Tag Archives: aspholessaria

3 Haiku about snow.

Probably not the best time of year to remind you of the cold, but here are 3 snowy haiku.

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

SNOW

Flakes drop gently down,
Turning all the land to white.
A magical sight.

Nothing can be seen.
Earth and sky blend into one
In the blizzard’s rage.

Waking in the dawn,
Mysterious light shines in.
It snowed in the night.

3 more weather haiku

SUN

Image by FelixMittermeier from Pixabay

The warmth of the sun,
The gentle buzzing of bees,
Tells us it’s summer.

Image by Pezibear from Pixabay

Scorching the desert.
Nothing can live in this heat
From the burning sun.

Image by Amanda Napitu from Pixabay

The sun smiles in the sky.
People smile on Earth below
To see him shining.

I hope you enjoyed these three more haiku. I’m trying to give different images of the kinds of weather, both positive and negative.

Do you write Haiku? If you do, let us know in the comments box. Perhaps you can post one for us all to see.

Special offer

Don’t forget to get your copy of Viv’s Family Recipes at the special price of 0.99(£ or $). The offer ends today.

Click the book cover or this link. The link will take you to its page on Amazon. In your country.

http://mybook.to/FamilyRecipes

In Defense of Grammar Schools

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There is a debate going on in the UK at the moment about education. As an ex-teacher I am interested in the arguments.

The Conservative Government wants to allow Grammar Schools to be re-established. Before the 1960s there was a system of Grammar Schools and Secondary Modern Schools.

In order to get into a grammar school, all children took an examination at age 11, in the final year of their primary school. It was called the 11+ examination. Those pupils who were in the top percentage got a place in the grammar school. I don’t know what that percentage was, but I have heard it said that the top 25% went to grammar schools.

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The grammar schools were academic schools, and they taught academic subjects. secondary moderns tended not to teach much in the way of languages, for example.

It is said that the future of children was settled at 11, and that was not good, because some children developed later. But the 11+ was not the end. There was a 12+ and a 13+ that pupils could take if they seemed to be developing in a more academic way.

At that time, the school leaving age was 15. The pupils who went to grammar school had to stay on until 16 so they could do the GCE ‘O’ level examination. A few pupils stayed on at secondary modern and did ‘O’ levels as well. If they did well in the examinations, they could then go on to the 6th form in the grammar school or at a college. I have several friends who did this.

During the 1960s, came the advent of the comprehensive school. These schools were deemed to be fairer than the old system. Each neighbourhood took in all the pupils from its catchment area. All went to the same school, regardless of their academic ability. This, it was said, was much fairer. It did not create an elite and a lot of ‘failures’ at the age of 11.

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On the face of it, this seems to be fine, only I think there are a number of flaws in this argument.

The main one, I think is this. Pupils from a given area all go to the local comprehensive school. There is no examination for entry, so no feelings of failure by those who did not pass the 11+.
That sounds fine, but if the neighbourhood school is not very good, all pupils from that particular neighbourhood are being failed.

Children do not get the chance to meet children from a different background, either. They are living with these people, have been brought up in the area, either rich or poor, and so they do not get a rounded picture of society.

The idea was the opposite of this. Pupils attending comprehensive schools were supposed to see all the different types of people. Yes, they saw all the different academic types, but not people from different social backgrounds.

Comprehensive schools were supposed to prevent the feelings of failure by some pupils failing the 11+. I don’t think you can stop pupils from feeling inferior intellectually by lumping them all together. They can see the brighter pupils doing better than them in their academic work. That will make them feel inferior just as much as ‘failing’ the 11+.

One other thing brought about by the introduction of comprehensive schools, is that the education given is a watered-down academic curriculum, which is not suited to all pupils, and has lowered the academic standards for the very brightest pupils.

Grammar schools, they say, create an elite. This is supposed to be bad. In a perfect world, I suppose everyone would have the same academic capabilities, but everyone does not. There are some people who are much cleverer than others. Some say that it is solely due to their background how some people develop, and a middle class background is advantageous. This I would not dispute, but only to a point. There are middle class children who do not excel, and working class ones who do, in spite of their background.

They say that comprehensive schools help social mobility. How? Pupils live and learn in the same area with the same people and values.

In a grammar school, pupils come from all backgrounds and all areas of a town. They mix with each other and get to know something of the lives of each other. Pupils from working class backgrounds can get an academic education, and get away from the schools in their area where ambition is perhaps not so great.

Bright pupils who live in an area with a poor school can get away from that as well.

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It is said that grammar schools have more middle class pupils than working class ones. That is something that can be worked out. ‘They’ say that the exam can be coached and middle class parents are more likely to put up the money for coaching. Well, I went to a grammar school and was coached for the exam, but not by private tutor, which is the perception, but by my primary school. Encourage primary schools in working class areas to coach. Or develop an exam where coaching is no advantage.

There’s always an answer, and in my opinion, the advent of comprehensive schools has lowered standards. When I look at the exams I took at ‘O’ level and the exams pupils take at GCSE, there’s no comparison. We had to write essays. They just have ‘structured questions’, or fill in the blanks.

I see grammar schools as promoting social mobility far more than comprehensive schools in contrast to what the detractors say, that they are elitist and prevent it.

I would love to hear what you think of the grammar school debate.

Spring. A poem

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Dandelions, like gold, cover the meadows.
Newborn lambs frolic in fields.
New leaves on the trees are casting their shadows
And winter’s cold grip quickly yields.

At the edges of woodland the primroses glow
And cowslips their scent fills the air.
Anemones dance when the breezes do blow
And birds sing with never a care.

Then bluebells and campions come into bloom
Their colour the blue of the sea.
The cuckoo, that herald of spring, will come soon
His call echoing over the lea.

The song of the blackbird is like molten gold.
His notes are so pure and so clear.
Hearing him seems to banish the cold
And brings joy to all those who hear.

Robin is nesting, and other birds too,
The hedgehog is active once more.
The young of the deer and the badger and shrew
Play their games as in old days of yore.

The sun climbs higher and higher each day
Giving more of his heat and his light.
It sparkles like stars fallen into the bay.
All smile at the beautiful sight.

Hope and excitement come with each spring morn.
What blessings will come with this day?
New starts can begin once again with each dawn
And send us all hopeful away.

A Visit from Auden Johnson.

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Welcome to my blog, Auden. This story sounds interesting. I’m looking forward to you finishing it so I can read it.

Auden is the author of The Merging Worlds Series, which comprises The Sciell and Chains of the Sciell, and The Jura Series which comprises Visible through Darkness, Shadows Under the Light and Darkness Ignites the Flame. The books can be bought from Amazon.

Auden does her own cover art, If you want to see how she came up with the cover for The Unburned Island, visit her blog http://audenstreasury.blogspot.com/

She usually writes Dark Fantasy, so this is a new venture for her.

 

The-Unburned-Island-Promo-image

The-Unburned-Island-by Auden Johnson

The entire island burned. Everyone disappeared. Somehow, one building remained unscathed. This building, a schoolhouse, is haunted. It and the island remained abandoned for years.
One day, Kiran, En and a team of magical investigators travel to the island to banish whatever haunts the schoolhouse. It takes them no time to realize the building isn’t the problem. The island is.
Add to Goodreads- https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34629301-the-unburned-island

 

Writing The Unburned Island has been a ride. Not always a fun one. I got stuck so many times. It was beginning to get frustrating. The story started as an entry for a magazine. I was barely halfway through writing it when I realized it was going to be too long to submit.
Then an idea hit me. This could be the start of a new series. Magical characters investigating haunted locations. The series is set in a fantasy world so these aren’t known haunted locations. I prefer it that way. Writing fantasy gives me the freedom to make my own worlds and give my characters cool powers.
Unlike most of my stories, this one isn’t apocalyptic. I know, strange. Don’t know what’s gotten into me. I don’t foresee the world ending anytime soon. The series will focus on relationships and creepy places. Of course, both themes gave me problems.
Kiran and En are partner investigators with an interesting history. At first, I didn’t know if I wanted them to be in a relationship. When I realized I did, I couldn’t figure out what their relationship would be by the end of Book 1. They start the story as good friends. Kiran and En told me what they wanted near the end of the story.
As for creepy locations, I wanted this story to have atmosphere but I struggled with how to do this. I created a Pinterest board for Haunted Buildings/Islands and collected images of abandoned buildings and creepy lands. While writing this story, I was able to visit a catacomb. It was so cool and so scary. The images and the catacomb visit helped me give The Unburned Island a nice chilling atmosphere.
I’m looking forward to seeing where Kira, En and co. will take me. They’re already telling me how they want Book 2 to start.

Thank you for appearing on my blog. Auden. I’m sure my readers will appreciate you sharing your writing process with them. Good luck with the rest of the series.

 

Winter Night. (a poem)

This ought to have been published in the winter, but I didn’t get round to it, so I’m publishing it today. Anyway, it’s still technically winter! Hope you enjoy it.

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Snow covers the ice-hard ground
And ponds and lakes are frozen.
All is muffled, every sound.
The birds are silent in the trees,
No moths or butterflies or bees
Just snowflakes by the dozen.

The moon is full and her pale light
Shines gently through the flakes.
But creatures shiver through the night.
The icy wind makes branches quiver
And every living thing to shiver
In trees and hills and lakes.

Across the field there trots a fox.
An owl flies by on silent wings.
On the frozen lake, some ducks.
As snow falls gently on them all,
And cattle low within their stall
We are waiting for the spring.

I welcome all your comments, so please add yours.

Words That Don’t Follow Normal Plural Rules

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Today I’m going to discuss a few words that don’t form the plural by adding the letter ‘s’. These words come mainly from foreign ‘imports’, although a lot are very old. Some people are confused by these words and use the plural as a singular.
So here we go.

 Singular: Bacterium        Plural: Bacteria
 Singular: Phenomenon        Plural: Phenomena
 Singular: Medium            Plural: Media
 Singular: Datum            Plural: Data
 Singular: Criterion            Plural: Criteria
 Singular: Cactus            Plural: Cacti
 Singular: Fungus            Plural: Fungi
 Singular: Stadium            Plural: Stadia
 Singular: Nucleus            Plural: Nuclei
 Singular: Syllabus            Plural: Syllabi
 Singular: Focus            Plural: Foci
 Singular: Thesis            Plural: Theses
 Singular: Crisis            Plural: Crises
 Singular: Index            Plural: Indices
 Singular: Appendix        Plural: Appendices

It is becoming more acceptable to hear ‘stadiums’, ‘syllabuses’ and ‘indexes’, although they grate on me, personally, but my least favourites are when I hear ‘criteria’, ‘bacteria’, ‘fungi’ and ‘phenomena’ used as singular nouns. Grrrrr!

Now for some that don’t change for the plural.

 sheep
 deer
 fish (although the word ‘fishes’ can be used if referring to a number of different types of the creatures. e.g. There was a great variety of fishes swimming around on the reef.)
 aircraft
 moose
 offspring
 species
 salmon
 trout

Now what about those that are completely different in the plural? Here we have the following:

 Singular: Child            Plural: Children
 Singular: Man            Plural: Men
 Singular: Woman            Plural: Women
 Singular: Mouse            Plural: Mice
 Singular: Goose            Plural: Geese (N.B. The plural of ‘mongoose’ is not ‘mongeese’, but ‘mongooses’. Wierd, I know, but that’s the English language for you.)
 Singular: Die             Plural: Dice
 Singular: Foot             Plural: Feet
 Singular: Louse             Plural: Lice
 Singular: Ox             Plural: Oxen
 Singular: Person             Plural: People
 Singular: Tooth             Plural: Teeth

I hope this has helped some of you, at least. I would like to know if there are any I’ve forgotten, or about any that personally grate on you when you hear them misused.

 

Some of my photographs

Today is the 5th Tuesday in the month, so I’m doing something different. I’m posting some photographs I’ve take.

As you can see, they are rather old ones. they are all of places in Brittany.

I hope you enjoy looking at these photographs as much as I enjoyed taking them.

 

Please leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.

 

The Revenge of Excalibur by Sahara Foley. My Review.

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Today I’m reviewing a book I recently read, It’s the second book in the Excalibur series and it fuly lives up to the first one.

Blurb

After Pamela’s father vanished twenty-seven years ago, her life has been content. That is, until she is visited by disturbing dreams, telling that her father is in danger.

She also receives a mysterious message, telling her that Arthur has been imprisoned on a distant planet, and only she can rescue him. To do so, she must release the evil entity trapped within the famous sword, Excalibur. If she trusts this strange messenger and releases the terrifying Shalit from its confinement, Pamela could be endangering Earth and all the other planets in the universe.

Will she be strong enough to control the Shalit, save her father, and protect everyone she loves? And can she risk destroying all life if she’s not?

 

My Review
This book is the second in the Excalibur series and I enjoyed it as much as I did the first one. This time, instead of following Arthur and Daisy on their adventures out in the Universe, we concentrate on Arthur’s daughter, Pamela. Arthur does not know of the birth of his daughter, nor that she has inherited his gifts.

Pamela feels something of a misfit on Earth as she has to hide her powers from others. If they know what she is capable of, they would fear her. One day she is whisked off to space by mysterious forces that turn out to be intelligences contained in a living spaceship. These two women, granddaughter and grandmother, tell her that her father is in danger and that he and his wife, the alien Daisy, whom he met in The Secret of Excalibur, are imprisoned.

The rescue of Arthur and Daisy involves the releasing of the Shalit from Excalibur, one of the entities known as Planet Eaters.

Pamela has to use her powers and faces great danger. She finds her true love in a most unusal person, and the twist at the end caught me by surprise.

Ms Foley has built complex worlds with strange alien creatures and a politics we can all recognise. Pamela’s change from a timid, self-conscious girl to a confident woman is believable, after what she goes through.

The writing is excellent and I have no hesitation in giving this book 4 stars.

The book is available as both an ebook and in paperback from Amazon.

If you have any comments on this post, or any others, please add them to the comments box. I’d love to hear from you.