Category Archives: Flowers

Magical Colours of Summer

Though Summer may not be my favourite season, it is still full of magic,
I just have to look for it harder than I do in Autumn and Winter.
In the spirit of embracing Summer, I’m discovering its charm…

Magical Colours of Summer - The Last Krystallos

Summer’s colours are bright and bold, though the ones that enchant me are its blues and softer tones. For me the colour of summer is blue, linked intrinsically to water and clear skies. The sea sparkles with jewel tones. Two years ago we stayed on the north coast of Scotland and visited the most beautiful beach we’ve ever found, and I described the ocean with gem colours: White sand ran from the dunes to the sparkling water, and what water! It merged from every green to every blue you could imagine…from crystal white Quartz froth, to pale Amazonite, and Adventurine, then to Turquoise, and rich Apatite blue, before darkening to the tone of Sodalite. An ocean of jewels!

The sea changes from moment to moment and from seafoam green, to teal blue, to slate grey and myriad more colours. These are my summer tones.

I love how Brighton and Hove’s ocean switches from green to blue by the West Pier. Swgd Eira’s tumultuous waterfall crashes amid diamonds of water and light. Teal-green sea rolls in at Penbryn beach. You can find every blue and green in the sea froth at Staffa. Coldbackie’s jewelled colours spread across the tide. Green is the colour beneath the loch in the Kyle of Lochalsh and in the Isle of Skye’s Fairy Pools. I love the pebbles at Applecross and the blues and greens of Bosherston beach.

Magical Colours of Summer - water - blues - the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Then nature and light pick up summer vibes. Early evening sunlight shimmering through cow parsley is pure magic. Summer light sinking through the pines in Brechfa forest creates enchantment within the trees and across the moss. The sun beams from behind the clouds, glistening light can touch on unicorns and shine on daisies. Water sparkles, and late evening castle reflections at Eileen Donan Castle bewitch you. The slate-blue loch at Kylerhea is surrounded by summer’s lush green.

Magical Colours of Summer - light - the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Summer then speaks of roses, figuratively and literally, and the pinks of watermelon and bronze sunsets. I’ve sat on Brighton beach watching the sun sink down beneath the horizon, and got up early to witness the sunrise on Dartmoor, and walked the dog through late evening scarlet dusks. Roses bloom with scents and colour: Rhapsody in Blue, and Audrey Wilcox’s blush pink. Purple foxgloves fill the forests, and Sarah Bernhardt peonies, their petals the colour of strawberry milkshakes, flourish.

Magical Colours of Summer - pink - rose - sunset - the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I wear different bracelets in each season; this one representing winter to summer looks great in the hottest season – keeping me cool with its frosty white beads, dark night indigoes, leading to summer sunshine with lemon amber. Strawberries are always a summer favourite, and the flowers that bloom in June and July – lavender, the arum lily, and nigellalove-in-a-mist fill my yard tubs. Butterflies and dragonflies flutter by and my favourite is the peacock butterflyWaterfalls and messing about in rivers will cool you, and rainbows light up the sky in summer showers.

Magical Colours of Summer - summer colours - the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I usually spend summer berating the heat and counting the days ‘til autumn,
but I’m trying to embrace the warmth of the summer sun…

What are your favourite things about Summer?

Summer Flowers To Make You Smile

Just living is not enough…
one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower

– Hans Christian Anderson

Summer Flowers to make you smile - The Last Krystallos

Summer flowers bloom to brighten our lives, to fill the air with scent, and colour, and passion. It’s been a hot summer so far, and my little garden yard has filled me with delight.

Garden flowers June 2019 - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I’ve got containers of irises, nemesia, purple campanula, dianthus of many shades and fragrances, scabious, gorgeous red-hot primula vialii, and always lavender.

Hydrangea - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Then I discovered the blues and lilacs of hydrangea swathing Dad’s pathway. I’m not a fan of the hyndrangea, but these blues, and in particular the electric-blue and white stripe, quite enchanted me.

I love roses and these three are peach up at my Dad’s, a Charles De Mills which I have at home, and a bunch of beautiful white roses climbing up the hospital wall across the road from me.

Summer Flowers 2019 - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I went to the The National Botanic Gardens of Wales last month and loved the paeonies growing in their wild meadows, Bowl of Beauty being one such spectacular bloom. Also found fields of scarlet poppies, blue nigella, and lots of irises.

My own lavender have done well this year along with one of my favourites the arum lily, being enjoyed here by a fall of rain and a happy snail.

Kira and my yard garden 2019 - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

How has your garden done so far this year?

What flowers are you enjoying most?

Be like the Wildflowers of Spring…

I hope you are blessed with a heart like a wildflower
strong enough to rise again after being trampled upon,
tough enough to weather the worst of the summer storms,
and able to grow and flourish even in the most broken places
(Nikita Gill)

Be like the Wildflowers of Spring... The Last Krystallos

As an author I notice detail, lots of it, and nature provides so much! My favourite few months for flora fall in April, May, and June. The ground wakes up and releases a prolific field of colour – predominantly pink, blue, purple, yellow, and white.

Ragged Robin - Red Valerian - Red Campion - Cranesbill - Rhododendron - Aquilegia - Herb Robert - London's Pride

Ragged Robin – Red Valerian – Red Campion – Cranesbill – Rhododendron – Aquilegia – Herb Robert – London’s Pride © Lisa Shambrook

Let’s start with the pinks, from the deep pink of the shaggy but beautiful Ragged Robin to the palest shade of London’s Pride. Hot pink Rhododendron join the usual purple varieties swathing the countryside with huge flowers covering their waxy, dark-green fingered leaves.

Red Valerian remind me of walking home from school, I used to pick bunches from the railway sidings to take home along with bluebells (I know you can’t pick wildflowers now, but I was about ten many years ago!)

Aquilegia, also known as Granny’s Bonnet and columbine, are favourites.

Geranium Robertianum was used for medicinal purposes, but now Herb Robert is commonly a weed, easy to seed and grow, and a relation of the vast geranium family.

Garlic Mustard - Wild Garlic - Cow Parsley - White Campion - Cuckoo Flower - Elderflower - Wild Carrot - Columbine

Garlic Mustard – Wild Garlic – Cow Parsley – White Campion – Cuckoo Flower – Elderflower – Wild Carrot – Convolvulous © Lisa Shambrook

Looking at edible wildflowers takes us to the Garlic family, both pictured above easy to find, pick and use. Elderflower is also becoming more and more popular in cuisine.

The Convolvulous flowers on neverending vines can hugely frustrate gardeners, but I adore them. Beautiful white trumpets that enchanted me as a child and continue to do so now, have become part of my writing, being enchanced to become huge moonflowers.

I’ve previously posted about Cow Parsley and Hogweed varieties, there are many and I love when they spread through the hedgerows like swaying white lace.

Gorse - Bog Arum Lily - Laburnum - Buttercup - Welsh Poppy - Cowslip - Primrose

Gorse – Bog Arum Lily – Laburnum – Buttercup – Welsh Poppy – Cowslip – Primrose © Lisa Shambrook

I don’t imagine there’s anyone out there who hasn’t held a Buttercup to their chin to see if they like butter… your chin will glow gold to show you do!

Right now, at the beginning of June the Laburnums are flowering all through our Welsh countryside. I hadn’t realised how many there were until I saw the yellow racemes threading through our hedgerows and trees. I used to have a Laburnum in my garden until it fell after heavy storms.

Foxgloves - Campanunla - Thistle and a Gatekeeper butterfly

Foxgloves – Campanunla – Thistle and a Gatekeeper butterfly © Lisa Shambrook

Another flower just about to flower near me is the Foxglove, and our forests are full of them in Wales.

I also love Campanula, and always notice walls covered in this gorgeous mass of purple. They seed and grow with abandon.

And as we move into summer keep a watch for the butterflies. I loved my summer a couple of years back searching out butterflies!

Blackberry - Valerian - Ox-eye Daisy - Snowdrop - Stitchwort - Wood Anemone - May Blossom - Daisy

Blackberry – Valerian – Ox-eye Daisy – Snowdrop – Stitchwort – Wood Anemone – May Blossom – Daisy © Lisa Shambrook

Some of the most beautiful wildflowers are the simple ones. Daisies will always blow me away with sunny faces in whatever condition, and I love the huge Ox-eye Daisies that grow in clusters and often swathe the duel-carriageway roadsides!

One of my favourite things is walking through woods and our local woods are carpeted with Bluebells, Wood Anemones, and Common Stitchwort.

Bluebells - Forget-me-not - Purple Vetch - Vinca - Speedwell - Bugle - Wild Violet - Ivy Leaved Toadflax

Bluebells – Forget-me-not – Purple Vetch – Vinca – Speedwell – Bugle – Wild Violet – Ivy Leaved Toadflax © Lisa Shambrook

Blues and purples fill our spring gardens and countryside with delicate flowers like Forget-me-nots and the deep blue of Speedwell.

Vinca, known as Periwinkle, is another favourite and along with many of these wildflowers are mentioned within my books.

Bluebells, my favourite flower, and bluebell woods have inspired me since childhood with simple bells and pure magic. I’ve blogged about them several times and weaved them into my books, and there’ll be more!

What are your favourite wildflowers?
These are mostly British Wildflowers – what do you get and do you have
the same threading through your native countryside?

 

 

 

Your Ideal Heaven – Your Choice…

I’ve been musing on the idea of heaven
and wondering what I’d like in the hereafter.
What would be your ideal version of heaven?

Your Ideal Heaven - Your Choice - The Last Krystallos

In J Edward Neill’s book 101 Questions for Humanity he asks: Set aside your existing belief system. Describe the afterlife as the way you want it to be.
And this is what I’m asking. If you had no current beliefs, and an afterlife was a valid possibility, how would you choose to live your forever?

In Beneath the Rainbow Freya is still a child when she passes over and finds herself in heaven. Very quickly she’s told that her heaven can be whatever she wants it to be. She’s in a place of limbo, somewhere to come to terms with the fact of death and take a figurative breath.

In this excerpt Freya finds out what she can do:

“These flowers, this garden, they’re all yours.”

“Mine?”

“Can’t you see the flowers aren’t normal? They’re all flowering together even though they shouldn’t be.”

She hadn’t noticed, but now she did. She remembered Mum’s grief when the bluebells finished and recalled how Mum always said it was sad when one season finished, but the next always brought another swathe of beauty with its own flowers. Mum loved every season, even the crunchy carpet of leaves in the autumn and winter’s snowdrops had her enthusing all over again.

Now Freya gazed across the clusters of flowers and understood, not only were the plants out of season, but each held a meaning for her.

Primroses, tiny lemon-yellow ones pushed up through the grass as she recalled how both she and her mum preferred plants that were natural and old-fashioned. As she watched primroses surface, their tough, wrinkled leaves unfurling and thin stalks revealing buds that quickly opened, her smile deepened. She raised her hands and grinned. “Watch this!” she commanded.

She swung her hands upwards like a conductor before his orchestra and loosed her mind. Bright orange geums burst forth, intermingled with bronze irises, more irises appeared, rising up through sword-like clumps of silver leaves, their buds unfurling to reveal huge silken flowers in an array of colours. Amongst these were black tulips, pink tulips and white tulips. Daisies the colour of butter cream, paeonies seemingly made of bowls of crinkled petals, gossamer-haired pulsatillas, pink, shaggy dianthus, the palest yellow daffodils, more roses and plum-coloured poppies.

Columbine and clematis climbed up into the trees and sweet peas twisted around trunks.

Foxgloves, verbena and sky-blue delphiniums grew tall, whilst snowdrops, cyclamen and delicate violas carpeted the woodland floor.

Jake kept his trademark grin as he sidestepped a patch of fuchsias, and avoided decapitation from a whippy willow branch, could you still get decapitated if you were already dead?

And Freya hadn’t finished adding sweet-smelling philadelphus, a wine-coloured magnolia and a Christmas tree.

“Any more?” asked Jake.

She folded her arms across her chest surveying her work. “Nope, I think that’s it…for now.” She nodded with a broad, satisfied smile that matched Jake’s and appraised her heaven. She nodded again. “It’s good.”

Freya’s heaven is made up of memories of flowers that she connects with her mother and happiness. She creates meadows and gardens of flowers, and oh, how I can relate!

When the bluebells finished... Beneath the Rainbow - Lisa Shambrook

Excerpt from Beneath the Rainbow © Lisa Shambrook

When I’ve given my book presentation to groups of readers, I’ve often asked this question; What would your heaven be?

The answers have been many and varied:

Somewhere with my horses and cats; eternal sleep; a tropical beach with lemonade fountain, pears and chips; anywhere my pets are; music studio; somewhere with all my friends and family; a cottage from the 1600’s with a kitchen with an art studio and my family, a pool and a theatre; a bookstore with a farmer’s market and a log cabin; a field of sunflowers and poppies and a never-ending day with my family and pets and fireworks; a garden with my family and friends and dogs and lots of water; two scantily clad men in a mineral water hot tub with coffee; my family, friends and all pets past and present, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, sea, hills, mountains and valleys.”

Another heaven in Beneath the Rainbow is Alice’s and she conjures castles and clouds… so, what would you choose?

Castle on a Cloud...Excerpt from Beneath the Rainbow by Lisa Shambrook

Excerpt from Beneath the Rainbow © Lisa Shambrook

I like to think that I’ll have a say in my heaven. Life is tough and my own upbringing has prepared me for an afterlife, but there are so many versions amongst many who believe. Some believe it will be full of duty and continuation of spiritual learning and work, others believe it will be a time to relax and enjoy reward. Some believe in an old fashioned heaven of angels and clouds, some in a life similar to earth with progression and growth. Many believe other ideas such as reincarnation, or becoming one with the earth’s life stream, or that this life is it, but just imagine you could choose…

Llanberris Pass Snowdonia - lisa shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

If life after death requires yet more conforming and duty, then right now I can do without it! I’m looking to escape into the hereafter with romance and nature and endless mountains and waterfalls… I plan Scottish mountains and lochs, Welsh valleys and autumn weather. Time and access with those I love and time to be creative, whether that’s spiritual, emotional, or even some kind of physical.

Oh, and I want dragons… There have to be dragons…

I don’t want what happens after death to be linear, I’m happy with time differences, travel, movement, and much more. I want to discover my full potential, something I doubt will happen in life.

Autumn Dragons in a sparkling sky by Lisa Shambrook

Autumn Dragons © Lisa Shambrook

So, if you had a choice and weren’t limited to your belief system,
what would you choose?

How would you choose to live your forever?

0000. Divider

Beneath the Rainbow Lisa Shambrook BHC Press cover revealFreya won’t let anything stand in the way of her dreams – not even her death.
Now her family will need to uncover the clues to her secrets before it’s too late.

Beneath the Rainbow is published by BHC Press and is a novel that will completely enchant you.

“I highly recommend reading this touching and moving story of acceptance and unending love.” —LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Beneath the Rainbow is now available in eBook and paperback (choose your format) at:
Amazon UKAmazon US, and your local Amazon. Barnes and NobleWaterstonesGoogle PlayKoboiTunes, and other online outlets.

The First Breath of Spring…

Spring is the breath of new beginnings, of fresh green growth,
and the jewels of Mother Earth lifting their heads to nod in the breeze.

The First Breath of Spring - The Last Krystallos

The first colours of spring appear to be green and white with splashes of blue, yellow, lilac, and pink.

Snowdrops are the first of Mother Nature’s little ones who peep through the frosty mornings to offer us the hope of spring. Hellebores, Christmas roses, throw out their very best with simple flowers and fancy doubles. They’re quickly followed by tiny crocuses and narcissus and then full blown, blousy daffodils.

Christmas Tree - Oak - Daffodils - Primroses - Cowslip - Abies Koreana new growth

Christmas Tree – Oak – Daffodils – Primroses – Cowslip – Abies Koreana new growth © Lisa Shambrook

Fresh growth on trees as they begin to dress with buds of lime-coloured leaves and blushes of blossom. Magnolia will be one of the first to robe its trees with a flush of ivory or pink, and cherry blossom won’t be long to follow. Viburnum Bodnantense Dawn is one of the first clusters of pink to flower on shrubby twigs with a scent to linger beside.

Ragged Robin - Blossom - Mallow - Valerian - Aquilegia - Hellebore - Tulip - Virbunum Bodnantense Dawn

Ragged Robin – Blossom – Mallow – Valerian – Aquilegia – Hellebore – Tulip – Virbunum Bodnantense Dawn © Lisa Shambrook

Primroses and cowslips adorn the meadows and gardens with tiny sunshine flowers, and white wild anemones unfurl their fairy wings in woodlands, right before bluebells carpet the forest floor. Vinca (periwinkle), and forget-me-nots begin the blue, with chinodoxa and primula.

Crocus - Primula Denticulata - Chinodoxa - Forget-me-nots - Vinca - Wild Violet - Bluebells - Aquilegia

Crocus – Primula Denticulata – Chinodoxa – Forget-me-nots – Vinca – Wild Violet – Bluebells – Aquilegia © Lisa Shambrook

Wild oxalis, garlic, violets, and campion spread through the countryside, and ragged robin nods its shaggy head in the warmth of spring. Valerian pushes through wherever it can, determined and strong, and mallow and aquilegia begin to clothe our gardens. Belle Etoile (philadelphus – mock orange) fragrances the air with beauty and heaven, and lastly, spring tulips will open as the sun dances – and heralds the hope of summer.

Snowdrops - Belle Etoile - Wild Anemone - White Campion - Magnolia - Hellebore - Oxalis - Wild Garlic

Snowdrops – Belle Etoile – Wild Anemone – White Campion – Magnolia – Hellebore – Oxalis – Wild Garlic © Lisa Shambrook

What is Spring to you?
Which flower do you look forward to most?  

Lose Yourself with Ghostbird, Blodeuwedd, Myth and Magic…

Sometimes a book resonates with an emotional response you didn’t expect,
but it draws you in and you fall in love – Carol Lovekin’s Ghostbird does just that.

Lose Yourself with Ghostbird, Blodeuwedd, Myth and Magic... - The Last Krystallos

I don’t often blog about books, the last times I did were The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss, and Nobody Told Me: Love in the Time of Dementia by S. R. Karfelt and I have to be enchanted or moved before it hits these pages. My reading genres are eclectic, I like a bit of everything, but I fall heavily for beautifully written fantasy, a little romance, and quirky magic.

I was browsing my books and read the caption on the reverse of Ghostbird from Rebecca Mascull who said ‘Carol Lovekin’s prose is full of beautifully strange poetry.’ and I began reading.

This is the tale of Cadi, who doesn’t know who she is. She’s never been told anything about her father, she can taste the cloying secrets, and she is determined to uncover and break the spells about her. Her mother, Violet, is distant and lost, and her aunt, Lili, is bound by a promise she desperately wants to break.

The Hopkins women are well known in their little Welsh village, and they are surrounded by a cloak of mystery, flowers, magic, and a little bit of local scandal.

Ghostbird Carol Lovekin - trying out words - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Carol Lovekin’s writing enthralled me, from beginning to end, and I truly did fall in love. She writes with poetic leaning, creating beauty and an enticing story. This is my kind of writing, with description that made me feel like I inhabited Cadi and Lili’s lives. The story has an ethereal quality and this is even more prevalent with the inclusion of the ghostbird of the title. This book unravels the secrets regarding the Hopkins women with a little myth and magic along the way.

The story of Blodeuwedd, from the Mabinogion, is referenced throughout, something I loved having studied the Four Branches of the Mabinogion with my daughter last year. This meant I was already up to speed with Blodeuwedd’s tragic story.

Cait's Blodeuwedd Owl mask - The Last Krystallos

Cait’s Blodeuwedd Owl mask © Lisa Shambrook

I asked Ghostbird’s author, Carol, about including the story of Blodeuwedd and how it had inspired her:

‘The idea for Ghostbird was a slow burner. I read the myth of Blodeuwedd (from the Mabinogion) in the early 80s and was immediately struck by the notion that her fate: to be turned into a bird, was a curse. As an owl, Blodeuwedd could surely find her freedom by flying away? It was yet another woman’s story begging to be retold from her perspective. So many legends and myths are of their time (and written by men) and by definition, patriarchal.

The idea stayed with me until, years later it re-emerged as the backstory to Ghostbird. At first I planned for the ghost’s voice to be incidental, albeit relevant. It was my astute editor who insisted, the ghost had to play a more prominent role. It was a joy to take the bones of the myth and turn it into the soundtrack to my modern ghost story. And in the process, to discover, that’s what I write: ghost stories!’

When I first read Blodeuwedd’s story I’d come to a very similar conclusion – despite the fact that being turned into an owl was essentially a punishment, it seemed to me to be a poor punishment, as it meant she finally had freedom. She’d been created without thought to who she was, and made for someone else’s pleasure, and rebelling against that had caused retribution, but to me she was given freedom and final liberty.

The use of myth and legend within fiction is something that inspires me. My current work is based on a myth, but a legend of my own writing. I resonated with Carol’s words about most old fairytales and myths having been written by men with suffering women within the stories, so writing my own legend, which you can find in A Symphony of Dragons, meant creating a woman resilient enough to carry the myth on her own. The resulting legend, threads through The Seren Stone Chronicles which I am currently enjoying writing.

Ghostbird - Carol Lovekin - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I loved Ghostbird, because Cadi’s story echoed similar themes I’d explored in my own books. Beneath the Rainbow and Beneath the Distant Star both dealt with grief and loss, and mother daughter relationships, and Beneath the Old Oak spoke of family secrets. Ghostbird moved in different circles, with beauty, grace, and fierce women determined to protect and discover who they are. This is a book that will stay with me, for its magic, emotion, and tender charm.

Carol Lovekin is published by Honno a Welsh Women’s Press committed to giving opportunities for talented women in Wales to see their work in print. Carol’s stories reflect her love of the landscape and mythology of Wales. She is a committed feminist and has always found fiction the perfect vehicle for telling women’s collective stories. She began writing with a view to publication in her late fifties, having ‘suffered from arrested development for far too long.’ She now writes to keep up.

Ghostbird is her debut novel and Snow Sisters is her second book.  

Ghostbird Carol Lovekin - old magic will hear - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

My parting words for Ghostbird are that so often I read sentences that just spoke to me, that described my own feelings, my own experiences, and it’s not often that an author can climb inside your head and touch you. This book touched my heart, the vulnerable bits and the happy bits.

Ghostbird - Carol Lovekin - Honno Press
You can buy:
Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin from Honno
from your local bookstores,
on Amazon UK Kindle, and Paperback.

Please visit her blog for further information and links.

Ten Places I Found Joy This Winter

The cold months hold some real treasures –
here’s how and where I found joy this winter…

Ten Places I Found Joy This Winter - The Last Krystallos

It doesn’t matter what the weather, I spied a meadow through a gate swathed in fog and it made the most beautiful picture. The Elan Valley was cold and crisp when Bekah and I visited and the walk was stunning. A simple dog walk through local roads and fields conjure up joy especially when you’re wrapped up warm. The girls and I went up to Brechfa Forest to do a photoshoot for Cait’s art, the mist and rain offered a haunting vista through the woods.

Misty Meadow - Pen y Bont Elan Valley - Local Dog Walking - Brechfa Forest - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Vince and I escaped to London for a weekend, it rained, but The Phantom of The Opera made it memorable along with the sights and sounds of the city. Seeing the Shard disappear up into fog was beautiful. The seagulls perching atop George IV’s head and horse in Trafalgar Square were highly amusing as the statue itself had anti-bird spikes about the plinth, didn’t bother the birds, George’s head will do just fine!

Lisa and Vince Tower Bridge - Shard City of London - George IV Trafalgar Sq - Phantom of the Opera - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I mentioned being wrapped up warm. Winter is cold, and my Scottish fingerless gloves were invaluable during the cold. My Stargazer pyjamas, I don’t think I’ve ever owned nightwear up ‘til now, but I love these! My grey scarf was a must this season, and I got Dr Martens, Cherry Red Arcadia for Christmas and matched them up with this cute burgundy tulle skirt to feel especially good!

Scottish Gloves - Stargazer - Grey Scarf - Cherry Red Arcadia Dr Martens - Burgundy Tulle - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Those fingerless gloves helped keep my fingers typing during my edits, even if Raven wanted attention instead. Writing and reading brings me great joy and tapping away at the keyboard during winter months is one of my favourite things. I redrew my maps and sketched for my new work in progress The Seren Stone.

Raven interrupting edits - research - A Symphony of Dragons - Maps and Edits - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

The best thing is getting out in the cold is for a Hot Chocolate and weekdays means my kids joining me at Pethau Da in Carmarthen.

Pethau Da Hot Chocolate - Bekah and Lisa, Dan, Cait and Lisa

© Lisa Shambrook

The other thing I spent a lot of winter doing was painting, some are secret projects, but I treated myself to some gorgeous art this Christmas from Tahina Morrison and J Edward Neill’s Hither The Wind and Amanda Makepeace’s Winter Raven. My children bought Vince and I the best anniversary gift with a print of the constellations on our wedding day. The stars are my thing!

Art - Hither the Wind - Winter Raven - Constellations - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Crystals and stars are my happy place. Peridot gems have been part of my research for The Seren Stone Chronicles, as are both smoky and clear quartz, I’ve been learning much about crystal therapy and using stones within my writing. The bracelet brought me great joy when Vince bought the Trollbead Wishful Sky set. It came along with one of my favourite quotes: I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the dark…

Peridot - Smoky Quartz - Clear Quartz - Trollbeads - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Our pets give us huge joy, Roxy will flip to her back and ask for a belly rub which just melts us, Raven curls up and purrs like a motorbike, and Misty had us all in hysterics when I took my new Docs out their box and she jumped in. When I tried to reclaim the box you can clearly see her warning to just walk away…

Roxy - Raven - Misty - Roxy - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Then nature gives us the most spectacular displays. In December we had a Super Blue Blood Moon and as it shone over the River Towy, I stood totally entranced. It snowed, briefly in Carmarthen, but much more the country over, and just crunching in the little snow we had brought me joy! Snowdrops have just begun to nod their stunning heads, and chasing rainbows has always brought glorious moments.

Super Blue Blood Moon River Towy - Rainbow - Snow - Snowdrops - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Lastly, there are moments of joy in unexpected places. Discovering baby reindeer in town at Christmas, finding Jack Frost’s handiwork on your car windscreen when you get up, holding a baby dragon in an acorn cup… and the beauty in things that aren’t always beautiful, the rainbows of colour in an oil spill on the pavement.

Reindeer - Jack Frost - Baby Dragon - Oil Rainbow - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

These are the things I notice,
simple and, sometimes, small things that bring me great joy.

Loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night - Sarah Williams - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Where did you find joy this winter?  

Alone – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

Purple tinged the sky where the setting sun met twilight above a swathe of burnished gold. Sarah rubbed her thumb over her loose ring and smiled. The large amethyst set amid its gold band twinkled, as the last of the day’s rays glanced across its surface. Sarah sighed. The Milky Way already arced across the night, stars more infinite than the seconds in her life. It was perfect. It couldn’t be more perfect.

She gently slid down the tree’s rough trunk landing in soft hay, and drew a deep breath into her rattling lungs. Crisp oxygen, clean and cold, rushed up her nose and down her throat. The breeze gently wafted the nearby lavender crop. She closed her eyes and let the scent intoxicate her. She smiled again. She couldn’t have planned it better.

Sarah was tired; the walk had taken all day. She was alone, frail, and exhausted, but happy.

Her gnarled knuckles shook as she clasped the metal bottle in the rucksack that had dropped from her shoulders. She opened her eyes to do what she needed to do, and gently pulled the plastic tubes from her nose. The bottle and its tubes slipped away into the grass, and Sarah let them go. The bottle was almost empty anyway; it would never have seen her home.

The night air that now moved about her was softer, lighter, and dipped in lavender, and as it infused her body she let the fragrance calm her thumping heart. Sarah brought her hands together and gently rubbed the amethyst. The ring rotated easily, the band too large for her thin finger, but the soft touch of quartz comforted her and she relaxed.

The final glimmers of the sun faded beneath the horizon, and the full blanket of purple and indigo night slipped across the field. Only the stars still glittered as lavender wafted and Sarah allowed her curtain to fall.

She’d said her goodbyes, letters were signed and sealed on her mantelpiece, and she was ready to go.

The frozen, star-filled, lavender dusk claimed more than just the day that night, but Sarah would walk free from mortal constraints into a brand new dawn.

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Beautiful picture for Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge, from Javier de la Torre. Gorgeous colours…

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

Butterfly Flutterby – A Summer of Delicate Fairy Wings

Summer is the season when butterflies flutter by
with painted wings and a breeze of mystery…

Butterfly Flutterby - A Summer of Delicate Fairy Wings - The Last Krystallos

I could spend hours sitting beneath butterfly bushes watching these creatures waft by on glorious wings, landing silently on buddleias’ tiny purple blossom and feeding, then flitting off again for an airborne dance before returning to savour the nectar.

Red-Admiral-Butterfly-Buddleia-The-Last-Krystallos-If nothing ever changed...there would be no butterflies

Red Admiral © Lisa Shambrook

I’m not a fan of hot summers, but I have been butterfly watching and these little wonders have taught me about the beauty of change.

Mullein-Moth-Larvae-Caterpillar -The-Last-Krystallos - caterpillar end of the world a butterfly-Richard Bach

Mullein Moth Larvae © Lisa Shambrook

A couple of months ago I saw a cute caterpillar on the buddleia leaf and later identified it as a Mullein Moth larvae (moth caterpillars are known as larvae). Now, isn’t a caterpillar or larvae an amazing thing? Butterflies go through a magical lifecycle: from an egg a caterpillar is born, the caterpillar feeds voraciously, and then forms a cocoon or pupae, and finally after a long sleep a glorious butterfly emerges.

Gatekeeper-Butterfly-The-Last-Krystallos

Gatekeeper © Lisa Shambrook

I read a story a while ago, about a man who watched a cocoon and felt bad about the struggle the butterfly had trying to emerge, so he carefully helped break open the cocoon and release the creature. He then watched in devastation as the butterfly tried to open its wings but failed. The butterfly was doomed because the process of emergence was interrupted.

No matter how sincere the help butterflies need to go through the process alone. The struggle allows wings to form and for fluid to move from its body into its wings. Without this toil the butterfly is born with a swollen body and shrivelled wings and condemned to die.

Through the struggle of breaking out of its cocoon a butterfly gains strength, without that struggle its wings would never have the power to open and lift it to great heights.

Ringlet-Butterfly-The-Last-Krystallos

Ringlet © Lisa Shambrook

Sometimes we go through struggles that no one can help us with, they can cheer from the sidelines and encourage and comfort, but often we go through huge battles that we have to surmount ourselves. Only then can we internalise the strength that we gained and rise and fly to heights we never knew we could.

Embrace your struggle.

Peacock-Butterfly-The-Last-Krystallos - The butterfly counts not months, but moments-Rabindranath Tagore

Peacock © Lisa Shambrook

Most butterflies live for about a month, the smallest butterflies maybe only a week, and for such gorgeous creatures their lives are short. Butterflies don’t waste a moment. They feed, they mate, and they bathe in the sun. They live for the moment because that’s all they have.

Cherish your moments.

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High Brown Fritillary © Lisa Shambrook

Back to caterpillars and butterflies, it’s a bit like the story of the ugly duckling. Sometimes we see ourselves as boring, grey, shy, and don’t see our true beauty. We all have the ability to emerge from our troubles and grow into the beauties we’re supposed to be. Just like butterflies. Even the most basic butterfly is a wonder of nature. And, I adore moths too, dusty brown wings, silvered or matt, but beautiful. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Love who you have become.

Comma-Butterfly-The-Last-Krystallos

Comma © Lisa Shambrook (I wish this was a better photograph, taken on my first camera phone way back… but the Comma is too beautiful to leave out!)

And lastly, I have a fascination with the word butterfly. Rumour has it – I don’t think there’s a definitive answer as to why they are butterflies – that they fluttered about milk churns when butter was being made, or that they were so named because the first butterfly appearing in the year was the yellow-coloured male Brimstone, but the most likely reason is it was believed they ate butter and milk, words in Dutch and German translate as Butter-thief, so butterfly it became.

Large-White-Butterfly-The-Last-Krystallos

Large White © Lisa Shambrook

Myself, I like the spoonerism – flutterby, I mean that’s exactly what they are!

So, welcome the flutterbys, after all, they’re not here for very long, and nature has a habit of giving us beauty in small doses, we just have to notice it!

Small-Tortoiseshell-Butterfly-The-Last-Krystallos

Small Tortoiseshell © Lisa Shambrook

My pictured butterflies are my locals,
what butterflies are your favourite where you live?

Red-Admiral-High-Brown-Fritillary-Small-Tortoiseshell-Gatekeeper-Peacock-Butterflies-Lisa-Shambrook

Red Admiral, High Brown Fritillary, Small Tortoiseshell, Gatekeeper, Peacock Butterflies © Lisa Shambrook