gillybirds

What came first- the chickens or the blog?

Lost and Found – Writing 101- Amazing Grace

“Amazing Grace” is a Christian hymn with words written by the English poet and clergyman John Newton (1725–1807), published in 1779. With the message that forgiveness and redemption are possible regardless of sins committed and that the soul can be delivered from despair through the mercy of God, “Amazing Grace” is one of the most recognizable songs in the English-speaking world. It is probably sung at least 10 million times annually.

Newton wrote the words from personal experience. He grew up without any particular religious conviction. Aged just 11 he joined his father in the Royal Navy, and after leaving the service, he became involved in the Atlantic slave trade. In 1748, a violent storm battered his vessel so severely that he called out to God for mercy, a moment that marked his spiritual conversion. However, he continued his slave trading career until 1754 or 1755, when he ended his seafaring altogether and began studying Christian theology. Around the same time Newton joined forces with the abolitionist William Wilberforce and worked tirelessly for the abolition of slavery. Ordained in the Church of England in 1764, Newton became curate of Olney, Buckinghamshire, where he began to write hymns with poet William Cowper. “Amazing Grace” was written to illustrate a sermon on New Year’s Day of 1773.

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Yesterday I attended the Thanksgiving Service for the life of a very young man and the many mourners joined in singing this hymn.
The words “I once was lost but now I’m found” from this hymn rang in my ears, as I thought about today’s Writing Challenge. Of all the life experiences that you might think this lovely boy had lost out on. But of all the joy those who knew and loved him had found by spending time with him.
A young man, born very prematurely 24 years ago, who climbed high ropes, canoed and rode horses despite being limited to a wheel chair.
Who had many friends who filled the small country church to bursting, though he spoke very few words.
Whose days revolved around therapies and medication, yet had the biggest brightest smile and sparkling eyes to win over everyone who met him.
Who was deeply loved, cherished, protected, adored by his mum, dad, sister, grandparents, church family and carers.
Always missed, never forgotten.

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Writing 101- My Fears, with apologies to Dr Seuss

We all have anxieties, worries, and fears. What are you scared of? Address one of your worst fears.

Today’s twist: Write this post in a style distinct from your own.

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Lucas and I, we go for a walk
In the park daily
Just him and me
And we like to talk,
About the things that we see.
One day we chanced upon
Balloons in a tree
A bunch of balloons
So pretty to see
Red, blue and yellow,
Purple and green
Such shiny balloons
Had never been seen.
I do not like them!
I really feel sick!
Said I to young Lucas
I’m globophobic!
There’s nothing to worry
You silly old thing!
It’s a bunch of balloons
All tied up with string.
But they go with a bang!
And they burst with a pop!
All this sudden noise
Could make my heart stop!
My Dear Mrs Gilly
Mrs Gilly my Dear
There’s no need to worry
There’s nothing to fear
It’s only a pop
It’s only a bang
It’s not like a bell that goes with a clang
Or a gun with a bullet that goes with a crack
Or a firework that screeches
Or thunder that booms
They are wonderful, colourful latex balloons
I think that you’ll find
There’s no need to swoon.
But if I walk past them
They’ll surely explode!
How can I walk past them?
Let’s find a new road.
Stop it! Please stop it!
Don’t be so scared!
Those bright coloured orbs
Mean that someone has cared
A birthday, a party,
A hullabaloo
Those bright shiny orbs
Bring happiness too.
Remember the movie,
The film called Up?
A boy, an old man,
A talking pup?
A house that took off
Half way to the moon?
A house and not one
But a million balloons!
So here’s what we’ll do
You silly wee miss
We’ll let them down gently
They will sigh with a hiss.
So we carried on walking,
Just him and me
To the end of our walk
When it was time for our tea.
And after we walked we rested our legs
And dined on our dinner
Of green ham and eggs.

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My sincerest apologies to all lovers of poetry and Dr Seuss!
This post is part of the Writing 101 challenge by the Daily Post

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Writing 101- Lost and Found

Imagine you had a job in which you had to sift through forgotten or lost belongings. Describe a day in which you come upon something peculiar, or tell a story about something interesting you find in a pile.
So, today’s twist: If you’d like to continue our serial challenge, also reflect on the theme of “lost and found” more generally in this post.

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If you worked in the lost property office for Transport for London you would never know what would find its way to your shelves next. Over 5 million items a year are found, lost on buses, trains, taxis and Underground carriages.
Hats, gloves, umbrellas.
Books, phones, crutches, walking sticks, dentures.
A jar of bull’s sperm.
Three dead bats.
A stuffed puffer fish.
A theatrical coffin.
An urn of ashes.
Two human skulls.
A machete.
Water skis.
A 14 foot boat.
How could you lose a 14 foot boat?

I lost something in London on the night of the Millenium. It was my child. To say this was one of the worst experiences of my life would not be too much of an exaggeration.
As a family we went to central London to witness the amazing fireworks and to be part of something very special for a new year, a new century, a new Millenium. We headed for Westminster Square, to be near Big Ben to hear those famous chimes. There were nine of us- grandparents, auntie and uncle, me and Mr G, and our (then) three boys aged 7,6 and 18 months. And a buggy pram. Unfortunately when we got there everyone else had the same idea. Most of them seemed to be well into their celebrations. I don’t like crowds at the best of times, but here it was dark, jam packed, noisy, boisterous, pushing, pulsing, jostling, shouting. They were all having a great time. I was not. We pushed through, holding small mittened hands, pushing the buggy against legs, trying to stay together.
Then Mr G let go of a hand. And a small 7 year old boy just disappeared. Gone.
In a second.
Lost.
I nearly went out of my mind. Even now, 14 years later in dreams I relive this moment.
Grandpa had been leading the way, and family members not freaking out at this point reckoned he would realise that we had been separated, get to a phone and arrange to meet up somewhere quieter. This was back in the day when we didn’t think it necessary to carry a phone everywhere. Can you imagine that now?
The time was 9.20pm. It was 11.30, over two hours later before we were reunited by the banks of the Thames. Thankfully our boy had no idea that anything unusual had happened. Never for a second did it cross his mind that he might be lost. He was with his beloved grandpa, and he was safe. He had a long walk around a crazy city and queued for a long time for grandpa to use a Phone Box. And now here were mum and dad looking so pleased to see him! And the promise of fireworks!
Happy New Year. happy New Century. Happy New Millenium.

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Writing 101- finding my way

On day four, you wrote a post about losing something. Today, write about finding something.
Today’s twist: if you wrote day four’s post as the first in a series, use this one as the second installment — loosely defined.
I walk every day. There are certain routes I have taken a thousand times. I have lived in this city all my life, but I’m always looking to find new places of interest or beauty.
Over the past few days I’ve been taking pictures of my walks using my humble phone camera. So today’s post is less about the words, more about what I’ve found under my feet.

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wild flowers by the wayside on my Parkrun on Saturday. So pretty

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Mr G and I had a romantic getaway for one night by the seaside. Lots of long walks along the shore. Finding many interesting colours of granite and filling my pockets with pebbles and shells

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yesterday I found myself spending about an hour in fascinating conversation with this local character known as Botanic Cyril. Homeless, with all his worldly goods (mostly books) on his bicycle, Cyril has the most intense blue eyes, and a power of recall on matters scientific and medical. You can read more about Botanic Cyril in this blog too.

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I can’t believe it is October 1st! Trees are arrayed in wonderful fiery colours lit by the warm sunshine. Bushes are bursting with berries. Apples are ready to be picked. Harvest is here.

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Writing 101- rumours in the coop

Write a post inspired by a real-world conversation.
Today’s twist: include an element of foreshadowing in the beginning of your post.

Though the morning sun shone bright gold into the coop, there was a distinct chill in the air. Little Darling, Colonel Saunders and Apollo are out nervously scratching for bugs….

I’m not at all happy with what changes are being planned.
She can’t be serious.
Oh she is! I’ve seen her eyeing up our personal space. Measuring it for new comers I’ll bet.
Well, you’ve got to admit, we haven’t exactly been productive lately.
I try my best. But when a girl is losing her feathers there are more important things than laying an egg every day.
Well I’m not going to moved from my place on the roost.
Me neither. We’ve been here a long time. No new chicks with their fancy feathers are going to push me around.
I’d like to see them try- you’re a bit of a heavyweight.
Just because my plumage is glossier than yours, there’s no need to be jealous.
I’m not, I’m just stating facts. We need to start laying regularly again, all three of us, or things could get serious.
You must admit we have quite a good system going. She can’t actually tell which of us is laying, it could be just one, or all three on alternate days.
Good plan! I can’t understand why they call us “bird brains”
Anyway, we are internet celebrities, she can’t do away with us. Think of the scandal.
And as for Mr G, he’s just got the bill for our new coop. He’s worked out the cost per egg for keeping us far exceeds our worth.
But She wouldn’t. She loves us.
Still, I’ve seen that look in her eye when she’s googling all those fancy breeds. And her crestfallen face when the laying box is empty.
Here she comes! Look busy! And someone please go and lay an egg to keep us in her good books for another day.

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Today’s blog post is an imagined conversation between the three hens in Mrs Gillybirds coop

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Writing 101- Our house in the Middle of the Street

Tell us about the home where you lived when you were twelve. Which town, city, or country? Was it a house or an apartment? A boarding school or foster home? An airstream or an RV? Who lived there with you?

Today’s twist: pay attention to your sentence lengths and use short, medium, and long sentences as you compose your response about the home you lived in when you were twelve.

I still live in the city I grew up in. Although it is not the same city at all. I grew up in Belfast right through “the Troubles”. Hotels, shops, businesses, homes, colleges could be there one day and a heap of bomb blasted rubble the next. Boarded up windows with wet paint declaring “business as usual”. Our school bags were searched and searched again for weapons, incendiary devices. A city with no night life and a fearful, watchful day time.Barricades. Burnt out buses. Bomb scares. High jackings. Balaclavas.
But to us this was normal. And it was not like that on our doorstep in the suburbs, though occasionally our windows would shake with an explosion and the air would ring with the sound of sirens.
At twelve I lived in a smallish red brick semi detached house in the middle of a quiet street with my parents and two brothers. I had no memory of living anywhere else. It was home. I had a cat and a rabbit. We had a lilac tree in the garden to climb and swing from, a path to skateboard down with a perilous step at the end should we fail to stop in time. A flat roofed kitchen which we could access via the bathroom window when we were feeling daring. That wasn’t very often. We had friends across the road, next door, down the street. We played British Bulldogs, Hide and Seek, kerb ball, Thunder and Lightening. Games that required no batteries, no screens, just fresh air and fun.
I was eagerly looking forward to having a new bedroom up in the attic. This was accessed by a Slingsby ladder which you could pull up behind you. It felt like living in a tree house. When granny came to stay I was allowed to sleep up under the eaves. Nestled in blankets and resting on caravan cushions. Like a mouse. Hidden away. Reading by torchlight. Listening to a well worn cassette tape of “Jesus Christ Superstar” until the sound went wonky as the batteries ran down. Up above my sleeping family it was as close to heaven as I had ever been.
A year later we moved away.

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Writing 101 – Happy Halloween!

Tell us about your favorite childhood meal — the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration,” or that comforted you and has deep roots in your memory.

Free free to focus on any aspect of the meal, from the food you ate to the people who were there to the event it marked.

Today’s twist: Tell the story in your own distinct voice.

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We always went to granny’s South of the border for Halloween holidays. Mum would have been packing clothes, filling tins with cakes for days and once dad secured everything to the roof rack and we had a last trip to the toilet we were on our way. 114 long miles of pushing and shoving and keeping an eye that those brothers of mine didn’t cross the imaginary line into MY space in the back of the car.
Past all the landmarks – small towns, big towns, the creepy forest just over the border, the “buckets” at Drogheda, through busy Dublin, spotting the tall red and white chimneys of the power station near Howth, the last big bend in the road when mum would spit on her hanky to scrub our faces and then ignore our protests as she combed our hair.
As we climbed stiffly from the car the smell of Granny’s lamb stew bubbling on the hob would fight with the smell of her forest fern talc she loved so much.
Granny had one big room in which we ate, watched the grainy black and white tv, played the piano and played with our cousins. Having two brothers, granny’s was great as all I had were girl cousins. Loads of them. We had such fun there whatever the season – swings and swimming in the sea in summer, parties and presents at Christmas, but best of all was Halloween.
This was the 1970’s. No pumpkins, no fancy dressing up shops with expensive outfits. No scary zombies or naughty nurses, or even naughty zombie nurses. No trick or treat. It was innocent fun that we made for ourselves.

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We spent days carving turnip lanterns. This gave us RSI in our hands and wrists, and had the terrible consequence of having turnip at every meal time. But it was worth it. Our frolics were lit by a wax candle (pre tea light days) gently toasting the inside of the hollowed vegetable, filling the air with the aroma of burning turnip.
We always had brown lemonade which we thought was very sophisticated and for a treat there was barnbrack – a type of fruit loaf- that for Halloween had a ring in it. If you were lucky enough not to choke on the cheap metal ring then it meant you would be getting married in the next year.
Then there was mum’s Apple tart, containing more 5ps wrapped in tin foil than apples it seemed. If you were cute you would watch as she cut it into slices ensuring your piece got the most money.
There were sacks of monkey nuts. These were peanuts in their natural state, still in the shell. Little piles of dry peanut shell would litter the room. Harder to crack were the more exotic hazel nuts, Brazil nuts and the tricky Walnuts. Cracking them open with granny’s ancient nut cracker took much more effort than the small reward of a slightly fusty dry tasting nut, usually with a great deal of shell still attached.
For games we ducked for apples and there was a nail above the doorway so we could tie yarn to an apple, let it swing free while we tried to take bites out of it. How we never got terrible diseases from the sharing of apples covered in slobbers playing both these games I will never know.

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Dressing up was a mask made of brittle plastic of a pig or a witch, eye and nose holes in places where no human face had features held on by elastic that would snap within the first few minutes.
If you were really lucky you got a cardboard witches hat which didn’t even have the luxury of elastic to keep it on.
We entertained ourselves by dancing along to granny’s LP collection of James Last, Mantovani and a Wombles record owned by a cousin. I remember vividly choreographing a ballet routine to the “Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” and a dance number for everyone singing “Remember You’re a Womble”. Aunties, Uncles, parents, and granny sat patiently cracking nuts and scoffing Black Magic Chocolates through all these antics.
And no Halloween was complete without sparklers bringing their own scorched odour and glittering showers of sparks and the thrill of twirling something so magical.

Two highlights stand out of these not at all scary very innocent Halloween parties.
We always had a box of indoor fireworks, which wowed us with the Magic Fern and the volcano, and especially when a good linen table cloth caught fire from a spark.

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And writing, producing and performing a sketch based on the Two Ronnies skit on TV known as the Phantom Raspberry Blower of Old London Town. We thought we were very racy getting away with blowing pretend farts in front of the grownups. Granny in particular loved it!

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I still love Halloween, I love to decorate the house, cut pumpkins, play the same games – yes we too have a nail in a doorway for the specific purpose of hanging apples, I have tasteful Yankee Candle tea light holders that smell of burning turnip of course!

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Blogging 101 – Pinsperation

Today for my Blogging 101 course our assignment was to write about how visiting a neighbouring blog yesterday inspired us.
Please jump to my card making blog Angill Cards to see how I got on!

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See for Yourself

A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write this scene.

Today’s twist: write the scene from three different points of view: from the perspective of the man, then the woman, and finally the old woman.

man’s thoughts
woman’s thoughts
older woman’s thoughts

It’s good to come here to have space to think. To talk things over. Peaceful. Those trees are really turning now. Such beautiful colours, reds, yellows, deep orange….I wonder if…..She’s very quiet. Should I just tell her what I think?

I’m glad we were able to escape that over heated hospital room…that September breeze feels so cool on my face, and the crisp, dry leaves under my feet….I’m so confused. Talk about information overload! So much to think about. What am I going to do? We both need to make this decision. It’s not just about me anymore. I want to know what he’s thinking…

I thought with only three months to Christmas I’d better start knitting for Tom. He’ll be six now. So far away. It will be spring time there. Hard to believe when the nights are getting so short now and those leaves are falling making such a mess everywhere. I know it’s ridiculous knitting a Christmas jumper when the family celebrate Christmas on the beach, but I always made one for his dad, and while there is strength in my hands I will do the same for him, the wee love. I wonder how big he’s grown?Imagine having a grandson you’ve never seen. All these years. Not a day passes when I don’t think of him. I want to know does he ever think of me.

The doctor is offering the opportunity of a lifetime. I know it’s experimental but if it were me I would jump at the chance! I know we haven’t been together very long but I want to tell her how I feel. But I’m afraid my honesty would spoil what we’ve shared these last few months. Good times! Look at her….Such a beautiful face. And those eyes. Those beautiful eyes…Hasn’t she suffered enough?

I’m afraid. Afraid what surgery would mean. Afraid and yet astounded at the thought that life could change so dramatically . I’ve often lain in the darkness wondering just what it would be like. How will I adapt? And if the surgery is a failure, how will I get over that too? How will he cope? Is it too much too soon?I wish I could read his face

I hope Tom likes this red yarn. It was a favourite colour of his dad’s – like his favourite football team. Perhaps I should write, or phone, make the first move. But I’m afraid to fly. At my age! On my own. Afraid of the journey. Afraid of a closed door. Afraid of being rejected. By my own son! Again. But to see the look on wee Tom’s face if he opened the door and I handed him the jumper in person!

I just want her to see me

I just want to see him

I just want to see

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Today’s blog posting is a short piece of fictional writing based on the theme suggested in the Daily Post Writing 101 course.

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Living the Good Life

Go to a local café, park, or public place and report on what you see. Get detailed: leave no nuance behind.
Today’s twist: write an adverb-free post. If you’d rather not write a new post, revisit and edit a previous one: excise your adverbs and replace them with strong, precise verbs.

We are a small community of peace loving sisters. We have one purpose In life, a daily task to be fulfilled regardless of the weather, rising in the early dawn light and retiring as the sun’s last rays sink below the hills. What we produce is taken and used to improve the lives of others. This work takes a toll on our bodies, though had we been born in different circumstances, we may have spent our entire short life in cramped dark conditions and been disposed of once we had outlived our productivity.
We spend a considerable amount of our day eking out an existence from what nature and our generous benefactor provides. Our fare is plain and simple, mostly vegetarian. We drink nothing but water.
If any of us gets ideas above her station she is reprimanded with speed and severity. Strict order is observed at all times. Our conversation in general is quiet and respectful, our voices rising in a joyous song only when our task is completed.
A recent move finds us in much improved accommodation. Our boundaries have been extended, we have new territory to explore and navigate, rather than the limited area we occupied since we first joined the community. From the confines of our private space we enjoy watching the comings and goings of those around us, who often stop to encourage us with their chat. There is shelter from inclement weather, we are protected from those who would wish to harm us.
It is a good life here in the coop.

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