All posts by V.M.Sang

I was born and educated in the north west of England. I trained as a teacher in Manchester and taught in Salford, Lancashire, Hampshire and Croydon. I write fantasy novels currently. I also make cards, knit, crochet, tat, do cross stitch and paint. I enjoy walking on the Downs, cycling and kayaking. I do not enjoy housework, but like cooking.

Memories. 10 Games We Used to Play

Image by Silviu on the street from Pixabay

I wrote a post about my memories of my early days at school. That set me to thinking about the games we used to play.

At dinner time, we walked about 300 metres to the Church Hall where dinner was served. It was brought in, I think. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t cooked there.

After dinner we went outside to play.

There was a variety of games that we played.

First, there was what was commonly called ‘Mummies and Daddies’, or sometimes ‘House’. Someone would be Mummy, someone, Daddy and someone the baby. The baby would walk around in a crouched position. I can’t really remember what we actually did!

Other games involved larger groups of people. Here are some of them.

  1. The Farmer’s in the Dell. Someone was the farmer and stood in the centre of a ring. Then people would circle around singing a song in which the farmer chose, from the ring, a wife, a child, a nurse and a dog. Then ‘We all pat the dog’ and everyone would pat, in various degrees of hardness, the person who was the dog. The dog would then become the farmer.
  2. Down by the Waterside. Another ring game. The people in the ring would sing, ‘Down by the water where the green grass grows, There sits ——– washing her clothes. She sang, she sang, she sang so sweet and called for her playmate across the street.’ The person in the ring did actions according to the song, then called ‘——-, ——–, won’t you come to tea? Won’t we have a jolly time at half past three.’ The ‘friend’ then became the next person in the ring.
  3. What time is it Mr Wolf? One person would stand a distance away and turn their back. Everyone else was a few yards away. They would shout ‘What time is it Mr Wolf?’ and Mr Wolf would say a time. Suddenly the player who was Mr Wolf would say ‘Dinner Time and try to catch one of the others, who were all running away. If caught they would become Mr Wolf.
  4. May I? Similar to Mr Wolf, except the person was facing the others. He/she would tell each person in turn to do something to advance their position. 3 baby steps. 5 skips, 1 giant stride, etc. Before complying, the person told to move had to say ‘May I ?’ or go back to the beginning.
  5. Of course, there was the usual game of ‘tag’, which we called ‘tick’. And Chain Tick, where, when caught, the player joined hands with the others who had been caught, forming sometimes, a long chain that was difficult to avoid when it stretched over most of the playground!
  6. We also played a version called ‘Off Ground Tick’ where you cold not be caught if you were off the ground.
  7. We also played skipping with a long rope. I was hopeless at ‘running in’. Sometimes we had an elimination game where if you failed to run in, skip and run out, you were ‘out’. But we also had mass skipping in the rope.
  8. Playing ball against the wall, or catch, with a variety of ball games.
  9. And there was always ‘Jacks’ that could be played with stones as well as bought metallic 3D cross things. Bounce a ball and pick up the jacks before catching it. I think that was the general gist.
  10. Finally, marbles. There were two games we played with them. One we had to try to hit other people’s marbles. Any hit were yours. Then there was a game which involved getting the marbles into a hole. Someone won all the marbles in the hole, but I can’t remember how that went.

Image by InspiredImages from Pixabay

Did you play any of these games? Or did you play others. there may be some that I’ve completely forgotten, or maybe people in other countries played different games. I would be fascinated to find out what games you played.

Answer in the comments please.

If you would like to receive an exclusive, free short story by me, called The Haunted Table, simply click the link. This will take you to the page where you can download it.

Maria and Tom have bought an antique table for the old cottage they have bought. When they hear strange noises in the night that sound like crying, they worry their house is haunted, but the sounds seem to come from the table.

They set about trying to find what is causing the disturbances. The answer is stranger than either of them had thought.

(Clicking the link will add your email address to my email list, but don’t worry, you can unsubscribe immediately if you wish. Nor will you get any spam. I only send out an email each quarter, or if I have any exciting news–like a new release.)

How I became a writer, and some of the books that led me here.

Image by Lubos Houska from Pixabay

I’ve always been a writer, although I didn’t understand that until late in my life. I wish I had realised earlier, but I didn’t. Nothing I can do about the past, but I can make up some of the time now.

I’ve always loved stories from being tiny. I can still remember my favourite story. It was about two little pandas called Pink and Ponk. I can still quote the first few lines, but I do remember the story quite clearly.

Later, when I could read myself, I devoured Enid Blyton books. Early on it was Noddy and The Faraway Tree. Later I loved Shadow the Sheepdog. I remember that the first ever story I wrote was about a dog, inspired by this story. I was only young–probably about seven or thereabouts – because my spelling was a bit dodgy.  I spelled ‘of’ as ‘ov’ , all the way through.

I also really enjoyed her Famous Five books, and the Adventure series. And although I read a couple, I was never really enthusiastic about Mallory Towers books.

Another book I loved reading was Black Beauty, about the life of a horse. It told of his life from his early days with his mother, through different owners, some good, some bad, to his retirement. 

When I graduated from the children’s section of the library, I discovered Jeffrey Farnol and Mary Webb. Later, I read many Agatha Christie books, and other books in that genre, and I loved Georgette Heyer and other historical novelists.

Of course, there were the classics. I always loved the Brontë sisters’ books, especially Wuthering Heights. 

I remember making a little fairy out of grass and telling my younger sister stories about him/her. 

At school, I loved it when we were given a title, or first line to write about. I can’t remember any of the stories I wrote then, but in my teens I wrote a very bad romance that I read to my friends. They said they liked it, but I suspect they were just being kind.

At Teacher Training college, I began my poetry writing. I had my first ever publication in the Manchester University Institute of Science and Technology magazine. The poetry era ended until I was teaching in 1990 when I wrote a poem for the staff Christmas party. I had to write one every year, by popular demand, after that. Sadly these have all been lost except the one in the UMIST magazine.

I loved reading Science Fiction, too and read all the well-known writers.

Then I found Fantasy. A young boy, by the wonderful name of Fred Spittal, asked me if I’d read The Lord of the Rings. He was reading it, but said I should start with The Hobbit. I found it in the college library and from then was hooked on fantasy.

I won’t go into all the fantasy books I’ve read. It would take too long.

Since writing Book 1 of my Wolves of Vimar series, I have published almost a dozen books. I have also drifted into historical fiction and begun writing poetry again. My first published poetry book is called Miscellaneous Thoughts.

So you see, I have always been a writer, but didn’t know.

Do you remember books that influenced you as a child? Tell us about them in the comments section.

Unique and Critically Endangered Axolotl

Charles Yallowitz shares some information about the interesting axolotl, and some pictures and videos.

So, what are some axolotl facts?

  • They have a rare condition called neoteny.  This means that they don’t lose their larva features when they become adults.
  • The larva features they keep include feathery exterior gills and a rear dorsal fin.
  • Axolotls still grow lungs, which they use to get air from the water’s surface.

Review of Missing Thread by June V. Bourgo

Overview.

This is Book 3 of the Georgia series by June V. Bourgo. Although it is the third book in the series, it can be read as a stand-alone novel. Anything that occurred in the previous books that is needed in this one is explained.

Story.

Georgia is a young woman who has gained fame by writing about her previous experiences. In this book, Georgia goes to a writer’s conference where she is to speak. While there, she uses a hire car to visit places, but is caught in a torrential rainstorm. She is forced off the road by a vehicle and into the river. Although she manages to escape the car, she is swept away and into a nearby lake.

Fortunately, she is rescued by a man and taken to hospital, almost dead and suffering from hypothermia.

Eventually, she recovers consciousness, but with no memory of who she is, or her life before waking in the hospital.

The story tells of how Georgia, helped by her husband and daughters, struggles to rebuild her life with, to her, total strangers.

Blurb

After a strange accident, Georgia awakens from a coma to a sea of faces she has no memory of, in a place she doesn’t remember.

Returning to a home she doesn’t recognize, Georgia struggles to mend the strained relationship between herself and her family, and rediscover a life she can’t recall ever having.

Through life-changing events and a mental struggle that challenges the very core of their family, Georgia realizes that her accident is linked to something in her past. But can she put the pieces together and learn the truth?

Characters.

I found I liked Georgia and her family, and was rooting for her to regain her memory. Ms Bourgo does an excellent job of drawing a picture of a woman with no memory of her past life, and the anguish she goes through as she tries to rebuild her life with total strangers. We feel Georgia’s confusion and her anxiety that she won’t be able to love the stranger who is her husband and the two little girls who are her daughters.

Georgia’s husband, Sean, is another character I could relate to. Sean does his best to be understanding and patient, but on occasion, as would we all, things get too much for him.

The two girls behave like most intelligent children would. Confusion and anxiety that their mother will no longer love them if she can’t remember who they are.

 I don’t want to spoil things for you and so I will say no more.

Writing

As said earlier, Ms Bourgo does an excellent job of making us feel like Georgia in her predicament. She gives us a sense of Georgia’s panic when in the sinking car, and how she feels about her unknown family.

Sadly, there are typos and grammatical errors, and while they were irritating, and did on occasion throw me out of the story, I think the story is so good, they did not detract too much.

I gave the book 4*.

My ranking of books. In order to get a particular number of stars, it is not necessary to meet all the criteria. This is a guide only.

5* Exceptional. Wonderful story. Setting well drawn, and characters believable. Not perfect, but with flaws. Will keep you up all night. No typos or grammatical errors.

4* A thoroughly enjoyable read. Great and original story. Believable setting and characters. Very few grammatical errors or typos.

3* I enjoyed it. Good story. Characters need some development. Some typos or grammatical errors.

2* Not for me. Story not very strong. Unbelievable and flat characters. Setting not clearly defined. Many typos or grammatical errors.

1* I hated it. Story almost non-existent. Setting poor. Possibly couldn’t finish it.

I enjoyed this story as much as the previous two. Have you read it? Did you enjoy it if you have? Let us know in the comments.

If you would like to receive an exclusive, free short story by me, called The Haunted Table, simply click the link. This will take you to the page where you can download it.

Maria and Tom have bought an antique table for the old cottage they have bought. When they hear strange noises in the night that sound like crying, they worry their house is haunted, but the sounds seem to come from the table.

They set about trying to find what is causing the disturbances. The answer is stranger than either of them had thought.

(Clicking the link will add your email address to my email list, but don’t worry, you can unsubscribe immediately if you wish. Nor will you get any spam. I only send out an email each quarter, or if I have any exciting news–like a new release.)

Coronation Day.

Today is Coronation Day. Here’s Haiku.

We have a new king.

Coronation is today.

A new era begins.

And a limerick.

Today my mobile did ring.

When I answered, it was the king.

He said, with a frown,

‘I’ve lost the crown.

A nice hat, instead, will you bring?’

Will you be watching the Coronation, or will you go out somewhere and ignore it?

I might watch a bit, but won’t be watching everything.

Maybe I can get some writing done. I got done none yesterday!

Let us know your thoughts in the comments. I will be interested to know the consensus of people, especially those abroad.

Spring Cleaning–A poem.

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

Not my favourite job to do, but when the sun shines in, it makes the dust more noticeable. So it’s a job that has to be done.
And the satisfaction at the end makes it all worth while.

Spring Cleaning.

The sun is now shining making everything light

So it’s time to make our homes shiny and bright.

Let’s pick up our dusters and polish all day

Till every speck of dust goes away.

We’ll clean all our paintwork and make it as new

And polish silverware so your face you can view.

Then wash all the curtains and clean all the floors

And see if we need some more paint on our doors.

‘Spiders beware, don’t you build any webs.

We’ll knock them all down with our brushes,’ I said.

Sweeping and polishing all of the day

Until the last smidgen of dirt’s gone away.

Now stand back and look at all we have done.

A shiny and perfect home. We have won.

Have you done any spring cleaning yet? I’ve washed my dining room curtains and cleaned out my kitchen cupboards. Still a lot more to do!

Homonyms with Harmony, Part 2–American and British English Conventions

Harmony Kent has given us a list of differences between American and British English. It’s fascinating.

Considering the British and Americans share a common language, there are plenty of points where they couldn’t have less in common. This isn’t only in the spelling of words, but also their usage. Where a Brit would say ‘garden’, an American is more likely to say ‘yard’ … and they wouldn’t be meaning some bare concreted area—far from it! Below, I list some of the most common differences. We’ll start with a table of the most commonly alternately spelled words …

Click on the button to see the full list.

The Wolf Pack book 1 of The Wolves of Vimar series

All Carthinal wants is admission to the ranks of the mages. Traveling from Bluehaven to Hambara, where his rite of passage is to take place, he doesn’t expect to end up on a quest to find the long-lost sword of the legendary King Sauvern. With strangers he meets on his journey, Carthinal sets out on the seemingly impossible quest. Followed by Randa, the snooty aristocratic daughter of the Duke of Hambara, and the young runaway thief Thad, Carthinal and his companions face tragedy and danger. Watched by the gods and an implacable foe, they will have to accept help from the least likely sources and face their innermost fears. As the fate of their world hangs in the balance, they realize that this is more than an adventure. This quest will change them all.

This book came from a Dungeons and Dragons scenario I wrote for my D & D club at the school where I worked. I had been buying scenarios, then I thought I could write one myself. I wrote one from which this series has emerged.

I played Dragonlance, both as a player and a DM, and when I discovered that Weiss and Hickman had turned it into a series, I thought, ‘Why not?’ Thus The Wolves of Vimar series was born.

I only intended it to be one book, but it sort of grew into what will eventually be a five-book series. I’m unsure that my players will recognise it now, although some things are the same, such as searching for Sauvern’s Sword (Book 1) and the name of the antagonist.

HERE’S A REVIEW FROM AMAZON

Discerning Reader

5.0 out of 5 stars A solidly done, and crafted fantasy novel.

Verified Purchase

“The Wolf Pack” is an original and well crafted fantasy novel. If you like novels like the “Earthsea Saga” by Ursula Le Guin or “When the Heavens Fall” by Marc Turner then I suggest that you may well enjoy “The Wolf Pack.” British style and spellings throughout. Not really a negative, just a difference to be noted.

I found the characters well developed, and complex (in a good way).

The plot is unique and unusual. It is not easy to explain, but does unfold nicely as one reads through the book. I am trying to avoid spoilers, so I do not want to give too much away.

Dialogue is well written and each character has his or her own voice

To purchase from the seller of your choice click on the book cover in the sidebar, or on the button below.

The book is available as:

ebook, paper back, hard back, large print, pocket book and audio book.

The ebook is free on all platforms except Amazon where it is 0.99 (pounds or dollars.)

10 Fun Things You Didn’t Know About Me.

  • I recently passed my Grade 5 piano exam.
  • I love growing plants from collected seeds. I collected fallen tree seeds in Amiens and have loads of little baby trees coming up. Don’t know what to do with them!
  • I make all my own cards—birthday, wedding, birth congratulations, Christmas.
  • I enjoy walking in the countryside. I live in an area that is good for that. Both hills and flat areas.
  • I like cooking and baking. I have written a recipe book which includes many very old recipes from my grandmother, dated 1909.
  • I don’t enjoy housework, although it has to be done.
  • I learned to tat when I was at school. It’s a dying art. We moved to a new school and the cookery rooms weren’t finished, so we did craft instead. The teacher offered to teach us to tat. I and my friends took her up on it.
  • I have been using computers since the very first pcs came out. It was called a PET and we still have it, although it no longer works. This was in 1979.
  • I hate crowds and cities, although I didn’t used to worry about it. I prefer the countryside.
  • My family has farming roots. Dairy farming. My sister was still farming until last year.

What is interesting about you that we didn’t know? Let us know in the comments.

Feel free to share with your friends. Please link back to my blog if you do.

Review of River Bones by Mary Deal

Overview.

Mary Deal is one of my favourite authors. Her books  always keep you guessing and on the edge of your seat.

River Bones is no exception.

Story.

Sara Mason has returned to the town where she grew up as a poor girl in a dysfunctional family. Now, though, she is a successful computer game designer and has enough money to buy a large house in need of modernisation.

Not everything is as it seems, though. A serial killer is on the loose, and things begin to get dangerous when the killer turns their sights on Sara.

I am saying no more so as not to give anything away.

Blurb.

A serial killer is on the loose in Sacramento River Delta.

When Sara Mason returns to her hometown to start a new life, she learns that a murderer is terrorizing its residents. Despite battling difficult childhood memories, Sara is determined to make peace with her past.

But she soon learns that the elusive psychopath is now stalking her. Sara’s attempt to rebuild her life is hindered even more by the discovery of skeletal remains on her property. As the investigation focuses on several suspects, Sara discovers critical clues and bravely volunteers to be a decoy for the sheriff’s department.

Sara’s destiny has brought her back home, but will her decision lead her down a path lined with danger… and straight into the arms of a madman?

Characters.

The main character, Sara, is a young woman who has issues left over from her childhood. She tries to overcome them while fighting her fear of living alone.

We can empathise with her as she is well drawn and has depth.

Her best friend, Daphine, is a likeable, but sensible woman who gives Sara good advice (not always taken!)

Esmeralda is the former owner of the house Sara has bought. She now runs a care home for the elderly, even though she is elderly herself. Her husband disappeared on a gold hunting trip and his body has never been found. However, she is nothing if not resilient and proves a great ally to Sara.

The town has its quota of strange characters. Crazy Ike, Frederick, who works at the care home and is strangely fascinated by death and dying, and Tripp, who is the gardener at the care home, creating beautiful gardens. Sara finds him as creepy as the other two.

Wonderful characters who remain with me well after finishing the book.

Writing.

Mary Deal sets the scene of her book right at the beginning. Before I had read many pages, I was feeling on edge. She brings the people and area of The Delta to life, and I feel she has taken me there.

Typos are non-existent. Grammar is almost flawless, except for a confusion of ‘to lie’ and ‘to lay’, which, I find, a lot of people have trouble with.

Have you read River Bones, or any other of Mary Deal’s books? Did you enjoy them? Let us know in the comments section.