Star Trek ReWatch – To Boldly Go…

Star Trek – “Diversity contains as many treasures as those waiting
for us on other worlds. We will find it impossible to fear diversity
and to enter the future at the same time.” – Gene Roddenberry

Star Trek ReWatch - To Boldly Go... - The Last Krystallos

Way back in the nineties I developed an obsession with Star Trek which was to continue ad infinitum. I began with The Next Generation and fell in love with its format and characters. I’d always had a love for the stars and for escape and this series gave me everything I needed. Star Trek has become, over the years, my safe space, somewhere I can go to find solace, escape, and rescue.

I watched it religiously at 6pm every Wednesday, embracing Captain Jean Luc Picard, Will Riker, Data, Deanna Troi, Worf, Dr Crusher, Geordie, and, of course, the Enterprise D. I was hooked following the episodic escapades of the crew and their mission to go where no one has gone before. Deep Space Nine overlapped the end of TNG and I struggled to get into it, but it ultimately became one of my personal favourites of all Treks. I loved the continuing format set on the DS9 space station with a crew who weren’t even sure they wanted to be there. Commander Benjamin Sisko headed a diverse crew including Bajorans and Odo, the changeling, and a contingent of Ferengi and Cardassians as a foil. The static setting allowed for closer development of both character arcs and plots, introducing more politics and dissension, despite conflict between main characters being something Gene Roddenberry avoided. Voyager followed, returning to an episodic structure, and felt more like TNG. Captain Katherine Janeway led the way as the first female captain and took us into the Delta Quadrant. Lost, seventy years from home, Janeway had to unite a crew of Starfleet and rebel Maquis, in a bid to begin a journey to return to earth. The Borg, first seen in TNG and then First Contact, became Janeway’s nemesis and introduced us to Seven of Nine, a firm favourite.

Star Trek Titles screenshots
Star Trek Titles © Lisa Shambrook

Star Trek took up the nineties and I collected the entire series of The Official Star Trek Fact Files from 1997 to 2002, costing about £600, but devoured! Possibly, one of the biggest regrets of my life was giving away my Fact File collection to a Trekkie friend because I didn’t have space at the time for it (I had a young family, and mistakenly thought I wouldn’t miss it). I truly hope they treasure it!

Strangely, though, when Enterprise appeared in 2001, I missed it. It didn’t get a BBC2 6pm slot and it didn’t hit my radar. For a while, after that, Star Trek disappeared from terrestrial television and except for watching the movies, which I had on video then DVD, it was gone.

In 2009 it returned with movies set in the Kelvin timeline, which were fun, but not the reconnection to the TNG universe which I craved. However, in 2017, Discovery launched, set after Enterprise and almost concurrent with TOS to a degree. I was drawn in from the first episode, falling deeper as it moved on. A different dynamic from the TNG era shows, but something that filled a Star Trek gap in my heart. Michael Burnham and her crew getting lost amid a mirror universe on the unique science vessel, Discovery won me over. The second season brought in Captain Pike and relived storylines from TOS and Spock was central to its arc.

Destination Star Trek 50th Anniversary The Last Krystallos Family photos
Destination Star Trek Europe © Lisa Shambrook

October 2016 saw us attend our first Star Trek Convention. Birmingham NEC was the destination for the 50th Star Trek Anniversary in Europe and we spent our Saturday amongst a sea of red, gold, and blue. Uniforms of all generations, and wonderful cosplay! Data, the Borg, Klingons, lots of Andorians, and many more aliens.

In 2019 the full back catalogue of Star Trek became available on Netflix in the UK, and I was right there! I should have started from the beginning, but I was desperate to rewatch Deep Space Nine and we started there. Rewatching is a revelation. Much of it stands the test of time in general, and often hits home both politically and socially despite being twenty-five years or so old. There were some terrible episodes, but that’s a thing with Star Trek that you can’t avoid if you’re watching in order… unless you read these articles – TNG, DS9, Voyager – and only watch the episodes that are either great or contribute to the greater universal storyline. If you’re time limited, it’s worth it. Anyway, I wanted to watch every episode, even the bad ones!

Star Trek Deep Space Nine screenshots
Dep Space Nine © Lisa Shambrook

DS9 entranced me, I was back in my happy place, my safe place, and from May to September 2019 we watched all seven seasons. Deep Space Nine offered me much that I could relate to. A bouncing of ideas many both embracing and questioning religion – and Major Kira Nerys interested me being a spiritual woman who kicked ass, and was as stubborn as an ox, but who could look deeper and find answers. I loved Worf being brought in because I possibly, aside from Odo, related to him the most. Someone uncomfortable with people, and unsure of where he fit in, Odo, repeating this, and both finding people who loved them all the same.

DS9 gained its confidence in season four when Sisko shaved his head and the stories became morally questionable and much darker. Avery Brooks wanted to wear a goatee and shave his head but the studio refused, once they’d accepted his character sans hair, everything improved. Sisko was a Captain who didn’t always make decisions based on what was ethically right, like Kirk, Picard, and Janeway mostly did, he made decisions based on the information he had and what he could do with it. It made for a much more stimulating show for me.

Terok Nor’s design, such fluidic beauty, and different to the Federation stations, drew me in. The Cardassians may have been backstabbing reprobates, but I loved their architecture. And believe me, I’d give anything to go and stand on the Promenade to watch the wormhole open…    

Star Trek The Next Generation screenshots
The Next Generation © Lisa Shambrook

In September we switched to The Next Generation and began again. It’s been over twenty years since I last watched TNG and the early episodes were intriguing as the show tried to get into its stride. It tried too hard to emulate what I imagined was The Original Series, at the beginning, with Riker posing in Kirk-like stances, and very suspect planetary scenery! Having just watched Quark etc in DS9 the Ferengi were portrayed very differently in TNG, and watching Worf develop visually was amusing. The standard of prosthetics and make-up effects definitely got much better, and I was happy once Worf looked more like he did on DS9. Dr Beverly Crusher disappeared after the first season and we got landed with Dr Katherine Pulaski instead, but I tried to be more discerning with her character this time. (As an aside, I was fascinated to see Pulaski actress, Diana Muldaur, appear in two different TOS episodes when I watched them! It turned out that Gene Roddenberry had wanted Pulaski to replace Dr Crusher, but the desired chemistry with the crew, and Muldaur with the show, had not developed, thus Crusher returned for season three). I tried, and succeeded, in liking Wesley Crusher much more this time around. He annoyed me intensely the first time, but now I watched him more as a gifted, maybe ASD, child finding himself in a situation that would have inspired and fascinated him. I understood him more and related better.

TNG hit its best in later seasons, as it seems most Trek shows do. They take some time finding their footing but once they do it’s full steam ahead. Deanna became more relaxed, and managed to rid herself of the worst of the revealing outfits and hairdos. There were some unforgivable storylines, like killing Tasha Yar by black sludge, and, oh yes, the episode with Riker trying to be sexy on the female ruled planet, but as the seasons moved on the Borg arrived and so did better story arcs.   

Star Trek Picard screenshots
Picard © Lisa Shambrook

We finished TNG in January 2020 just in time to watch Picard, airing for the first time on Amazon Prime. Picard just blew me away, (Sir Patrick Stewart is one of my most favourite actors!) technically up to date, and a storyline to kill for. I immersed myself in it, revelling in Jean-Luc and so many nods to characters past, yet it held its own with a strong cast and story, and we caught up with some favourites. I loved it and I can’t wait for more.

Star Trek Voyager Screenshots
Voyager © Lisa Shambrook

We watched the four TNG movies, of which First Contact deserves to be crowned the best, then started Voyager in February. Picard ran for ten weeks, and we tried to catch up with Seven of Nine before she appeared in Picard! Voyager was a step back to TNG ground, but easier to get into. They definitely seemed to concentrate even more on ethics and morals, and Janeway (as Ben Sisko did in later seasons of DS9) had to confront her own morals and not always come out squeaky clean. I loved watching the EMH, the Emergency Medical Hologram, arc as he became more aware of himself and his relationship with crew members. Tom Paris and Harry Kim’s friendship grew, B’elanna Torres always drew me in, and Seven of Nine became an intrinsic part of the crew. There were some dodgy episodes, as always, but some genuinely captivating relationships like Seven and Icheb, and Seven and the Doctor. I didn’t realise as I rewatched it how much I’d forgotten from the nineties, and the last few seasons were like a first time watch.

Star Trek Enterprise screenshots
Enterprise © Lisa Shambrook

Finished Voyager in the middle of May, and moved from rewatch to actual first watch… When we started Enterprise, we didn’t know it was just four seasons, and we didn’t know what to expect. It felt a bit wobbly at the beginning, but that was probably because I was so used to the TNG era Trek. Very quickly I settled into it and although Captain Jonathan Archer was a bit annoying – much like the theme tune – I bonded well with Trip Tucker, T’Pol, and I loved Dr Phlox! The weirdness of Enterprise was the use of language and tech… no shields, they just polarized their hull plating, they struggled with transporters, and used shuttles everywhere, and Lt Reed had to make do with phase cannons instead of photon torpedoes!

I was, however, very impressed with how they dealt with the TOS Klingons appearance in an episode of Enterprise, that answered a lot of questions! I wish we’d had a full seven seasons, and, like many, would have preferred a different final episode. I am currently reading The Good That Men Do (Star Trek Enterprise Series Book 11) which covers the final few Enterprise episodes and offers a completely different ending. I do think Enterprise became one of my favourite Treks though.

Star Trek the Original Series screenshots
The Original Series © Lisa Shambrook

As Enterprise finished I knew I’d need to go on and watch The Original Series. I’d never watched it, not even reruns, so now was the time, and in the middle of June we began Captain James T Kirk’s exploration where no man has gone before… I shook off any preconceptions and just watched it. It was fascinating to watch fifty years on, and yes, some very problematic episodes, sexism definitely an issue though current eyes, even though it fought it during its era, but an enjoyable Trek nonetheless. Some of it was ridiculous, and it’s very hard to place it in its timeline – after Enterprise and amid Discovery – due to huge leaps in technology, filming, and acting, but I like to think that TOS was stuck in a future era when they, for some reason, decided to embrace minimalism, primary colours, coloured knobs and buttons, sixties fashion, and staccato acting! It deserves its place, it started Trek, but there’s a kitsch that now goes along with TOS in my mind.

Star Trek Movies DVD Set, Kelvin Timeline, and Official Fact Files
Star Trek Movies – Kelvin Timeline – Fact Files – © Lisa Shambrook

The six Original Star Trek movies and the three Kelvin Timeline movies finished our Star Trek binge. I note I haven’t seen The Animated Series, and not sure what I’ll think of Lower Decks, when it arrives, or Prodigy, but I am very much looking forward to more Discovery and to Strange New Worlds.

The Last Krystallos in Starfleet Academy Tshirt
© Lisa Shambrook

Star Trek is my happy place, somewhere I feel secure, safe, and indulgent. In general it follows my ethics and my idealism in a somewhat romanticised universe. That naïve nostalgia is being countered in current Star Treks, but the optimism and principles remain intact with characters that I will probably always relate to.

I have little time for small-minded country patriotism, wanting to embrace humanity inside a world that is willing to forgo borders and boundaries, and welcome all no matter what creed, colour, or race they are. And, like Roddenberry, I’d love to see that on a universal scale.

Our space exploration is still young, but in my heart I want to let go of my cynicism for our contemporary world, and let humanity soar into the sky among the stars, and trek across the universe, the final frontier – to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no one has gone before!

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no one has gone before!
© Lisa Shambrook

The rest of this post is going to consist of my Twitter posts, beginning with older Discovery tweets, then my rewatch journey posted as I watched Star Trek all over again for the past sixteen months…

Star Trek Tweets

Catching up with #StarTrekDiscovery S1 ep3 Context is for Kings… who let Shelob on board?

#StarTrek #Discovery S1 ep7 Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad. Michael at the party = me.

#StarTrekDiscovery Nooooo! Where are you! The tension was palpable and I felt sick watching. S1 Ep9 Into the Forest I Go.

#StarTrekDiscovery S1 ep 10 Despite Yourself… just opened a whole new can of alternate universe worms! Love Captain Tilly! Still traumatised by Stamets and Culber though.

#StarTrekDiscovery S1 ep 11 The Wolf Inside… twisted storyline, Stamets, Culber, Ash, Torchbearer, Sarek…

I have a #StarTrekDiscovery S1 ep 12 Vaulting Ambitions hangover. Its revelations are still spinning in my head but the worst moment for me was when Michael realised what she was eating… and “It’s never goodbye.”

#StarTrekDiscovery Just watched S2 ep 8 If Memory Serves and Wow! It had everything – retro TOS rerendering, sass, and heartbreak. I watched, literally, on the edge of my seat.

#StarTrekDiscovery Last few eps of season 2 were epic and I got shivers. Beautiful tie up and so much more I want to see! Love this show so much. Can’t wait to see where they take this in an unchartered season three.

I’m embarking on a new journey… where no one has gone before, except millions have. Now all #StarTrek is available on #Netflix… I’m heading there for my new continuing mission, though I have no idea how long it’ll actually take me to watch all the Treks! 

Just watched #DeepSpaceNine S1 ep16 If Wishes Were Horses where figments of their imaginations manifested as real… One of my dragons would now be circling if it was mine. What would your imagination bring to life? Loving rewatching ST: #DS9

#StarTrekDS9 S3 ep11/12 Past Tense with Gabriel Bell/Sanctuary Districts. 2024 and it looks like Trump’s second term… tensions mentioned in the US and Europe. At the end Bashir says ‘One thing I don’t understand about the 21st century – how did they let it get this bad?’ Yup, quite.

#DS9 S4… and we now have Worf! I’m loving this binge watch #MyHappyPlace #StarTrek

Constable Odo and Commander Worf discussing order, solitude, and how to deal with unwanted guests in their quarters #DS9 S4 ep12 Crossfire… Totally my people.

Just watched #StarTrekDS9 S4 ep3 The Visitor with Jake Sisko losing his Dad in a time warp thing. Jake growing old and stopping writing with his father lost in a temporal anomaly, all about last times and last chances which hits home. We have to live life, but sometimes it’s so hard as we try to hang on. Then watched ep6 Rejoined with Jadzia Dax and Dr Lenara Kahn. Two of its best episodes so far.

Just finished #DS9 season 5. Deep Space Nine reverting back to Terok Nor. Seasons 4 and 5 totally picked up with the action and can’t wait for the next episode. DS9 is better than I ever remembered, loving it.

I’m in a bad place right now so #DS9 S6 ep16 didn’t help. Watching Worf risk his career to save Jadzia’s life was poignant, especially as I know what’s to come in the future. #Empath… I think I’m a #Betazoid, thing’s hurt.

#DS9 S7 ep14 Chimera… loved this one so much. A commentary on being who you are and accepted for it. So many minorities could have been represented here and, oh, still so relevant and the ending truly beautiful.

Thread: Twenty years or so since I last watched #StarTrekDS9 and we just finished binge watching the entire seven seasons again. Then we watched #TheThingsWeLeftBehind and I got all emotional. I joined the Star Trek fandom with The Next Generation, and DS9 wasn’t too well received when it first aired, but it’s probably the one that’s held up the best. I have adored rewatching, rediscovering, and embracing DS9 again, so much so that I don’t even have a favourite character they all enchanted me. Garak delighted me, I relate to Worf and his confusion with human emotions, Kira and Jadzia kicked ass, Odo and Quark – just brilliant, Jake and Nog’s character arcs rocked, Sisko, Dukat, O’Brien and Bashir… the list goes on. This show is entrenched in my psyche, and I feel rather bereft now it’s done. ‘Past Tense’ made me sad, as did ‘Far Beyond the Stars’, because sometimes humanity hasn’t come as far as we hoped. ‘The Visitor’ made me weep as we lived Jake’s anguish, ‘In the Pale Moonlight’ things got real with such depth and truth and honesty about the human condition and the lengths we’ll go, ‘Rejoined’ groundbreaking for the time it was shown and beautiful, ‘Chimera’ another which embraced representation and being who you’re meant to be, and when Odo and Worf discussed order, solitude, and how to deal with unwanted guests in their quarters in ‘Crossfire’ – totally my people. Star Trek’s one of my passions, so much so that probably the only and biggest regret of my life was giving away my full collection of The Official Star Trek Fact Files after years of collecting it. Always wanted to rewatch the shows and now I’m set! We just queued #TheNextGeneration up on Netflix. Need to watch again before #Picard airs next year! 

Rewatching #StarTrek #TNG season 2 ep 3 Elementry, Dear Data is my favourite so far. On another note, giving Wesley Crusher a much fairer go this time, but still don’t like Dr Pulaski… and Worf definitely needs to become DS9 Worf – hopefully prosthetics improve each season…

The Measure of a Man #StarTrekTNG season 2 ep9… still so relevant. It seems my favourite Next Gen episodes are Data related: Elementary, my dear Data, The Schizoid Man… and I’m loving Guinan. Some episodes still problematic, others totally on point.

#StarTrekTNG hits its stride with the end of season 3 and the first episodes of season 4. The Best of Both Worlds always a favourite. Finding myself more and more engaged as the seasons move forward in my rewatch Star Trek is my safe place, my go to.

Yesterday’s Enterprise #StarTrekTNG S3 ep15. I’ve been waiting for this one, to avenge Tasha Yar’s senseless death. A darker and less coherent episode, but one to remember! Loved it and loving it as TNG gets better and darker with each season.

My #StarTrekTNG rewatch season 5 starting well with Darmok and then Ensign Ro. If I wasn’t a Betazed I’d have been a Bajoran in another life.

I don’t usually get over emotional at #StarTrekTNG, but S5 Ep25 The Inner Light always pulls at my heart strings. It’s always important to be remembered.

We’re almost halfway through season 7 #StarTrekTNG. I fear we may not have it finished before #Picard arrives on Amazon Prime, but we’ll damn well try to make it so.

Lower Decks #StarTrekTNG S7 ep15 was a poignant episode with Ensign Sito. Pretty much binging the last of this season before Picard…

#FirstContact has to be crowned the best of the #StarTrekTNG movies. Loved #Generations, but wanted Kirk to have a bigger death, though I recall that Kirk was meant to die on his own…

We’ve just rewatched #StarTrek TNG and DS9 and set for VOY next, and the social issues are definitely not hidden, but I’m not writing the dissertation, lol.

Just watched the first episode of #Picard having watched #StarTrekTNG and all the TNG movies. I am so invested in this! Loved it to the stars and back again.

#StarTrekVoyager 10 episodes in with season one Prime Factors. Really enjoyed this one, a nicely woven web of morals and ethics against the desperation of a common need and desire.

#StarTrekVoyager S1 ep14 Faces, a study in acceptance and learning that what we might perceive as our negative sides are exactly what we need to survive. #BeYou always.

Two brilliant #StarTrekVoyager episodes S2 ep17 & 18 Dreadnought, a real race against time, and Death Wish, bringing the Q back with a study on euthanasia and irrepressible life. Life is a discovery…

Two excellent #StarTrekVoyager S3 episodes eps2 Flashback and 3 The Chute… both tense, but I really wanted more from The Chute. Beautifully played themes of friendship, mind control, and politics, but I needed an ending that offered more, and offered hope to Open Sky…

Just watched the finale of #Picard. I needed that! Now for chocolate and another finale as we finish season three and start four of Star Trek Voyager. I know what I like

Scorpion #StarTrekVoyager end of S3 and beginning S4 was very satisfying, more so having just caught up with Seven in #Picard. I wondered if Voyager would be diluted compared to Seven’s reappearance, but I wasn’t disappointed. Jeri Ryan has great presence and poignancy in both. S3 was full on, but 4 looks like taking it to another level, which Trek usually does as it grows each season. The only taxing point of S3 was Kes and Neelix break up which I felt deserved more attention, then long hair Kes switching from pixie cut, too sudden. I did really enjoy the first few episodes of S4, though losing Kes was a jolt, but Seven helps. Really liked the turn of phrase and useage of words in Nemesis – also a disturbing look at propaganda, which feels very relevant these days… Star Trek keeping me sane.

Just watched #StarTrekVoyager S5 ep1 Night, very much indicative of our current situation. Voyager crossing a void: crew bored, isolated, and stressed… right where we are in a Pandemic. Seeing no stars in the sky would leave me lost, but they made it through. So will we.

Poignant #StarTrekVoyager episodes on my rewatch, S6, loved Pathfinder, Fairhaven, and ep13 Virtuoso. I love the character arc of the Doctor, Robert Picardo shows touching naive emotion in his portrayal of Voyager’s EMH (Emergency Medical Hologram) and I relate so much to his frustrations and triumphs.

What a beautiful episode of #StarTrekVoyager S7 ep2 Imperfection is. A lesson I need to embrace in accepting help from those I love, and a real understanding of how much Seven and Icheb mean to each other, poignant after #Picard…

I’m on the last season of Voyager right now, then it’ll be Enterprise. I have yet to hear this masterpiece of Star Trek themes, but have heard a lot of views about it – none good. Thankfully I’ll be able to skip the theme every time!

Finished rewatching #StarTrekVoyager and I was suprised how much I hadn’t remembered of the later seasons. Really loved it and found the final few episodes of season 7 both satisfying and poignant. Reiterating, once again, how much #StarTrek is my favourite safe place.

Struggling a bit mid first season #StarTrekEnterprise. I’ve come without preconceptions – never seen it before, but compared to its prerunners it’s meandering. I’m hoping it picks up. I love Phlox  and Tucker though, would like more Phlox, less T’Pol…

Into Season 2 of #StarTrekEnterprise now and thoroughly enjoying it. Quite something to see the parallels of technology and how they cope without using transporters, shields, and often only using their wits! Mistakes are telling but very human. Loving this Star Trek incarnation!

#StarTrekEnterprise S2 ep22 Cogenitor. Trip has grown on me so much. In this heartbreaking episode he did what I would have done in the face of discrimination and inequality. Even more poignant today. We must stand for what we believe in, even more so now. Lives depend on it.

Watching #StarTrekEnterprise S3 ep20 The Forgotten… and it’s just struck me that the lines the crew are following are so close to ours right now. Humans fighting xenophobia, literally fighting for the right to exist against races that it seems have been conditioned to hate them. How have we come to this? That people have to fight for the actual right to exist? I know Star Trek isn’t the same as what we’re going through with #BlackLivesMatter, but the parallel touched me. There are so many forgotten.

Really loved the way #StarTrekEnterprise dealt with the Klingons in S4 eps 15/16 Affliction/Divergence. NO SPOILERS please… but nicely done! Now I just need Trip to pull himself together.

Finished #StarTrekEnterprise today, I’m going to miss it so much. I’d have liked a full seven seasons personally. Archer, I could give or take, but in the end Phlox, Trip, and T’Pol made it for me, ah, and I did like Shran too! Will watch #TOS now as only ever watched a few episodes as a teen!

#StarTrekTOS which I’ve never really seen before, pilots and first few episodes. It’s making me smile. After #Enterprise it’s difficult to place this as technologically later, trying to persuade myself that this is a fashionable retro simplistic era which loved flashing lights and primary colours!

Half way through Season 1 #StarTrekTOS. It’s more enjoyable than I thought it would be in a kitsch way.  Kirk’s deadpan Captain’s Log, staccato acting, polystyrene scenery, and bad background music make me smile and make up for some questionable sexism. Spock’s cool though.

#StarTrekTOS Spock just said “I’m frequently appalled by the low regard you earthmen have for life.” Yep. I agree with Spock. S1 Ep16 The Galileo Seven.

Watching #StarTrekTOS S1 ep17 and the Squire of Gothos, Trelane, is most definitely a Q – canon or not!

Loved S1 ep19 Tomorrow is Yesterday #StarTrekTOS I’d never seen it before, but obviously recognised the connection with The Voyage Home movie and the slingshot effect. One of the best episodes I’ve seen so far.

I’m still living the idea that 2265-69 is a time when humans lovingly embraced the 1960’s, almost religiously, renouncing technology for polyester, primary colours, questionable fashion, flashing lights, knobs, buttons, and tinkly sound effects. A true homage. #StarTrekTOS

“That unit is a woman.” “A mass of conflicting impulses.” – Spock and Nomad, on the “unit” Uhura… #StarTrekTOS S2 ep3. I feel attacked.

#StarTrekTOS S2 ep15 The Trouble with Tribbles – classic, and we just had to rewatch #StarTrekDS9 S5 ep6 Trials and Tribble-ations straight after… Love it, especially Worf not wanting to discuss 23rd century Klingons!

Starting season 3 #StarTrekTOS and I’d heard that Spock’s Brain was not, let’s say, a great episode – it failed to utilise Leonard Nimoy’s skills to say the least – and the studio was in the process of trying to axe Star Trek, but yep, hoping there’s better episodes to come.

And… #StarTrekTOS – why does every planet have diamond shaped sliding doors?

Weird to watch Kang in #StarTrekTOS S3 ep7 Day of the Dove, if I close my eyes I can hear and see him as old Kang from #DS9 not the genetically problematic original, lol.

#StarTrekTOS S3 ep9 The Tholian Web… interesting after the Enterprise In a Mirror, Darkly episode… also glitter is a favourite in TOS, glitter and silver lamè space suits, bandages and plasters, plus countless costumes across the series.

Why blow up Marta, the unstable Orion? Her part in Whom Gods Destroy S3 ep14 #StarTrekTOS was the best acting Season 3 has seen. This season is struggling, possibly due to the loss of Gene L Coon, DC Fontana and a guiding hand. Though, next ep15 Let That Be Your Last Battlefield was originally written by Coon and was a real look at racism, dated, yes, but effective. Quote:

“It doesn’t make any sense.”

“To expect sense from two mentalities of such extreme viewpoints, is not logical.”

“But their planet’s dead. Does it matter now which one of them was right?”

“Not to Lokai and Bele. All that matters to them is their hate.”

“Do you suppose that’s all they ever had, sir?”

“No… but that’s all they have left.”

Uhura, Spock, Sulu, Spock, Uhura, Kirk at Cheron. Yep.

Just finished #StarTrekTOS… thankfully after a number of dire episodes the last two weren’t too bad! It’s the movies next! The Motion Picture here I come…

Closing my #StarTrek rewatch with the movies. Watching #StarTrek The Motion Picture and I could sit and watch the scenes where we fly back and forth over the refit of the Enterprise with the TNG theme for ages – my heart actually leaps – I love Star Trek. My safe space.

‘The Enterprise’ theme. I love how it moved from the movie to TNG, to both keep a familiar essence of old Trek and new TNG, plus to avoid Roddenberry’s issue with royalties on the TOS theme! This piece is my phone tone and it makes me smile (and avoid picking up phone calls) every time I hear it!

“He’s really not dead, as long as we remember him.” – McCoy – #StarTrek #TheWrathOfKhan. Spock is always the reason I need to watch The Search for Spock directly after Khan’s defeat…

“Sir, someone is stealing the Enterprise.” Probably one of my favourite #StarTrek sequences… #TheSearchForSpock.

I quite like the idea that one day humankind will be judged by some interstellar entity on how we’ve looked after our planet/wildlife. #StarTrek #TheVoyageHome #SaveTheWhales

Just finished #StarTrek #TheUndiscoveredCountry so much better than #TheFinalFrontier. This was a true send off for Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Sulu, Uhura, Chekov, and Scotty. Loved it! #ToBoldlyGoWhereNooneHasGoneBefore

My #StarTrek rewatch journey comes to an end with the last three Kelvin Timeline movies: Star Trek, Into Darkness, Beyond. Wasn’t sure how they’d fit but I really enjoyed them, lens flares and all. I loved the parallels, nods to the series, the graphics, and the Enterprise made it. That scene in ‘Beyond’ with Spock and the original crew, and the rebuild of NCC 1701-A with the ‘These are the voyages…’ voice over by the crew – a nice closure – for now…

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise.
Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds.
To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no one has gone before!

Star Trek

Star Trek Titles screenshots
Star Trek Titles © Lisa Shambrook

Colours to Inspire – Elemental – Earth, Water, Air, and Fire

I’ve blogged about my favourite jewel, neutral, and metallic colours
and I’m currently inspired by elemental themes and tones…

Colours to Inspire - Elemental - Earth Water Air and Fire - The Last Krystallos.

The elementsearth, water, air, and fire – make up the essence of nature, the core of our existence, and they feed our spirit. The colours of the elements are deeply ingrained within our lives. Greens, browns, and earthy tones clothe the forests, mountains, and valleys. All manner of blues along with cloudy white and grey, and golden sunshine tones fill our skies. Ocean blues and greens, clear rivers, and fluid crystalline colours run through our lives in water. Sizzling reds, oranges, and yellows spark passion and fuel our emotions with fire.

Which of the elements calls to you, and do their colours inspire you?

colours, earth, tree, forest, moss, green jewels, crustal grid, rose, crystals, mountain, the last krystallos

Earth © Lisa Shambrook

Earth – the greens of the forest have been my favourite colours since I was a child, offering peace, calm, and tranquillity in a heart that was often anxious and unsettled. As an adult I go to the forest and to the hills for peace, to renew my senses and to recharge. Listening to the wind susurrate through the trees, whispering serenity to my soul, and feeling my feet softly stepping on springy moss always relieves my heart and allows me to regain my breath. It’s like uttering a prayer in solitude and then listening to nature’s response as birds twitter, trees whisper, and soft music lightens an aching heart.

colours, water, ocean, sea, waterfall, crystals, thelastkrystallos

Water © Lisa Shambrook

Water – the ocean with its blues and greens is the opposite for me. A calm sea is lovely, the sun twinkling like stars on its surface can also still a racing heart, but I love the sea when its waves are crashing and the pebbles tumble beneath them. I come from Brighton and pebble beaches have a rousing effect on me as the sea churns stones as it rises and falls. I have travelled the UK and come to love soft sand beaches in Wales and Scotland, and could spend hours staring at the sea as the tides change. I have seen the ocean switch in front of me from its crystal quartz white surf, to aquamarine, then changing to adventurine and amazonite green, before deepening to turquoise, then to apatite blue, and finally to a deep dark sodalite navy. The sea can change from blue, to green, to brown and to grey, and it’s changeable nature is what inspires me. Water is the element that speaks to me most, and one that guides me. Water cannot be stopped, if it encounters an obstacle, it goes around it and carries on… I need that wisdom in my life.

colours, air, crystals, sky, kestrel, rainbow, clouds, feather, crystal bracelet, the last krystallos

Air © Lisa Shambrook

Air – have you ever stood on a mountainside and felt the wind billowing through your hair? It’s exhilarating and freeing. Air offers release and liberty; if I could be a creature I’d be a dragon, flying free up in the thermals… Birds fascinate me, upon their feathery wings they fly through our atmosphere, light enough to do so, and free enough to travel wherever desire takes them. Air is what drives us, filling our lungs, and moving us forward. And the colours I associate with it change from the blues of the sky, to the white of clouds, to grey storms, golden sunshine, and all the colours that merge in auroras and celestial azure skies.

colours, fire, crystals, roses, candle, dragons, fireworks, sunset, crystal grid, the last krystallos

Fire © Lisa Shambrook

Fire – the easiest of the elements to imagine. Known for passion, anger, and fierce emotions, it flickers with red, orange, and yellow. Fire is destructive and renewing, full of danger and desire, it harnesses ambition and fuels dreams, but it can also offer peace and safety. Seeing light amid darkness can guide you home to a hearth and food. Watching a flame dancing atop a candle is hypnotising and relaxing, and listening to the crackle of a fire burning within a fireplace is the symbol of home comfort and sanctuary.

Colours to Inspire - Elements - Earth Water Air and Fire - The Last Krystallos

Earth, Water, Air, and Fire © Lisa Shambrook

The elements need each other to survive. Fire feeds on oxygen in the air, and though it can destroy trees and grass and flora, the earth contains it, and water can quell it. Once scorched, the earth can renew and life returns with the help of water. Water is a constant, the ocean rises and falls every day ruled by the moon above, it feeds and helps everything grow. Air moves the water to where it’s needed, and keeps the atmosphere exactly as we need it. And earth, the rock beneath our feet, holds everything together, keeping us safe upon this rock that is clothed in air and water and encases the fiery molten core that keeps our earth alive.

The elements are both chaos and essential,
and when I’m asked which is my favourite – I’m not really sure…

What’s your favourite elemental colour and what does it mean to you?

When You Feel Too Much…

I can only connect deeply or not at all – Anaïs Nin

Sometimes you notice how intensely you feel everything,
you notice the small things: dust motes dancing in the light cast across your path,
a smile on the lips of a passing stranger,
or the depth of emotion that overwhelms you in the heat of a moment.
These are things the average person embraces momentarily,
but what if your brain records all of this all of the time, what if you feel too much?

When You Feel Too Much - The Last Krystallos
I feel everything, all of the time

I’ve always felt too much, engulfed by the emotions I experience.

My heart has loved with depth unknown, and has before shattered into pieces of glass that pierce to the centre of my being, and then been gently mended again. I have wept for the world in the midnight hour as pain, fear, and trauma has consumed me. When I see suffering and injustice I have carried the world in my hands. I have almost drowned when confronted with my own innocence and naivety. I’ve hugged so hard I could feel hearts beating.

I’ve had to galvanise my heart, armouring it against those who show indifference and ignorance, and burning hot rage has raced through my blood when people hurt each other. I have been sick to my stomach with turmoil and anxiety. I’ve discovered magic in my soul, shimmering like stars, and the power to rise when emptiness threatened to finish me. And I have felt passion and triumph and love for every atom dancing about my universe.

Rhapsody in Blue rose - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Imagine being immersed so deep within your emotions all the time. Whatever you feel is always heightened by the chemicals swirling within your brain and through your system, and there’s nothing you can do to quiet it.

I’ve tried meditation, but despite every trick people offer, I cannot empty my mind. Perhaps the closest I’ve ever come to being able to quiet my mind is simply to stare at clouds, and watch the shapes they make as they sail across the sky, but even then my mind will wander and trail into something new. I try to deal with overwhelm by writing or painting. Writing lets me escape into another world, one that exists solely in my own head and one that I have relative control over. I think that’s one reason why fantasy and fiction live so easily in my head. My imagination can soar and those emotions can be put to good use.

Painting progress, paintbox and leaves - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Art is another therapy, lending itself to engaging my mind in media that is malleable and flexible. Sculpting in clay, painting with brushstrokes, and pencil marks on the page soak up emotion and create an outlet. I’ve been making crystal grids lately, both to harness the energy of stones and to create something beautiful in the moment. I find mindfulness very difficult, so when I have creative moments I like to turn my creativity to things that soothe or reignite me.

Emotional Healing, optimism, and protection Crystal Grid - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I’ve written before about HSP, the Highly Sensitive Person. Those who are highly sensitive can feel moods and emotions easily, and can read people well. They’re conscious to the needs of others and this sensitivity encompasses being an Empath, a Light-worker, someone who feels so deeply they can’t escape the emotions swirling about in the ether. Being an Empath can be incredibly rewarding, but also extremely draining. Feeling everything is as problematic as it is amazing.

These last few weeks, and currently, I’m both full of emotion and utterly spent at the same time.

Bootlace Seaweed, Underwater - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

When I walk into a room, emotions overwhelm me from every corner. I can feel heartbreak, joy, happiness, anger, resentment, love, friendship, and insincerity simmering. It literally swamps me like suffocating hot air does when you walk into a greenhouse on a summer’s day, or like drowning in a humid creek. It can be difficult when you talk with someone who doesn’t like you, and you can feel it intrinsically, but also so beautiful when someone’s genuine love for you blazes from their very being like fire.

Emotions cut to the soul which is why many of us who feel too much are natural empaths. I remember standing behind a woman in a supermarket queue and her emotions brought me to tears. I could literally feel her sadness engulf me and the impotence of being unable to help was paralysing. Sometimes I’ve spoken to people and helped, but sometimes the empath can also feel barriers and the inability to help can be painful. Overwhelming doesn’t even cover it.

I can only connect deeply or not at all – Anaïs Nin - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

To counter the sheer depth of feeling so much, I often retreat. I walk through the forest and I feel the trees, their ancient wisdom pulsing through my pores as the breeze swishes through the canopy. I feel the electricity in the air as gales pick up on mountainsides, and on the beach I feel the breath of the sea and the sonorous pounding of the waves crashing right over my soul. Nature is my solace.

We must open up to the emotion and intuition we feel, and let them teach us. After all, Emotions are the language of the soul (Karla Mclaren) and when we can truly express our souls then we are on the right path. We don’t have to understand all our emotions, but we do need to embrace them, as someone* once said – Not every feeling has to have a label. Not every relationship has to be named. Some emotions aren’t meant to be understood, they’re just meant to be felt.

Some emotions aren’t meant to be understood, they’re just meant to be felt. The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I feel too much, but that’s okay. I’d rather feel too much than not feel at all. My reactions, emotions, intuition, and instinct might hurt at times, but they also give deeper meaning to life, better perceptions and awareness, more sensitivity, and more compassionate insight. I know myself clearly and fully, and can put myself in the place of others to better understand them. Our feelings are who we are and when we embrace them, we become better people.

Emotion is more powerful than reason.
Emotion is the driving force behind thinking and reasoning.
Emotional intelligence increases the mind’s ability
to make positive, brilliant decisions

– Dr T. P. Chia


*this quote has several names attributed to it, and I currently cannot find a reliable source to attribute accurately.

My Writer’s Life – how plans go awry…

I thought you might be interested to know how I plan and achieve (ahem) my writing strategies. I enjoyed writing this Writer’s Lives piece for IASD (Indie Author Support and Discussion) group and decided to share my squirrely ways with you too.

My Writer's Life - how plans go awry... The Last Krystallos

I’m a creature of habit, but like a squirrel I’m jittery and anxious. I like routine, but have a degree in procrastination. So, my writing habits are well planned with the best intentions, but not always successfully carried out.

My writing tools - scented candle, hot chocolate, chocolate, laptop, pen, notebooks, bluebells, crystals, hand drawn map, and memory sticks

© Lisa Shambrook

I begin my day with plans that fit my control freak personality, but go awry as soon as I hit social media. It always starts with ‘just checking my notifications’, but finishes a few hours later after having been distracted by posts, blogs, and shiny things… My problem is beginning, but once I’m there the words flow and I easily slip away into another world.

my writing tools - hot chocolate, scented candle, bluebells, chocolate, notebook, laptop

© Lisa Shambrook

My laptop – on my lap, where else? – is where I begin, in my lounge with my German Shepherd at my feet, a hot chocolate in my squirrel mug, and chocolate within reach. I like being surrounded by pretty things and though my house is a chaotic array of disorder and a carpet full of dog fluff, I like sensory things to keep me focused. I always have acorn cups or hazelnut shells beside me, sounds odd, but I did say I’m a squirrel… actually I deal with several mental health disorders including anxiety, panic, depression, and Sensory Processing Disorder, and acorn cups are my stim of choice. Rolling a polished hazelnut shell or acorn cup between my fingers calms and grounds me. I also like having a scented candle alight, and flowers and crystals close by.

Lisa Shambrook in a mossy forest with Kira German Shepherd

Out in the forest with Kira © Lisa Shambrook

You’re probably noticing that I ramble a fair bit… give me an inch and I’ll take a mile, but only with those I’m close to, otherwise I’ll keep my mouth shut and listen. Listening is fun – sometimes it’s what gives you a kernel of a story idea. Not just listening to people, but to everything. I let my mind wander, dog walks in the forest are perfect for this, and once an idea spins in my head I’ll be desperate to get it down onto paper. I fill notebooks with untidy notes and sketches. I’ll make maps, paint characters, and keep intricate detailed summaries, research, and annotations of every chapter that I write. I flip through these pages all the time as I write, and they are invaluable during edits and rewrites.

I’m a plotter, I like to know the beginning, middle, and end before I start, but as authors will tell you, our characters like to improvise and take us on journeys we didn’t expect, so you have to allow for digressions and detours. In real life I don’t like change, but in my writing life changes are exciting and inspiring! We writers are nothing if not a mass of contradictions. My first three published works were inspired by emotional issues and became a trilogy of three girls, three lives, three stories composed with the melody of hope. As grief is faced, hope becomes the only force to cling to and build upon.

Beneath The Rainbow, Beneath the Old Oak, Beneath the Distant Star by Lisa Shambrook ads

Beneath the Rainbow, Beneath the Old Oak, and Beneath the Distant Star

Since then, I have put together a lyrical collection of dragon themed short stories, and a unique collection of post-apocalyptic tales that weave together into a larger story with fourteen other lovely authors. Right now, I am rewriting and editing a fantasy series set two thousand years in the future where the landscape of Wales has turned into a whole new country… and the rumble of dragons has returned.

A Symphony of Dragons, Human 76, The Seren Stone Chronicles AD 2020

A Symphony of Dragons, Human 76, The Seren Stone Chronicles

I love writing and, as a skittish introvert, disappearing into an imaginary world is a solace that I’ve enjoyed since I first picked up a book as a child and vanished into my imagination. Come and join me!

How do you settle into writing, reading, or whatever you love doing?

The Holloway – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

The motorbike growled between her thighs, its back wheel skidding on gravel as she raced down the country road. Her hand gripped the throttle twisting it roughly, her fingers tense inside her leather gloves, and trees blurred as she risked a glance over her shoulder.

They followed. There was no let up, as two, maybe three, bikes thundered behind her. She swallowed and her mind whirled for a moment. Was there even still a reason left to run? She’d saved all she could save, delivered everything she’d been entrusted with, and now there was only escape. There’d be no hero welcome, no liberation, nothing for her. Quietly, the Resistance would win, but they no longer needed her, her job was done. She’d given everything. All that was left was evasion and lonely seclusion – if she could shake her pursuers.

Clusters of flashes zipped past as bullets skimmed and ricochet off the bike’s chrome, and she momentarily flinched and lost balance. She focussed and forced the tension from her body into the bike and sped on.

A shot echoed, its report bouncing through the trees, and then pain erupted in her shoulder knocking her off balance and throwing her forward. The bike shifted beneath her, its weight slipping and its tyres burning against the tarmac, and Ayla let go. The bike crashed to the ground, spinning and screeching across the road, sparks flying and metal glowing. Ayla landed on her back and her body flipped as she tried to pull her limbs close. Ayla felt the impact as her helmet hit the ground and her head spun and lights flickered behind her closed eyes before blackness enveloped her.

Moments later Ayla opened her eyes and, barely allowing herself to move, gazed at the mass of chrome and black metal strewn across the road. Engines roared and as her pursuers slowed and leaped off their bikes, Ayla instinctively twisted and rolled away from the scene. She hurriedly pulled off her helmet, discarding the cracked and shattered polycarbonate, and shaking the ringing sound from her ears. She jumped into a squat and threw herself into the hedgerow. Brambles caught in the tears and slashes in her leather jacket as Ayla tumbled down a steep embankment.

She quickly gathered herself and, on all fours, stared about her. Metal clashed and running footsteps echoed above her and she threw herself into the wall of the bank. She pinned herself there as voices rose and chaos sounded, but no one appeared in the trees above her, and after briefly patting herself down, Ayla bolted forward.

Tree roots, ivy, and moss coated the walls of the holloway and they reached clean over her head. She needed distance from the crash site before she could even think of trying to scale the earthy wall. She ran until the noises lessened and she could hear birdsong instead. Birds sung and twittered, voles peeped out of holes in the ivy, and a squirrel danced through the treetops above. She gazed up and only white light bathed her through the canopy of leaves.

Ayla slowed, pushing her hair off her face, wiping the sweat from her brow, and then lifting her hair from the nape of her neck. The adrenaline rush was gone and Ayla stood for a moment then slowly turned on the spot. Behind her the holloway stretched further than she could see. Steep banks curved either side, like looking through the barrel of a telescope, and in front, the sunken lane lay hidden some way along as a gap in the canopy let the light flood in.

She smiled, feeling safe, and surprisingly fit despite the motorbike crash. She ran her hands along her arms, taking time to check for injuries she might have missed whilst escaping, but there were none. Her jacket, torn and grazed beyond repair, a bullet hole in the shoulder, leather trousers scored and scuffed, but not a scratch on the bare skin beneath the sliced open material. Not a bruise or a cut, nothing but soft skin. She pulled off her gloves, and though her hands shook, she was fine, unscathed and unharmed.

She would keep walking until she reached that celestial rift of bright white light…


Behind her, back on the road, three motorbike engines started up as their owners left the scene of the accident. Not one of them glanced back at the shattered helmet, pool of blood, and the broken body – its neck at an impossible angle, prone and lifeless.


0000. Divider

Getting words written during lockdown… Miranda’s photo prompt on Mid-Week Flash Challenge is a holloway, a sunken lane in La Meauffe, France, once a site of a 1944 World War II battle – although dating back much further than that. It was taken by Romain Brégetalias Kormin on the Wikimedia projects. I love holloways and the tunnels carved out in nature, completely natural, formed by constant walking and the flow of water.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.


The Simple Things that Lift your Spirit

Sometimes the small and simple things are the things that lift us,
and in times like these where many of us are in lockdown and
missing our normal lives, the simple things are often the big things.

The Simple Things that Lift your Spirit - The Last Krystallos

My anxiety has been sky high since this pandemic struck, and finally I’m feeling able to release some of the tension and allow myself to relax. The change in daily routine has been a struggle for me, routine gives me safety and order, and any change makes my brain spin out of control. So, in addition to health worries, stress over income and work, and those immediate alterations we’ve all had to deal with, my mind has been rushing about like a wild rabbit.

We’ve tried to keep as much of our lives as constant as we can, but we’re also embracing the situation to positively change things where necessity demands. And it’s the small things that are enabling this.

I’m missing walking my dog in the forest. Brechfa forest is ten minutes away, but we’re trying to adhere to the walk locally ethos without travel, so we’re revisiting some of the walks we used to do with Roxy. We’ve been walking Kira up in the solitude of the forest because she’s a rescue and because of her history she can’t deal with people, dogs, or cars. She’s relaxed, happy, and inquisitive on woodland paths, but as soon as you hit local streets with her she’s on high alert, nervous, and anxiety ridden, barking at every vehicle, person, and dog. It helps that the streets are more empty, and Sunday mornings are perfect, but walks can be an ordeal for her, so we’re trying different times and locations, in the hope to find the best conditions for her.

Blackthorn blossom and Primroses - The Last Krystallos

Blackthorn blossom and Primroses © Lisa Shambrook

When we’re out walking I’m noticing the beauty around mewildflowers pushing up through cracks in walls and pavement, forget-me-nots and violets spreading across verges, and spring primroses bringing sunshine to the roadside. Birdsong has increased, louder and more prevalent now there are fewer cars and people about. And, yes, I know we’re in lockdown, but the weather has blossomed just like the blackthorn hedgerows!

Walking, in itself, and exercise is something that helps lower anxiety, so finding calm walks helps us all. And talking of dogs, can you think of anything more simply beautiful than the love of a dog? When my anxiety spikes Kira is there to rub against me and love me, and when she’s anxious we scritch behind her ears and that softest of soft fur comforts both of us.

Lisa and Kira Brechfa and the softest soft fur - The Last Krystallos

Lisa and Kira Brechfa and the softest soft fur © Lisa Shambrook

I didn’t panic buy, just trying to keep to our usual routine, but I did buy extra chocolate. Like I said, the simple pleasures… We’ve made bread, chocolate-chip cookies, milkshakes, and hot chocolates.

I’m not a social being, I’m the archetypal introvert, but I have enjoyed messaging conversations with friends as we check up on each other, and social media has been both a blessing and a curse. It’s a wonderful way to keep up to date with the news and in touch with friends, and probably the only way I socialise, but the amount of misinformation that has been passed around is both stressful and frustrating. Add in a great deal of judgement and shaming, along with the constant link to the pandemic, and you have to know when to turn it off and get away.

Milkshake, Hot Chocolate and cookies - The Last Krystallos

Milkshake, Hot Chocolate and cookies © Lisa Shambrook

My favourite weekend was one where we turned off everything and marathon watched The Hobbit and then The Lord of the Rings – extended versions. It afforded me the luxury of escaping reality, of getting away and immersing myself in fantasy and beautiful cinematography. It made me stronger, happier, and more able to cope with current everyday life. The availability of entertainment, games, books, movies, and streaming services to watch has been a great escape for most of us, giving us time to leave reality behind for a few hours and fill our minds with something different.

The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings - The Last Krystallos

The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings © Lisa Shambrook

I have been playing with my crystals and bracelet beads, losing myself in the simple beauty and energies of crystals and rocks. I love the natural world and crystals fascinate me. My daughter even put together an anti-anxiety spell for me: salt for protection, rosemary for both protection and cleansing, sage for mental strength, and cloves to release negativity. Lavender and rose petals for peace and calm, amethyst to soothe emotions, and a sigil to be calm and clear headed, and sealed with the wax of a protective black candle. She also drew a tarot which fitted perfectly offering calm, peace, and renewed hope even in darkness and difficult and unexpected times. The simplicity of magic can be found when you need it.

Crystal Grid and Anti-anxiety Spell - The Last Krystallos

Crystal Grid and Anti-anxiety Spell © Lisa Shambrook

Time spent with my family, doing anything, binge watching TV, dog walking, playing board games, talking, or just general house tidying, is good! Fewer hours at work and outside commitments has let us lounge about in bed with lie-ins and extra sleep.

Maybe once this is all over and we try to return to normal, we’ll have learned that not everything is about money, the economy, or capitalism. That sometimes we need simplicity, time, and relaxation more than a twenty-four hour seven-day-a-week society. Spending time out, either alone, or with family, or friends is important, and if we can get out of a society that values cold hard cash and profit more than families, health, and humanity, maybe, just maybe, we can make life better and more rewarding – with the small and simple pleasures.

The small and simple things are, more often than not, the big things that matter.  

BHC Press Online Book Store Launch

My publisher launches their online book store today
accessible at their website BHC Press and at their Storefont 
to help support Independant Bookstores.

BHC Press online bookstore launch
BHC Press is pleased to announce they have launched their new online storefront in conjunction with to help support the independent bookstore community … and make their books more accessible to readers.

“We’re always looking for ways to help support the book community, independent bookstores, and libraries,” stated Joni Firestone, co-founder and co-publisher at BHC Press. “That’s why we’re so excited about and the benefits and support they are providing to independent bookstores. There’s nothing more magical than a book, and we’re thrilled to lend our support and help to the book community.”

Over 200 titles are available for purchase at the BHC Press storefront, including many award-winning books for both adults and young adults. Books are available to purchase in both hardcover and trade softcover. Every purchase through their storefront benefits and supports independent booksellers.’

Read more at the BHC Press Blog

BHC Press online bookstore launch

You can find my books in the bookstore too – Beneath the Rainbow, Beneath the Old Oak, and Beneath the Distant Star, and A Symphony of Dragons, plus anthologies that I have contributed to, and a copy of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol for which I wrote the forward and an original short story.

BHC Press online bookstore launch

Find your next book and your next favourite read… 

The Magic of a Fairytale Forest – Brechfa Forest

The beauty of Brechfa forest captivates me offering magic and enchantment and a place to give respite to my weary soul. Gnarled trees clothed in moss and lichen. Tall, spindly spruce, pine, and larch decorated with cones and needles, interspersed with oak and beech, and hedgerows of bracken and fern. Jewel greens all year round finished with autumn copper then silver winter frost.

The Magic of Fairytale Forests – Brechfa Forest - The Last Krystallos

January brings snowfall, frost, and fog with wispy cloud dropping into the tall pines creating an ethereal landscape. Walking through the glare of light from the low sun makes it bright and crisp and magical as it shimmers across the frost and moss. You might even see the copper winter coat of a fox as it dashes across the forest floor.

Images of January Brechfa Forest trees

© Lisa Shambrook

February is another month of mist and magic, sparkling through branches clothed with the soft froth of reindeer moss. Reindeer moss swathes the trees like jewels on a chandelier in a soft seafoam green. Bright peridot greens contrast beautifully with the sharp burnt-orange and browns of dead bracken, ferns, mulch and leaves.

Images of February Brechfa Forest trees

© Lisa Shambrook

In March, and its preceding months, stormy gales whistle and rustle through the spires. Rain and wind are common in Wales and wet, windy winters add to the streams and puddles and saturated land. Pine and spruce are known to have shallow root systems and sometimes you’ll come across fallen trees. Brechfa is looked after by the Forestry Commission and fallen trees across the roads are cleared quickly, but sometimes you’ll need to hop over or circumnavigate fallen logs on the tracks.

Images of March Brechfa Forest trees and moss

© Lisa Shambrook

April brings lighter showers and the moss swathing the forest floor act like sponges, holding many times their own weight in water aiding the forest as sponging, cooling and humidifying systems. New growth becomes evident as bright green sprouts from branches and spring flowers like bluebells and toadflax intermingle with moss over the forest banks.

Images of April Brechfa Forest trees

© Lisa Shambrook

May spring growth spread across the branches, and the past seasons’ dead leaves are covered with grass, lichen, and golden-green moss. Green tinged cones are pushing upright on spruce trees like decorative candelabras.

Images of May Brechfa Forest trees and a dog

© Lisa Shambrook

June is predominantly green, autumn colours are gone, and peridot-green is back in charge. Moss swathes the forest floor, trees, and rocks and is sumptuously soft and yielding. There are over one thousand species of moss in Britain, with more yet to be discovered, though many people will only ever notice two or three varieties. Get right down on the woodland floor and you’ll see the intricate ecosystem living right there amongst the moss and lichen.

Images of June Brechfa Forest tees and moss

© Lisa Shambrook

July sees the forest thickening up with moss, leaves, and foliage, and the additional colour of pink threads through Brechfa. Thistles become homes to the bees, and it’s a real treat to wander through the forest on a warm summer evening and come across purple thistles bending under the weight of sleeping bees! Foxgloves grow tall and said bees also adore their pink bells nodding in the breeze.

Images of July Brechfa Forest trees and Foxglove

© Lisa Shambrook

August and springy moss carpets the forest floor and drapes like swags of feathery curtains from the fir trees. The woods are thick with green and if you look carefully you could swear the fae are hiding in the undergrowth. Magic emanates from every branch.

Images of August Brechfa Forest trees and moss

© Lisa Shambrook

September’s autumn sunshine glistens on the gossamer webs that suddenly fill the boughs and you could be lost in Mirkwood. Find the wider tracks to walk if you’re keen to avoid the spiders! Toadstools and mushrooms emerge amongst the moss and mulch, and enjoy the colours as the leaves begin to turn on the oaks and beech trees, and the sunset touches bracken and fern with gold.

Images of September Brechfa Forest webs and mushroom

© Lisa Shambrook

October and autumn is here. Leaves have been painted with brass and copper, mosses are tinged with gold as they sport thready stems ready to spore, and larch needles turn golden-yellow before they drop. Cones adorn the firs, and acorns, beechnuts, and hazelnut shells are strewn underfoot, crunching beneath your feet. There’s magic in the air as the cool breeze wafts through the forest.

Images of October Brechfa Forest trees

© Lisa Shambrook

November brings frost and the pines are dark and foreboding, but the rest of the forest glistens with winter sun and crisp coppers and burnt-orange as the bracken dies and autumn leaves fall. The colours dance in the late sunshine and the birds twitter with warnings of weather and cold.

Images of November Brechfa Forest autumn trees

© Lisa Shambrook

December and the forest opens up again, with winter light glaring across bare boughs and weaving through the mist. It’s quiet and expectant and maybe snow will fall, coating the trees and drifting over the roads like icing sugar.

Images of December Brechfa Forest trees

© Lisa Shambrook

And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul
– John Muir             

In a world where you can be anything, be kind.

Being kind is a choice, and it says much about people
whether they choose to be cruel or to be kind. Choose to be kind.

In a world where you can be anything, be kind - the last krystallos

I was going to post a different blog today – I’ve decided to post only once a month due to writing and family commitments – but today’s subject is too important to miss, especially after the weekend’s events.

Friday brought us Valentine’s Day, an annual celebration of love, compounded by a recoupling in the evening’s episode of Love Island, the TV show offering young singles a chance to find love. Love was in the air, and both love and compassion should be in the air every day, not just Valentine’s. I mention the day and the show because the very next day Caroline Flack would take her own life. Caroline was very much weaved into the tenets of Love Island, being the former host and a romantic herself, and was described as someone who loved being in love.

Her death is complicated and none of us can know the reasoning behind her decision, and the discussion surrounding her loss is made more complex by an impending trial for domestic abuse. None of us are here to debate her wrongs or failings, we all have those, and not one of us is in a position to throw stones. But no one can fail to see the relevance of both tabloid and social media as a likely contributory factor in her loss.


© Lisa Shambrook

The weeks following her arrest offered an onslaught of media attention and endless stories in the tabloids. I heard a quote that over four hundred stories about her appeared within four weeks or so, not to mention the amount of tweets, opinions, and comment they gave life to. How could any one of us deal with kind of scrutiny and vilification? I certainly couldn’t.

I suffer from severe anxiety, depression, and a host of other issues, and not even a hundredth of what she was laid bare to would have left me okay. One single negative tweet can have me contemplating my place in this world, and I understand that, so I am careful what I say online. So, if someone like me who has attempted suicide, regularly self-harm, and live with constant anxiety can’t deal with that kind of attention, why do we think celebrities, personalities, and even royals are stronger? Celebrities have emotional and mental health conditions, they have lives as complicated as ours, they struggle, and they try to live the best they can. They have faults and flaws just like we do, but when they make a mistake they do it inside the glare of the spectator.

Mental Health Foundation - Stress - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Imagine making your mistakes in the limelight and scrutiny of the public, and being tried and convicted by uninformed armchair judges.

It’s easy to sit anonymously behind a screen and damn everyone we disagree with. We’ve seen it with Brexit, Trump, Johnson, Meghan and Harry, even coronavirus, and much more, but it’s not healthy when debate is uninformed or judgemental. We’ve seen a big move to fact check information online, especially when politics is involved. How often do we check our facts before posting our opinion, or sharing that meme that’s doing the rounds? We should. We must.

And this leads to the bigger issues. Our media is very much controlled by a few select outlets: tabloids and big media personalities, and I’d currently consider government too. When our media is owned by huge corporations including the media mogul Rupert Murdoch we often only hear the things they want us to hear. Personalities, like Piers Morgan, Katie Hopkins etc, also tend to gain traction with loud and widespread controversial voices. These voices have a responsibility to be just and respectful, and not incite hate or bullying.

Both Light and Dark - J. K. Rowling - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Journalism does need to report what’s happening, but what happens when those reports become judgemental, mean-spirited, bullying, and downright persecution? Both bullying and sensationalising within the media has become endemic.

We are becoming a nation, a world, enslaved to bad news. We need more good news, we need more love, more kindness, and more good things all round. We need to be careful with what we say, not because we’re walking on ice around people not to offend, but because we are good-hearted genuine people who don’t want to hurt those around us.

Life is hard and we often have no idea what truly goes on in the lives of our friends let alone people outside of our circles. We’re all fighting battles no one can see.

Kind words are easy to speak - Mother Theresa - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

It’s important we are there for each other, and that spreads further than just our own back yard. If we interact globally, our circles widen and our influence grows.  We need to reassess our ethics and priorities. Our words can either harm or comfort, it’s up to us which we choose. We can help others reach their potential, help them to succeed, and support those who need it. We can work together, and kindness and compassion are paramount to achieving that.

Kindness is a base response, it’s automatic, it’s a default we should all have.

Gottman, a german researcher who worked with couples at The Gottman Institute, declared that: Contempt is the number one factor that tears couples apart, and Kindness, on the other hand, glues couples together.

Let’s take contempt, hate, dislike, animosity, disrespect, all those things that contribute to bullying, away and replace them with kindness, love, compassion, empathy, validity and everything that will cement a community together in this wild, difficult, uncertain thing called life and become a stronger more supportive society.

Kindness has a beautiful way of reaching down... unknown

© Lisa Shambrook

Kindness isn’t hard, it’s a natural setting that all children have until prejudices and differences become apparent. Let’s reclaim it in our social media environment and in our personal lives until it becomes our default.

Kindness is more than deeds. It is an attitude, an expression, a look, a touch.
It is anything that lifts another person.
(C. Neil Strait)

In a world where you can be anything, be kind.

Unexpected Kindness - Bob Kerrey

© Lisa Shambrook

Last – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

Week144Photo Alfonso Leon SurrealThere was nothing more to say. I stood in the gutter, rain slipping down my face with the tears I couldn’t stop. The last plane had gone and I wasn’t on it.

The streets were quiet. In the distance I could still hear the whine of jet engines. I could still smell the gasoline and kerosene, the fumes, and her fragrance.

Now, my tears ran more freely.

I paced, my eyes flitting from tenement to tenement, my movements twitchy, glitching as I tripped over my feet and sprawled across the tarmac. A guttural moan moved up my throat but I was reluctant to release it. I froze and gazed about me, terrified I might have woken one of the waiting demons hiding in the shadows.

I had no idea what to do.

It was too late to convene at one of the final terminals – the exodus had finished – and I had no one to run back to. I’d be able to hunker down in the apartment for a few more weeks, but after that? And on my own, without her, how would I even cross the threshold into our home again?

I pushed my hair out of my eyes and got to my feet, snapping out of my stupor to hurry on down the street. The eerie silence compounded my fears and my footfall echoed between the tall buildings. As I ran down the centre of the road, I slowed and stopped. There didn’t seem much point in running anymore. For a moment, in the unearthly quiet, I grinned and let a small laugh escape my lips. It wouldn’t be long before lunacy slipped into my mind. What was I running from when there was nothing left to run to?

My breath lightened in my chest, and a feeling like helium invaded my head, and I dropped to the floor. The damp road seeped through my jeans, but I didn’t care, and as my head spun for once the cold asphalt beneath my fingers was the only thing that felt real.

There was nothing left in this world for me. My last foolish mission had seen me trapped for too long, and I’d known even before I escaped that she’d have gone. Our pact determined our actions and I’d been the one to ruin it. I stared up at the sky, grey and overcast without even a chem trail to follow. I knew she’d be angry, furious even, but maybe one day she’d remember me with sadness rather than ire, and recall our love with passion and reverence, but I wouldn’t blame her if it wasn’t for a very long time.

She’d start again in another country with the rest of our refugees, with everyone who’d escaped. Woozy with emotion and despair, I pulled my knees up to my chest and sat there in the road. In the periphery of my sight I knew they were coming. I didn’t care.

Unwilling to watch the gloomy shadows vacate the cover of the tenements, I buried my face against my knees, my fingers threaded over my head. I didn’t want to see what was coming for me.

Scratchy sounds dragged themselves across concrete and I tried to think of her, tried to imagine her soft arms holding me close. Groans echoed in the still air and my own moan mingled with theirs.

Then the sound of metal unsheathed whirred about my head and I cowered into my shell, as it sliced through rotten flesh and meat thudded to the ground.

“Get on your fucking feet!” she screamed, and I sprang from the ground, my head spinning.

She was here, beside me, her wakizashi swinging through the air and severing an infected head from its shoulders. I yanked my katana from its sheath and joined her, suddenly invigorated. Together we fought, until the bloody mass at our feet stopped writhing.

“I waited!” she spat at me.

“I can see that…” I replied as she threw herself at me. Relief flooded my system making my legs go weak. She kissed me, violently and fiercely, then extricated herself and stared at me.

“You prick!” She slapped me, hard across my cheek, and it blazed with fire. “Don’t you ever give up.”

“The plane?” I began.

“There won’t be another. We’re on our own,” she said, as I nodded. “Just us, that’s it.”

“That’s enough.” She grabbed my hand and we ran, flames now flowing through my body with the intense desire to live. “That’s enough.”


0000. Divider

Really enjoying getting stuck into some more short fiction for Mid-Week Flash Challenge, which you can find on Miranda’s blog. This week’s photo prompt is Surreal by Alfonso Leon and drew me right in…

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.