Category Archives: Weekly Trail

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Sir Chocolate has a YouTube Channel

Robbie and her family are taking their fantastic stories and creations to YouTube.

If you’re looking for fun, inspiring stories and more, look no further than the link below!

via Sir Chocolate has a YouTube Channel

Monday Coffee in Lockdown

Come on in and grab a seat. I’ve taken the liberty and separating our sofas so that we adhere to the two metre rule. It’s wonderful to see you again. Grab your cup and remember to put it straight into the dishwasher to avoid contaminating anyone around you.

It’s unfortunate that our usual haunt has closed during this lockdown, but it does give me a chance to host our coffee catch up in my ethereal lounge. Time seems to have slowed and everything has taken on an apocalyptic appearance, especially venturing outside. I know it sounds terrible, and I really shouldn’t do it, but I’ve adopted the reference of ‘walkers’ used on the television show, The Walking Dead, to describe those souls traipsing past my house making their way to the forest just down the road. I fear them, each one a prospective carrier oblivious to the inhabitant that is growing within their healthy bodies.

I’m sure I can be forgiven for thinking that a trip to our local food store is not dissimilar to bathing in a septic tank filled with clean water. Chances are, you won’t see the germs but they will certainly be taking liberties with your clothes and exposed skin. Gloves are pointless as they just add to the contamination of different surfaces. You might not catch anything but the person two metres behind you won’t be thanking you when you’ve touched all the metal railings, containers and unwrapped food with those ‘safe’ gloves. If you don’t believe me, find a pair of clean gloves and spray a little paint on the fingers. Now go touch all your precious surfaces and see what happens.

My cynicism is born from spending too much time reading about the non-conformers – the free thinkers – who assume this is just a bunch of bull. ‘Scare mongering tactics’ and ‘utter nonsense’, and my favourite: ‘the government is just using this to control you’! I wonder what you think of those comments? How far should we accept what we’re told to do before saying: no, this affects my civil liberties? Do you feel the same way?

Considering I’ve been locked away for more than two weeks, I have to admit I haven’t found this lifestyle much different to my normal hermit lifestyle. The big difference is running my Writers Club Online, though my Zoom meetings have taken care of face to face group discussions. The children love it and have adapted well to the new norms. Social distancing was something I happily practiced anyway and travelling as little as possible is just sensible to reduce your carbon footprint.

Do you notice how fast technology is being developed now that we are facing a new war. Is this our version of an industrial revolution that sets a precedent for working at home to become a cultural norm, reducing travel and therefore activating a movement for climate change? I wonder if those who work from home will want to return to the office after tasting the opportunity to be closer to their families while accomplishing those same roles. I know it won’t be the case for everyone. Some will balk at the idea of being trapped at home. Others though, might appreciate it. Definitely something to think about in a future, especially with housing shortages and office blocks standing empty for years.

Maybe the future will see less office space eating up our central business districts and instead, housing estates with forests, play areas and facilities taking precedence over those spaces so that workers live closer to CBD’s but work remotely, time sharing office space. Just a thought.

Anyway, it’s nearly time for me to prepare for my webex meeting with my writers from Wooden Hill Primary. Thank you for stopping by. Let me know what you think our future holds.

Stay well and stay safe.

Friday with the Covid Gang

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Your Turn

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Monday Coffee in Isolation

Hi! I won’t hug you today as we are practicing social distancing, but I will say it’s great to see you. At a time when the world is coming to a standstill, having a chance to meet friends makes me think we are far luckier than our ancestors.

While the media fills our heads with information and updates of doom, I take to social media to find my friends and give updates on positive events. Sharing fun ideas on how to keep the children busy has been well received and I am determined to keep it going for as long as I can.

My Writers’ Club has adapted like a chameleon to new vegetation. We’ve had two webex meetings and have managed to collate ideas and start writing projects. Considering some children are as young as six, I’m very impressed at their capabilities and can look at our teething problems as minimal. I will be opening the club to new members who will start in April. If your children enjoy creating worlds and pushing their imagination beyond the obvious, contact me. I’ve attached the flyer below.

Contact me if you would like your child to join the online Writers’ Club.

At home, the house has been full for about two weeks now. All my children are keeping busy with their schoolwork. I’m trying to supplement their work to encourage further growth while we are in isolation. Never one to waste time, my daughter has enforced school schedules, even if there aren’t any lessons planned by their teachers on the day. Instead, we make use of BBC bitesize and other programmes that offer free lessons to support children studying from home.

My biggest challenge is keeping my large family fed. Food runs have been cut to reduce exposure to the virus. My next run might be done with gloves and a mask. I’m getting paranoid over the chances that I might carry the virus in with the shopping bags or on the packaging. So everything is unpacked, cleaned and my own clothes changed with a complete decontamination of my face and hands. It’s exhausting but necessary if I want to keep the family safe. Are you following any protocols to keep your families or yourselves safe? Are you as paranoid as I am?

We have reached the days when earth’s most toxic inhabitants slow to a rumbling stop. While we complain and worry and fight to survive, remember to take a moment to appreciate all the things around you. Our greed led us here. Let’s hope this world wide experience will make us approach the future in a better way. I’m not holding my breath though.

Stay well and stay safe. x

Tuesday Catch Up

Stay well and stay safe.

That is my new catch phrase for communications. It is simple and succinct, and hopefully expounds the depth of my feelings towards those with whom I communicate. How strange it is to watch the world tilt on its unsteady axis, reeling and writhing from the threats and effects of a virus. To see the deprivations of human nature as well as its heights of generosity. Indeed, if I were a writer, I would classify this as a perfect plot line for an apocalyptic tale.

With a family of six and additions that kick the number of humans up to eight very large, hungry adults and children in a household, I am feeling the pull of peer pressure to join those panicked shoppers stripping shelves and aisles of their staple goods. Succumbing to that fear would add me to the ranks of hoarder, the selfish individuals who think of their own survival instead of the good of the whole community. Sitting on the fence though, I see both sides. My hubble is high risk and, knowing that I wouldn’t have to go out for food for a very long time, is appealing. But, looking at it from a community point of view, I couldn’t live with myself if I knew I was taking supplies away from the vulnerable members of our society. Where do you stand in all of this? Should we be questioning our morals at a time when survival seems to be key? My simple answer is: read some history books. Who do we celebrate as being the heroes during the worst of our past – the survivalists or those that sacrificed their safety and supplies for others?

With thoughts of survival in exclusion, keeping our minds and bodies active is the order of the day. I’ve had to think of ways of continuing my Writers’ Club without meeting face to face with my members. Thank goodness for the internet! I am able to offer a subscription to any family who wants something to do during school closures and isolation. Keeping children active, interested in varied, fun projects and motivating them to use their minds will stop cabin fever and stimulate continual growth of their minds and bodies, just in a different setting. Check out my Book Corner on Facebook if you are looking for ideas on how to keep your children entertained or active. Subscribe to the Writers’ Club for interactive sessions, webinars and online classes that will keep them entertained. I will add a form at the end of this post for that purpose.

Community is everything. In our area, we have some unsung heroes organising groups to care for the vulnerable on each street, making sure they have enough food and provisions for their isolation period. Keeping that outlook, no matter how tempting it is to hide away and survive on our own, is very important. For those that watch the Walking Dead, you know what I’m talking about! Community means survival and sacrificing those extra bags of pasta or toilet rolls means a family who can’t afford to bulk buy will get a chance to eat and enjoy comfortable ablutions too.

To close this Tuesday Catch Up, I would like to reiterate my initial message in this communication: stay well and stay safe. Try to limit your media intake to preserve your sanity and though it’s easy for me to say, try not to stress out. If you need help, reach out to friends and family. If you don’t have anyone to talk to, message me. I’ll be happy to chat to you from under my rock, in my cave, sipping on tequila. Feel free to join me for a chat there!

 

For those interested in subscribing to the Writers’ Club, fill out the form below and I’ll be in touch.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – New Book on the Shelves – Pre-Order #Family – The Memory by Judith Barrow

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Delighted to share the news about the latest release from one of my favourite authors, Judith Barrow with The Memory.

About the book

Mother and daughter tied together by shame and secrecy, love and hate.

I wait by the bed. I move into her line of vision and it’s as though we’re watching one another, my mother and me; two women – trapped.

Today has been a long time coming. Irene sits at her mother’s side waiting for the right moment, for the point at which she will know she is doing the right thing by Rose.

Rose was Irene’s little sister, an unwanted embarrassment to their mother Lilian but a treasure to Irene. Rose died thirty years ago, when she was eight, and nobody has talked about the circumstances of her death since. But Irene knows what she saw. Over the course of 24 hours their moving and tragic…

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Monday Coffee

Pull up a chair and grab your cup. It’s time to relax and find out how your week has been.

Last week was one of the busiest I’ve had in months, even though I don’t have a nine-to-five post anymore. Possibly working way past reasonable hours has meant me popping up in social media at odd times or answering emails when most decent folk are fast asleep! It has been worth it. Not only have I managed to sign up four schools to my Writers’ Club, I’ve re-edited Scat The Black Cat and given the cover and illustrations a face lift. There’s more news to follow about Scat’s projection into the spotlight, so watch this space.

What has been the greatest achievement of your week? Did you manage to complete a project or work on a life goal? I’d love to know, so do share your stories in the comments below.

This week, I’ve launched a new feature on my Instagram page (@eloise_writes) – I’ve started Book of the Week. This feature will help promote indie authors’ books and hopefully share new titles with my audience. If you have a new title that you’d like to be featured, send me a link to your book and I’ll do the rest. Unfortunately I can’t promise to read all the books I promote on a timely basis to produce reviews, but I will endeavour to get to as many as I can.

Later this week, I hope to share some ridiculous clips of my cats talking. Apparently, my cat Kiki realised that if he spoke to me, I would respond. So, when I walk into the room, he meows a greeting. If he requires feeding, he comes up to me and meows with a different pitch, length of meow and slight reverberation of his voice. The other cats have cottoned on to our conditioned response to his voice and have now copied him. If you don’t believe me, look out for the posts on my social media later this week.

Kiki watching the birds.

Well, my cup is empty and, to be honest, I fancy a take out! So, I’ll love and leave you for this week. Join me for a coffee catch up next week and don’t forget to send in your weekly input.

Have a great week.

El x

Eco Warrior

Culture: the beliefs and traditions we hold and pass down to future generations. Generations that evolve and develop, their beliefs influenced by their environment. That is what Amit Gandhi of Handy DIY Store is using to create a new culture in a beautiful Crowthorne village and its surrounding areas. He has devised a way of drawing residents into the 21st century using 20th century techniques. He has developed an eco-store.

In the wake of another successful protest in the city of Bristol by the well-known eco warrior, Greta Thunberg, objecting against the sluggish response of politicians and large corporations to reducing waste that will impact climate change,  Amit’s response might seem small in comparison to what these oligarchs could achieve, but his revolutionary methods of improving his business whilst reducing the carbon footprint of his customers do not fall short of inspired. As the world plays catch up, he is celebrating a year of selling eco friendly products and offering a refilling station for household cleaning supplies that encourage customers to reuse their old detergent bottles instead of adding them to the overflowing landfills in our towns and villages.118131cf-db39-4c60-8f3d-96b913696926

Speaking to the eco warrior about his decision to supply products that promote environmental change, he told me that over a year ago, he was approached by the organisation, Crowthorne Reduce Our Waste (CROW), which was set up by Georgie Morris in early 2018 after she became frustrated with the amount of single-use plastic from a weekly shop. The organisation has accomplished Plastic Free Community Status for the Crowthorne village, a status established and awarded by the Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) to towns and cities who fight to reduce their plastic waste.  The organisation called on local business owners to champion their cause to reduce single use plastics from everyday shopping. Following his own passion for change, Amit decided to research products that had a lesser impact on the environment and began restructuring his local shop to accommodate products with a lower carbon footprint, replacing the everyday detergents and utensils we buy in supermarkets with biodegradable alternatives. ac0f8f5f-137f-4c39-8aec-3904e9a90d45557010e7-195a-4060-a6e9-f7a3c3583bc6-1A year on, he is still on the hunt for more alternatives, never tiring in his search to provide his customers with eco-friendly options.

 

“I am originally from Kenya where, even today, we go to the shops to get refills on certain products. Bottles are collected and returned to be reused. That is how we have always lived. Some residents here remember doing the same thing.”

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What drives a business owner like Amit Gandhi to make that change? He believes that we all have a part to play in reducing our carbon footprint, but his passion goes further than that. Through conversations with local residents who have lived long enough to see the change in our consumerist culture, he recognises a parallel to his own childhood. “I am originally from Kenya where, even today, we go to the shops to get refills on certain products. Bottles are collected and returned to be reused. That is how we have always lived. Some residents here remember doing the same thing.” Amit’s belief that our older ideals should not be dismissed or thrown own with modernisation highlights the throw away culture that has developed with the excess in supply and demand of goods in our modernised culture. The Department of Environmental Food and Rural Affairs produced a report in February 2019, stating: “The UK recycling rate for Waste from Households (WfH; including IBA metal) was 45.7% in 2017, increasing from 45.2% in 2016. There is an EU target for the UK to recycle at least 50% of household waste by 2020.” If communities are to reach that target, more households need to embrace change.

“The UK recycling rate for Waste from Households (WfH; including IBA metal) was 45.7% in 2017, increasing from 45.2% in 2016. There is an EU target for the UK to recycle at least 50% of household waste by 2020.”

So, while the world sluggishly engages with a cultural change that existed before the turn of the century, Amit is spearheading the change needed to encourage shoppers to reuse their plastic bottles and purchase goods that won’t sit in landfills for centuries to come. 5e39744d-ed85-49ae-826b-fbee8f5dbfb4674fbd50-6460-44c6-9c63-6b8339659ef9From biodegradable kitchen foil and dog poo bags, to bees wax food wrappers and bamboo kitchen utensils, as well as eco-friendly cleaning products, his shop is in the forefront of fighting waste. Products such as Ecoleaf Washing up liquid, liquid hand wash, toilet cleaner, fabric conditioner and laundry liquid are available to purchase, and dispensers are in place for convenient refills.

“Just a conversation with him, he tells me he’s on a boat for days and sees plastic straws floating around.”

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Amit’s decision to supply products that promote an environmental change is a small step to improving the world and hopefully impacting climate change. Surrounding himself with a belief system to sustain and supply, he might not be as well-known as Greta Thunberg, but he is still an eco-warrior to those that know him. With a friendly, down to earth attitude, he shares a story about his friend who goes diving around the world to explain just how far the impact of waste affects the environment. “Just a conversation with him, he tells me he’s on a boat for days and sees plastic straws floating around.” Amit shakes his head and points out that we must do something to stop this from happening. His attitude and those of societies such as CROW and Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) campaign for a better world for all of us. Maybe it’s time we take a page out of the own of  Handy DIY Store in Crowthorne so that we too can become part of the cultural change.

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Sources:
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/784263/UK_Statistics_on_Waste_statistical_notice_March_2019_rev_FINAL.pdf
https://www.greenredeem.co.uk/greener-living/lifestyle/how-to-work-towards-plastic-free-in-your-community–crow-
https://www.inyourarea.co.uk/news/meet-the-first-community-to-go-plastic-free-in-berkshire/
https://www.sas.org.uk/plastic-free-communities/

 

 

 

A-R International: Sally Cronin

Sally Cronin shares her books and experience at Island Editions. To say this lady has been a force of support and strength for upcoming writers would be an understatement. Her helpful advice and welcoming nature has inspired me to keep going and to take my promotion of books seriously. Thank you, Sally, for your tireless support of indie authors.

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

Sally Cronin
Authors-Readers International


I have enjoyed a nomadic existence living in eight countries including Sri Lanka, Malta, South Africa, USA and Spain, before settling back here in Ireland. My work, and a desire to see some of the most beautiful parts of the world in the last forty years, has taken me to many more incredible destinations around Europe and Canada, and across the oceans to New Zealand and Hawaii. All those experiences and the people that I have met, provide a rich source of inspiration for my stories.

After a career in customer facing roles in the hospitality, retail, advertising and telecommunications industry, I wrote and published my first book in 1999 called Size Matters, about my weight loss journey, losing 150lbs in 18 months. This was followed by 11 further fiction and non-fiction books, including a number of short story collections.

My first book release resulted…

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