The Flying Flapper…

30 04 2013


Blimey, it’s all been happening here over the last couple of weeks! A beautiful new nephew, not getting tickets for Glastonbury Festival then suddenly getting them after all, meeting up with a bestest pal, and a jolly twenties-themed wedding!

And a late Crazy Rhymey Challenge. I’d intended to post this last Wednesday, but everything got out of control… in the nicest possible way though!

So. I asked for words, and Twitter provided!

@yorkshire_chris – Grumpy Gorilla
@mooseandmouse – Elastoplast
@shaggydogyarns – Spitfire
@AnnieBC3 – Flapper

And here is the result…

The Flying Flapper

High up in a mountain villa
Lived a grumpy pink gorilla.
All day long she’d sit and sigh –
She longed so much to learn to fly.

Then one day she heard some news
That blew away her grumpy blues –
Jumping up she said, “Oh cool!
A newly-opened flying school!”

So she packed a little case
And down the mountain she did race
In the school she took her place
To learn to be a flying ace.

But climbing in an old spitfire
She had an accident most dire –
As she grabbed a safety rail
Her hand slipped and she broke a nail!

As she wept atop the ladder
People all around did gather.
Said a voice, “Excuse me miss,
I don’t think you’re cut out for this.”

“With your looks and handsome figure,
I think you should aim much bigger –
Flying is all right for some,
But modelling’s where the fame is won!”

With a sigh she said, “Oh blast!”
And asked for an Elastoplast,
Then turning with a heavy heart
She went in search of her new start.

Six months on she’s headline news
In tasseled frock and dainty shoes!
See her pose, so proud and dapper,
Dressed up as a twenties flapper!

Thank you to those who submitted words – hopefully next time I’ll be back to my normal routine of posting the rhyme on the same day!



Edinburgh ramblings…

9 04 2013

I’m in Edinburgh again, hurrah!

On my last two visits here (both one-night stopovers for work) I headed straight for The Oxford Bar, so I’ve kind of got my bearings in the Rose Street area; this time I wanted to use my free afternoon to pay a visit to Looking Glass Books in Quartermile too, a rather cool looking bookshop-come-cafe I came across on Twitter. My trusty phone told me it was about half an hour’s walk from the hotel, so I plotted myself a route and off I went.

Now then. When I’m let loose on my own there are couple of problems that sometimes crop up.

Firstly, I tend to get a bit, er, directionally challenged. Maybe ‘a bit’ is a slight understatement. Often I’ll got into a shop and when I come out I have absolutely no idea which direction I’d been walking in, so I’ll frequently head off jauntily, only to have to turn round and go back the other way. Whilst trying to make it look as if I meant to do that all along. An interesting shop window to look into always comes in rather handy in these situations.

Secondly, if I’m looking at a map that I can’t turn round (I mean the sort on phones that turn as you turn them – static paper ones are easy!) I get a bit confused if I should be turning left or right, unless the map is orientated in the direction I’m going. And I get a bit embarrassed waving my phone around in a figure of eight when it tells me too, so tend not to bother with the direction-pointy-thing. Again, interesting shop windows come in handy…

Consequently I headed off boldly down High Street, then had to pause to look at some interesting kilts before going back the other way. Further on I stopped to admire Parliament Square before doubling back on myself again.

And then… I found somewhere I knew!

A few years back, I came to Edinburgh with my other half and some friends to see Leonard Cohen perform at the castle. We stayed for a couple of nights, and rented a flat rather than stay in a hotel – all the better for some gentle post-concert partying! The flat was in a tall, skinny, modern, woody building on Old Fishmarket Close just off High Street, and I remembered it being on a very steep hill – but luckily today I was at the top end, and needed to be at the bottom, so off I scooted downwards. I’m pleased to report the tall, skinny, modern, woody building is still there.

Needless to say there were a couple more directionally challenging moments before I found Quartermile, but find it I did…

Looking Glass Books has definitely been added to my Best Boltholes to Visit in Edinburgh When I Have a Work Stopover Here list. Smiley welcoming staff, drinks and nibbles, and books galore. Old favourites and obscure, unheard of titles, displayed beautifully and many with delightful hand-written mini-reviews wrapped around their covers – I love that!

I settled down with a coffee, bought to my table by a smiley welcoming lass, and read through the first draft of a manuscript for one of my children’s books I’d plonked onto my iPad yesterday (the first of The Shed stories). It’s gone through a lot of changes since that first draft, but on reading the latest version last week I decided to go back to the beginning again to see how it had looked before all that tweaking. I found a few things that I’d changed or taken out in later drafts that I actually rather liked, realised a tiny bit I’d removed would give a much more logical ‘lead’ into a bit I’d added later, made a few notes, cringed on more than one occasion, and thoroughly enjoyed the coffee.

As I was reading, I was reminded of a recent tweet from Mr Ian Rankin about the bit of novel-writing he likes least – trying alternatives for all the he said’s and she said’s. I got the impression that he tends to use the ‘s‘ word in first drafts, then tweaks them in later drafts – and I was rather impressed with that. I tend to get bogged down looking for alternatives for the ‘s‘ word, and after reading his tweet I have resolved not to stress over it in first drafts ever again in order to keep the flow of ideas going. Cheers for that Mr R!

The dregs of my lovely latte coincided with the end of the manuscript, so I then went for a wander through the books shelves. I didn’t buy anything (which I felt rather guilty about) but I added quite a few titles and authors to my ‘to read‘ list, so next time I’m there I’ll definitely be making a purchase or two. Hopefully by then they’ll have their new book bags printed too!

Looking Glass Books has such a lovely, cosy, ready-writey atmosphere, quite a surprise considering its modern surroundings; I’d highly recommend it for any ready-writey folk visiting Edinburgh. The children’s section is excellent – a really interesting blend of classics, modern favourites and unusual unexplored titles. Well, for me anyway!

Oh yes – and they also serve cake… 🙂

On leaving, I plotted a little route to the Oxford Bar, which took me round the back of the castle, and past an interesting antiquey-curioey-booky shop called Cabaret on the corner of Lady Lawson Street and West Port. The tiny first floor is filled to bursting with curios, jewellery, bits and bobs and lovely glassware, and down The Stairs they have a good collection of old books. The Stairs deserve initial capitals as they’re extremely steep, very narrow, very wooden, and rather spiral. I have tiny feet and they only just fitted on the treads! A very interesting little place which I’m sure I’ll be popping into again on future visits.

A pause by St John’s church on the corner of Lothian Road and Princes Street to marvel at a lovely monument in the churchyard in the form of a huge Celtic cross (me and my Celtic crosses!) and to get growled at by a rather worse-for-wear old fella. I think in his mind he sounded perfectly coherent, but somewhere between his mind and his mouth things had got a bit confused. He was also having a bit of a gravity issue, canting at about 75 degrees. I christened him The St John’s Growler. Might have to use that somewhere…

Then suddenly I was at the top of Rose Street (Me Street!), and a bit further down there was Young Street, and the lovely Oxford Bar. Which is where I am now, writing this, sitting in the back room by the log fire. It’s a rare find these days – a Proper Pub, with none of your fancy pub-come-restaurant pretensions. Just a wee bar, and a wee back room with a few tables and a fire, well kept ale, friendly locals (and not-so-locals) and cheery bar staff – even the notorious Harry, though I’ve only had the pleasure of him being behind the bar on my first visit back in February. You remember, that time I ended up meeting that writer bloke… watzisname… Ian something? I was so overwhelmed I named a dragon after him

And now it’s later, and I’m taking advantage of the hotel’s free wifi to post this before turning in. Despite having to get up at 4am this morning, I’ve had a rather lovely day!

Birthday cheese…

3 04 2013


Today’s Crazy Rhymey Challenge was a toughie!

Here are the words kindly donated by Twitter today:

@shaggydogyarns – Opal Fruits*
@IMcMillan – Widdershins
@ofTheTimesShop – Flange
@laurathecheerio – Xanthodont
@AnnieBC3 – artisanal, melting, chilly

As today is also the birthday of my bestest friend Kate, I had to work that into the rhyme too – Happy Birthday Kate!

So without further ado, I give you:

Birthday cheese…

Tom looked in the mirror –
He was such a handsome fellow,
The only thing that bothered him
Was that his teeth were yellow.

He combed his hair most carefully
And straightened his cravat,
Then picking up a package
He skipped gaily out the flat.

Tom was off a-visiting
His sweetheart, name of Kate;
Today it was her birthday
And he couldn’t arrive late.

So balancing the package
‘Gainst the flange of his fedora,
He dashed off through the fields
Midst the fauna and the flora.

Meanwhile in the village
Kate was wearing something frilly;
Despite the heat she really hoped
She wouldn’t feel too chilly.

Looking at the clock
She gave a little jump of joy,
And hurried to get ready –
Tom such a punctual boy.

Back out in the fields
All was not quite well with Tom –
He began to get the feeling
That something was badly wrong.

The midday sun was beating down
It really was quite swelt’ring;
He realised the package on his head
Was quickly melting.

The contents of said package
Dripped down way below his knees,
And soon poor Tom was head to foot
In artisanal cheese.

Kate sat in the kitchen
Carefully lacing up her boots,
And glancing at the clock
She scoffed a few more Opal Fruits.

It wasn’t like her Tom
To be a single second late –
But just at that same moment
Came the creaking of the gate.

Opening the door
Poor Kate let out an awful yell –
It wasn’t just the sight
It was the dreadful cheesy smell!

“Don’t worry Kate, it’s only me!”
The apparition said,
“Your present has all melted
‘Cos I had it on my head!”

“Oh Tom!” gasped Kate,
“You poor old thing! You really do smell sour!”
And pulling him inside she said
“Let’s get you in the shower.”

Soon a clean and shiny Tom
With damp and tousled hair,
Stepped back into the room
And Kate just couldn’t help but stare.

“Good gracious!” she exclaimed
As Tom embraced his debutante
Said Kate in wonder, “But I thought
You were an xanthodont?”

Tom looked in the mirror
And was dazzled by the sight –
His nasty yellow teeth
Had turned a sparkly, shining white!

“Good Lord!” he said and bared his teeth
Which gleamed like shiny pins,
“It must have been the cheese –
I think I stirred it Widdershins!”

Soon Kate and Tom got married
And they opened up a shop;
And people came from miles around
To marvel at their stock.

And every night at bedtime
Kate would give her Tom a squeeze,
So proud that he’d invented
Artisanal Bleaching Cheese!

A big thank you to those that joined in by submitting a word (or three!) today! If you’d like to join in the next Crazy Rhymey Challenge, keep your eyes peeled on my Twitter feed for the #CrazyRhymeyChallenge hashtag.

*For the benefit of younger folk, Opal Fruits are those made-to-make-your-mouth-water sweeties now known as Starburst.