Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Where In The World Would You Live? The Scottish Highlands

If you could live anywhere in the world –
with money no object – where would you live?

Since I was young, my answer was always Canada, but that just changed! We spent a week in the Scottish Highlands, and for the first time on holiday we didn’t want to come home. I grew up in Sussex, with the rolling Downs behind us and the seaside in front, and it was beautiful. Then we moved to West Wales and I fell in love with the ocean, woodlands, and craggy hills and mountains, and it’s gorgeous. But Scotland with its lochs and mountains is just another world altogether.

It took less than a week to become irrevocably captivated and enchanted by this mysterious land. Scotland, and its Highlands, is a place where the world stops, where you can be enveloped in nature, swathed by mist and then glorious sunshine, where green is the most verdant you’ve ever seen, and mountains rise from purple heather laden fells. A place where the ocean dances in the jewel tones of amazonite, adventurine, turquoise, apatite, and then sodalite. A place where magic reigns.

Grey Mares Tail Waterfall - Ocean Cave near Wick - Wick Ocean - Loch and Forest near Altnaharra © Lisa Shambrook

Grey Mare’s Tail Waterfall – Ocean Cave near Wick – Wick Ocean – Loch and Forest near Altnaharra © Lisa Shambrook

If you could live anywhere at all – where would it be and why?

Next week, I’ll treat you to the sights we saw in the beautiful Scottish Highlands…

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Politics Is Ugly: Can We Change It?

I don’t often, if ever, get political on my blog, but I am political.
I am a big fighter for human justice, fairness and compassion,
and the way the world is lead is important to me.

Politics is Ugly - Lies and Deceit – We Need Change - The Last Krystallos
I don’t want this post to be about my political leanings.
We all have them and in this world, at least where I live, we are free to air them. I realise not all parts of the world have this freedom, and I am very grateful that I live with political freedom. Our views, our opinions and our politics are our own and we are allowed them.

Politics is getting very ugly.

Some of you, who are much better historians than me, will point out that politics has always been ugly. That it’s always been full of lies, deceit, ambition, and corruption. You’re probably right. But with the advent of social media, we are perpetuating it ourselves. I’ve been accused of sharing social media posts, memes, and articles without checking the facts, and years ago I did, until I began checking facts before reposting. I try not to post anything, except my opinion, unless I’ve checked facts first, though I will post others’ opinions, because I am allowed to do that too.

union jack, the last krystallos,

© Lisa Shambrook

Brexit was ugly. Brexit (the UK Referendum on whether to leave the European Union) was perpetuated with lies no matter which side of the argument you were on. It was undercut with lies, xenophobia, name-calling, and scare-mongering on both sides. The party leadership contests are the same, and don’t get me started on the American Presidential election.

This post isn’t about my politics, but I do want to discuss the ugliness of politics. PMQs (Prime Minister’s Questions) in the British Parliament is ugly, always has been. They laugh, bully, put each other down, and generally act like they are on a school playground, or in a farmyard, though these analogies are very unfair to both children and farm animals. PMQs is game playing, on both sides. It’s like Good Cop Bad Cop. It’s about half an hour on a Wednesday when the Prime Minister answers MP’s questions in the House of Commons. But it’s hostile.

If you know me well, you will know my political leanings. I don’t hide them, and recently on Twitter I shared the following two tweets when Theresa May our new PM took her first PMQ session:

I got a lot of agreement and some opposition, that’s cool, it’s my opinion after all. On the 13th July, I listened to Theresa May’s speech outside number 10 Downing Street with interest. She had just become our new Prime Minister and her speech was very good. She spoke about poverty, welfare, people, and the struggles we go through every day. She, according to her speech, knew exactly what state the country was in and vowed to change it and help us. Within days her Cabinet was reshuffled and familiar faces we’d hoped to see gone were there, and our faith was diminishing. And, yes, how you feel will be akin to your political leaning. I’m allowed mine.

Theresa-May-Jeremy-Corbyn-PMQs

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn Photo Source

So PMQs was the first time to see her in action. And this is where I saw the true ugliness of politics. Every question was blocked by posturing, jibes, name-calling – and yes, politics does not change. The people do, the actions don’t.

But what shocked me most was the media bias.

It was reported, gleefully, that Theresa May had wiped the floor with her opponent. Now regardless of your politics, if I’d seen this the other way round I’d have been just as shocked. It’s not that she’s Tory, but that her body language (leaning forward to intimidate), her tone (aggressive), her words (demeaning, bullying, and cruel personal insults), and her expression (calculated revulsion and sneers) spoke volumes.

Since when is someone considered strong because they can insult someone better than someone else?

Since when has great leadership consisted of putting down the opposition?  

The media reporting was and has been very biased towards one party. Maybe this has a great deal to do with Rupert Murdoch owning the media brands we listen to or read. But the media bias has been so strong lately that it needs looking into and changing. The BBC is supposed to be unbiased, but is it?

These two reports: BBC admit intentionally damaging Corbyn leadership with contrived live resignation, and the Independent’s Our report found that 75% of press coverage misrepresents Jeremy Corbyn – we can’t ignore media bias anymore, show just how much damage is being done in the name of the media. Whether you like Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn or not, you can’t help notice the media portray him as a loser. I watched the interview with Andrew Marr recently, and found a calm, well-spoken politician who put across a strong vision for Britain, but the media don’t show that in general. He is spoken of as unelectable, yet the people have voted in their droves for him.

I’d like to see both leaders taken seriously, and both leaders to take their responsibilities seriously too. I felt that Corbyn had nothing to say during Brexit, maybe he didn’t, but maybe it was just unreported. I also commented during Brexit that the Liberal Democrats had been conspicuously absent. But when I spoke to a Lib Dem supporter, he assured me that Tim Farron had been at many rallies, spoken well and was well-versed in his opposition to Brexit, but I hadn’t seen hide nor hair of him on British media. On the other hand, UKIP was totally over-represented considering they have less members of parliament than the Lib Dems (UKIP: 1, Lib Dems: 8). The Greens and UKIP have one member of parliament each, yet, who did you see more of during Brexit?

Fair reporting is one thing I’d like to see.

The other is less lies, I’d like to see no lies, but that is probably both unlikely and impossible!  The lies during Brexit were breath-taking in their arrogance, but I won’t go into that, done and dusted.

I am seeing the same thing in American politics, and fear the same outcome in their Presidential Election. Outright lies, xenophobia, and scare-mongering.  The fear of having Donald Trump become President of the United States, outweighs my fear over leaving the EU one hundred fold, despite the problems leaving the EU is bringing. Our pound is unstable, and has lost a lot of ground against foreign currency, this means something to me as I send my son money in Canada, and where £50 would have given him $100, it now only gives $85. That’s a big loss when every penny counts. Food prices here are rising and we have yet to see where trade goes. Hopefully as a country we can make the best of it. But Donald Trump? I’m on the Nope Train with that one.

The reporting in the US is diabolical and much of the electioneering is about honesty or dishonesty. This chart shows how damaging the reporting is. From my newsfeeds and the media I’ve seen surrounding Trump and Clinton (and incidentally, Obama, who I’ve had great respect for) both are seen as unethical and dishonest. I’ve even seen Hillary Clinton bandied about as being criminal. This article Lying Liars Who Lie: 2016 Edition, (ignore the religious tones if that’s not your thing the sentiment is still the same) points out that Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, and Jeb Bush, are some of the most honest politicians around. Then you can take a look Donald Trump’s results…

Sometimes I wonder at people.

  • Edited on 26th July 2016 (day before posting): Having just watched Michelle Obama’s DNC (Democratic National Convention) speech, I feel things can change. It doesn’t matter which side you are on, it’s her interest and passion we need to change how politics work. Ignore who she supported if you’re not with Hillary Clinton, but notice how Michelle speaks, how she offers truth and facts with passion and without putting down the opposition with a cruel personal attack. That’s how I want my politics. 

“When someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level. No, our motto is: when they go low, we go high.” – Michelle Obama DNC Speech 2016

Michelle Obama DNC speech 2016

Michelle Obama DNC Speech 2016 Photo taken from You Tube video

This post was not written to further my political views, but to show much I wish politics could change.

There is no strength in bullying, intimidating, or invalidating the opposition.
There is no honour in lying to the public.
There is no humanity in deceit.
So why do we fall for it and could it ever change?

Can politics and the media surrounding it ever become honest and not corrupt?

*Note on comments: everyone is allowed a valid opinion, but if any comments are deemed attacking, aggressive, or inciting they will be removed or unapproved. Don’t feed the trolls.  

 

Decorating Christmas Cakes…and a Competition

Christmas cake – are you enticed by taste or decoration?
In our family, Vince and the children make the cake
and I decorate it – and we get the best of both worlds!

Chrismas-cakes-decoration-lisa-shambrook-the-last-krystallos-title

real-christmas-tree-the-last-krystallos-2015

© Lisa Shambrook

Decorating the cake has become a bit
of an event in our household

and this year you can join in…

So, gifts have been bought, nativities visited, carols are being sung, my frosted icicles are up, and the tree is clothed with an eclectic assortment of baubles. Steampunk, glass, and wood ornaments, Santa and reindeer, snowmen and frost, stars and angels…and much more. I love arty trimmings and my tree is pretty much a mix of shop bought and homemade. And this year we even invested in a real potted tree, which I adore!

Polar-Bears-Christmas-Cake-the-last-krystallos-2009-close

© Lisa Shambrook

But now for the cake. Several years ago I watched Kirstie Allsopp’s Handmade Christmas where they made polar bears for the Christmas cake. I made notes and sketches, and disappeared the next day into the kitchen with fondant icing… A few squashed bears later, I had my cake. I revealed it to the family to much delight, as the most I’d ever done on our cake before was rough royal icing with a couple of shop decorations placed on top, maybe a sprig of holly if I wanted it to look posh!

Penguin-Christmas-Cake-the-last-krystallos-2011

© Lisa Shambrook

The next year I upped the stakes, shut myself away, and created penguins. Let’s just say several penguins got thrown across the kitchen amid tantrums, as black food colouring in white fondant seemed not to be the easiest icing to work with. The family were refused entry into the kitchen, purely because I wasn’t sure it would work – and I’m sure they wondered what on earth I was doing! In the end the penguins sat enchanted beside a melted glacier mint pond.

Robin-Christmas-Cake-the-last-krystallos-2011

© Lisa Shambrook

Then I decided to learn how to cover a cake in smooth fondant icing and we got cute, fat robins atop a winter tree.

Melting-snowmen-Christmas-Cake-the-last-krystallos-2012

© Lisa Shambrook

My most favourite cake came next, and Pinterest was pretty influential. Wow, the ideas! I saw melted snowmen cookies and took it another step, placing three on my cake. This time the cake was covered with smooth fondant and topped with rough royal for snow. The actual snowmen were marshmallows melted for a few seconds in the microwave and decorated with eyes, nose, twig arms and silver sugar balls for buttons! This one was so effective!

Button-Christmas-tree-Christmas-Cake-the-last-krystallos-2013

© Lisa Shambrook

Not sure how to top my melted snowmen, I was inspired by creative Christmas card designs on Pinterest using buttons. I made a classy Button Christmas tree with chocolate fondant and green sugar strands and added fondant buttons and silver balls.

Ivy-Christmas-Cake-the-last-krystallos-2014

© Lisa Shambrook

Last year I took the traditional Yule log idea and covered the cake with smooth chocolate fondant, then it snowed with rough royal icing and I twined fondant ivy all around, adding sprinkles of glitter powder for frost and crushed, melted glacier mints for ice

Each time I decorated the cake, my family were kicked out of the kitchen with not a peek at the cake until I was done. They were soon offering furtive observations and asking crafty questions to discover clues, but I jealously guarded the secrets until the reveals. Now they put in official guesses and we see if anyone comes up with the same idea as me!

Christmas-cakes-competition-the-last-krystallos-lisa-shambrook

So, this year I’m opening up the question… What will I put on my Christmas cake? If you can guess how I’ll decorate the cake, you could win a signed copy of ‘Beneath the Rainbow’.

You’ll have to trust me that I won’t be swayed by guesses that appear here or on Facebook or Twitter…I am a woman of integrity, and I already know exactly how I’ll be decorating the cake this year!

I’ll put all the correct answers into the proverbial hat and pull out a winner when I reveal the decorated cake. Until I post the photographs of this year’s cake, you can keep guessing…

So, how do you think I’ll decorate our Christmas cake?

Beneath the Rainbow AD with SynopsisLeave your guess in the comments below, or on my Facebook post, and I’ll contact the winner in a post or message once the cake is decorated. I’ll post here and on FB, and the winner will get a signed paperback copy of ‘Beneath the Rainbow’ just before or just after Christmas!
This contest is open internationally
.

If I can’t contact the winner, or there is no reply to my winner’s post within a week, I will choose the next correct or closest answer as winner.

 

The Battle to Beat Depression

We all fight battles – some more than others, but all of us fight and struggle through.

The Battle to Beat Depression | The Last Krystallos - black dog, depression, ways to beat depression, antidepressants, thelastkrystallos,

Fending off the black dog… © Lisa Shambrook

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” (a quote thought to have come from Ian Maclaren but now widely misattributed to Plato – don’t you love Pinterest and its mass of misattributes?!) This quote speaks volumes.

Lara Croft, weapons, axe, arrows, bow, quiver, thelastkrystallos,

© Lisa Shambrook

Not one of us escapes these skirmishes, so we need to be well equipped.

Two things lead me to write this article: firstly I’m making weapons for Cosplay; just last week I made a quiver and arrows to go with my bow and this week I made an axe, so I have weapons on my mind. Secondly I read a post by a friend, who suffers depression, and she listed her ‘antidepressants’ over on her blog A Slice of Reality and it makes sense to know what yours and mine are too!

Back in 2013, The Guardian reported that ‘Nearly a fifth of adults in the UK experience anxiety or depression.’ That’s one in every five people you know. Simply put, we all know people who suffer with depression and/or anxiety and a whole host of other mental health problems. Thankfully, we are now becoming not only more aware, but more able to talk about mental health issues.

So go and read my friend’s post and see what her antidepressants are…see what mine are and then go and work on yours.

antidepressants, the battle to beat depression, tablets, water, thelastkrystallos,

© Lisa Shambrook

Medication is the first port of call when you go to your GP. In fact, in general, according to the British Medical Journal, antidepressants are being overprescribed. This is not to say they don’t have a place, but the most effective use of antidepressants is a short course that resets the chemical imbalance caused by depression until your body is ready to produce them again.
*Though everyone is different and Dr’s advice should be adhered to.

I’ve taken several courses of antidepressants during my life and each time they’ve helped me overcome the illness. If I need them these days I’ll take a six month course and work on lifting myself out at the same time. My family and I prefer me not to take them as I become a zombie – I want to feel alive not comatose. Antidepressants react differently with different people, but don’t expect to take them without the myriad side effects.

Lisa Shambrook, depression, pain, thelastkrystallos, the battle to beat depression,

© Lisa Shambrook

The most important intervention a GP can offer is therapy. I’ve taken courses of therapy, but only privately. The waiting lists were always too long for me. In my book ‘Beneath the Old Oak’ Meg’s mother refuses her GP’s help.  Her reaction is typical of someone suffering depression:

“I’m wasting money that could be spent on people who are really sick, and why? Because I’m sad!” She [mum] flung her arms in the air. “I’m sad, really sad, and not in the being upset terms either! Sad, weak and stupid. I’m stupid, therefore I do stupid things, therefore I should see a counsellor, but I can’t because I’m not stupid enough!”
Meg rolled her eyes.
“Maybe I should do something stupid…”
“Maybe we should get dinner, Mum. C’mon, let’s get dinner.” Meg moved towards the kitchen. “Mum? Did you put yourself on the list for counselling anyway?”
Mum shook her head. “What’s the point? I’ll be better after I take these [antidepressants]. I’ll be fine in less than a few years! The list is for people with serious problems, not bored housewives who feel sad.” She strode past her daughter. “C’mon, Meg, I’ll be fine in no time.”

If you think is that there’s always someone worse off, that it’s not so bad, that you don’t want to take up valuable NHS time, and you don’t put yourself on the list – that’s a vicious circle. You are worth it, and if you are ever offered therapy of any kind from your GP – take it!

dog paws, Roxy, GSD, german shepherd, thelastkrystallos,

© Lisa Shambrook

Exercise is, for me, the most effective antidepressant there is. Another friend once sent me an essay she’d written, for her thesis, about the effects of exercise on depression, it was an eye opener! Exercise is a natural way to increase serotonin, as is getting out in the sunshine, and it can help lift the depressive state. Almost seven years ago we got a dog, and daily walks have increased my capacity to avoid depression hugely. Then last year our family joined the local gym. A mixture of exercise and a much healthier diet have impacted greatly on our weight, which has significantly decreased, our general fitness and health, and my predisposition for depression and anxiety. I cannot recommend exercise more. If you can’t afford the gym, or a dog, then just get yourself outside, take a walk and appreciate the abundance of nature!

psalm 61 2, overwhelmed, higher rock, scripture,In her post, my friend talks about her faith and I share it. It doesn’t matter what denomination you are, or aren’t, or what spiritual beliefs you have, there are good things in life to be appreciated. Things that increase your faith, whether in humanity or deity, and these are good. Lean on your faith like I can rely on words of comfort from scripture…let it carry you.

Being creative is what keeps me going. When the chips are down, when I’m stuck in a black hole, I can escape through writing. If you’re lucky enough to have a creative talent, use it. If not, search one out, cultivate one, or find a hobby that makes you happy. I write when I need to release the pressure of anxiety, when panic threatens to overwhelm me, and when the pit of depression attempts to bind and suffocate me. Words are my world, and they save me.

Anxiety © BekahShambrook

Anxiety © BekahShambrook

Some of us are also lucky to have families who, though they can’t always stop you from slipping into that pit, they can throw down the rope to haul us out. They may not understand, I know my self-harm is way beyond my husband’s comprehension, but he will always be there. They will make sure they’re there to hug you, reassure you and work out how to tug your little boat back into their harbour.

I know that for me these antidepressants work, most of the time. You may be reading this whilst you’re cowering in the darkness and these ideas may seem as far away as the sun is, but give yourself time, depression is not always curable, but it is liveable and survivable. I live with chronic depression, of the rapid cycling variety, (You can read more about mine here) and I know I will always live fending off the black dog, but I can – I can growl and he’ll back off… Learn how to tame yours.

How do you survive? What helps you through the tough times and what tips can you offer to tame the black dog? 

Beneath_the_Old_Oak_front_cover_finalTo read more of Meg and her mum’s battles, ‘Beneath the Old Oak ‘ is available in paperback and eBook on Amazon and Etsy.

‘Turn those dreams of escape into hope…’ Meg thinks her mother is broken. Is she broken too? Meg’s life spirals out of control, and when she mirrors her Mum’s erratic behaviour, she’s terrified she’ll inherit her mother’s sins. Seeking refuge and escape, she finds solace beneath a huge, old oak. A storm descends, and Meg needs to survive devastating losses.

Amaranth Alchemy: The Gift of Words

Amaranth Alchemy Winter/Spring Collection

Amaranth Alchemy Winter/Spring Collection

In a few weeks Amaranth Alchemy will have been trading for five months, we’ve had fun and unexpected success and we offer much gratitude to everyone who has supported us! It’s been a delight to share wordy and bookish crafts and rescue books at the same time.

Old, worn and torn books, destined for the county tip, have come into our lives and we’ve been able to use them to enrich and create. Another offer of thanks go to all those who own a piece of our work, especially over Christmas, we hope you love it!

Pooh_Alice_and_Adventure_Amaranth_Alchemy_valentine_2015

Winnie the Pooh, Alice and Adventure – Amaranth Alchemy

Right now, we’re preparing for Valentine’s and Mother’s Day and Easter won’t be too far behind. February sees lovers sharing hearts and flowers, and if I have anything to do with it, chocolate too, then 15th March celebrates Mothering Sunday in the UK…in the US I am reliably informed by my ‘the bright side’ diary that May 10th is ‘Mother’s Day (not the UK)’.

We have gifts for both him and her and would love you to take a peek

Gifts for Him and Her

Gifts for Him and Her – Amaranth Alchemy

Aragorn_loved_arwen_LOTR_B&W_scrabble_pendant_necklace_amaranth_alchemy_2015

Aragorn Loved Arwen – Amaranth Alchemy

We cater for fans of all variety…so if The Lord of the Rings is your beloved’s passion, then fall in love with Arwen and Aragorn

Winnie the Pooh delights all ages, especially mothers on Mother’s Day…

Winnie the Pooh - Amaranth Alchemy

Winnie the Pooh – Amaranth Alchemy

Sun and Moon Dictionary Necklaces - Amaranth Alchemy

Sun and Moon Dictionary Necklaces – Amaranth Alchemy

You can even find something for the Game of Thrones couple – My sun and stars… and, The moon of my life…

Poetry in motion with Dictionary Scrabble tile style necklaces…choose one of our premade pendants, or contact us and see if we have your special word and tile letter. We have some very happy commission customers!

Love, Star, Elvish Runes and Raven - Amaranth Alchemy

Love, Star, Elvish Runes and Raven Dictionary Necklaces – Amaranth Alchemy

It’s also highly likely that when we reach our six month mark, we may celebrate with a giveaway…don’t miss out, like our Facebook page and you’ll be ready!

Love Dictionary Necklace - Amaranth Alchemy

Love Dictionary Necklace – Amaranth Alchemy

Valentine’s Day is on its way! But don’t forget Mother’s Day too!

Little Women Bookmarks and Quote Plaques - Amaranth Alchemy

Little Women Bookmarks and Quote Plaques – Amaranth Alchemy

*All the photographs on this post belong to Amaranth Alchemy, but feel free to share them, especially on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter etc!

Fandom Character List Prints - Amaranth Alchemy

Fandom Character List Prints – Amaranth Alchemy

Press Release: Authors Supporting Our Troops

Just sent a couple of my signed books to this worthy cause…and other writers who wish to can get involved. Authors Supporting Our Troops…

Rymfire Books

Rymfire author Armand Rosamilia, author of the Dying Days series, has launched the Authors Supporting Our Troops (A.S.O.T) book drive. Rosamilia is reaching out to fellow authors and publishers to seek donations of the authors’ books, signed, for distribution to United State Armed Forces stationed in Kuwait and Afghanistan.  The author book drive for troops is currently underway and runs through April 1st, 2014 but may be extended due to overwhelming response.

Message from Armand Rosamilia on Authors Supporting Our Troops Facebook page:

“I’ll be collecting fellow authors’ books to send to our troops stationed in Kuwait and Afghanistan in April. Interested in donating some of your books? The men and women of the Armed Forces love receiving signed books from authors to read and pass around while they’re over there! If you’re an author and want to help, join this page and then get in…

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For the love of our Furry Friends…

A post by Laura Zera this morning, along with a status posted by Jo Cannon: “In psychiatry, whenever we see a depressed patient, we always do a ‘risk assessment’, to determine the likelihood of that person committing suicide. As part of that assessment, we ask the patient what stops them from taking their own life. And do you know what they answer? Do you know what I hear, again and again and again? MY DOG. When I ask people what stops them from committing suicide, they always say: I COULD NEVER LEAVE MY DOG. Oh my GOODNESS how people under-estimate the power of that relationship! Dogs protect property and gardens and buildings, but they also protect people. And so often they are literally the difference between being here and not being here. So God help the next person who tells me it’s “just a dog”. Dogs save lives. We just don’t appreciate quite how many.”  reminded me how important our pets are…so I thought I’d tell you about mine.
Rusty (please do not use)
We rescued Rusty from beneath a garden shed, when he was five months old. He was skinny and scrawny and full of fleas and worms, and his pads were scraped and raw. The vet said he wouldn’t have made it past another week or so. 
Rusty became my shadow, followed me everywhere, sat beside me and loved me unconditionally. 
He only had half a tail, and was the clumsiest creature I’ve ever known, but I adored him. We lost him when he was twelve years old due to kidney failure, but he was my constant companion for those years! 
Misty and Raven (please do not use)
We only meant to pick up one cat from the farm – but the owner (who was over-run with felines) placed a tiny black kitten in my daughter’s hand, after I’d chosen the sole grey kitten, and there was no question we’d be going home with two! 
These two are sisters, but live in tolerance – eating from separate bowls, sleeping on separate beds and hissing every time they pass each other…don’t know why! Misty is cute, cuddly and chatty, she loves eating and sleeping (all day), while Raven prefers stalking, hunting and adventure out in the wilds. opposites in every way!
Raven and Misty (please do not use)
Roxy (and Dan) (please do not use)
Hubby was brought up with a dog, and asked for a dog (and a motorbike) constantly – he now has both! Roxy became ours at eight weeks, and was my first experience of owning a dog. I was not a fan of canines, always referring to myself as a cat person, but after a couple of weeks reservation I became a fully-fledged dog person and fell head-over-heels for Roxy!
Roxy (please do not use)
She became my companion and I experienced the devotion and complete love of a puppy as she grew up. We laughed at her enormous ears and neurosis, enjoyed playful tussles and wondered at her beauty!
Roxy (and Caitlin) and bubbles (please do not use)
So full of life and love. I can’t imagine life without her, my gorgeous, playful five-year-old!
Roxy (please do not use)
Sometimes we under-estimate the value of our furry friends…they offer us love, companionship, adoration, fun, friendship, education and reason. There is nothing more welcoming than a dog’s wagging tail and leap of happiness when you come home from a hard day! They contribute more to our lives than we realise!

Summer SAD

Don’t get me wrong – I adore the sunshine and the gorgeous, balmy days of early and late Summer, but July and August…I could do without.
Give me a fresh Autumn, throw in some Winter fun and snow, give me a bountiful Spring and a hint of Summer and I’m okay. July and August drown me in the depths of hell…and feel just as hot.

Photograph by Lisa Shambrook and Instagram (Please do not use without permission)

Seriously though, many people, thought to be close to 2million in the UK suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as the ‘Winter Blues’*…but it is far less known that a Summer equivalent exists, affecting just 600,000 in the UK**. I happen to be one of this number.

Just as Winter SAD sufferers wish to hibernate and sleep, I feel the same during the hot, seemingly everlasting Summer months. I also thought I was the only one. When I first read of Summer SAD in Reader’s Digest, and mentioned it to my GP, I thought he’d laugh, instead he told me it not only existed, but was recognised.

I’d spent years suffering depression and thought my bouts of February/March depressive states were pretty much mild Winter Blues…and expected after the excitement and subsequent anti-climax of Christmas, but when I consulted my diaries I found my depressive states were more often found Mid-Summer, when we’re expected to feel sunny, happy and alive. The ‘hot’ months would find me exhausted, tired, irritable and very agitated.
My February/March bouts, when examined, were almost always part of a prolonged clinical depression and not confined to those two months as I’d mistakenly believed. This last Winter, for example, perhaps one of the longest we Brits have experienced for a while, was not a problem. I wasn’t keen on the excessive rain…who is? but it’s now, with Summer finally advancing, that my anxiety levels are creeping upwards and my loathing for Summer heat is coming to the fore.

Again, it’s important to add, that I love the sunshine and Summer warmth, and the long evenings…but when many are out sunbathing, lazing on the beach or just enjoying being outdoors, I would rather be inside escaping the Mid-Summer heat.
If we don’t like the cold, we can wrap up warm, cuddle beneath a fleece, sit by a warm fire, but if we can’t stand the heat we can’t always get out of the kitchen!
I am, however, learning to make the most of Summer, going to the beach in the evening, doing my ‘outside’ work early and appreciating the good things of the season: strawberries, watermelon, ice-cream and fresh salads…
I’m also working on my anxiety and panic levels, attending a CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) course and hope that I can control my Summer month emotions much better.

My perfect temperatures are anywhere between 18 and 24˚C (64 – 75˚F). Thankfully, it’s only June and the temperature is a wonderful 20˚C (68˚F) and I’ll be enjoying the sun for a few more weeks yet. I don’t plan on moving anywhere the temperature tops 30˚C (86˚F) so I might be okay!

How hot do you like it?

Then again, maybe I should just take a siesta when it all gets too much, which could last July through August…waking me in time for a fresh September and the gorgeous turning of the trees!

Figures found here:
*www.sad.org.uk
**www.depressionalliance.org

Bluebells…

My most favourite flowers ever are Bluebells…very evident from my Blog banner picture…they take me back to childhood walks in woods with my family, beautiful bouquets gathered through the railings from railway banks where I lived as a child, and inspiration for my book ‘Beneath The Rainbow’. So a walk in a bluebell wood is heaven! 
I thought I’d share a few photographs from today. Beautiful sunshine, gorgeous bluebells and a lovely Sunday afternoon dog walk in Greencastle Woods, Carmarthen.
Photo by Lisa Shambrook Flickr
Photo By Lisa Shambrook
Photo by Lisa Shambrook
Photo by Lisa Shambrook
Photo by Lisa Shambrook with Instagram

Diamonds in the Inky Night Sky…

My Orion’s Belt Murano Glass bead from Lions Paw Jewelry
Last night I stood outside staring up at the stars in absolute wonder…an array of diamonds sparkling against the indigo blanket of night… *sigh*
I adore the night sky and on a cold, crisp and clear night it’s my favourite place to be…staring up at the Orion constellation in particular, which reminds me of my father and childhood stargazing. The night sky is offering two glorious twinkles in Jupiter and Venus right now too, so true wonders to behold!
If you get a clear sky, go and take a look, once the sun has gone to bed…