Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Meanwhile, back at the Sign of the Hooting Owl

It’s been a while, but here we are back at the Hooting Owl Inn.
You’ll recall that one of the guest rooms at the inn is occupied by three ghosts; the Headless Horseman, the Wailing Woman and Ernie the horse. As you know, every serious blogger does interviews, and as I am dead serious, I can think of no more suitable subjects to interview than the apparitions that haunt The Hooting Owl. So here goes. The first is a repeat, the second is new and the horse I will interview shortly.

Resident Ghosts at The Hooting Owl Inn

C.A.M: So, Headless Horseman, I guess the question that a lot of people ask you is, how did you lose your head?’

HEADLESS HORSEMAN: Please, just call me Headless. And no, apart from Ernie, my horse, nobody has asked me that. In fact, nobody’s asked me anything since I lost my head. Mostly when they see me folk just gibber, or wet their pants, they don’t usually start up a conversation.
So thank you for taking an interest, and in answer to your question, it was like this. One afternoon in the winter of 1648, me and Ernie was galloping home across Bludangore Moor. I was thinking about what to have for my tea, when all of a sudden, there we was in the middle of this battle. Well, you could’ve knocked me down with a pikestaff! I had no idea there was going to be a battle on. There’d been nothing about it in the papers or anything. But we was right in the thick of it, with blokes jabbing each other with pikes and blasting away at each other each with muskets. Then there were the cannons. Don’t ask me about the cannons.

WAILING WOMAN: No, don’t ask him about the cannons.

C.A.M: I won’t.

HEADLESS H: The cannons was the worst of it. Thumping great balls whizzing around, knocking the stuffing out of folk and making this smoky stink you wouldn’t believe.

WAILING W:  Headless believes it was a cannon ball that knocked his head off.

HEADLESS H: Well something did, that I do know. First I’m alive, then I’m not. One minute I’ve got my head on, next minute here’s me groping around and there’s my head watching me look for it. Lucky for me, my horse was dead as well.

WAILING W: But perhaps not so lucky for the horse.

C.A.M: I can see that.

HEADLESS H: Well I couldn’t see nothing, not with my eyes being in my head and my head not being on my shoulders. But having my mouth in it as well, my head had the brains to sing out to my horse.
“Ernie! Ernie!” it went. And Ernie, dead but still with his head on, trotted over to my head and stood over it until I’d got down and picked it up. I tried sticking it back on, but it wouldn’t stay put, so in the end I sat it on the saddle in front of me.

CAM: And when was it you realised you were a ghost?

HEADLESS H: Well, I could tell something was up. The battle finished very sudden like. Both sides ran off screaming and it was hard to say who’d won.
It was Ernie who twigged. “I think it’s us,” he said. “I think we’re ghosts.”
That’s the first thing about being a ghost, you can have a conversation with your horse. The second thing is that you’re supposed to spend the rest of eternity haunting the place where you died. But the battlefield was empty, it was perishing cold and starting to get dark.
“Blow this for a lark,” I said. “Let’s go and find somewhere more comfortable to haunt.”
So we galloped across the moor until we came to The Hooting Owl Inn. There was a notice that said, “No Ghosts and No Horses in the Bedrooms”.

WAILING W: The ‘no ghosts’ bit was because of me. I’d been haunting the place for three hundred years. They couldn’t get rid of me, but they tried to put a stop to any more ghosts.

C.A.M: And the ‘no horses’ part?

HEADLESS H: How many inns do you know of that allow horses in the bedrooms?
 Well, what with getting caught in a battle, having my head knocked off and missing my tea, I’d had enough for one day. And so had Herbert. So we just jumped through an upstairs window. It wasn’t open, but that didn’t matter. The third thing about being a ghost is that you can do all this floating stuff; straight through solid wall and windows. It scares anybody who sees you do it, but it’s handy for getting around.

WAILING W: Well, if I’d been alive, I would’ve died when this oik on a horse came sailing through my window.But when we realised we were all….thingummies…

C.A.M: Ghosts?

WAILING W:  Apparitions…we decided we’d be room-mates, including Ernie. We’ve been haunting this inn together ever since.

C.A.M: No doubt you have an interesting story yourself, Wailing Woman. Perhaps we can talk to you next time. In the meantime, thank you headless, for talking to us today.

HEADLESS H: Pleasure. And Ernie does interviews an’ all. You can always talk to Ernie.

C.AM: I would love to talk to Ernie sometime soon. But for now, thank you again, ghosts of the Hooting Owl. We look forward to talking to you again

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

The Hope of Spring

Don't we all love Susanna Leonard Hill? Here she goes again, giving us a great opportunity to write a story for children, this time with a Valentine theme.

Here's mine, dear Valentiny friends :)

Little Miss Bright-eyes Chickaree
hopped out of her nest in the cottonwood tree.
She was kind of hoping it would soon be spring
And all the birds would start to sing.

The sky would be blue, the sun would shine
And she would dance with her Valentine.

But Jack Frost nipped her nose and her toes
She snuffled and sneezed and her whiskers froze.
“I’m sure spring will soon be here,” she said
as she popped back into her cosy bed.

A day or two later she looked out again.
This time she was soaked by the icy rain.
“Forget about spring,” cried the squirrel next door.
“Winter will stay for evermore!”

Poor little Bright-eyes Chickaree,
 hid in her nest in the cottonwood tree.
The world was wintry, cold and grey,
Bur surely spring would arrive one day!
On Valentine’s morning she opened her eyes
And goodness gracious, what a surprise!

Squirrel Bushtail was there at her door,
With a posy of flowers clasped in his paw.
“Oh, Miss Bright-eyes, look what I found.
“Snowdrops poking their heads through the ground.
“When these brave little flowers start to appear
“We can be sure that spring is almost here!”

“The sky will be blue, the sun will shine,
“And I’ll dance with you, sweet Valentine!

Saturday, 9 December 2017


It's that wonderful time again when we enter Susanna Leonard Hill's Holiday Contest. This year, a story in no more than 250 words that contains a surprise. Here's mine!

It was dusk on a mid-winter evening when Tansy ran away.
The gate was open and I could just make out her footprints in the snow. She was heading for Dark Mountain and I had to get her back. That little donkey was the only friend I had.
 Hour after hour I climbed, battling the icy wind. At first the beam from my torch only followed donkey hoofs. But then the tracks of other creatures began to appear in the snow. Why were they climbing Dark Mountain in the middle of the night?
 Faintly I heard music and saw a halo of light. The night no longer seemed so cold and the climb was not so hard.
Then, in a single moment, the mountainside was transformed. Menorahs, kinaras and Christmas candles cast their shimmering glow to the skies. The stars were spinning, angels were singing and children of every race were dancing together in the snow and singing the angel song. There were reindeer dancing with them, camels and wildebeest, and one little donkey named Tansy, the happiest dancer of all.
Just as it came, it all faded away and I led my donkey home.
But who was this coming to meet us? A party of village folk.
“There was no light in your window, Sam. You didn’t answer your door. We were worried, so we came looking for you. Happy Holiday!”
And I was warmly wrapped up in hugs and smiles.  I did have friends after all!

Saturday, 28 October 2017


I'm having so much fun with 100 word stories for Susanna Leonard Hill's Halloweensie Contest. Three of those words have to be Monster, Shadow and Candy Corn.

Here we go again. Entry number two!

You Just Never Know!

We three went out one Halloween to play a game of “Dare”.

Tom was a monster. He had to jump out of the shadows as our teacher cycled by.

Lucy had to hang her grinning pumpkin from the top of a tree.

I had to Trick or Treat at the creepy house they said belonged to a witch.

I almost ran as a wrinkled old woman slowly opened the door.  

Thank you, child.” She smiled tearfully as she held out some candy corn. “I’ve waited so many years for a Trick or Treat. You’re the first one who ever came!”

Friday, 27 October 2017


Here it is! Children's author and blogger extraordinaire Susanna Leonard Hill's 7th Annual Halloweensie Contest. This is the first time I've entered, but here goes.

The challenge is to write a Halloween-themed story for children using no more than 100 words. Three of those words have to be MONSTER, SHADOW and CANDY CORN, or derivatives of.


Said  Mother Owl to little Wowee,
“You had better stay home with me.
‘There are Halloweenish things out tonight,
'creep-about things that might give you a fright.”

Wowee peeped from his hole in a tree,
to see what scary things he could see.
There were witchetty, monsterish, shadow-loom things,
black cat and bat things on scratch-scraggle wings.

Then came a sound soooo ghooostly and weird,
 they all cried eeek! and disappeared.

Safe in his bed, munching candy corn,
Little Wowee said with a yawn,
 “They were frightened away by The Great  Whooo-ooo
   Said Mother Owl “Dearest, that Whooo-ooo was you!”

Wednesday, 25 October 2017


An Adventure in Creativity

The YES! Factor. Everyone with the faintest hint of creativity in their DNA knows it. Whether it’s writing, painting, composing, designing, whatever, the moment comes.

It’s the time when a glimmer of an idea, an unformed possibility, suddenly throws off its haziness and leaps off the back burner, demanding to become real. From a vague ‘maybe’, it wants to become a ‘Yes, let’s do it’. Or at least a ‘Let’s give it our best’.

Suddenly we are faced with something that demands everything we can give it, and maybe more. But what can we say, except ‘Yes’?

So it is with me and the Smiffies and friends. But let me explain. One of the things I care about most in this world is children who suffer because of wars. They don’t deserve it. It isn’t their fault. Yet so often they suffer the most. I do all I can to help them. One way is to fundraise for organizations that care for them as much as I do. I have a stall at our local market selling pre-loved books. People are very good and kind. They donate books and they buy books. My stall does well and I know that the money I raise makes a difference to the lives of refugee children all over the world. But I want to do more. I hope to do that as a children’s author.

The Smiffies and friends live in Auntie Tia’s garden. They have adventures that will delight small children and I plan to share them through a series of hand-crafted books and cards for the very young. I can spin the stories, but I am no artist. For that I turn to my lovely 17 year-old grand-daughter, Tia, a gifted photographer. Together we will bring Smiffies and friends vividly and joyfully to life. Proceeds will go to refugee children. Please stay with us, because we need you.  And thank you, so much!