of opportunity would be better, not so much of this physical work. I certainly didn’t expect us to be building the streets and working on the pavements. We could have stayed home if all we wanted to do was dig!”

“The trouble with you is you’ve never had to exert yourself too much. I blame myself for that, I’ve been too soft in my ways and your mother constantly making excuses for you has not done you any favours. But times are tough and now we need all the work we can get. We need to feed the family back home.”

Back home seemed a lifetime ago. Several months travelling in a coffin boat full of emigrants wasn’t the most thrilling journey to New York City. Malachy O Reardon and his son Jed had managed to secure the last two places when the ship sailed from Cork harbour in Ireland in the summer of 1847.

It had been a painful farewell at the harbour for them both. Saying good bye wasn’t easy. Neither of them knew if they would see the family again. But there was no choice now, no choice at all it seemed, staying in a country no longer able to feed its people didn’t count as a worthwhile choice. People were dying, the crop had failed. In order to survive and provide for his family of five, Malachy O Reardon had to go to America, had to be on that ship to New York City and had to earn a living to send money home. He took with him his eldest son Jed, only fifteen and much to learn about the harsh realities of life. Jed hadn’t been a strong travelling companion. Three weeks into the trip he suffered from ‘ship fever’. Malachy thought that he might not even make the journey to America and questioned his judgement about taking him; he was after all only a child. How would he explain to his wife that her son didn’t make it? But Jed survived despite the odds, the overcrowded cabins and the unsanitary conditions.

Malachy knew that the boy was missing his family and friends and the familiarity of ways back home. He was finding it hard to settle in the dark and overcrowded hostel which was usually full of older men who like themselves had travelled to find work. Many of them were homesick and resented being treated like second class citizens. They often resorted to heavy drinking and gambling to while away the time after work and lessen the pain of loneliness and despair in a foreign country. Many of the men had only managed to pay for a one way ticket, in the hope that life and work in the ‘land of opportunity’ would provide enough wealth and fortune to send for their families when they got established in the new country.

“Da, da, come over here. Look at this. Quickly, down here. Just below the spade. Can you see it?” shouted Jed.

“Shh ... lad, keep your voice down. You’ll have the whole gang here in a minute,” replied Malachy trying to contain the boy’s excitement.

Malachy walked across to where his son was working. He looked down at him in the big hole of dirt filling up with water. Piles of broken pavement heaped on either side of the growing cavity.

Jed O Reardon laughed and handed his father two small, dirty coins.

“You could be right Da; maybe the streets are paved with gold after all!”