Category Archives: Wales

To Vegan or Not to Vegan – Worldbuilding a Future Generation

An appropriate post for National Vegetarian Week! When I began worldbuilding for The Seren Stone Chronicles, there was much to sort out. Set roughly two thousand years into our future, the populace has learned a great deal from our mistakes.

To Vegan or not to Vegan - Worldbuilding - Writing a Future Generation - The Last Krystallos

Their ancestors had to live through apocalyptic consequences of our generation’s capitalism and complete disregard for the environment. So, their outlook is very different to ours. Many things have changed, from the landscape which suffered and shifted hugely in the ensuing chaos, variations in the chemical makeup of minerals and natural elements, a large loss of population, and the rise of dragons

Dryslwyn Castle Cait and Lisa The Last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

The Chronicles are set in Wales within a naturally simplistic countryside, having lost the large cities a millennia or so earlier. Though technology levels, beliefs, and lives the world over will be different, my lands are a beautiful backdrop to include the changes in landscape and scenery, and to introduce dragons. It lends to a natural community which have turned their backs on twenty-first century technology and embraced the organic and elemental ways of life. This is a society that renounced plastic and tech generations ago because of its aftermath, and makes choices with empathy and a symbiotic relationship with the earth.

The Seren Stone Chronicles -Worldbuilding - Writing a Future Generation - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

The question of food and sustenance crept into my worldbuilding, and I thought I’d be making the decisions, but my characters told me exactly where their values stood.

Their choices lead me to Carnage, a BBC iPlayer mockumentary on veganism. This also coincided with my daughter (who’s been vegan for over a year and vegetarian for two) showing me Cowspiracy as I needed to learn about the environmental damage caused by our current diets and animal agriculture. I wanted to know if meat-eating, vegetarianism, or veganism would be part of their future.  I like that we can be both light-hearted and informative about veganism, especially when the stereotypes are so vicious, but both these programmes and further research opened my eyes to much more than I’d expected.

Field -To Vegan or not to Vegan - Worldbuilding - Writing a Future Generation - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

As I wrote, my characters let me know that environmental issues are an imperative part of their lives. They are determined not to make the mistakes of ancestors and they choose to live sustainably. This doesn’t mean they have no tech – just very different devices to ours – and their food choices and health became a crucial part of my worldbuilding.

They use natural materials for building, clothing, and technology, but my biggest dilemma was with leather. However, leather is still a by-product of wild animals, and dragons, quickly reaped when animals die and is highly valued and respected.

Moors - To Vegan or not to Vegan - Worldbuilding - Writing a Future Generation - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Without the huge populations that we have today, mass-marketing and factory-farming are a thing of the past, and choices based on environment, welfare, and ethics are much easier to make.

Incidentally, my research brought me to a pivotal point in my own life. I won’t judge anyone on their own choices, but within a month I was a fully-fledged vegan. We often get portrayed as self-righteous and of inflicting our food choices on others to make them feel guilty. This, in general, couldn’t be any further than the truth. Our care and evangelism is about the environment and the animals about us – and you can’t blame anyone for wanting to share how to help the world, can you?

Berries - To Vegan or not to Vegan - Worldbuilding - Writing a Future Generation - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I’ve also discovered a true love of food and the alternatives that exist out there. I thought I could never live without milk-chocolate, or cheese, or lamb, but I don’t miss any of it. My characters couldn’t imagine a life any other way, though there are definitely people who will differ and choose other diets and ways of living, just as it is in our world.

Worldbuilding is a fascinating process, especially when your characters spell out their ethics and conscience to you, and help you change your own life!

Have you ever been influenced by another world in a book,
or wished you lived in a different time?

Taking part in the #LlandeiloLitFest – My Book Fair Interview

I’m heading to the #LlandeiloLitFest next week – a Literary Festival from 27th – 30th April in the gorgeous Welsh market town of Llandeilo. I’ll be signing and selling books on Saturday 29th April in the Civic Hall, Crescent Road (SA19 6HN if you need SatNav directions). I’ll be offering some great deals too. While stocks last, I will be giving everyone who buys ‘A Symphony of Dragons’ paperback a free copy of ‘Beneath the Rainbow’ too…and who doesn’t want a free paperback?

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So, in preparation I thought I’d share the interview I did for Llandeilo Book Fair (find the original interview here) with you:

Please tell us about the books you’ll be bringing to the Book Fair.
L_Shambrook_Beneath_the_Rainbow_AmazonBeneath the Rainbow: Freya won’t let anything stand in her way. Not even death. Freya’s family are left to fulfil her dreams, but as time runs out final yearned for wishes remain lost. Only Freya can help as precious life hangs in the balance.

BeneathOldOak_Cover_Amazon (1)Beneath the Old Oak: Meg thinks her mother is broken. Is she broken too? Meg’s life spirals out of control and she’s terrified she’ll inherit her mother’s sins. Seeking refuge and escape she finds solace beneath a huge, old oak, but a devastating storm will change her life forever.

Distant_Star_AmazonBeneath the Distant Star: Jasmine feels like the ghost of the sister she can no longer remember and has something her sister never will – life. She fights to become her own person. Life becomes a battleground as she disregards the rules and her reckless abandon threatens to destroy what she needs most.

4. Symphony_of_Dragons_LISTINGMy newest release A Symphony of Dragons is a collection of my own short stories which connect my Hope Within books and my new chronicles, and follow the theme of dragons…A lyrical collection of seven stories featuring enchanting worlds of fantasy, contemporary fiction, romance, steampunk, and more that will let the song of dragons lead you…

Which genres do they belong to?
My three Hope Within Novels belong in the contemporary and Young Adult genres, but have delighted all ages. The short story collection embraces dragons and the eclectic genres of Steampunk, fantasy, contemporary, romance and more!

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Jasmine © Lisa Shambrook

What are the characters and plots like?
My characters are real and vulnerable in the Hope Within novels, the plots cover a range of difficult subjects which will inspire those who read them.

Tell us about your newest book.
I’m currently working on The Seren Stone Chronicles which I am loving writing. This is Wales far, far into the future: ‘Centuries beyond post-apocalyptic, the landscape of Wales has turned into a whole new country…and the rumble of dragons has returned…’

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Seren Stone © Lisa Shambrook

Which of your books are you’re most proud of, and why?
I am totally engaged in my current writing, but I am proud of each of my books in different ways.

What is the best thing that has been said about your books?
One of the best compliments has been having my writing likened to Virginia Woolf and Mitch Albom.

Why did you decide to come to the Llandeilo Book Fair?
I have been before and the atmosphere is fun and friendly and the visitors are lovely!

Do you have a special connection to Wales?
I moved to Wales twenty-three years ago and I love it. The Welsh countryside has inspired my latest writing, and the myths, legends, and nature continue to enchant and rouse me.

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© Lisa Shambrook

What is your personal background?
I am a quiet introvert and I live within my words! I have a lovely husband and three children, and have been writing since my youngest was born.  I also have cats and a neurotic German Shepherd!

Who are your favourite authors?
It’s always been Garth Nix and Tolkien, but Patrick Rothfuss and Philip Pullman are right up there.

So, come and see us all at the Book Fair and see if any of the weekend’s events take your fancy…Lots of great talks, classes, and a Book Hunt…check out the website and Facebook page to see what catches your eye!

Ten Things I Discovered Beneath…

Do you ever look beneath?

Ten Things I Discovered Beneath - The Last Krystallos

I love being beneath – the rainbows, the old oak trees, and the stars,
and what else have I found beneath?

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I was five and the verandah was cracking, not long and it would be dangerous… © Lisa Shambrook

I grew up in a house with a veranda out the back. When I was young, Dad tore it down and rebuilt the back steps and I discovered the space beneath the veranda! A dark, dusty, and dirty ‘cave’ which I loved to play in, I doubt today’s health and safety would allow it, but I discovered my imagination down there.

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The night sky has always fascinated me © Lisa Shambrook

I always knew I was a Daddy’s girl, and standing out beneath the stars while he taught me constellations, confirmed it.

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I love the calm beneath the water © Lisa Shambrook

Under water there is calm – a calm which I lack in my every-day life (do any of us have calm in our every-day life?) and swimming relaxes me. I once swam a whole length beneath the water without taking a breath – it was beautiful. Maybe I should be a mermaid…

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Nothing more beautiful than the colours of the rainbow © Lisa Shambrook

Rainbows are all about perspective. Have you ever tried to stand beneath one? Rainbows teach me both magic and science – and that you can never reach the end of one!

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The crashing cascade is a true wonder © Lisa Shambrook

There are many waterfalls in Wales, but at Henrydd Falls and Sgwd Eira you can walk a slippery ledge to get behind the veil of water, but it’s worth it. Standing beneath a waterfall is an exhilarating experience and I found the inner delight of a child and my love of water!

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Arty clutter © Lisa Shambrook

I can’t even go into detail about how many things, every-day items, I’ve lost and found beneath other things – that’s the cluttered home of a writer.

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Lost in the velveteen darkness © Lisa Shambrook

I love the dark. Have you ever gone beneath ground into an old castle ruin’s dungeon or down a mine? Dolacothi gold mine isn’t far away and we visited when my children were small. We wore miner’s hats with lights on the front and big heavy batteries round our waists, and to demonstrate the darkness the miners worked in we were all instructed to turn out our lamps. As we stood in the pitch blackness, small fingers clutched my hand tight and a small, quivering voice rang out in the dark. “Mummy, my eyes don’t work anymore.”  I discovered the innocence and trust of my three-year-old standing in the dark, his hand clutching mine.

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Beneath the Old Oak © Lisa Shambrook

Beneath trees I’ve discovered how to make daisy chains, how to kick up piles of autumn leaves and I’ve found love.

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Anxiety and depression © Lisa Shambrook

Beneath the suffocating blanket of depression and anxiety, I discovered support, love, hope and reasons to carry on…

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The Hope Within Books © Lisa Shambrook

I was a shy and very introverted child, and beneath the façade of quiet and reserved I uncovered an observant and imaginative mind – capable of writing and conveying all the stories queued up in my head – hence, I became a writer!

What have you discovered beneath?

Lisa Shambrook The Hope Within Novels Twitter Ad

The Hope Within Novels by Lisa Shambrook

Find out what Freya discovered Beneath the Rainbow,
what Meg found Beneath the Old Oak,
and what Jasmine searched for Beneath the Distant Star… 

Life Giving Water…

I am hard pressed to choose my favourite things in nature…
Trees, flowers, stars, rivers, oceans, wind, light, darkness…
I am a spirit who loses herself in the natural things of life,
and I may have to blog about each of them…

Life Giving Water - I'm happiest with my feet in the ocean... The Last Krystallos

Water. I am happiest when my feet are splashing in water. Whether I’m traversing a beach, sand beneath my feet and the ocean tide rippling across my toes, or standing on a rock or flat pebbles in the river as it rushes around my legs, or jumping in puddles, or even just wandering through rain, it’s all good!

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Cait at Pembrey and Boots in rain © Lisa Shambrook

I was born and brought up in Brighton with its pebble beaches. I remember stalking, painfully, down the stony beach, wincing as sharp shingle stabbed my bare feet, and searching for small patches of sand for respite. Then smiles and shouts as sand appeared beneath the water and you could finally jump the waves!

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Lisa 7 Brighton Beach, Rottingdean, Lisa 19 Petit Bot Bay Guernsey, Saltdean © Lisa Shambrook

I recall childhood walks on the undercliff pass at Saltdean and Rottingdean and beaches strewn with rocks and rock pools, and trips out to Goring and its huge stretch of sandy beach. Sitting on pebbles, eating fried chicken and then I would wander down, alone, to the sea and walk for what seemed like miles in the shallows.

We would holiday in Wales, Somerset, and Cornwall, and I would gaze at the pale sand and crashing waves. The sea in Brighton was green and the sea in Wales was blue for the most part. I could stand, or sit, for hours watching the ocean, anywhere.

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Pistyll Rhaedr, Sgwd Eira, Blaenau Ffestiniog waterfalls © Lisa Shambrook

Then waterfalls! Rivers cascading over a precipice and its thunder, its roar, its power, and pure energy. Wales has been the home to waterfalls for me, from gazing up at Pistyll Rhaedr which at 240ft (80m) high it is the UK’s tallest single drop waterfall, to Devil’s Bridge, the Sgwd Eira Waterfall and Henrhyd Falls both of which you can walk behind, to many more. I’ve sat with my feet in icy cold waterfall river water up on the Black Mountain, and dabbled my feet in our local river, Afon Gwili, as our dog chases twigs thrown into the water!

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River Dog, Roxy in the Afon Gwili © Lisa Shambrook

I’ve been out in torrential rain and once you surrender to the fact that you will get soaked it’s quite wonderful. Go and get soaked to the skin in a torrential summer shower (winter ones maybe not so warm or fun!).

Swimming is one of my favourite things; it helps lift my depression, is great exercise and is fun. There’s nothing more relaxing to me than launching into a pool and surging underwater, those few mere moments of being alone and at one with the elements. Then the rhythmic movements of swimming, kicking, breathing…living, and feeling the power of life within…

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Swimming in the Blue Lagoon – Aberieddy © Lisa Shambrook

Swimming in the Blue Lagoon in Aberieddy is also an amazing experience. 82 ft (25m) deep and the most stunning green water ever. People regularly dive into it from the old slate quarry buildings, and it’s one of the most beautiful sea-fed pools in the country.

Water revitalises, refreshes, and gives us what we need to live. Water is life. Without it we won’t survive. It nourishes us, keeps us clean, and keeps us alive. No wonder water has so many links to religion, folklore, and fantasy, and makes its way into plenty of analogies and metaphors.

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Penbryn Beach waves and Rain © Lisa Shambrook

I love this quote from Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad:

Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.

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© Lisa Shambrook

A beautiful sentiment! The power of water is insurmountable. It cuts through mountains, gives us electricity, waters our crops and gives us the basis of life.

Go take a look at my Let Me Swim Pinterest board – you will want to dive right in!

So, tell me, how does water affect your life?

Are you mermaid, or a dolphin, do you love your feet in the water?

Human 76, Human 76 An unprecended post-apocalyptic journey, fragments of a fractured world, Lisa Shambrook, Michael Wombat,We are so privileged to have fresh clean water, and we need to appreciate it. When we released ‘Human 76’, our post-apocalyptic collection of stories, we chose to give all our profits to Water Is Life, a global charity that provides clean drinking water, sanitation and hygiene education programs to schools and villages in desperate need worldwide. Our book is about those displaced and struggling to survive in a dangerous world and this charity fits perfectly with our stories. So when you buy the book you will be helping those in need.

Dragons, Castles, Wales, and Works In Progress…

Now that Human 76 is out there in the wild
and you’re all getting your post-apocalyptic fix,
I need to get back into my tales and my WIP (Work In Progress).

Dragons, Castles, Wales, and WIP... The Last Krystallos.

Exciting plans involve a short story collection embracing a dragon theme and then a new series. The short stories will include a story that ties to The Hope Within Books and a new tale that will link directly to my new chronicles.

Dryslwyn Castle Cait and Lisa The Last krystallos June 2016

Caitlin and Lisa at Dryslwyn Castle with Paxton’s Tower © Bekah Shambrook

So, as a teaser this post is a visit to Dryslwyn Castle in Carmarthen which will play a part in my WIP. These books are set far, far into the future:

‘Centuries beyond post-apocalyptic, the landscape of Wales has turned into a whole new country…and the rumble of dragons has returned…’

I’ve spent the last year travelling across Wales, researching, and having fun! You may recall my blog post Road Trip through the raw beauty of Wales, not only did we have fun, but we mapped out the landscape that I’m going to need.

Dryslwyn Castle, Black Mountain , Tywi Valley, Lisa Shambrook,

The Black Mountain in the far distance from Dryslwyn Castle © Lisa Shambrook

Dryslwyn is a ruined medieval castle, the very strategically placed home for 13th century Rhys ap Maredudd, high above the Tywi Valley. It was a front line defence but deliberately decommissioned in the early 15th century. It was walled up, blockaded and ruined, and burnt to the ground at a later date.

Dryslwyn Castle, hills, Lisa Shambrook,

Dryslwyn Castle foundations… © Lisa Shambrook

However, it still holds strong foundations upon the hilltop peering across at Paxton’s Tower, the neo-gothic folly erected in memory of Lord Nelson in the 18th century.

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Paxton’s Tower across the Tywi Valley… © Lisa Shambrook

In my future the current Twyi Valley will be a flooded land populated by islands, including Dryslwyn castle which may be a stronghold for its owners – and I know exactly who will live there – having rebuilt a small fort of her own within the safety of the islands…

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Dryslwyn Castle and Caitlin… © Lisa Shambrook

We had a lovely visit planning and plotting and imagining post-apocalyptic futures…

It’s been quite a week for contemplating the future
and dystopia and post-apocalyptic seem appropriate!
*spoken with tongue firmly in cheek*

What are your plans for the future? 

The Old Oak’s Transition – Gathering Leaves…

From bare branches to lush leaves…  
For two months I’ve watched the old oak dress for Summer and gain its canopy.

an Old Oaks Transition from bare to leaves, green castle woods, the last krystallos, lisa shambrook,
Over eight weeks I’ve visited the magical old oak up in the meadow at Green Castle Woods and watched its buds form with a hint of blush, and then unfurl and blossom in peridot green. Leaves that with beauty sprout and flourish and decorate its grey, gnarled boughs. Leaves that will mature and darken and clothe the little oak in beauty all Summer long, before turning golden and brown and dropping to the floor in Autumn.

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My series of photographs were taken once a week,
in many different Welsh weather conditions,
and show the oak’s transition from bare to clothed.

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Green Castle Woods Old Oak © Lisa Shambrook April – May 2016

old oak, green castle woods carmarthen, bare to leaves, tree gaining leaves, lisa shambrook

Green Castle Woods Old Oak © Lisa Shambrook April – May 2016 Black and White Studies

How are your favourite trees dressing for Summer? 

Do you love foliage or blossom?

#LoveATree Day… The Old Oak

How could I let #LoveATree Day go by without treating you to a picture of my favourite tree? So, yesterday I wandered through Green Castle Woods, as I have every Sunday for a few weeks, and took a pic…

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© Lisa Shambrook

Actually, I’ve taken a photograph every week for a bit and in a few weeks I’ll show you how this gorgeous tree has transformed from leafless to a full canopy. For now, enjoy this photo, as its leaves begin to unfurl and decorate this magical tree…

Thanks Annette for alerting me to this day with your own tree post!

Llandeilo Book Fair – Finding Books

Last Saturday I took part in my first book fair 
and the Llandeilo Book Fair was a lovely experience!
I found my next book, did you?

Llandeilo Book Fair april 2016, Lisa Shambrook and authors,

I arrived at Llandeilo Civic Hall and let my nerves settle as I found my table and set up. I was actually very happy to be at the rear of the hall, a position that suited my anxiety as I could see all about me from a favourite place of mine – the corner at the back!

Lisa Shambrook Llandeilo Book Fair 2016 table

My book fair table

We were open from 10.30 to 4.30 and my daughter, Bekah, accompanied me. We learned much from the fair and the other authors, all of whom were so friendly, and most I recognised from social media. So much fun meeting people I’d only chatted online with before!

Lisa Shambrook Llandeilo Book Fair 2016

photo by Graham Watkins

Having never done a book fair before, I wondered if I was doing it right. My table set up was good, but I think I’ll be looking for a more professional table cover, one that reaches the floor. I got lots of marketing ideas from observing other stalls, but I think I did okay. I had decided to set each of my books at £5, but I think most other sellers were selling at cover prices, so maybe next time I’ll stick with £5.99 and £6.99 prices as on my books and maybe an offer for multiple sales. My banner was cool and I had both Hope Within bookmarks and business cards to offer for free.

 

lisa shambrook books, hope within novels, amaranth alchemy, bookspine bookmarks, bookpage bookmarks,

My books and Amaranth Alchemy bookmarks

In addition to my books, Beneath the Rainbow, Beneath the Old Oak, and Beneath the Distant Star, Bekah and I brought Amaranth Alchemy bookpage and bookspine bookmarks to sell. It was really sweet to sell one bookspine bookmark to a lovely lady who recognised a title that her Grandmother had once owned!
Memories are powerful.

I won’t list all the attending authors, you can find them in my website news posts, but it was so much fun to make new friends! And to meet another BHC author who was visiting from Norway, Shane K P O’Neill. It’s a small world when you realise you share contacts, and it was also a lovely surprise to find Lizzy approach me and tell me her friend had encouraged her to come to the fair, and we discovered we had Michael Wombat in common! It’s so funny when you need to trade Twitter names to recognise each other! So many new Facebook friends…

Llandeilo Book Fair 2016 photo by Graham Watkins

Llandeilo Book Fair – photo by Graham Watkins

The day was great; I sold a good number of books for my first event and loved discovering new books, ideas, and friends. I learned lots of things. I learned to chat with prospective customers, compliment them, say hello and make conversation – not an easy thing for a true introvert, but well worth doing. We were quick to see that people didn’t always pick up freebie bookmarks, so handing them out with a comment and a smile is well-received.  I discovered, when looking back at photos of my set up, the reason that most people picked up Beneath the Old Oak to peruse first was probably because it was the only one of the three books standing upright. I also found out that I grin a lot – see photos – I really enjoyed myself! And I realised my nerves were unfounded.

Llandeilo Book Fair 2016 with Carol Lovekin and Rebecca Bryn

With Carol Lovekin, Jane, and Rebecca Bryn

Llandeilo Book Fair 2016 Lisa Shambrook and Christoph Fischer

With Christoph Fischer

I am very much looking forward to attending more book fairs in the future. Thank you so much, Christoph, Judith and all those involved for a great day!

Don’t forget that if you didn’t make it to the book fair, or if you just live too far away – I mean, oceans separate me from many of you – all my books and other books I’ve contributed to are available online.

My website has all the links you need. Signed paperbacks are also available from my Etsy shop, Amaranth Alchemy, so you haven’t missed out!

And I mentioned I’d found my next book – Carol Lovekin’s Ghostbird

See you next time!

Lisa Shambrook The Hope Within Novels Twitter Ad

The Fascinating World within Nature’s Carpet – Gathering Moss

Moss swathes the forest floor, old stone walls, and creeps leisurely onward.
It drapes the trees and cloaks the ground in a jewelled garment of green.
Moss creates its own miniature ecosystem – a forest within itself.

Gathering Moss - The Last Krystallos

Brechfa Forest - Gathering Moss | The Last Krystallos

Brechfa Forest © Lisa Shambrook

My favourite colour is very much lead by nature and lends itself to my romantic soul which finds delight in anything serene and beautiful. My favourite colour is the honey green of moss, the earthy colour of the forest floor softened by the peridot jewel tone.

When I need to unwind or just return to my roots, I wander in the forests and the earthy tones of green and soft breeze lull my soul.

One gram of moss contains... - Robin Wall Kimmerer | The Last Krystallos

Robin Wall Kimmerer © Lisa Shambrook

 

 

 

 

 

There are over 1,000 species of moss in Britain, with more yet to be discovered, though many people only notice two or three varieties. If you get right down on the woodland ground you’ll see the intricate detail and real ecosystem living right there in amongst the moss and lichen, especially if you have a magnifying glass. Moss is nature’s carpet.

Reindeer Moss - Gathering Moss | The Last Krystallos

Reindeer Moss © Lisa Shambrook

Moss and lichens don’t have root systems, they anchor themselves with rhizoids. They don’t draw nourishment from the ground but through photosynthesis, air and water. They hold many times their own weight in water and aid the forest as sponging, cooling and humidifying systems. They are also able to go dormant when they’re under stress.

Elan Valley - Haircap Moss | Gathering Moss | The Last Krystallos

Elan Valley – Haircap Moss © Lisa Shambrook

They have great strength, especially as they grow dense and low to the ground, but they are still vulnerable. They are stripped for the florist industry and are constantly trod upon. As our society, towns and farms spreads into their territory they try to grow, as you’ll see on walls, paving slabs and rooves, but many new building materials are not moss friendly. Many people will also treat moss with weed-killer killing off their tiny ecosystems. My garage shares its roof with my neighbour’s garage and my side of the roof was blanketed with little hedgehogs of cushion moss, and my neighbour, who follows a regimented gardening style used a weed-killer to remove the moss and thereby prevent damp in the garage. This made me sad – I suppose I don’t mind a little damp…

Moss in its element - Gathering Moss | The Last Krystallos

Moss in its element © Lisa Shambrook

One of my most favourite places locally is the Brechfa Forest. It’s like a fairy-tale forest and I expect to bump into Galadriel. Moss covers the forest floor in a springy carpet and drapes like feathery curtains from the fir trees. It’s a magical walk, and the dog loves it too!

Brechfa Moss - Gathering Moss | The Last Krystallos

Moss in Brechfa © Lisa Shambrook

Ancient conversation moses and rocks - Robin Wall Kimmerer - Gathering Moss | The Last Krystallos

Robin Wall Kimmerer © Lisa Shambrook

What do you love about moss? Or do you have a different favourite woodland flora?
One of my most favourite photos is one I took on Exmoor of a tree swathed in moss…pure magic…

Exmoor mossy tree - The Last Krystallos

Exmoor moss swathed tree © Lisa Shambrook

Road Trip through the raw beauty of Wales

Harry Potter, lily ponds, castles, beaches, mountains –
Preseli, Berwyn, Black, Cambrian and Snowdonia, lakes and reservoirs, and waterfalls…
Our holiday road trip was packed full with literature, raw beauty, water and history…

Road trip through the raw beauty of WalesSo join me on a photographic journey across England and Wales…

We watched all the Harry Potter movies, pretty much back-to-back (because rereading the books would have taken a teeny bit longer!) before we arrived at Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour. I’ll do a separate post on this tour at some point, because it deserves it, but suffice to say it was awesome – and left us with a desire to rewatch all the movies back-to-back again! All days out (theme oriented) are expensive these days, but for the price and feel-good factor, this was worth it.

Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio Tour London

Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio Tour London © Lisa Shambrook

We spent two thirds of the HP entry price the next day at Howletts zoo, but in the heat it appeared that most of their animals were asleep. We only saw a handful: a lioness, lots of elephants, hogs, several monkeys, two gorillas and…um, nope, that’s it. The keeper at the Lemur walk-through was actually showing people photos of the lemurs on his iPhone to prove they were actually there! We saw a bunny rabbit… It must have been a bad day. We went when the children were small eight years ago and it was great, not so much this time…

Howletts Zoo and Margate seafront © Lisa Shambrook

Howletts Zoo and Margate seafront © Lisa Shambrook

Margate has a lovely beach and we enjoyed an evening there, on the eastern side of England.

Raglan Castle and the drive to Wales © Lisa Shambrook

Raglan Castle and the drive to Wales © Lisa Shambrook

On our return to Wales we stopped at Raglan Castle – beautiful. We had gorgeous weather and cute moorhen ducklings in the moat. In case you wondered some of the BBC’s Merlin was also filmed there.

Bosherston lily ponds were enchanting, a twenty minute walk along the ponds took us to the beach, and despite a sudden rainfall we loved paddling in the sea! I’m always happy with my feet in the ocean…

Bosherston lily ponds, beach and Tenby seagulls © Lisa Shambrook

Bosherston lily ponds, beach and Tenby seagulls © Lisa Shambrook

We ate chips on Tenby beach accosted by gangs of seagulls…

LLansteffan Castle © Lisa Shambrook

LLansteffan Castle © Lisa Shambrook

Our next castle was Llansteffan, on our doorstep, and a regular walk with Roxy our German Shepherd.

Manorbier Castle and Pembrokeshire Falconry © Lisa Shambrook

Manorbier Castle and Pembrokeshire Falconry © Lisa Shambrook

The following day our road trip resumed with a falconry display at Manorbier Castle by Pembrokeshire Falconry. The birds were stunning and made the day. I’d expected the castle to be larger, but it was pretty. It was a quick walk to the beach for a picnic.

Aberieddy Blue Lagoon, Trefin and Aberywstyth © Lisa Shambrook

Aberieddy Blue Lagoon, Trefin and Aberywstyth © Lisa Shambrook

Lisa seaweed hair - © Bekah Shambrook

© Bekah Shambrook

We then travelled across Pembrokeshire to the famous Blue Lagoon to watch intrepid adventurers jump off the old slate quarry into the almost 100 foot deep lagoon. I was mistaken when I told someone it was 300 foot…oops. We drove through the Preseli Mountains up to Aberystwyth stopping off at hidden beaches – Trefin and Abercastle – on the way, where I tried on a wig of seaweed, very fetching!

Elan Valley Reservoirs, Penbont Bridge, Pen-y-Garreg Reservoir, Snowdonia, Pistyll Rhaeadr Waterfall © Lisa Shambrook

Elan Valley Reservoirs, Penbont Bridge, Pen-y-Garreg Reservoir, Snowdonia, Pistyll Rhaeadr © Lisa Shambrook

The next day saw us at the Elan Valley Reservoirs. I’m researching Wales for my next books and found some fantastic locations which are now stored in my head as my books await a rewrite! The brainstorming in the car was fabulous and inspiring…and there will be dragons! Then up to Lake Vyrnwy, which was disappointingly grey in the rain and obscured for the most part by trees. I’d seen a Pinterest pic of the lake’s straining tower, but no chance of recreating that pic without a telephoto lens! Up to Pistyll Rhaeadr, Wales’s tallest waterfall at 240 foot, and it is stunning! Though, don’t park for £3 at the farmhouse, park on the road further down for free and take a five minute walk to it.

Sgwd-y-Eira, The Black Mountain and ponies © Lisa Shambrook

Sgwd-y-Eira, The Black Mountain and ponies © Lisa Shambrook

We discovered Sgwd yr Eira and three other waterfalls in Merthyr on the Brecon Beacons. A two hour fast-pace walk, and lots of steps, but a curtain of rushing water and you could stand behind it (like neighbouring Henryd Falls) which is wonderful on a hot day as the water shimmers across you!

We enjoyed the ponies up on The Black Mountain, and marvelled at the sheer raw beauty of the limestone mountain.

Beth Gelert W R Spencer - Beddgelert © Lisa Shambrook

Beth Gelert W R Spencer – Beddgelert © Lisa Shambrook

Then on our last day, straight up the west coast to Cader Idris, a mystical sight veiled in low cloud and mist, and to the decommissioned Trawsfynydd nuclear power station. We stopped at Beddgelert, the scene of ‘Beth Gelert’ my favourite tear-jerker poem by William Robert Spencer, then a quick look at hiker-smothered Mount Snowdon and down through the gorgeous gorge of Llanberis Pass.

Cader Idris, Snowdonia, Conwy Castle, Swallow Falls, Blaenau Ffestiniog © Lisa Shambrook

Cader Idris, Snowdonia, Conwy Castle, Swallow Falls, Blaenau Ffestiniog © Lisa Shambrook

We followed to Caernarfon and a drive-by of the castle where Prince Charles’s investiture took place, then we drove up the coast and took a wrong turn and literally stumbled upon Conwy Castle. We stopped and explored. It’s stunning. The town is surrounded by the castle walls and was built eight hundred years ago at the cost of £15,000 which would £45 million today. It was our favourite castle of the four we visited, and highly recommended as you can walk the castle walls, climb up the towers and explore for a good couple of hours, the rain didn’t hamper our visit.

We came back via Swallow Falls at Betws-y-Coed, entry through a turnstile at £1.50 (see how many you can fit in a turnstile – Shhh, I didn’t say that…) Very pretty. Whilst in North Wales I was also searching for a hairpin road up a mountain that I’d seen as a kid, but only when we turned off at Blaenau Ffestiniog’s Hydro Electric Power Station did I find it. Sadly, the road up the mountain is now closed off, but we had a lovely walk up through the clouds on a path of slate and waterfalls.

Blaenau Ffestiniog Hydro Electric Power Station Waterfalls and Slate © Lisa Shambrook

Blaenau Ffestiniog Hydro Electric Power Station Waterfalls and Slate © Lisa Shambrook

From there it was the long drive home, back through the stunning countryside of Wales. We’d covered 1,300 miles, across England from Margate in Eastern Kent to Pembrokeshire, West Wales, and up through Mid and North Wales and back. We had huge fun, and the car exhaust was fine until seven miles from home, when it fell off…but we were rescued and got home safe and sound!

Llanberis Pass, Snowdonia © Lisa Shambrook

Llanberis Pass, Snowdonia © Lisa Shambrook

We are incredibly blessed to live in such a glorious, beautiful country and our road trip made us appreciate our surroundings all the more!

Shambrook Family Selfie (sans Dan who's in Canada!) © Bekah Shambrook

Aberystwyth – Shambrook Family Selfie (sans Dan who’s in Canada!) © Bekah Shambrook