Category Archives: Nature

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?

Visiting Scotland – What we saw in the Western Highlands and the Isle of Skye

Two years ago we stayed on the northern coast of Scotland and fell in love
with the Highlands, this time we went west, staying just below the Isle of Skye.
The epic western isles, vast mountains, and sweeping lochs will capture your soul.

Visiting Scotland - What we saw in the Western Highlands and the Isle of Skye - The Last Krystallos

We decided to drive the whole way, all ten-and-a-half hours, in one day so it was an early start. Bekah and her partner, Dave, followed, and with regular breaks we reached Scotland. We recalled the drive up and were excited to see the mountains again and just after Loch Lomond we weren’t disappointed. The Bridge of Orchy introduces you to the giants and the A82 though Glen Coe will make you stop and stare – do stop, you’ll need photos! We stopped for photos at Buachaille Etive Mor, or the Skyrim mountain as my family call it, a volcano of a peak! Up through Fort William and Ben Nevis and finally we arrived at the Five Sisters mountain range, nestling the road at their feet, and they welcomed us to the Kyle of Lochalsh.

Buachaille Etive Mor in cloud - The Last Krystallos

Buachaille Etive Mor © Lisa Shambrook

The Lochs, Cluanie and Duich, were smooth and reflective and throughout our stay we passed Eilean Donan castle several times. We visited the castle on our last trip, but it provided the perfect silhouette reflected against the mouth of Loch Alsh on our final night.

Eilean Donan Castle on Kyle of Lochalsh - The Last Krystallos

Eilean Donan Castle © Lisa Shambrook

One of the reasons we’d chosen to stay on the western coast was that I’ve always wanted to visit Fingal’s Cave on the Isle of Staffa, and travelling across Scotland takes time. We booked a Three Island Tour through Staffa Tours which meant our day began early. We caught a ferry across from Oban to the Isle of Mull, it was crowded and I struggled with the amount of people on deck to see us leave Oban. On the Isle of Mull we joined a double decker coach provided by West Coast Tours and through sheer luck got the front upstairs seats. The coach driver was great providing commentary on the history of Mull, whilst simultaneously navigating a single track road with passing points and tourist cars who don’t realise the size of a coach!

Basalt Columns - Staffa - The Last Krystallos

Basalt Columns – Staffa © Lisa Shambrook

The roads across Scotland in general are worth a mention. Many around the coast are single track and all have regular, signed passing points. The rule is to pull in and let faster vehicles pass, and to pull in where necessary to let oncoming traffic through. It works brilliantly, and is inherently better than the Welsh country roads with few passing points we’re used to at home! Btw, if you see a coach coming towards you, back up or pull in and give plenty of space, you’d be surprised how many people seem to be unable to reverse concisely!

To Fingal's Cave - Isle of Skye - The Last Krystallos

To Fingal’s Cave – Isle of Staffa © Lisa Shambrook

Back to Mull, a quick ferry across to explore the small island of Iona for two hours before we took a short boat trip to the isle of Staffa. As Staffa gets closer you are stunned by the tall basalt rock formations that give the island its name – staffa old Norse for staff, stave, or pillar like the columnar rocks. The boat pulls alongside Fingal’s Cave for a spectacular view, though don’t expect photos without people in them at this point. You might berate the tourists clambering over the rocks in front of the cave, but in a few minutes you’ll be one of them!

 

Am Buachallie - Isle of Skye - The Last Krystallos

Am Buachallie – Isle of Staffa © Lisa Shambrook

Fingal's Cave Staffa - The Last Krystallos

Fingal’s Cave – Staffa © Lisa Shambrook

You get an hour on Staffa, it’s not enough – I could stay all day – but it’s all you’ll get. We walked across the hexagonal volcanic rocks, well, I hurried – I’m a child at heart, to the cave. Currently you can’t get down into the cave since it was damaged by fierce storms, but you can appreciate the force of the ocean as it crashes over the stone and glistens in the sun. Greens and blues mingle at the shore offset by white seafoam and black rock.

Staffa Puffins - The Last Krystallos

Staffa puffins © Lisa Shambrook

Dan reminded me the island had more to offer and after a ten minute walk we discovered the island’s other wonder. On the cliffs are a plethora of puffins, nesting on the island from May to mid-August. The miracle is that they’re as fascinated by you as you are by them! We sat on the grassy cliff tops watching the birds as they perched, wandered, flew, and watched us back. I couldn’t believe we could sit literally a foot away from them and they barely batted an eyelid. Fingal’s Cave and the puffins were the highlight of my holiday.

Puffins on Staffa - The Last Krystallos

Staffa puffins © Lisa Shambrook

The next day we went hunting for more wildlife. Dunvegan castle and gardens sit in a bay on the north-west coast of the Isle of Skye. The castle’s history is Viking/Scottish and it’s a well-looked after example of a lived-in castle. Our main reason for visiting was to go on one of their seal trips, but you can only book a seal tour if you’re inside the castle grounds, so you’ll be paying for castle entry and then just under ten pounds per person for the boat trip.

Dunvegan Seals - The Last Krystallos

Dunvegan seals © Lisa Shambrook

The seals were adorable. A small boat and guide took the six of us out just in the bay close to the castle to their local seal colony, and the seals were out basking in the sun and dipping in and out of the sea. The middle of July meant pups were lively and bobbing close to the boat, despite their mothers’ barks to be careful! Our guide gave us lots of seal facts and legend, and told us about the castle’s history. We were lucky with great weather, glittering indigo water, and plenty of selkies, though I wish the trip had been longer.

Dunvegan Castle and Seal Colony - The Last Krystallos

Dunvegan Castle and seal colony © Lisa Shambrook

The Fairy Pools down at Glenbrittle on the Isle of Skye was our next destination. There’s a car park with an attendant, but when we arrived at 5.30ish in the afternoon there was no attendant to be seen, so we left the car. Also, the waterfalls are a huge tourist attraction and the car park could be very busy – there is an overflow car park at the end, but overlooked if you don’t know it’s there. When I said busy, I meant it. There’s a constant stream of people on the hike, you won’t be exploring alone. It’s recommended to go early or late to avoid the crowds and find the best light, and getting those perfect pictures will mean trying to dodge many people, climbing carefully, and missing out on some because people are bathing in the pools. It can be frustrating, but shouldn’t be missed.

Fairy Pools Glenbrittle - The Last Krystallos

Fairy Pools – Isle of Skye © Lisa Shambrook

The pools and waterfalls are beautiful, and caught in the right light they’ll shimmer green, teal, and cobalt blue – truly magical.

Fairy Pools - Isle of Sky - The Last Krystallos

Fairy Pools – Isle of Skye © Lisa Shambrook

Wildlife continued with a trip to the Highland Wildlife Park just south of Inverness. You’ll be entering the edge of the Cairngorms, so if you’re making a day of it maybe travel a bit further and see the mountains too. The wildlife park has a small but very basic self-drive safari, but the main attractions are walking round the animal enclosures seeing polar bears, snow monkeys, an arctic fox and her cub, red panda, deer, wolves and lots more. We went to see the wolves for Cait. Pups frolicked and played and completely enchanted us.

Highlands Wildlife Park - snow leopard, polar bear, red panda, wolves, deer, arctic fox cub - The Last Krystallos

Highland Wildlife Park © Lisa Shambrook

Thursday saw us go out in the Kyle of Lochalsh on Seaprobe Atlantis from the port in Kyleakin, a glass-bottomed boat to see seals and underwater creatures. Plenty of seals, but not so much underwater. Lots of jellyfish floating about, a couple of pipe fish, and lots of hypnotising bootlace seaweed!

Portree, Kyleakin, Underwater and seals in Kyle of Lochalsh - The Last Krystallos

Portree Seagull, Kyleakin, Kyle of Lochalsh underwater and seals © Lisa Shambrook

I wanted to find dinosaur footprints at Staffin on Skye, but we had trouble finding access to the beach. We’d timed the tide, but it was difficult to work out how to find them. There was a stream we couldn’t cross and we couldn’t work out which side of the beach the prints were supposed to be, so we gave up. If you do want to find them, there are online articles which will point you in the right direction.

Family Selfie - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Instead we drove around the top of the island taking in the Old Man of Storr, Mealt waterfall and Kilt Rock. We got fish and chips at Portree and headed back to the south of Skye to Kylerhea and an otter hide. The road over the mountain to Kylerhea was gorgeous, narrow and wild, so pretty. There’s a small car park with an RSPB hide, and a short walk to the otter hide overlooking the bay. You can watch the small car ferry from the bay and spy on sea life and birds. We didn’t see any otters, it’s a long way down to the sea and though there was a small telescope, it was hard to pin point creatures. We did see a seal, gulls, an oyster-catcher, and a heron!

It was late in the day so we missed the last ferry at six, but the Kylerhea scenery was stunning – the green moss, ferns, and trees contrasting with stormy clouds over the slate-blue water.

Kylerhea - The Last Krystallos

Kylerhea © Lisa Shambrook

Our last day saw us take advantage of Plockton and Calum’s Seal Tours, he advertised the tour for free if you didn’t see any seals… Calum Mackenzie was fun and informative and he got paid as there were plenty of seals! If you’re lucky you could also see dolphins and sea eagles.

Applecross Bay - The Last Krystallos

Applecross Bay © Lisa Shambrook

Then we drove right around Loch Carron and crossed the mountain road to Applecross Bay. One of the highest passes, and reminded me of Snowdonia mountain roads, but single track. That evening, we explored a few of the local Inverinate roads, where we were staying and caught the sunset. Nothing better.

Applecross Pass - The Last Krystallos

Applecross Pass © Lisa Shambrook

On our way home we stopped in Stirling to see the Wallace Monument. 246 steps to climb, but a great history lesson.

Wallace Monument - The Last Krystallos

The Wallace Monument © Lisa Shambrook

We had a stunning week, fulfilling dreams, and discovering the West coast of Scotland. If you’ve enjoyed this, you can read more about our North coast Scottish adventure two years ago. It’s pretty much a guarantee we’ll be back!

Fingal's Cave, puffins, Dunvegan seals, fairy pools, Kylerhea, Eilean Donan, Buachaille Etive Mor - TLK

Fingal’s Cave, puffins, Dunvegan seals, Fairy Pools, Kylerhea, Kyle of Lochalsh, Eilean Donan Castle, Buachaille Etive Mor © Lisa Shambrook

This land is a magical land of rainbows, diamonds on the ocean, moss, towering mountains, tumbling waterfalls, mystic lochs, and enchanted landscapes. Just avoid the early morning and late night midges!

One day we hope to return and to stay…

What are your favourite places in Scotland?

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?

 

 

 

Forests that Claim your Heart

‘It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts,
as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees,
that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.’

Robert Louis Stevenson

Forests that claim your Heart - The Last KrystallosForests are inspiring, especially to writers. Imagine Tolkien without Fangorn Forest and the Ents, or Lothlórien, or Mirkwood. And Walter De La Mare’s The Listeners would be nothing without its haunting forest’s ferny floor. Even Shakespeare’s Macbeth awaiting Birnam Wood… We have been inspired by trees and forests since the beginning of time, and I can’t see the fascination ending.

I recently read these two articles, the first on Brechfa Forest and the second a list of Twenty of the Best British Forests, and it made me reflect on my local woods and forests. Having a dog means exploring forests becomes a way of life and I have my favourites.

Roxy - Green Castle Woods - The Last Krystallos

Roxy – Green Castle Woods © Lisa Shambrook

Green Castle Woods, just outside Carmarthen on the road to Llansteffan, was one of Roxy’s best places. She loved to lope through the trees and the bluebells, sniffing, wading through mud and/or leaves, and enjoying the fresh outdoors. Bluebells are always a major reason for visiting Green Castle – they’re my favourite flower and have influenced my writing – and they bring me peace. Bluebells and white wood anemone with fairy wings blanket the woods in spring and leaves of bronze, gold, and brown colour autumn.

Bluebells - anemone - Roxy - Green Castle Woods - The Last Krystallos

Bluebells at Green Castle Woods © Lisa Shambrook

The circular walk ends, either in 30 minutes or an hour, at the old oak. This tree has captivated me for years. When I first saw it, standing alone, I thought it was dead, especially as it was midwinter and bare, but as spring dawned I noticed new growth and my own excitement burgeoned just like its leaf buds! It spread gnarled branches, and foliage erupted and beauty ensued. It quickly became the most beautiful and unusual tree I know.

Four seasons - Old Oak - Green Castle Woods - The Last Krystallos

The Old Oak at Green Castle Woods © Lisa Shambrook

This oak is not much more than ten feet tall, and hollow. I know nature withstands a great deal, and the fact that it is fully alive amazes me seeing as it’s almost completely hollow. It stands alone in the middle of a reclaimed meadow in Green Castle Woods, and reminds me that even when I’m spent I can still flourish.

Kira - Brechfa Forest - The Last Krystallos

Kira – Brechfa Forest © Lisa Shambrook

Kira is a different dog altogether, so our forest of choice for walking is the much quieter Brechfa Forest. Sixteen and a half acres of forest spread across Northern Carmarthenshire allows you to find your own paths, and due to Kira’s fear reactivity to both people and dogs it’s an ideal place to walk her when we’re not training. It gives her freedom and though, unlike Roxy, she remains on a long retractable lead she enjoys the liberty and opportunity to explore.

Brechfa moss - Kira - Brechfa Forest - The Last Krystallos

Brechfa Forest © Lisa Shambrook

Brechfa is magical, like the description in the linked The Independent piece, and it always feels enchanting and ancient. Green is the predominant colour throughout the year, olive, peridot, and emerald. Swathes of moss hang from the spruce and pine, and lichen and moss spread across the grassy forest floor. Reindeer moss hangs in trees like chandelier jewels and like snow on the ground. In autumn toadstools and mushrooms decorate the stumps and fog moves through the trees like ghostly spirits.

Toadstools mushrooms - fog - reindeer moss - oxalis - Brechfa Forest - The Last Krystallos

Brechfa Forest © Lisa Shambrook

Trees offer balm for my soul, wisdom, and pure natural beauty. I could spend all day winding my paths beneath them. Having a dog is a bonus, giving me even more opportunity to walk and share the peaceful gratitude of the forests.    

Do you have a favourite woodland or forest?

The Moon – La Luna – Stirring the Soul

‘Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass’
summarised from a letter Anton Chekhov wrote to his brother,
this quote has resonated with not only my writing style,
but also with my love of the Moon.

The Moon - La Luna - Stirring the Soul - The Last Krystallos

The moon is paramount in The Seren Stone Chronicles and appears in different phases and forms within all three books. It’s been an inspiration to me since I was small and used to gaze up at the sky and imagine reaching for the silver globeLa Luna has been the muse for many a poet and writer and will continue to stir the soul while she sits and guards our night sky.

The full moon occurs every twenty-nine and a half days, so every few years there are thirteen full moons, this extra full moon – the second in one month – is known as a blue moon, hence the phrase once in a blue moon. As the moon’s cycle is over twenty-eight days, every nineteen years we’ll have a February with no full moon, known as a black moon.

I’m rather fascinated by the names of moons, and each month has a name given by the ancients to describe the manner of plants, animals, and weather during that phase.

Traditional Full Moon Names - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I am equally inspired by the names given to moons that orbit our planets… All my Amaranth dragons are named after moons or myths associated with the moon. It left me with a bit of a problem when I finished rewriting my final novel in the series. A dragon named Sedna had to be renamed, because Sedna in the early 2000’s was thought to be a moon connected to the planet *Pluto, but Pluto’s demotion to a dwarf planet in 2006 meant Sedna then became a dwarf planet too instead of a moon. *Note: Pluto will always be a planet to me…

Did you know that Mercury and Venus have no moons? Earth has just one: Luna. Mars has two called Deimos and Phobos. Jupiter, on the other hand, has seventy-nine moons; her biggest are named Io, Callisto, Europa, and Ganymede. Ganymede is the largest moon in our solar system, larger than the planet Mercury. Europa also appears to be the best suited to finding an environment which could support life within our solar system beyond our earth. These four moons are spherical, but Jupiter’s other moons are generally rough shaped pieces of rock.

Researching moons and planets - the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Titan is Saturn’s largest moon, she has sixty-two moons, and Titan even has its own atmosphere. Titan is huge in comparison with Saturn’s other moons, and a theory believes there may have only been two moons but one broke up possibly creating Saturn’s rings and inner moons. Saturn’s moon Mimas is its most cratered and the Herschel crater gives it a Death Star look!

Uranus has twenty-seven moons which are named after Shakespearian characters: Titania, Oberon, Umbriel, Ariel, Miranda…and more. Neptune has fourteen moons and its moon Triton is as big as Pluto.

I love how Shakespeare has influenced the naming of moons! So many names are associated with our own moon. The Roman’s know Luna as Diana and Juno. Artemis, Aphrodite, Selene, and Hera are Greek Goddesses, Egyptian association with Isis, Hathor, and Seshat. She is known as Sedna by the Inuits, and Shing Moon by the Chinese, and the Celts named her Morgana.

Super Blue Blood Moon over River Towy - Ralph Waldo Emerson quote - the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I have a gorgeous teeny tiny book on the moon, which sheds light on this celestial object. This quote from the little book echoes my own romanticism of the moon: The sun pours the light of consciousness over the world; the moon reflects the opposite: the dark of the unconscious. Such a beautiful and evocative proclamation which completely echoes my own sentiments.

Countless myths and legends are associated with the moon giving it an enigmatic and mystical aura, which draws us to moon gaze and contemplate. I love standing beneath it, watching and leaving the world behind.

Moon Dreams and Dew... myths of the moon - the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Recently I had my first chance to watch a lunar eclipse in a clear sky. I’d researched eclipses just the day before, for the close of my trilogy, and on 21st January I set my alarm. At 11.30pm when I‘d retired for the night, the wolf moon had glistened large, a super moon close to the earth, in glorious light, and now at 4.30am it shone as a sliver, a bright crescent as the shadow of the earth moved across its surface. Within minutes the shard disappeared and the moon shone as a whole as totality swathed it deep rust red. It wasn’t long before it disappeared behind trees, but the sight of the lunar eclipse will remain with me as one of the wonders of nature.

Super Wolf Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse 21st January 2019 - The Last Krystallos

Super Wolf Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse 21st January 2019 © Lisa Shambrook

The moon is vital to the health of our planet – it rules the tides, and due to its gravitational power must have a subliminal affect over our lives too. We are made up of a high percentage of water ourselves, and where the moon influences the earth’s oceans, it’s scientifically likely it influences us and our moods too. It is said it influences poetry, emotions, intuition, energy, rain, reflections, meditations, memory, healing, plant life, farming, weather, and time.

The moon, waxing and waning, evokes reverence and wonderment.   

How does the moon affect or inspire you?
What do you love about the moon?

Moonlight Dreams - the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

An Ode to November in Silver and Gold

Loosely using the word ode, but I want to celebrate November.
It’s a month that often gets lost between the beginning of autumn
September, October, and the festivities of December.
So, let’s love November…

An Ode to November in Silver and Gold - The Last Krystallos

I set my latest manuscript in the first week of November, and while writing during August, September, and October I worried I’d got it wrong. But November and the dates I was describing came around and it was perfect!

Silver Lining November - The Last Krystallos

Silver Lining November © Lisa Shambrook

My favourite month is October, which is full of moss and lichen, leaves turning, late warmth, and Halloween. Then comes November, and we usually hurry through it complaining about the cold and rushing about organising Christmas!

Leaves and Hot Chocolate November - The Last Krystallos

Leaves and Hot Chocolate November © Lisa Shambrook

November is beautiful. I think I might be Elsa, as the cold doesn’t bother me anyway, but this month it’s been warm and the chill of winter has only just begun to bite. I love the clocks going back, I love the drawn in nights, the cosy darkness cuddling into the sofa with a hot chocolate and furry blanket.

Silver and Gold November - The Last Krystallos

Silver and Gold November © Lisa Shambrook

I don’t mind turning the heating on. I am Scrooge with it, but the heating helps me check my privilege. I have it, some don’t, and sometimes we all need to be reminded of what we have versus what we don’t.

Misty November - The Last Krystallos

Misty November © Lisa Shambrook

I love the mist and fog, the ethereal beauty of the end of autumn. The silver mist and the gold leaf of forests full of copper, bronze, and gold. My manuscript contains forests of beech and oak and November is the month they gild our countryside.

Gold Leaf November - The Last Krystallos

Gold Leaf November © Lisa Shambrook

We’re about to enter the glitz and bling of Winter – but I think autumn
with its earthy colours and metallic sheen is my most favourite.

What about you?

 

Magical Colours of Autumn

You all know Autumn is my favourite season.
Here’s why…

Magical Colours of Autumn - The Last Krystallos
Let’s start with the coloursOrange and Black.  Now, strangely, I’m not a fan of orange, but I adore russet, bronze, copper, and flame. It’s all in the tone and the name! And black is a classic – the colour of night, the dark, and magic.
Orange is the sky before dusk, dragon flames, squirrels on mugs of hot chocolate, pumpkins, and homemade soup. Black is the colour of the sky behind a full moon, Raven cat, and dark gemstones.

Orange and Black - Magical Colours of Autumn - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Then it’s leaves – every shade of russet and bronze, red, brown, yellow, olive, crimson, scarlet, and copper. As the tree turns passion burns…
I become a squirrel hunting for conkers, acorns, chestnuts, and acorn cups.

Leaves - Magical Colours of Autumn - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

My jewellery box opens with autumn gems and jewelsAmber glows like fire, Trollbead bracelets glimmer with stones and glass, and smoky quartz smoulders. Rose gold, copper, and bronze brighten the crisp mornings, and berries glisten like jewels in the garden. Gems of fire like citrine, amber, quartz, and petrified wood glow with autumn passion, and squirrels and foxes accompany me out.

Gems and Jewels - Magical Colours of Autumn - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

And then we’re out and about – with woollies and jumpers on dog walks. I’ll be back in my long, black Docs stopping off for hot chocolate and woodland picnics. Home in time for a good book, cuddled up on the sofa, and ready for midnight jaunts to stare up at the stars…

Out and About - Magical Colours of Autumn - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

How do you spend autumn?

🦇🎃 Happy Halloween! 🍁🖤

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?  

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?