Articles, Blog

Ghosts of The Ypres Salient

gassed sargent ghosts ypres salient

On November 11th of this year, a full century has passed since the Great War came to an end. The war that left a ravaged continent in the wake of millions of casualties. On the Western Front, names like the Somme, Verdun and the Ypres Salient have become synonymous to unprecedented loss of life.

After all that time, are there still soldiers on these battlefields? Not so long ago, many of them still walked the fields of Flanders and France. But since then, memories have become history. As their old haunts (literally) vanish and life goes on, many ghosts have disappeared. Many, but not all…

Whenever you visit the Belgian town of Ypres, keep an eye out for signs of people hanging about a lot longer than most tourists.

Articles, Blog

Omnipresent Ghosts: Even Your House Is Haunted

ghosts and hauntings
Ghosts and hauntings are like climate change. The facts that indicate its existence are omnipresent, and denying them won’t make it go away.

When it comes to subjects we don’t understand, humans are a cowardly species. We rather deny the existence of elephants entirely than acknowledge the one in the room with us.

So it is with ghosts. Even so, chances are that while you read this, one is reading over your shoulder.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Hauntings are more common than you think. Once you learn how to recognise their presence, ghosts are every bit as apparent as elephants.

Articles, Blog

The Monsters You Never Recognise

Dark Monsters - Frenchy25 via Flickr

Picture yourself in a dark alley. There, in the shadows, the glint of bloody jaws. Something moves, its disfigured limbs crawling too fast to be natural. What is that?  You freeze, back up. Then, nothing. Did you imagine it? You listen, you watch, until you see something in the corner of your eye and—!

What makes monster stories so appealing? And why are we so inapt to recognise those very monsters in real life?  

Articles, Blog

Taming Dragons: Resistance

Our dragons lurk in the darkest parts of our mind, heart and soul. They go by many names, take on many different forms. But while they may be fearsome and dangerous, they needn’t be our enemies. Today’s dragon is called: Resistance.

dragon of resistance
Photo: Comodo Dragon by Joel Sartore (via National Geographic)

Small But Annoying

Recently I have been working on taming one of my smaller but incredibly annoying dragons. Every time I want to – or need to – do something, it will nag at me not to. With Resistance on my shoulder, getting through the day is like running a marathon with a ball and chain. I might have a chance of reaching my goal, but I will be exhausted well before the halfway marker.

I have no love for athletics – more on that later – but nevertheless, for years this was what every one of my days looked like. Not only did I get nothing done anymore, but every time I did accomplish something, it had cost so much energy that the gain was barely worth the effort.

Eight therapists had failed to help me tame my flock of dragons, and even this one kept slipping through the maze. Until one day, not too long ago, I noticed my son copying his mum’s behaviour…

Clearly, a change was in order. Conventional therapy was out the window, but the ideas posed by coaches James Clear and Benjamin Hardy resonated. Working from their principles, my son and I wrestled our Dragons of Resistance into submission.

We ended up needing only these two simple techniques.

Articles, Blog

Plot Pruning

pruning firethorn pyracantha

Last week’s winter storm dealt a lethal blow to our 25-year-old pyracantha. The gale caught and broke off its stems a few inches above the ground. Thus a wall of spikey scrubs landed on the street, narrowly missing several parked cars and ditto insurance claims.

You can’t leave that lying around, so my husband dragged two cubic metre of aggressive plant out of the way. He cursed the air blue, but prevailed. Now this wooden carcass sits in our backyard, entertaining the local birds while awaiting dismantling. And I do mean dismantling: with its two-inch thorns as thick as nails, handling a pyracantha (or ‘firethorn’) feels like a scene straight from Saw II.

The comparison with editing a first draft is so striking, it’s not even funny.