Guest Writer Spot – @supermegawoman

It’s Friday and time for my Guest Writer Spot. This week, I have something very special for you. The very talented Darlene Foster has interviewed her lead character, Amanda Ross, from her books, the Amanda Travels Series.

Interview with Amanda Ross

By

Darlene Foster

DF:  Hello, Amanda. Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed as your readers are eager to learn more about you and your travels.

AR:  Thank you, Mrs. Foster. I´m so excited to be interviewed. Where should we start?

DF:  How about we start with you telling us a little about yourself?

AR:  Yes, thanks. I can do that. (Clears her throat) My name is Amanda Jane Ross and I live in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I am in grade six and attend Guy Weadick Elementary.  It’s named after a cowboy who started the Calgary Stampede, you know. I live with my mom and dad, Evelyn and Don Ross. They’re both accountants and work long hours. I enjoy cooking and trying new recipes. I love to read and I do some writing. But what I really love the most is travelling to other countries.

DF:  Do you have any brothers and sisters?

AR:  No, I don’t. I often wish I had a brother or sister. That would be so great. But I have lots of cousins.

DF:  Who’s your best friend?

AR:  I have some good friends from school but my best friend in the world is Leah Anderson who lives in London, England. I first met her when I was in the United Arab Emirates. Then we met in Spain and I visited her in England. She even came to visit me in Alberta and I was able to show her around. We enjoy travelling together and sometimes get into a pickle, but we always have tons of fun.

DF:  Why do you like her so much?

AR:  Well, she is totally different than me. I mean, she is tall and thin and has gorgeous blond hair and doesn’t wear glasses. She is so pretty and has this cool British accent, like Hermione in Harry Potter. She has lived in many places because of her dad’s job. So she knows a lot more about travelling than I do and seems a bit older, although we are the same age. She is just super cool. We are kindred spirits, just like Anne Shirley and Diana Barry in my favourite book, Anne of Green Gables.

DF:  So what made you want to travel?

AR:  I read so many stories that take place in other countries and I just wanted so much to actually go to some of those places. My life was boring as nothing interesting ever happened to me. My parents are always too busy to go on holidays. So, when I turned twelve I made a wish for travel and adventure before blowing out the candles on my cake. The very next day, airplane tickets to visit my aunt and uncle in the United Arab Emirates came in the mail. I couldn’t believe it! The trip was awesome and I met Leah there. We had a super adventure together. I got to ride a camel and help out a princess and I even got stuck in a sand storm, can you believe it! So when Leah invited me to spend a week in Spain with her and her parents, I just had to go. I guess you can say I have the travel bug.

DF:  What do you like so much about travelling?

AR:  Lots of things. I love seeing the sights, the old buildings and stuff. It sometimes feels like I’m in a storybook when I visit another country. I like meeting interesting people and trying new food. I know it sounds strange, but I enjoy visiting graveyards and there are some awesome ones around.

DF:  You mentioned you sometimes get into a pickle? I haven´t heard that saying for a long time. What do you mean by that?

AR:  My great-aunt Mary says that all the time. I´m curious and like to help people and sometimes that gets me into trouble, which is kind of what getting in a pickle means. In The UAE I helped a runaway princess and got chased by bounty hunters across the desert. In Spain, I tried to help a young girl get her pony back from horse thieves and kidnappers. In Germany, a young, homeless musician gave me a valuable violin to keep safe for him, which wasn´t easy. Sometimes Leah gets annoyed at me for sticking my nose in other people´s business, but that´s just how I am.

DF:  Where have you been so far?

AR:  Let’s see. Besides the UAE, Spain, and England, I’ve also been to Germany, Austria and Hungary. I went on a class trip to New Mexico in the United States. That was interesting and a bit spooky, but also fun! I went to Holland to see the tulips with Leah which was awesome. I also recently went to Malta to help Leah out.

DF:  Tell me more about your trip to Malta.

AR:  I didn’t plan this trip. But I got a strange post card from Leah, who was in Malta, which made me think she was in trouble. At the same time, I was asked to go along with my friend Caleb and his parents to Malta, so it all worked out. Malta is incredible with an interesting history, great beaches and amazing old churches. I loved it but had trouble finding Leah at first and then when I did she acted very strangely. Protected birds were being shot which was awful and then an ancient artefact, The Sleeping Lady, got stolen from the museum. I was worried Leah and her aunt were involved. It was tense.

DF:  Sounds like quite the trip. Do you know where you will go to next?

AR:  Leah and her aunt invited me to go to France with them. We’ll mostly be in Paris. I can’t wait to see the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and Notre Dame Cathedral. I will get to work as a volunteer and stay in a famous bookstore called Shakespeare and Company. How cool is that? I can’t wait. There are so many other places I would like to visit.  I’m a lucky kid to get to travel to all these wonderful places. Now I just need to stay out of trouble.

DF:  How are you able to visit all these places and get time off school?

AR:  My teacher is OK with it as long as I write reports on what I’ve seen and learned. I sometimes do presentations at school and share my pictures with my classmates. My teacher says I can learn more by travelling than she can teach me in class. I make sure I do my homework while I’m away so I don’t get behind.

DF:  Travelling can get expensive, how do you pay for these trips?

AR:  I save up my Christmas and birthday money, I do some babysitting and my great aunt Mary pays me to clean her house. Mom and dad don’t mind helping out as they are too busy to take me on holidays.

DF:  Anything you want to share with your readers?

AR:  If you aren´t able to travel, you can always come with me by reading my books. I guarantee you will have an exciting time and maybe even learn something new.

Thanks for the interview. Maybe you should interview Leah next time.

You can find out more about Darlene and her books here:

Website

Goodreads

Twitter

Facebook

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Funny Of The Week

Well, they do have a point…

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Guest Writer Spot – @RituBhathal

How’s your week been? I’m sure it’s been hectic, if it’s been anything like mine. Well, it’s time for my Guest Writer Spot, so sit back and enjoy an entertaining story from the lovely Ritu Bhathal.

Where do the Colours Come From?

By

Ritu Bhathal

“Oh, Matty, not again!” I placed my cup of tea on the dining table and hand on hips, tried to send a look of stern disappointment to my child.

I’d only popped into the kitchen to flick the kettle on, leaving the mischievous three-year-old for a moment.

Yes, that minute was a little longer, as I chose my mug for the day and dropped a teabag in, ready for my morning cuppa.

Oh, then I had to load the tumble dryer with the wet clothes I’d forgotten to decant from the washing machine last night. Praying they wouldn’t have that awful damp smell when dry, and require another wash, I hastily transferred them, making sure I hadn’t left any errant socks on the floor.

Machine on, the kettle switched off, so I made my drink; splash of milk, no sugar; and ambled back to the living room, mug in hand.

Where Matty had discovered the fresh box of crayons that I had left on the dining table with a new colouring book. I daren’t think how he actually got up on the dining table, and back down again…

This lockdown had been exhausting, what with trying to work, part time, answering calls from my ever-demanding boss, and keeping this little monster occupied so he didn’t disturb his rather grumpy father who was definitely suffering the effects of cabin-fever. I tell you what, I shall look upon the team at his nursery with a new-found respect, after this. How they manage to keep one occupied boggles my mind, let alone twenty of the little buggers!

After a forty five minute wait in a slow moving line to go and get the groceries, I had rushed around, picking up all the things we needed, then in the children’s aisle, there was a display showing colouring bits and pieces. Great! If I got a couple of things, that would keep him occupied for a while. Might buy me ten minutes for an uninterrupted cup of tea, at least.

And now, here we are, with a pile of jumbled, broken crayons. A total bug-bear of mine. Why do children feel the need to snap them in half? This is why I seem to have so many crayons, because I can’t bring myself to use them with him, when they’re broken.

Breathe, Susan. He’s only little.

“Matty, why did you break all the crayons?”

His angelic little face beamed at me. “Wanna see the colour!”

“You want to see the colour? Well, all you have to do is,” and I picked up one piece of broken crayon, then drew some lines on a page in the colouring book, that had also been brought down to the floor, helpfully, by my son. “There. See. That’s purple. Can you say purple?” Never miss an opportunity for him to learn.

“Pupul. Where pupul come from?” He grabbed the crayon, and proceeded to peer at the broken end, as if expecting something to crawl out, a little man, producing the colour, or something. He picked up another crayon. “Wed!” Red was his favourite. He repeated the peering with this one too, then a few others. Then he used them on the paper, creating scribbles. Furrows appeared between his eyebrows as he became more and more perplexed with the whole idea of where this colour was coming from.

How was I ever going to explain where the colour came from, to him? I glanced at the cooling mug that I’d left on the table.

So much for that hot cuppa…

To find out more about Ritu’s books, click here

***

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Funny Of The Week

This would definitely be me…

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Guest Writer Spot

I hope this week has been good to you. Now it’s time for my Guest Writer Spot. Alsu Remi has shared her stunning haiku with us.

Your SELF

By

Alsu Remi

Believe in your soul

Through to the very end. There

You’ll find your true self.

***

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Funny Of The Week

I have to say, they have a point…

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Guest Writer Spot

Wishing you a happy Friday! It’s my Guest Writer Spot time. This week, it’s the turn of Kevin Morris. He’s written a beautiful poem for us to enjoy.

Muddy

By

Kevin Morris

Thoughts muddy
I shall forsake
And take
Refuge in my study,
Among poets who speak
Words that endure beyond a week.

I shall sit listening to birdsong.
The long
Summer days will imperceptibly turn
Into autumn. I shall the world spurn
And yearn
For Keats’ “Nightingale”.

You can find more from Kevin here:

The Selected Poems of K Morris https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07WW8WXPP/
10 of his poems have been included in the 2020/21 Croydon Poetry Hour
Anthology which can be found here
https://www.lulu.com/en/us/shop/croydon-poets/croydon-poetry-hour-anthology-202021/paperback/product-q777n8.html?page=1&pageSize=4

***

Poets quote #1
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A Trip Down Memory Lane

Brownie Days

I was very shy as a child and was always extremely nervous when trying anything new. So when it came to joining Brownies when I was seven, I wasn’t sure if I could do it. After all, I’d stood outside the school playground, holding on to my mum’s hand for dear life on my first day at school. But my best friend, Jackie, was joining Brownies at the same time, so I was sure I’d be okay.

Every week, the Brownie meetings took place in an old hall. I can still remember the slightly musty smell which hit my nostrils every time I walked inside. But I didn’t mind it and actually came to look forward to that smell each week – because I loved Brownies. It was such fun – we’d play games, make things, learn about all sorts of weird and wonderful phenomena and I felt part of something. The Brownie leaders were so kind and supportive too.

To become a Brownie, there was an enrolment ceremony. You had to learn your Brownie Promise and recite it in front of all the other Brownies and Brownie leaders. Brown Owl was in charge of the Brownies and once you’d successfully made your promise, she pinned your Brownie badge onto your uniform (I still have my badge). I recall feeling very nervous before the ceremony and I kept going over and over the promise. I managed to do it without even a stutter and I was so proud to become enrolled in the 1st Washcommon Brownies. I was placed in the Gnomes Six (we were all placed into different groups of six, with names like Elves, Pixies and so on). I’d wanted to be put in Gnomes as I thought their badge was the cutest!

The uniform for Brownies has changed greatly over the years and today’s is far more practical, with comfy T-shirts and trousers. There’s still brown in the uniform, but it’s a little more colourful. Mine consisted of a brown dress and brown bobble hat. But I was very proud to be wearing it. 

My favourite game was one called ‘Fruit Salad’. We didn’t play it very often, but I just loved it and I can feel the excitement bubbling up just as I think about it! It was a physical game and involved lots of running about, but everyone had a smile on their face as they took part.

Many people think about Brownies and have an image of them all sitting around a camp fire in the dark. I only did that once. It was a large event, with many different Brownie packs taking part. We had to travel about an hour away to another town. If I close my eyes, I can see the huge orange flames dancing as they reached higher and higher. And, of course, we sang camp fire songs. My favourite song was Ging Gang Goolie, which is really just gibberish!

So, although I loved being a Brownie, I’m not sure I made a very good one. I did try to be and I earned several badges – a collecting one, reading one and homemaker one, amongst others. Though, I’m not sure how I managed to earn the latter. I had to keep a record of all the helpful things I’d done around the house to help my mum. She often likes to remind me that one of the things I’d written down was ‘I help my mummy every day by opening my curtains’. And I like to point out that it may not be as helpful as ironing a pile of clothes or washing up, but it’s still helpful!    

I went on to join the Girl Guides when I left Brownies, but I really didn’t want to leave and, sadly, Girl Guides wasn’t anywhere near as much fun as Brownies. Perhaps that’s down to age and growing up, or maybe it was the leaders at Brownies. They packed so much into every meeting and they seemed to have as much fun as us. It’s something I’ll never forget.

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Funny Of The Week

This one speaks for itself:

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Guest Writer Spot

Happy Friday, everyone. I hope you’ve had a good week. It’s time for my Guest Writer. This week, it’s Murray Clarke. I’m sure you’ll enjoy his story as much as I did.

CATNAP

By

Murray Clarke

It doesn’t always pay to go for the cheapest quote, Edith reflected, as she surveyed the remainder of her worldly possessions spread out on the driveway. Her eyes narrowed as she looked around. Searching.

‘Cheeky! Cheeky! Where are you, my little darling?’ she called.

‘I’m over here, love!’ replied one of the removal men.

Edith gave him a withering look but decided against replying to such a rude person. She knew what her Bert would have said – he’d have given him a piece of his mind, for sure! She missed Bert terribly. Lonely and sad, she had found companionship and solace with a cat from the local Rescue Centre — a moggie kitten with the sweetest, most mischievous little face she had ever seen. It was love at first sight for both of them!           

‘You cheeky girl!’ she smiled, stroking the animal’s soft black fur. The cat rewarded her with a purr and rubbed its tiny nose against her leg. And so . . . Cheeky it was!

But Cheeky was now missing. Nowhere to be seen.  An exhaustive search of the house and small garden revealed nothing.

The two removal men were sweating profusely as they struggled under the weight of an oversized mahogany wardrobe.

‘Have either of you lads seen my kitty?’ asked Edith.

Lads? The burly men glanced at each other, barely able to contain their laughter.

‘I don’t see what’s so funny!’ sniffed Edith. ‘My darling black pussycat, Cheeky – I can’t seem to find her anywhere.’

‘You seen the lady’s cat, Jim?’ Bill asked his mate.

‘Nope!’ Jim replied. ‘She’ll have to move to her new place without him!’

‘HER!’

‘Whatever!’

Edith took a step closer. ‘There’s only one thing for it, young man — you need to take everything out of the van. I bet Cheeky has crept into the back when you weren’t looking. She’ll be hiding, frightened, behind the furniture, bless her.’

‘Unload the van!’ exploded Bill. ’You’ve got to be joking, love.’

‘I am NOT joking — and I am NOT your “love”,’ Edith snorted.

‘Better do as the old bat says,’ said Jim. ‘But the flippin’ cat better be there!’

Reluctantly, huffing and puffing and swearing under their breath, the men began to unload their vehicle.

Beneath the blistering midday sun, item-by-item, the contents were dumped onto the driveway. An hour later, the van was empty. However, much to everyone’s dismay, there was no sign of the missing pet.

‘I felt sure Cheeky would be hiding in there!’ said Edith, shaking her head.

Edith regarded the men, now stripped to their waists and drenched with sweat. They looked as if they could cheerfully strangle the old lady.

‘You’ll better load it all back in again,’ suggested Edith. ‘And mind you don’t break anything!’

If looks could kill!

Edith sat down on a stone wall and waited patiently. Finally, another hour later, the job was done. The men were just shutting the tailgate securely when Stephen, Edith’s son, arrived to take his mother to her new bungalow.

‘Looks as if Cheeky is enjoying the warm sunshine!’ Stephen remarked cheerfully as he walked down the side of the van.

‘What do you mean?’

Stephen nodded towards the cab. And there, peacefully curled up asleep on the driver’s seat, was the errant cat – totally oblivious to the mayhem she had caused! Edith saw the perspiring faces of the exhausted removal men.

‘Well, serves them jolly well right, that’s all I can say!’ she said to herself. ‘They shouldn’t have been so rude to me!’ She turned to her son. ‘Will you break the good news to the men, or shall I?’

Edith grinned and lifted her eyes to the sky. She felt sure Bert was up there somewhere, looking down on her – an amused smile on his face.

***

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