I recommend a visit. . . don’t wear heels


I was supposed to be in Jersey, exploring the island while Husband worked. But Kia had her emergency operation, and Coronavirus seemed to be rampaging, so we cancelled. Shame—I have never been to Jersey. Maybe later in the year.

Instead, we went to Rye. Probably not quite as exciting, but it’s one of those places I pass every time I go to Camber Sands, and yet I have never explored the ancient winding streets, or peered through the leaded-light windows of the sweetshop, and the day was sunny, so off we set.

As you enter Rye from the north, there are car parks, right on the edge of town. Leave your car there, otherwise you will have to navigate narrow streets and steep hills, bumping over cobbles, and very few streets are wide enough to park on any way. If they are full, there’s more parking near the train station. Really, you have to explore Rye on foot.

Rye is built on a rock, a huge lump of sandstone that rises up from otherwise completely flat land. In Medieval times, it was almost completely surrounded by sea, but now is two miles from the coast. It has a river, with a lock, at the bottom of the rock and some terraced cottages elbowing for room next to a road that is too fast and busy, especially in the summer. We found a bench next to the river (and a dead rat, actually, but we’ll skip over that detail) and ate our sandwiches listening to seagulls and staring at the narrow river flowing through thick banks of mud. When the tide is in, the river swells, and big boats use it to reach the sea; they were all stranded on the mud when we were there.

You leave the river, and walk up roads named things like Mermaid Street, pebbled cobblestones underfoot, ancient houses on either side. The houses have wonderful names too, like The House With Two Doors (a house, with two front doors, right next to each other) and The House With The Seat (you can guess that one). Some have plaques with the date. Although some of the cellars date as far back as 1156, the houses all seem to have been rebuilt in 1421. I am guessing this is due to the French, who burned the town to the ground on June 22nd, 1377. (We should probably have forgiven them by now, but I’m not so sure myself.)

In the 1700s, Rye was a thriving port, and the infamous Hawkhurst Gang ran a smuggling ring, using the cellars of local houses and pubs to escape the authorities. We drove through Hawkhurst on the way to Rye, and it’s now a pretty village of middle-class cottages, so maybe the smugglers all moved away or were hanged. If you visit the Mermaid Inn in Rye, you can walk the dark corridors, under the heavy beams, and imagine that they are still there, discussing evil deeds next to the fireplace.

Not everyone in Rye was bad, and there are two churches, right next to each other (which feels somewhat confrontational). The older, Anglican Church, is worth a peek inside. Hanging from the ceiling is a huge pendulum, ticking backwards and forwards. You can climb the clock tower to see the view, but I managed to avoid that. There was piped choir music, which created a nice atmosphere. The church is old, but with signs of modern activity: a collection for a food bank, and a prayer board for Zimbabwe, and a library of second-hand books. I expect it’s a nice church to belong to.

Outside is the old vicarage, and a memorial to the last town crier (though you can almost see him walking though the streets). There is also the curved brick wall of a water tower, with pump attached, for the townsfolk to collect water.

We popped to the Ypres Tower (where there’s a museum, but it’s shut until April). The tower was part of the Cinque Ports—Edward the Confessor built five ports and two forts. There are more benches at the tower, and it would probably be a better spot for a picnic than our dead-rat bench, as there are lovely views.

When you pass Rye (as we have many times) you notice the old stone gate, built in 1329 and home to many pigeons and doves—though I’m assuming that wasn’t the original purpose.

We spent a happy two hours wandering round, then returned to the car and drove home. We could have spent longer there, especially in the summer when more would be open, or after the Coronavirus scare when we may have felt more inclined to eat in a cafe. I recommend a visit, don’t wear heels.

Thank you for reading.
Take care.
Love, Anne x

PS. Thank you everyone for your kind wishes, Kia continues to improve and is regaining her bounce.

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Now is an excellent time to read my travel book. Happy adventures from around the world.
Available from Amazon.

UK link Here

QuaranTime to Read — Chapter Two


What if…a happily married woman falls in love with someone else?

Chapter Two

Due to the KDP rules on Amazon, I am not allowed to upload a whole book anywhere other than on the KDP site. I can therefore share chapters with you, but must remove them when read.

 

If you would like to read the whole story, or perhaps buy a copy for a friend, it is available from an Amazon near you. The link to my author page is below:

Amazon link here

 

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QuaranTime to Read


QuaranTime to Read

In this weird time of Coronavirus worry, we all need to help where necessary. Our medics are doing a fantastic job, preparing for possible chaos. Our supermarkets are working to keep the supply chain going. We can all check the old and vulnerable near us, ensuring they have the physical supplies and social interaction (albeit at a distance) that they need. What can you do to help?

I am an author; I make up stories. As people have more time at home, they will have more time to read, and it’s good to read something other than the latest scary statistics. So, I am sharing with you one of my stories. I wrote it years ago, scribbled on the back of old receipts and scraps of paper;  when I decided to try writing full-time, after I realised I would not return to teaching, it is the first book that I sent to publishers. I think it has a certain charm, and it is a gentle tale, one for you to enjoy with a nice cup of tea. I will post a section twice a week. Enjoy.

 

 

Invisible Jane Edited March 2020

What if…a happily married woman falls in love with someone else?

Invisible Jane

by Anne E. Thompson

Chapter One

 

Due to the KDP rules on Amazon, I am not allowed to upload a whole book anywhere other than on the KDP site. I can therefore share chapters with you, but must remove them when read.

 

If you would like to read the whole story, or perhaps buy a copy for a friend, it is available from an Amazon near you. The link to my author page is below:

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Anne-E-Thompson/e/B07CL8HV95?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1584963604&sr=8-1

 

 

To be continued 

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A Completely Horrible Night


We all have bad days, I think last Sunday was one of my worst, though it might have been even worse. It began just fine, Bea was here for the weekend, and we’d all had dinner and watched a film, and I was preparing to go to bed. I’d fed Kia and put her out for a last wee, but I had forgotten to sort out the heating for the night, so popped back downstairs. Bea and Jay met me in the kitchen, and said something was wrong with Kia.

Kia was pacing, looking uncomfortable, and stretching her neck as if about to vomit. I had earlier dropped an egg in the garden, and I wondered if she’d eaten it, especially as when moments later she was sick, the result was what looked like uncooked meringue. Maybe she was allergic to egg? But then my mind began to process what was happening, and that she had been fed an hour earlier, and yet none of that food had come back up. Plus, Kia was now panting, stretching out her neck as if she couldn’t catch her breath, and when I felt her stomach it was as hard as a rock. I had read about symptoms like these on one of the German Shepherd Facebook groups I belong to—Kia was showing all the signs of a twisted stomach. And that is often fatal.

I woke Husband and said I thought we needed to go to the vet. We are very fortunate—in a nearby town is a 24 hour veterinary hospital, and they have an out-of-hours casualty department for emergencies. This was an emergency. At least, I thought it was. But when I put on my old dog-walking coat, and collected the lead, Kia seemed suddenly fine. She started to wag her tail, and trot around excitedly, ready for a walk.

“Could Kia simply have had a bad reaction to something she ate? Was I overreacting by rushing her to hospital?”

Possibly, but the facts were that if she had a twisted stomach, she needed to be operated on as soon as possible or she would die. If she had simply eaten something bad, the vet would tell us the visit was unnecessary, we would apologise and return home. The risk of not rushing to the vet was too great. We rushed.

Kia was okay on the journey, obviously uncomfortable, but not in agony. We arrived, I explained the problem, and the vet agreed it sounded suspiciously like a twisted stomach, which is quickly diagnosed with an X-ray. I signed the consent form, Kia was led away, we waited.

Within a few minutes the vet returned. Kia had a twisted stomach, the vet could operate, but Kia is an old dog (12 years old, which is old for a GSD) and the operation was a major one. Did we want to take the risk and spend the (considerable) money? It was all too quick.

Pause for a minute with me, and try to imagine the situation. An hour ago, Kia had been fine, all was peaceful at home. Suddenly, everything had changed, and my completely healthy, very fit dog (lets face it, one of my best friends) was now about to die. What to do? Was I committing her to months of pain, to never properly recovering, because I didn’t want to let her go? Or should I give her a chance, should I decide that she is remarkably healthy for a dog that age, she had every chance of a full recovery and a few more years of active life, and I should not deny her that. What was the right choice? As is often the case, I have no idea. There was no time to take a moment, to pray for wisdom, to test how I felt. The decision had to be now.

I chose to operate.

I then went to sit in the car, leaving Husband to listen to the potential risks and to sign the release forms, because all the sensibleness had deserted me, and a hot fountain of tears was about to escape and I wanted to be somewhere private. I sat in the car, aware of how much I love that opinionated, determined, faithful animal, and how much I was losing if she died; and I cried.

Husband returned, and we drove home. The vet said that if, during surgery, there was too much internal damage, then they would phone and ask permission to put her to sleep. (We were unable to give consent prior to surgery; I don’t know why.)

At 4 am, the vet phoned. The surgery had gone well, Kia was in recovery, but the next 72 hours would be critical.

At 7.30am, the vet phoned to say Kia was awake, and seemed remarkably well. By the evening she was able to walk outside to toilet, and was drinking, though she still had not eaten.

Monday morning, the vet told us that Kia still had not eaten. This didn’t overly surprise me. She has always been a picky eater, and at home she will only eat when I eat. If I put her food down in the morning, it will sit there, untouched, until she sees me eat my evening meal—then she will eat. The vet suggested that if I was comfortable giving all the medication, Kia would be better at home, as she needed to eat. We collected her (and a suitcase of pills).

As I write this, Kia continues to improve. She is still very weak, and is eating lots of little snacks rather than a proper big meal. But gradually her strength is returning, and she is relaxed at home, as long as she can see me, she is happy. The drugs make her drowsy, and her shaved tummy needs to be kept warm, but I think she is going to be all right.

I am so grateful to the dog owners who described the symptoms of a twisted stomach so that I recognised them. I am grateful to the vet, who reacted so professionally. And I am grateful to God, who allowed me to keep Kia for a little longer, even though we never know how long that will be.

Thank you for reading.
Take care.
Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson has written several novels and non-fiction books. You can find her work in bookshops and Amazon.
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anneethompson.com

 

You can read more about Kia in my travel book (though she was only invited on the English holidays!) You can read it free if you have a kindle. Also available in paperback–a lovely Mother’s Day gift.

Now is an excellent time to read my travel book. Happy adventures from around the world.
Available from Amazon.

UK link Here

Lazy Days on the Isle of Man


Wednesday was gloomy, a thin veil of rain spoiling the view, so we decided to go for a drive. We drove to the little village of Strang, then headed north on the B22. The road (excellent, because all roads on the Isle of Man are excellent) took us along the top of a mountain, looking down into steep valleys. There were lots of random sheep, patches of snow, plantations of pine trees. We passed reservoirs, crossed cattle grids and narrow stone bridges. Tried to find an ancient stone cairn, but failed.

Drove to the Motor Museum in Jurby. It is shut on Wednesdays.

We then had to decide: pop to look at a nearby prison, or drive to a car park near the sea at Sartfield. We chose the car park near the coast (at least, Husband did, which is the same as us both deciding. I voted for the prison.) Turns out that Sartfield is where the septic tank lorries empty the poop into vats, and a long pipe carries it the length of the footpath, to the sea. I have visited better smelling beaches. Wasn’t tempted to swim.

Drove along the A10, through the northern edge of the island. It was very flat, with fields of cattle and trees twisted by the cold north wind. It has echoes of Dungeness, where weird houses face the the elements in the shadow of a power station.

Drove to the village of Bride, passed an open tea-room and as it was 2.30 and we hadn’t eaten lunch, we stopped. It was perfect. I had red wine and goulash, and Husband had a cup of tea and a burger. People at other tables seemed to be ordering food that wasn’t on the menu (I definitely saw a lasagna!) but I was happy with my choice.

The guide book said there was a Celtic cross in the Parish church, so we went to look. We wandered among the graves, but no Celtic cross. I decided to look inside the church, and there it was! The black stone, engraved in the year 900 was still ornate, though it exuded old age, somehow the black stone managed to look ancient. The son who created it over the grave of his mother would never have guessed that we, in our modern clothes, with cars and houses, would one day trace the markings with our finger, and think about those long-ago people.

We drove home via Ramsey, simply so that Husband could drive the A18, which is the TT course across Snaefell. I am so glad we didn’t hire anything faster than a Corsa!

On Thursday, we went to Castletown. In the town square is the ‘Candlestick’ which is the plynth intended to hold the statue of Governor Cornelius Smelt (1805-1832). But the town people refused—and still refuse—to pay for the actual statue, so the column stands there, empty, looking like a giant candlestick!

I had read that Castletown had the plug to an old volcano, and I was interested to see it (to be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure what a ‘plug’ was, but I like volcanoes). We set off for the visitor centre. It was shut (everything is shut in March) but there was a helpful sign on the wall, which explained the geology of the beach. Now, I do not usually have any interest in geology, but this was rather amazing. There were slabs of limestone, which had been mined, and the remains of the lime kilns. Right next to the lime was a ‘storm beach’—fat pebbles washed up during a storm; and behind it all was the volcano plug, which was a hill of rocky volcanic larva from about a million years ago. It was, surprisingly, very interesting.

We finished our trip to Castletown with tea and cake. There is of course, a castle in the town, but I felt the teashop would be more fun.

I hope you make some good choices today.
Take care.
Love, Anne x

The Cafe at the Sound


Our guidebook was, to be honest, pretty useless. It told us things like “There is a Celtic cross at Bride, which is very interesting.” Not a huge amount of information or background in that statement. However, some of the places it mentioned (whilst giving absolutely no information about) were rather splendid. The Cafe at the Sound was one of these.

We drove across the island, me giving directions, Husband ignoring them and pretending he was a racing driver. I was in an excellent mood, having enjoyed another breakfast at our favourite cafe: The Tea Junction. Every morning I had porridge, sprinkled with slices of banana and cinnamon, with local honey in a tiny pot at the side. Perfect.

However, the cafe we were heading for was not recommended for its food, but for the view. And oh my word, what a view! Perched on the side of the cliff, overlooking waves that crash over rocks, and sea that races between the Isle of Man and the tiny island of the Calf of Man. The weather was wild, which is absolutely the best time to visit, and we walked up to the cafe and sat at one of the tables next to the curved window, watching the sea and the weather and the wonderful strength of it all.

We ate sandwiches, which were very nice (though nothing could compare with the view) and I lingered over some rather tasty-looking cakes sitting under their glass domes in a tempting manner. Husband reminded me about my cholesterol levels (sometimes I hate him) and we left and went for a walk.

There were paths below the level of the cliff, and we dropped down out of the wind, and everything felt calm and peaceful (apart from the sea, which was still whooshing through the gap between the islands). I thought I could hear a hoarse bark, over the sound of the wind, and peered across to the Calf of Man. It was slightly too far away to be in focus, but I could make out rocks in the little cove. Then one of the rocks lifted its head, and I realised they were seals. We weren’t near enough to see them properly, but every time one of them moved, or a new arrival humped its body out of the waves, we could discern they were seals. It was terribly wonderful. We sat for a while, watching them flop their bodies across the beach, then we drove back across the island.

We passed a big church, with an area lined with flag poles, and a tiered hill like a green wedding cake. We stopped. This was Tynwald, the parliament hill I told you about in an earlier post. We walked around for a bit, trying to imagine how it would have been 1,000 years ago when it was established.

We drove home via Peel (home to those kipper-burgers from yesterday, which I can still taste by the way!) Peel is beautiful, with a quay full of fishing boats, and a castle from a storybook. The castle was possibly Avalon, from the King Arthur legends, and it used to be on an island but now it’s attached to the town by a little road. It was closed (everything was closed the first week of March) but there was a hill opposite, so we sat at the top in the sunshine, staring at the castle and thinking of stories (well, I was. Husband was probably thinking about the cost of renovating it) while the wind pushed against our backs and froze our bones.

Then we left, driving back (racing-driver style) to Douglas, where our Airbnb is. Another nice day on the island.

Thank you for reading, I hope you have a nice day too.
Take care.
Love, Anne xx

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The Island with the Best Roads in the World


The back view is definitely the best! Front view has steamed-up glasses and a very red face.

I am sure you will have guessed by now which island we visited, but here are some more clues:
Each morning, we ran along the quay. I use the term ‘run’ lightly, but it was a lovely way to exercise, watching the ferry appear over the horizon, listening to the seagulls, watching the waves heave seaweed onto the beach. Just beyond the harbour is a tiny island with a tower on it. At night, it lights up with different coloured spotlights, and looks magical.

I went to one of the many shops selling ‘tourist trash’ and spent a happy time looking at fridge magnets and sticks of square rock (because that’s a thing here) and T-shirts with TT Racing emblazoned on the front (because that’s a BIG thing here). I bought a T-shirt. (TT actually stands for Tourist Trophy.)

The TT race is massive here. The island has a tiny population of about 80,000 and about 50,000 people arrive for the race. The race course is on the actual roads that cross the mountains, with start and finish in the towns. Which means that if the roads have even the smallest pothole, they dig up the whole section and resurface it properly, making all the roads fabulous for driving on. This island possibly has the best roads in the whole world.

While I was buying my T-shirt, the person in the shop told me a little about how crowded the island becomes during race season. Most residents have a room they can rent out, and farmers use fields as campsites, and all the restaurants are completely full. The week before the race, the road across the mountain is made one-way, and people with expensive cars come to zoom along the road. Of course, it is still open to normal traffic, and if Mr. Ferrari happens to get stuck behind Granny Slow-Boots, then there is a ginormous traffic jam. Possibly, I was told, the most expensive traffic jam in the world as it is full of the very best, fastest cars.

We were not on the island for racing season, but Husband still enjoyed the roads, and I was glad of seat-belts. As we drove through the mountains, we saw patches of snow and beautiful views and we frequently stopped to enjoy where we were. It was always freezing!

We drove up to Laxey, which is an old mining town. There is an huge waterwheel, made into a monument to the miners. My recommendation would be to visit this out of season, otherwise you might be forced to walk up some very scary steps, right to the top. Or to be asked to “Take a photo when I’m up there,” which will involve a long cold wait at the bottom. Much better to visit in March, when everything is closed and you can simply peer through the gates!

On the side of the Laxey Wheel is the triskelion. This is the emblem that is on the flag, and on practically everything else on the island (even hanging from street lights). I could not, to be honest, quite get my head around it. No one seems to really know where it comes from. It’s a three-legged swastika (nothing to do with Nazis) and I found it uncomfortable to look at. Each leg is dressed in armour, and it’s associated with the motto: Quocunque Jeceris Stabit (‘Wherever you throw it, it will stand’). The museum has several ideas about where it originated from, but no one is quite sure.

The island is also famous for a breed of cat. The Manx Cat has no tail, and the back legs are apparently slightly longer than in other breeds. I say “apparently” because we never saw one. I dragged Husband along residential streets, peering over garden walls and into bushes, but we didn’t see a single one. Personally, I think they do not exist (unlike the fairies, of which we saw many potential candidates).

Our first evening on the island, I ate Queenies—the Queen scallops that are a local delicacy.

We also ate some Manx kipper-burgers. These are smoked kippers, served in a bap, and the best place (according to the locals) is a small kiosk next to the castle in Peel. We drove there, dodged the extensive roadworks, and ordered our kipper burgers from the harassed-looking woman behind the counter. Then we climbed some steps, to an eating area above the kiosk and sat on a wooden bench, looking out to sea. The kippers were freshly cooked, the juices dripping from them when we took a bite, the bread fresh and soft. We ate them watching seals in the sea—or rather, with seals in the sea bobbing up to watch us! Kipper burgers are a sort of once-in-a-lifetime experience for me. Glad I did it, never need to do it again. It was a hard-to-forget experience, as the taste lingered long, long after the last bite was swallowed. . .

I am sure by now you know that we were on the Isle of Man. I will tell you more tomorrow. Thanks for reading. Eat something tasty today.
Love, Anne x