• Home
  • Archive by category 'Inspiration'
  • Page 10

Archive for ‘Inspiration’

Sex as Ritual

Bernini Hades and Persephone close uptumblr_lg4h59T3z31qe2nvuo1_500I’m very excited to be on a panel about Sexuality and Spirituality with Victoria Blisse at Eroticon this year. Those of you who follow my blog and read my books know that I’m fascinated by the connection between sex and spirituality. I’m not a mystic. I’m a bit of a skeptic these days, but I’d be the first to say that there’s definitely something spiritual, something magical about sex, and not the least of it is the ritual involved.

I think about the ritual of sex a lot lately as I revisit the Elemental Coven from the Lakeland Heatwave Trilogy in my serialisation of Demon Interrupted on my blog. I’ve always loved ritual. I made rituals up when I was a child. Later, I was involved in everything from conservative Christianity to practicing in a Wiccan coven — drawn in by the ritual. I spent three years training to be a spiritual director. I did it for the ritual. Contemplative prayer, meditating upon passages of scripture, the use of movement, dance, chant, are all tools of ritual. During my time spent in the Wiccan coven, the year itself was lived out in ritual — full moon, new moon, the changing of the seasons, the celebration of spring and harvest. During that time my husband and I even underwent the ritual of hand fasting in the stone circle at Avebury.

Ritual is a set of actions performed mainly for their symbolic value. But that’s only the beginning. The real power of ritual is that it’s the gateway to something beyond itself, it’s the gateway to a deeper understanding of what it represents.

That ritual infuses my erotica is not surprising. Sex is steeped in ritual, and often the rituals we psyche_et_lamour_327x567practice before sex are strikingly similar to religious rituals. We often wear special clothing for the occasion, just as priests and acolytes do. We may share a romantic dinner together before hand, with special foods, just as the priest serves the Eucharist. Flowers and gifts may be offered. And all this we do in hopes of experiencing and celebrating le petit mort, the sexual version of death and resurrection.

When life was a lot more tenuous than it is now, fucking the world into existence was an act of high magic, sympathetic magic. One hoped that by having sex in a field or a cave or possibly a stone circle, the birds and the bees would see what was happening, and take a hint. Pollination would take place in the plant kingdom, plants would grow. Procreation would take place in the animal kingdom, animals would give birth. There would be food to eat, and the next generation would be guaranteed. Our ancestors got it — that there was something in the act, something in the lust driving the mating rituals of all living creatures that brought about new life. New life was in itself magic.

Today sex is more about recreation than procreation. The urgency is no longer there, nor is the belief that our efforts will encourage the cattle in farmer Jones’s field to breed. The urgency may be gone, but the ritual is still there. Strangely and wonderfully, so is the magic, albeit a different kind of magic.

220px-Grus_canadensisThe beauty of sex as ritual is that we don’t have to be members of a religious group; we don’t have to undergo years of training to practice the rituals of sex. Whether it’s BDSM, kink, vanilla or masturbation, sex contains the built-in default rituals of all humanity, just like it does for our animal cousins. Yes, I get that it’s biology. But when cranes dance and grebes do synchronised swimming and apes groom each other, it certainly seems like more is happening than just the old in and out.

Giving and receiving pleasure is the ultimate ritual of human connection, even if it’s just some much-needed connecting with ourselves. There are as many versions of the ritual as there are people to practice it. No organised religion can offer a ritual that is more personal nor more universally compelling. Perhaps that’s why so much effort has been made through the centuries to regulate it, to control it, to limit it.

Back in the dawn of humanity when sex was both ritual and religion, our ancestors got it right. Though the science wasn’t yet available to back up that intuitive connection, that visceral urgency of fucking the world into existence, even back then, our ancestors already knew that the ultimate ritual, the ultimate magic takes place in the arms another.

If you’re in the Bristol area next Saturday the 7th, I hope you’ll get your ticket and come join us at Eroticon.

 

 

 

A Peek at What’s to Come

Writing imageFab writer, good friend and sister Brit Babe, Tabitha Rayne, tagged me for this blog hop Q and A fresh for 2014. You can check out her answers here. As you know I always sneak in through the back door of every New Year anyway, so February is when I finally catch up with all those new beginnings, and here is a peek at some of what I hope for in 2014.  I’ll tag 2 more unsuspecting writers at the end of this post!

If you could achieve anything with your writing in 2014, what would it be?

I would love to sell my Epic Fantasy trilogy and branch out into the wider world of fiction. I adore writing erotica and erotic fiction, and I can’t imagine not doing it, but I think like so many writers, I want ‘adventures in writing,’  and my wonderful characters in the first novel of my trilogy, The Choosing, have given me huge adventure and loads of dark, edgy fun in a new world.

There’ll be another book coming out in The Mount series at the end of this year as well, and I would love to get back to work on Eye of the Beholder, the burlesque play I’m working on with Moorita Encantada. So much to write, so little time!

What are the top three demons you must slay to achieve your goals in 2014?

The demon of self-doubt is always a biggie. No matter what I achieve, no matter what happens, I’m always and ever neurotic and there’s always room for a little more uncertainty.

The demon of Tunnel-vision forever haunts me and hounds me. I need more balance in my life, more play time, more time to read for pleasure and enjoy a little breathing space. I know that the Tunnel-vision demon would be way less of a problem if I didn’t love what I do SO much, but still, I write better and am more creative when the rest of my world is a little more ordered and balanced.

The negativity demon is a demon I’ve fought with all of my life. I don’t just see the glass as half-empty, but I often see it cracked and dirty as well. Sigh! I suppose seeing the cloud in every silver lining helps me prepare mentally for the worst and then allows me to be pleasantly surprised when things aren’t so bad. But really … Negative Nelly is very neurotic!

Name three things that inspire you to write

Just about anything can inspire me to write. It doesn’t take much. But things that are guaranteed to inspire in my life are long walks, working in the veg garden and, believe it or not, ironing. Of the three, I most definitely prefer the first two.

What advice do you have for a new writer who is considering writing fiction?

First of all, get the words down. ALL of them! Push on to the end, never go back, never quit, never stress about how bad what you’ve written is. First drafts are almost always crap. That’s how it’s meant to be. But you have to get something on the page before you can make it shine. First and most important rule of writing is WRITE!

Secondly, don’t ever give up. Like most things worth doing, perfecting the writing craft and telling stoies and getting them published takes lots of hard work and lots of time. That means the people who have made it, the people whose novels you enjoy reading are the ones who didn’t give up, the ones who got that mountain of rejections and just kept pushing. DON’T GIVE UP!

That’s me in through the back door of 2014, and now keep an eye out for these lovely writers and their 2014 plans.

Helen Callaghan  http://www.helencallaghan.co.uk/

Kay Jaybeewww.kayjaybee.me.uk

You can follow Kay on Twitter- kay_jaybee

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/KayJaybeeAuthor

Goodreads- http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3541958-kay-jaybee

Brit Babes Site- http://thebritbabes.blogspot.co.uk/p/kay-jaybee.html

Kay also writes contemporary romance as Jenny Kane – www.jennykane.co.uk

Chocoholic Needs Your Unctuous Chocolate Themed Stories!

 

A Very Crowded Room

writing image 2It’s crowded room time again, and my room that is 2013 is unusually crowded, surprisingly crowded, in fact. I’m sure I’m not alone in my fascination with the last week of the year. It’s completely different from the rest of the year. It feels more like there are actually just fifty-one weeks in the year, then there is a week that’s really the crowded room at the end, a place not unlike my grandmother’s living room was, jam-packed with the bits and pieces and memorabilia of eighty-three years of living.

The last week of the year is a mental version of that living room, a room that we all have in our head. No matter how expansive the previous fifty-one weeks have been, this final week is the tiny space into which we crowd everything that has happened in the year. Then we mentally pour ourselves a glass of our favourite, settle in to the one comfy chair that’s not avalanching with memories and emotions, and we reflect.

Every item in my grandmother’s living room had a story — a gift from someone, a souvenir from some marked event in her life, something someone had made for her or she had made for herself. My grandmother’s living room was a book full of stories I only ever experienced through her eyes, stories that were lost in the mist to anyone but her.

This time of year, in this last week, we all sit in our mental story book living rooms and tell ourselves one last time the stories that have been our life for the past fifty-one weeks. We laugh at our joys, we mourn our losses and we nod our heads in satisfaction at our successes, promising they’ll be even bigger next year.

There was a finality about her over-crowded living room. It spoke of endings, of past events, of P1000885treasured moments. That last week of the year room we all occupy right now has its own finality. After midnight tonight, we can crowd no more into that room. We leave it as it is, papers strewn, boxes open, bed unmade, cup of tea half finished. Mind you, some of us spend our last hours in that room frantically trying to crowd just a little more into it. That’s me, sitting in the recliner madly tapping away at the computer trying to get another chapter written, another short story out before I have to leave this room and lock the door behind me.

It doesn’t matter though, if we’re sitting reflecting on all that fills this room, or if we’re frantically trying to fill it fuller, at midnight tonight, we’ll all take a deep breath, open the door and walk out into the empty room waiting for us that is 2014. All we’ll take with us is our memories of the room we left and our hopes for how we’ll fill this bright new room that stretches promisingly before us. Some of us make New Years resolutions, some of us just plow in without a plan of action, but one thing is for certain, this time next year, if we live that long, we’ll be sitting in the full room again reflecting on how the experiences of 2014 have shaped us, anticipating how we will take the experiences into the next empty room. With that in mind, here is a very brief tour of my 2013 Room.

Empty Room New Year postMore Books in My Crowded Room:

This has been the year I had three novels published, finishing two trilogies in the process, along with a collection of my short stories.

Elemental Fire, the final novel of the Lakeland Witches paranormal trilogy came out early in the year.

Identity Crisis, book two of Grace Marshall’s Executive Decisions came out about the same time.

The Exhibition, the final book in the Executive Decisions trilogy came out in November.

Gracefully Aroused: The Best of K D Grace  a collection of my short stories, came out in the middle of the year.

First Drafts and Works in Progress:

medusa_bernini2013 was the year I collaborated with the fabulous Moorita Encantada on a burlesque play, Eye of the Beholder, a kinky, quirky twisting and retelling of the Greek myth of Medusa and Perseus. There’s more work to be done on that, and I’m looking forward to the rewrite and the next steps with Moorita in 2014.

With two days left in 2013, I finished the final read-through of the proofs for Fulfilling the Contract, the sequel to The Initiation of Ms Holly, which will be out in February 2014.

I’ve written two short stories I’m very excited about, that will be coming out in 2014. I’ll be crowing about those when they happen, and I’ve written numerous blog posts. I’m not even going to mention the pages of new ideas for future novels!

Did I Do Anything other than Write in 2013?

Yes! I did! I made two major trips abroad for research as well as for fun. I spent five days in Las Vegas in March, along with ten days in Oregon. Both Vegas and Oregon figure strongly into novels I’ve written and ones still to come.

I just got back from a fantastic week in Rome, where book three of The Mount series, To Rome with Lust, will be set. I came home truly inspired.

This was the year of the allotment. I spent many long hours spent digging and planting and harvesting some of the most delicious veg ever grown. My back still aches and my mouth still waters at the thought.

This was the year I temporarily gave up long walks for time spent at the gym with a personal trainer. What started out as rehab for a gimpy knee ended up to be a different kind of challenge for me and one that I’ve truly enjoyed. As for the knee – it’s very much improved and I look forward to taking on some long crow-country walks in 2014.

555019_495828133815487_910474558_nThere were lots of readings this year, several at Sh! Women’s Store, including two Reading and Poetry Slams. Sh! is always a delight.

This was the first year of Smut by the Sea, a fabulous gathering of writers and readers organized by two of my heroes, Victoria and Kev Blisse. I’m elated to say that we’ll all be returning to Scarborough for year two of Smut by the Sea in 2014! If you get a chance to attend, please do. I’d love to meet you there!

This was year two for Eroticon – held in London in 2013, and expanded to two full days this year! Once again, Ruby Kiddell organized a totally stunning event. I was very lucky to have the opportunity to lead a workshop for the event – my first ever. Thought my knees were knocking and my hands were shaking, it was a wonderful experience. I can’t recommend Eroticon enough, and in 2014 it’ll bet returning to Bristol. I hope to see you there!

The Birth of the Brit Babes:britbabes_sidebar

One of the most exciting things that happened at Eroticon this year was the birth of the Brit Babes. In 2012 at Eroticon, we put our heads together and schemed the fab Seven Deadly Sins anthology. In 2013 all that creativity became the creative force behind the Brit Babes, a group of eight British erotica authors dedicated to promoting quality and varied erotica and helping readers find just exactly the erotica that works for them. To learn more about The Brit Babes and their plans for world domination which very well could include you, please check out the Brit Babes Site

After a year’s hiatus, this was the year Erotica came back to London and Smutters organized a wonderful table selling books and promoting authors. I was very proud to be a part of the event, even for one day, and I’m still in awe of Victoria Blisse and Lucy Felthouse who organized the Smutter table and readings. You two rock!

This was the year I got nominated, along with the fabulous Kay Jaybee, for ETO’s Best Erotic Author of 2013. Kay and I went and celebrated at the event in Birmingham. We lost out to some chick named E.L. James. Can you believe it? But we still had a fantastic time catching up with old friends and making new ones. We came away winners anyway.

Writers spend so much time living in our heads, in the worlds we create and, at least for me, that forces me to live in the moment most of the time when I’m not writing. I never think much ahead of the next scene to be written, the next chapter to be finished, the next blog post to be put up. As a result, the room that is 2013 has, like the ones before it, filled up without me paying too much attention to what’s around me. And then I reach this day, this last day of the year and I look around me. I’m stunned at all P1000814that’s happened. As I think back, reflecting on the stories, the experiences, the laughter, the sharing and camaraderie, the joy of seeing my stories in print, it seems hard to imagine that I could possibly fit so much into only 365 days. And all the neurotic struggles and self-doubts and fears, well they take up such a tiny space in the room of 2013 that I wonder now why I let them take up so much of my energy.

Once again I come to the end of the year, pick up the key, and stand with heart racing, head full of ideas and plans, with hand resting on the door knob to enter that new room, the one that is bright and shiny and labeled in spangles and glitter, 2014. I am moved by all that has been, by all that is crowded into the space of one single year and by how it has changed me. And I anticipate newness, challenges, more neurotic episodes, adventures, times with friends, and writing – LOTS of writing. That’s the part I anticipate the most. How could it be otherwise?

My wish for you is that your reflections in your full room of 2013 be good ones, satisfying ones, and encouraging ones. And at the stroke of midnight, may you enter that bright empty room of 2014 with hope and joy and anticipation of how wonderfully you’ll fill it up.

 

 

The Story Behind Amy Kernahan’s Amazing Travelogue — Orion is Upside Down

version1

It was my pleasure to be a part of the wonderful Guildford Writer’s Group for several years and getting to know the very talented writer, Amy Kernahan, was one of the highlights of that experience. At the time, Amy was writing her wonderful travelogue, Orion is Upside Down, so once a fortnight the whole group got to experience Amy’s amazing pilgrimage, with her father, to Antarctica. I couldn’t be more pleased to introduce you to Amy and the story behind Orion is Upside Down. Welcome, Amy!

Amy Kernahan Orion is Upside DownAntarctica was once the very essence of inaccessibility.  One of its poles (the Pole of Inaccessibility) is named so.  Did you know that Antarctica is home to more than one pole?  It’s home to more than one Pole as well, assuming Arctowski Base s occupied.  Several years have passed now since I visited, but the Polish research station on King George Island is still going.

The working research station may or may not be on the itinerary, but Antarctica is now firmly on the tourist trail and sojourns there are as common in print as they are becoming in actuality.  So why is my journey, made only shortly after the first so-called ‘cruises’ to the White Continent, and my journaling of it any different? What qualifies me?  To my knowledge, no Antarctic chronicler in print has ever seen their own island home reflected in the islands of the sub-Antarctic.  But for the Gulf Stream, the Outer Hebrides, where I was born and raised, would, like South Georgia, be permanently robed in glaciers.  As it is, they are a twin to the Falklands.  Thus I have an affinity with the land itself.

Antarctica is more than the penguins.

Antarctica is more than history.

The Nordnorge

The Nordnorge

Been and gone is what is called is called the Golden Age.  (But who’s to say the best is not to come?)  Sir Ernest Shackleton, in whose Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition’s wake the bark of my journey sails is an archetypal giant of polar exploration.  But alongside my awe of Shackleton, I have the simple affection of a shared heritage with Thomas MacLeod, Able Seaman on board Endurance, Shackleton’s ship.  Shackleton, known for bestowing nicknames upon his crew called him ‘Stornoway’ after his wee… my wee… our wee home town.

So there are my credentials: Antarctica herself and one of her lesser-sung heroes are a part of what I call ‘home.’

Out of whose womb

Out of whose womb

The Peregrinatio is the ancient Celtic search for one’s true home.  Orion is Upside Down chronicles mine.

Blurb:

This sea story from the bottom of the earth takes the reader on a philosophical voyage through many realms, religious and secular, mathematical and poetic, natural and mechanical. Something akin to a Scottish Bill Bryson, Amy Kernahan, who was born and grew up on the Isle of Lewis, the largest of the chain of islands off the northwest coast of Scotland, sets out with her travelling companion, her father, to journey in the Antarctic and follow her dreams of seeing, and even standing in, the places where Sir Ernest Shackleton had been.

Casting Shackleton in the role of Virgil to her Dante, she follows his trail through the ice fields around the Antarctic Peninsula, a vision here on earth as hellish as the frozen  Lake Cocytus at the centre of Dante’s Inferno. Along the way, the might of the sea, and the glories of the Antarctic set Amy pondering themes of Judeo-Christianity, seeing Antarctica as a remnant of Eden, unpopulated by both mankind and sin. The mathematics of nature reveals itself to her, and she is awed by the prophetic soul of Coleridge and his Ancient Mariner.

Paradise Bay

Paradise Bay

Amy has set out on her journey believing it to be a pilgrimage to Shackleton’s grave, but as she sojourns beneath striking southern skies where even the familiar is alien, she realises that she is on another more spiritual pilgrimage, called by the ancient Christians of her homeland peregrinatio, the search for what they called ‘the place of one’s resurrection’ or true home. The outcome, although perhaps not surprising, is not quite as clear cut as it might have been.

Polarising Filters Kick Butt

Polarising Filters Kick Butt

Excerpt:

We were surrounded by giants.  Nootaikok, the Inuit god of icebergs, and his court.  Tradition describes him as ‘large and very friendly.’  I wondered which space-time continuum that was in.  Certainly not this one.  I had mourned the results of his handiwork since I was six years old.  Nordnorge lay motionless, like one prepared for martyrdom, unarmed before the executioner, yet daring to bring her petition to a god not renowned for mercy, whatever tradition might say.

Shackleton's Grave

Shackleton’s Grave

Of course, the couple of hours of outward inactivity were taken up with the crew’s preparations for landing, out of sight down in the car deck, but standing out on deck beneath the lifeboat that had offered so little shelter as we rounded Cape Horn, in the stillness that seemed to be as much a part of the place as the mountains and the water were, it was easy to imagine that the ship was holding parley with the god of the ice, bargaining for the safety of her passengers.  Nootaikok acquiesced and the landing began, but the little boats, that the previous evening had gambolled around like puppies, seemed subdued.  They waited patiently for their charges under the lee of Nordnorge’s hull, huddling in to the mother-ship for protection.

Be careful, she warned them.  If your propellers hit the ice

Ice littered the bay.  As well as the bergs, many of them level with the ship’s superstructure, the water teemed with brash ice, up to three feet exposed, and the comically named ‘bergy bits’ that filled the taxonomic gap between brash and true bergs, anything over fifteen feet.  And then there were the infamous growlers, barely visible submerged ice that lurked just beneath the surface, like the submarines of some hostile alien power.

South Georgia Rainbow

South Georgia Rainbow

The ice here is glacial, ancient.  I have heard people say of Titanic, ‘How could crashing into ice sink a ship?’ No one would doubt that crashing into a rock could sink a ship.  Glacial ice, the stuff icebergs are made of, is harder than rock.  It is not frozen water, it is compressed snow, the ice at and below the surface the oldest, the hardest, compressed over aeons by the mass of hundreds of feet of snow-becoming-ice above it as it makes its slow, unrelenting journey to the sea, gouging its path out of the rock, tearing away the surface as though it were topsoil.  Anyone who doubts its destructive power need only look at the fjords of Norway, their sheer cliffs dropping to the sea – ice did that.  Destruction that creates.

Stromness Warning

Stromness Warning

Tomas helped us ashore again, but he didn’t need to hold the Polar Cirkle boat’s nose quite as firmly as he had at Deception Island; she was making no attempt to bolt.

‘Welcome to Neko Harbour,’ he called out.  ‘Our first landing on the Antarctic mainland.’

Close to our landing point stood a little wooden hut, painted bright red to make it stand out against the natural white, a white so bright it seemed almost unnatural.  The hut was a refuge erected by the Argentineans in 1949.  And what a refuge it must have been to anyone who had run the gauntlet of ice that guarded the Harbour.  But now, like the crumbling remains of the station at Whalers’ Bay, it was home only to penguins and seals.

Thou rash intruder

Thou rash intruder

The Harbour is named after a Norwegian factory ship which operated there between 1911 and 1924.  Looking out into the bay I tried to picture her (tried because I didn’t really know what a factory ship looked like) lying there surrounded by the ice, which tolerated her with disinterest as it did now another Norwegian vessel.  Nordnorge looked suddenly small, disappearing behind one of the aquatic white mountains that patrolled the bay.

Thou rash intruder on our realm below.[i]

They stood at the gates of Dis, the threshold to the nether-hell, Dante and his guide.  No way to go but onward, for no-one can retreat out of Hell.  You can’t go back the way you’ve come.  If you do, you may leave Hell, but Hell will not leave you.

And as the demons at the gate appraised them with scorn, ‘Thou with us shalt stay,’ they say to Virgil.

No.

But did Shackleton, man of words and eloquence and frustrated poet himself, Virgil now to a reluctant Dante, ever think that perhaps he would?

The guide turns to his charge.

‘Have no fear, no matter what they do to me.  I’ve been here before.’

Top of hill Paradise

Top of hill Paradise

Is that why we journey through Hell?  So that once we’ve been there and know the way, we can guide another through?

The paradox of Antarctica began to manifest itself.  A place that could be Eden, unsullied, un-fallen, could just as easily be Hell.

Or vice versa.

This terrifying place, with its monstrous inhabitants, was equally the last haven of peace and innocence.  But we were banished from Eden.

This is the ice’s world, and we really have no business being here.

About Amy Kernahan

Amy was born and brought up on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, but she’s now an ‘economic migrant’ to the South East of England, where she work as an assembly, integration and test engineer for a company building small satellites in Guildford, Surrey.  That’s the ones up in space, not the dishes on the sides of buildings.

A fascination with technology led her to choose a career path that she believed would bring her to its cutting edge, gaining along the way a Masters in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Glasgow and studying for a time at the prestigious Ecole Nationale Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace in Toulouse. But the reality is somewhat different and whoever said the space industry is glamorous has never worked in it!

When she’s not writing or hidden away in a big white scrupulously clean laboratory wearing a silly hat and static-deflecting overalls, Amy does milage.  She is now saying ‘never again’ to another marathon, but her year wouldn’t be complete without her trips to Cardiff and Liverpool to run in those cities’ half-marathons.  And she likes to trek the long-distance paths of around a hundred miles, five to six days walking.  In a world where we can hop on a plane and be almost anywhere within twenty-four hours, Amy likes to travel in the most primal, human way she can.  Ironic, perhaps, for someone who spent four years of her life learning to design aeroplanes.

But Amy’s first love has always been the sea.  You don’t get much more primal than that.

Find Amy Here:  www.amykernahan.co.uk

Get your Copy of Orion is Upside Down Here:

Links to Amazon:

Paperback:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Orion-Upside-Down-Amy-Kernahan/dp/1906791759/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1386766072&sr=8-1&keywords=orion+is+upside+down

http://www.amazon.com/Orion-Upside-Down-Amy-Kernahan/dp/1906791759/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1387056219&sr=1-1

Kindle:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Orion-Upside-Down-Amy-Kernahan-ebook/dp/B0063I5P2Q/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1386766072&sr=8-1&keywords=orion+is+upside+down

http://www.amazon.com/Orion-Upside-Down-Amy-Kernahan-ebook/dp/B0063I5P2Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1387056219&sr=1-1&keywords=Orion+Upside+Down+Amy+Kernahan

Waterstones:

http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/amy+kernahan/orion+is+upside+down/8613945/

 


[i] Dante, Inferno VIII, 90 tr Dorothy L. Sayers

 

Best Summer Memories Coast to Coast with Holly: Part VI The North York Moors on to Robin Hood’s Bay

Best Summer Memories Giveaway: A Romp through the Archives & Our Coast-to-Coast Walk:

Welcome to Part VI of Coast to Coast with Holly, my best ever summer memory.

I’ve been wanting to share the Coast to Coast walk Raymond and I took with Holly two years ago once again, I suppose as much for my pleasure as I hope for yours. But one of the best things that happened on that walk across England is that I blogged it. I walked in the day and sat in pubs or at our B & B in the evenings and blogged our adventures. Raymond took masses of pictures, so the blog record could be as visual as possible, because the views were fabulous and the experience was amazing. Some of my very best summer memories are from that fantastic two weeks as we walked in all kinds of weather from St. Bee’s Head on the Irish Sea all the way to Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Sea.

All this week I’ve been revisiting that fabulous journey by posting those travel blogs again. During that time, I’m hoping that you’ll drop me a comment and share your best summer memories. And to encourage you to share your fun, I’m offering a copy of one of my back titles — winner’s choice. All you have to do is comment for a chance to win.

Day 12 Ingleby Cross to Clay Bank Top 12 miles

At last, we left the flat miles of farmland and began the climb into the Cleveland Hills. Our first views of the North York Moors came as we climbed the path through the Arncliffe Wood along the Cleveland Way, which we followed all through today and will follow partly through tomorrow as well. Miles of blooming heather and red sandstone stretched out before us on either side of a very solid rock path. But every once in a while a view of the black peat bogs served as a reminder of what lies beyond the stones. And after our experience on the decent off Nine Standards Rigg, we were more than happy to stick to the path.

As we broke through the trees to open moorland for the first time, getting into the North York Moors proper, the views were astonishing. We could look back to the west over the Vail of Mowbray and the miles of farmland we’d walked across the day before, and to the east we could see the rise and fall of an undulating ocean of mauve heathered moors patch-worked with swaths of rich green pasturelands and the odd fringe of woodland. There was altogether a wilder feel to the place than anything we experienced yesterday. It was as we sat by the cairn on Live Moor having our lunch that we realized we were actually seeing our first glimpses of the North Sea on the horizon. Strange how we looked right at it for the longest time before we realized that we were seeing what we’d been walking toward for the last eleven days.

During the course of the day, we walked a series of plunging rocky descents and oxygen sapping climbs into even more exquisite views, culminating in a delicious scrambley ascent over the Wainstones before our final descent of the day. Since our B&B for the night was off rout, our landlady and her enormous black Airedale, Bonnie, met us in her Land Rover at the end of our last descent at Clay Bank Top. We were glad for the lift, as walking there would have meant an extra three mile descent to get to dinner and bed, and then another three mile ascent the next day to get back on rout. At the end of a hard day’s walk, neither of us were particularly anxious to add any extra mileage to our long-suffering feet.

The Buck Inn at Chop Gate was our final stop for the night. All in one, bed, breakfast, room on the ground floor, and dinner at the really lovely pub, along with a good WiFi connection, which we took advantage of in the pub until bedtime. And bedtime was not very late.

In spite of a path much to our liking with lots of rocky ascents and descents, it was a hard day. After twelve days of walking, the wear and tear of the miles is beginning to take its toll on both of us. Raymond had a new blister and I had a knot on the back of one knee. As we approach the end of our journey, three things have become massively important; getting enough rest, which we never can quite manage as time goes on, getting enough food and drink – doesn’t really matter what at this point, it just matters that it fills the void. And the void feels huge at the end of a long day. And finally, there’s the all-consuming care of the feet. Nothing has taken more of a beating in the past twelve days than our feet. Each morning we spend a half an hour treating blisters, taping up wounds and making sure no toe is rubbing where it shouldn’t and no hot spots are left untended. We’ve become fanatical as we get closer to the final day. We’ve heard horror stories of people who have almost made it to the last day, then gotten infected feet injuries, and that’s the end of their Coast to Coast. And few things are more miserable than walking on sore feet. So yes, I’d say we’re fanatical. We’re too close to the goal not to be careful. With the last two days ahead of us, we can’t afford not to take good care of our feet.

 Day 13 Clay Bank Top to Glaisdale 18 miles

We were walking by 8:15 this morning. Knowing just how far we had to walk today, getting an early start was just that little extra assurance. It was one of those days when the path before us was straight and easy after our first steep ascent back onto the moors. In fact we spent the first fast eight miles on an abandon railway bed with miles of bog and heather on both sides of us as we walked along pleasantly on terra firma. After walking in the bog, we can only imagine the engineering feat it took to build such a railroad. It was built to carry iron stone to the coast. It seems sad, in a way, that there should now be no real trace of such gargantuan efforts other than a long, straight path. Having said that, we were certainly thankful for those efforts.

A little before noon, we arrived at Blakey and the Lion Inn. The Lion Inn sets up on a rise above the rest of the countryside, and is the first and last outpost of civilization until the end of our day’s journey at Glaisedale. Lots of Coast-to-Coasters overnight at the Lion Inn, but we had ten more miles to go before we could overnight, so after a cuppa and a venison baguette, we walked on.

The weather was perfect for walking – Blessedly dry and cool with mixed sun and cloud. We found our rhythm early and it was a golden sort of day. We made good time walking along the great paths across the North York Moors and seeing very few people until we got on toward Glaisdale. At this point in our journey, we were meeting people who had started their Coast to Coast walk at Robin Hood’s Bay and will finish up at St Bee’s Head in Cumbria. My feet hurt for them.

It’s funny how our world has narrowed to the walking rhythm. Life is so simple walking every day. Our routine is easy and good. We get up, we eat breakfast, we walk all day, eating and drinking as needed, we get to the B&B in the evening, have our shower, wash out a few things, eat our dinner, look at the route for the next day and fall into bed. The next day we do the whole thing over again. I love the simplicity of it all. It fits so well, and it’s so much closer to what matters than what often passes for what matters in every-day life. I’m tired now, and looking forward to dipping the toe of my boot in the waters of Robin Hood’s Bay, but as sure as I’m sitting here, I know I’ll feel bereft when I wake up Monday morning with no more miles to walk, and there’ll be culture shock as surely as if I had been in another country. And is so many ways, I am in another country, a wonderful country. I suppose I’ll deal with the bereavement the same way I deal with it when I finish writing a novel. I’ll start planning the next walk. In fact, I already have a great walk in mind for next summer.

We’re now sitting at the only pub in Glaisdale, chatting with other Coast-to-Coasters who, like us, are excitedly anticipating their final day of walking, anticipating completion of something that seemed bigger that anything we could imagine when we all started it, something that, at times, was a lot more than we had bargained for, but something we would not have missed for the world. Tomorrow, we walk twenty miles to Robin Hood’s Bay. Tomorrow, I’ll write about how it feels to walk all the way across England. It’s almost a reality and yet at the same time, it seems like a dream.

Day 14 August 21 Glaisdale to Robin Hood’s Bay 20 miles

 I very naively thought because we did yesterday’s eighteen miles at speed and got in so much earlier than we thought we would that today would be the same. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Yesterday we walked a good bit of the walk on abandon railway beds, and other than the ascent to get back up on top of the moors at Clay Bank Top, most of the walk was flat, even slightly downhill. Also there was only the Lion Inn in the middle of nowhere at Blakey Moor to slow us down. For the most part we walked at speed without interruptions.

Today was completely different. Today the first thing on our agenda was to get back on route from our B & B and work our way out of the convoluted maze of Glaisdale, which is only a small village, but sprawled out higgledy piggledy up the flanks of the moors. We were barely out of Glaisdale before we had several other small villages to negotiate culminating in the walk through heaving Grosmont with its myriad holiday makers there for the steam trains and the views. The crush of humanity was followed hard on by a hellish five hundred foot ascent out of the village on a busy road. It was this ascent in untried socks that was responsible for my worst blister of the journey, driving me to shed boots and socks as soon as we were out on open moorland again and reach for the Compeed and sports tape and a different pair of socks. (I always carry a spare)

LESSON LEARNED: Socks DO matter. And what I can walk in at home on the Downs in the Soft South are not necessarily good for walking 2o miles at pace across massively varied terrains.

After the Ascent from Hell, for awhile we walked along open moorland, though we were still on the road for quite a bit longer. Road-walking does not make for happy feet. We descended steeply into Little Beck then walked through the Little Beck Wood for ages. It truly was a lovely place to walk, especially since the day had turned hot and sunny and the shade was very welcome. But I think the experience of busy Grosmont and the walk through the woodland full of holiday makers complete with kids, dogs, and picnics was the beginning of culture shock. Our Coast to Coast journey was coming to an end, and in a few hours we’d be thrust back into the rest of the world again, and back to our normal routine. We both found the experience of such a sudden deluge of people to be strangely jarring.

Aside from the slow schlog from village to village, making our way through crowds of holiday makers (read this to mean way more than the three or four people we had been encountering every day en route) and the long stretches along asphalt roads, there was that realization that tomorrow would be different. Tomorrow we would wake up and NOT walk. We both agreed that somewhere between the breathtaking views and the blisters and the putting one foot in front of the other, we had almost forgotten what it was like not to be walking. It felt like we’d always been walking, like walking was the natural order of the universe, like walking was just what was supposed to happen every morning. As we got closer to Robin Hood’s Bay, as we found our way through the caravan park to the coastal path that would eventually lead us to the end of our journey, we were both moving on autopilot, tired and a bit numb, our minds still trying to take in the experiences of the past two weeks.

As we rounded the corner and got our first view of Robin Hood’s Bay shining like a jewel in the low sun, the adrenaline boost of that first view drove us on. Descending toward the beach, we met a couple of our compadres with whom we’d had dinner the night before. They were coming back up the hill smiling with the elation at the feat they’d just completed. There were happy congratulations all around before they limped off up the hill and we found our way to the beach to finish the ritual we had begun fourteen days before at St Bee’s Head in Cumbria. At 7:00 pm on Sunday the 21st of August 2011, we dipped our booted toes in the North Sea and tossed the pebbles we’d carried throughout the journey from the Irish Sea, including the one I’d carried for Holly, into the water. Then we promptly commandeered a gentleman to take photos of the great event, and it truly did feel great.

We had been very lucky to get a B&B just at the bottom by the bay so we didn’t have to walk back up the long hill. We dropped our bags and went immediately for fish and chips, in proper Wainwright fashion. Apparently the great man always finished off a good walk with a meal of fish and chips. And since the weather was so lovely, at our landlord’s recommendations, we went to the local chippy for haddock and chips to eat on the dock as the tide came in around us. I don’t think I’ve ever had a better meal.

When we’d polished off the fish and chips, we went across the road to the Wainwright pub and had a pint to toast our success. Traditionally the pub is the first stop for Coast-to-Coasters after the boot dipping and stone tossing. The walls are decorated in Coast-to-Coast maps and memorabilia. It’s a great place to toast the journey’s end. Then we went upstairs, had another pint and talked walking with other Coast-to-Coasters until we found ourselves struggling to stay awake. But on our way back to our B&B we discovered that the sweet shop was still open, so we ended the day with ice cream.

Our room above the Boat Inn was small and close, and it didn’t matter. We showered and fell into bed. I’m not sure it was yet ten o’clock. Such party animals, we Coast-to-Coasters!

Afterward

It was strange to wake up with no walking to do. Breakfast was leisurely We had to restrain ourselves from hoarding some of the luscious fruit offered, which would have been the walkerly thing to do. We had a short wander around the town. I managed a bit of writing while Raymond did a bit of prep work for his course and we waited for our friends to arrive from Keswick.

Shortly after noon, Brian and Vron arrived. After hugs and congratulations, they loaded us in the car and drove us back to Keswick, where they fed us homemade lasagne, showed us pictures of some of their many long distance walks and listened while we shared our experiences and our photos. It was such a great way to end a great walk. Brian and Vron Spencer have been so instrumental in teaching us navigation and encouraging us to strike out on our own and walk the long, hard walks, that it was very moving to us that they would come all the way from Keswick get us. They pampered us and took care of us and sent us happily on our way this morning.

I’m now on the train back to Guildford still trying to get my head around the experiences of the past two weeks. In a few hours normal life will resume in earnest, and I will have to catch up with all that has been on the periphery of my life for the past two weeks and get back to work. But one thing I’m certain of, my life is much richer because I walked the Coast-to-Coast. I’m inspired in ways I don’t think I’ve even begun to unravel yet. It was good. It was so very good.

A Week Later

The feet and joints are recovering. I’m back working hard on the final polish-up of Lakeland Heatwave. When it rains now, I look out the window and stay dry. I wonder at times if I only dreamed the experience, but then I look at the healing blisters and even better, the mountain of photos and know that yes, we really did it. We really walked across England from Coast to Coast, and it was quite possibly the best holiday ever!

 

 

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

Site created and maintained by Writer Marketing Services | Sitemap