It has been so long since I typed anything of any length, I have almost slowed down to a crawl but I'm sure that by the end of Chapter 1 in Volume VI, my fingers will be flying across the keyboard as usual.
I have so much to tell you, I almost don't know where to start. But as I have already shown you the picture of me at one of the recent creative writing sessions I did for Sandwell Council, it seems logical to start there.
I cannot speak highly enough of both the library staff and the families who attended the sessions. The children were alert, bright and eager to participate and it was clear they were thoroughly enjoying story making.
The comment slips they handed back to library staff afterwards spoke for themselves, with one comment reading:-
"A fantastic invaluable experience for my children to experience today. An opportunity that will remain a fond memory for life."
I have to say that on reading that comment my eyes welled up a little. To have touched someone's life in a positive way, no matter how minor, is both an honour and a joy.
And it made me think about the people who touched my own life in minor ways but who collectively shaped me into the person I am today...the history teachers who showed me that without knowledge and understanding of our past, we can never fully comprehend our future. The substitute English teacher who taught me the symbolism of poetry and the foreign language teachers who taught me that words can both divide and unite.
It was with these thoughts in mind that I journeyed up to Scotland a few days later to meet up with family and friends. Dreading the journey as ever [it's a long way, you know!] I was buoyed by the thought of meeting up with these long established friends, some of whom I hadn't seen in over ten years.
We were all decades older then we had been at school and we had all had children. And during those years since school we had all created our life stories and in some cases fate had done a pretty good stepping in job, to wreak misery wherever it's little hand touched...but after all that, we were still the excitable, hopeful band of girls that we had been at school.
Linda - irrepressible and funny and probably the only person who can talk faster and louder than me!
Karen - loyal and steadfast and possessed of a quiet dignity which allows her to make her point in an almost regal manner.
Lesley - still cute as a button and almost bursting with life, her vitality and humour was truly wondrous.
[Shona - strong, supportive and caring was unfortunately unable to attend due to family illness ...and yet I felt her presence in every memory we mulled over.]
And me - just grateful that these fine women wanted me in their lives! We had not seen each other for so long and yet our bond was as fresh and strong as it had been all those years ago.
At the end of the night, fond farewells were said all around and promises were made that we would all keep in better touch. But in a very strange way, it doesn't really matter whether we do phone or email each other in the intervening time before my next visit. That friendship is there and will always be there, hibernating gently in the corner, awaiting it's wakening. And it will never be lost or forgotten, nor will it ever die.
So with a happy heart I continued with my stay in the country of my birth. We visited Loch Lomond, a place so beautiful I fear my words will not do it justice. So vast and so unspoiled it arrests the eye and heart in equal measures. Mountains meet lake and are reflected back upon the still waters and if you stand very quietly you can feel yourself transported back in time to a world which was less commercialised and much more real. Not keen on walks, the kids nonetheless love it there and the dogs are in their element.
Sadly we made the return journey to our caravan park but there were more treats in store. The Ayr site we were on was hosting a talent competition for children and I was astounded by the talent of the winners and so pleased to be able to award them signed copies of The Owners, Volume I, Alone.
Well done Morgan, Robyn and Jessica!
And Scotland, as Arnie would have put it, don't worry 'cos "I'll be back."