Wednesday, 18 December 2013

See in the Light

On Christmas Eve, in chapter 8, Edwina walks to church to attend the candlelit service.  On her way she sees hosts of tiny white moths drawn to the streetlights.  There are many levels of meaning in Book One of The Promise Tree and it is true that if one wishes to see in the light one must walk in the shadows.  We are now signing off from the blog until after Christmas and will be with you again in the New Year.  We wish you and all our readers a very happy holiday.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Penance

"So why a penance?"
"It was a Christian city.  On the 12th April 1204, the Crusaders, together with a huge army of knights from the Latin countries, attacked Constantinople and defeated it.  The inhabitants were slaughtered and the city was pillaged and the relics of the Eastern Christian Church, worth more than their weight in gold so it is said, were brought back to the West."

So what did this have to do with Friday the 13th?

Friday, 6 December 2013

Christmas Party

A very content and smiling Jennifer was carried back down to the warmth of the party, placed very carefully on the dance floor and even more carefully released, keeping the petals of her skirts in place.  Charles then folded her in his arms and danced with her as he looked for Dani.

Her head on his shoulder, she was dancing with their celebrity guest.  Charles caught her eye and raised his.  Dani smiled in recognition.  She had guessed right and had asked Charles to invite Jennifer.  More gently, had been her instructions to him.

A half hour later, as the couples passed, Dani slid into Charles' arms, slipping Jennifer neatly into her partner's.  Only then, for Charles, did the penny drop.

Christmas Eve

As the first silvery pencils of light had touched the icicles that hung along the Friary wall, he had been walking up Little Street watching the wind blow the rooks about the sky.  Christmas Eve: he loved this day.  Child and man.

Spices of the Orient

By six o'clock the restaurant smelt enticingly of spices of the Orient and Christmas tree.  A log fire crackled in the grand fireplace, hung with holly and ivy.  Roxy, the headwaiter, who had been testing the mulled wine, whisked about the dining-room in an elf's costume, throwing his arms around the temp. girl, Edwina, and shouting 'You shall have a Christmas, Tiny Tim.'

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

A story for those who care

What is the connection between the arc of the covenant, the beautiful cedars of Lebanon which once grew all around the shores of the Mediterranean, a children's nursery rhyme and the giant figure cut into the chalk hills of the South Downs of England?  If you don't know, find out!  Look for yourself.  Google The Long Man of Wilmington and wonder who created him.

My story takes us through the mind and imaginative wanderings of a young female photojournalist.  In Book One a seemingly disconnected series of events in her life and mind lead her on, drawing her in, as if dangling on the end of a spider's thread.  Inexorably she is pulled toward the centre of the web, to face the ungodly.  By the middle of Book Two she has realised, but can she stop?

Her travels are occasionally bawdy, occasionally funny, well written and romantic.  The majority of the locations in the story are real and the innumerable pieces of history used are, if our history books can be believed, also real.

The Promise Tree Book One is a pleasant read and the electronic book makes an ideal and convenient Christmas present.

The majority of the posts on this blog are short extracts from The Promise Tree Book One.

Enjoy.

Land of Dreams

The door had opened to a land of dreams as easily as if she had just leaned on it by mistake and fallen through.

Hours passed and Christmas day drifted quietly and amiably into evening.

Snowy Christmas

At home the whole house would smell of Christmas cooking.  Freda would be making great yule cakes and leaving them to rise by the fire.  Soon he could be sitting by the fire, a thick slice of freshly baked and buttered cake in his hand, a cup of tea on the corner of the table.

With curtains blowing, the back door shut.  His home; his Christmas.  Isolated by the day to come, he settled in front of the fire.
"Might we wake to a snowy Christmas, then?"  Freda peered at him over flour-covered glasses.
Walter shook his head, "Sharp frost and clear."
With his face as red as a smacked bum, she wondered what had been chasing him.  "All finished at the pub then?"
Walter nodded, blew the steam off his tea and added a measure of whisky to it.
"Mrs Lace get off to London then?  To her do?"
"Cuh!  You should've seen her dress.  Bit bloody cold for that sort of thing, I'd say."
Ah.  So that was it.  She'd guessed it would be.  He was jealous and flustered.  She moved the whisky bottle and the mince pies nearer to him on the table.
"I think there'll be a circus on the other channel."

Yo Ho Ho

"Yo Ho Ho
Yum Yum Yum
Stick the Christmas tree up his bum."
A sip of bright Scottish amber and Walter was happy, stapling cupids to Christmas tree fronds above the bar at The Woodpecker.

Santa's Nuts

"Hang Santa up by his nuts."
The pub fell silent.  In that still moment, Mike turned to the Proctor sisters:
"She didn't get what she wanted for Christmas, you know."

Christmas Tree Fairies

"You look like a fairy off the tree in that dress."
"You can turn me upside down to see, if you like."
"What?"
"Everybody looks to see if Christmas tree fairies have knickers on."

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Titania

She had tempted Jack in his enchanted wood, made love to Walter the boy openly in the flirting sunlight, moved freely down the hidden pathways of gypsies to the land beyond dreams, where spring and summer rule supreme and fairies ride on unicorns.  The door to their enchanted world had swung easily open.  Half-naked in the wood with Walter she had been shown the Down before the figure.  The wood, or Jack, was playing with her.  So be it.  She would play Spring, Titania, the sensual Queen of the Woodland, for the time being at least.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Perfect Manners

They whispered love's whispers and she answered.
"Love me?"
"You know I do."
"My heart keeps wondering why."
"Shhhh."
"I love you, angel."
"I'll miss you."
"Kiss me."
"Hold me."
"Forever, promise?"

She promised.

As she danced, all of her went with joy to the young men with lost hearts and perfect manners.

Heresy

"Well, the ingredients my dear.  Yours is the nearest English wood, once forest, to France.  Anne was educated at the French court.  France is the land of the great heresy.  Anne's home was Hever Castle, not far from here.  The Friary, there, right next door to your wood, was founded by Simon de Roches, a French Templar knight late back from the Holy Land, from where the great heresy most likely came."

Host of Memories

Turning his face to the descending ice crystals, he shut his eyes: mmmm.  Nice.  Then, putting his plate down on a stall, he cut into the pudding with his fork.  A sprightly dance of Christmas joined a host of memories in his mouth.  That was good.  Very good.  A light pastry case with mincemeat filling, a thick layer of marzipan ice cream and baked meringue to cover.  That was more than good: that made one remember the first ever taste.  As porches of warm houses aand memories of parties burst upon his tongue, a girlfriend's warm hand in his, he walked her home in the snowy moonlight.  Now he was smiling.

Carol Singing

'Of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown.'

The voices of the Richards boys came to him clearly on the winter air.  Carol singing somewhere round the village green no doubt.  He felt a light touch in his hand, as if a child had just taken it.  Looking down and all around there was no child to be found.

Star of Evening

Ahead of him to the east the first star of evening began to appear.  Stopping, he watched it twinkling, dancing over the waves on the edge of the world.  'Spend this long night with me.'  Had she whispered it to him, as they kissed and hugged under the mistletoe, in a grove of oaks?  Or had he just imagined she had?

Sandalwood & Oranges

She'd smelt of sandalwood and oranges.....Facing the great tree, her arms reaching round its massive trunk, he'd lifted her up.  Then, their hoard of mistletoe around their feet, in a grove of oaks, she'd kissed him.  It had been a good day.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Glittering Youth

But how on this mossed bank of joy had he cheated the rooster?  Or could this wood of love turn back the crow-blackened edges of mouths to the once rose-pink lips of glittering youth?  An icy hand touched the back of her neck.  Cheating the precipice of ages made her uneasy and she felt the wind blow cold in a far away wood.

Daggerwood

At the far boundary of his property, he could see the hedge of bronze and crimson leaves.  Daggerwood.  The wood of a hundred thousand arrows from the English longbow.  The woods were full of songs, full of magic, full of history.  But the song that bothered him was the one that came to him on the air, barely distinguishable from the clatter of branches in the wind.  Children's voices all together.  Sometimes high in the leafy summer canopy.  Sometimes just over the hedge amongst the bindweed and nettles.

Poetry

I think it's true that, for some people, poetry is food for the mind.  Words, odd words, taken out of their normal context, can encourage the mind to spread, to imagine, to dream.  Read The Promise Tree.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Twilight Companion

Under the eaves, he could feel the heat of the roof tiles on his back.  Stepping further into the shadows, he watched her preening in the old mirror above the bench, her hair the colour of his twilight companion.

Adjusting herself, so that a narrow shaft of light lit only her eyes, she dampened her lips, darker and redder in this light.  She brushed them softly with her thumb.  Copper eye shadow, her lashes long and slow: in this light the image was just as she would like it.  Her skin, no longer needing to appear tanned, was as perfect and flawless as that of a china doll.  Again, she gently stroked her lips.

His eyes shut and opened in a long slow blink, in time with hers, then dropping without a sound into the hay, he moved across the loft floor to the edge, directly above her.

Edwina felt only a faint rush of air.  Enough to make her start.

Witch Hunt

"Literally millions of women were burnt at the stake for being no more than herbalists or midwives, or just different.  Above the herd.  The Church of course had far more sinister reasons for raining down horror on women....It didn't really matter who the poor creature being tortured and burnt alive was; she was just a tool by which the Church could make women into the evil ones, never to be trusted or heeded."

Friday, 25 October 2013

Ancient Ireland

It wasn't so long ago that Homer's Iliad was believed to be no more than a collection of myths and legends.  But in 1870 Schliemann, by following The Iliad, discovered Troy.  Is it possible that The Celtic Legend of Oisin in the Land of Youth and the High Deeds of Finn from ancient Ireland are, just as Homer's Iliad, not myth but based on fact?  The observatory at Newgrange in Ireland suggests that its creators had an advanced culture and must have been studying mathematics, astronomy and time to a high level around 5,500 years ago, well over a thousand years before either Greece or Egypt had started their rise to civilisation.  In 'The promise Tree' a female investigator starts to pick up the pieces.  She is following the intangible, the invisible, the romantic in her everyday life.  But gradually what she is following begins to have form.  Were the Irish of Newgrange, balanced as they were on the edge of western Europe, all that was left of what was possibly the earliest advanced culture of our civilised world?

Time Travel

I wonder, is it feasible that certain places on the Earth's surface can make time travel possible?  Weak gravitational changes, like ley lines, that can somehow allow escape into another dimension, when gravity or some sort of magnetic field can no longer hold the mind and the body together?

Wood of Dreams

Isn't it a fact that our forests, woods and parks are places where dreams come true?  Even if only for a moment in time.  We sit and plan and dream, and for that short time in the park we are sure our dreams could come to pass.  Read 'The Promise Tree' by Si Texen.  It's fanciful, but the Wood of Dreams does exist for all of us.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Juno, Jupiter, Minerva & Isis

I wandered through a misplaced collection of carved and numbered stones.  Moments later a crowd of Spanish children engulfed me.  Forty children and I looked at the remains of the temples of Juno, Jupiter, Minerva and Isis.

Arrow of Silver Water

Below her now, an aqueduct, arrow of silver water, leads her to a bustling Roman town.  The hot air smells strongly of vinegar, honey and cured fish, mingled with smoke and the faintly sweet smell from a funeral fire.  It is late May in the first century AD.

The Hill at Hissarlik

"Ah well, as I said my dear, I'm off to Troy and the hill at Hissarlik.  I had an idea, you see, that as Troy was such an important trading city, it might also have been an observatory.  You see there's a mention in The Iliad of Helen running like a mad woman to the observatory tower when she heard the Trojans were losing the battle."

Solstice Observatory

Went to The Knoll yesterday evening with Rupert.  Looked at a Victorian folly about four miles from Bodiam that turned out to not have started life as a folly after all.  Noticed a lot of mistletoe, viscum album, growing on the oak trees there.  Today is the first real winter's day we have had: white frost in the morning and a sea fog later on.  Folly turned out to be a solstice observatory.  Very old.  Possibly pre-Celt.  Rupert thought Grooved Ware People - five thousand five hundred years ago.  A school of astronomy in Kent, long before the great pyramid of Kufu in Egypt and some two thousand years before the time of Moses.

The Grey Goose of Winter

The grey goose of winter and a country gardener
Rode out to a green moon of spun glass.
In the white wood of watchers
Time stood with tick fingered
Knowing all angels' first secrets
All cheats' endless lies.
Go gently now Walter,
Fold her in your arms,
Give her moonsparks and gay fairgrounds,
Love's true promise and goodbye.

Si Texen

Roger the Cat

"Roger the cat. It's his name, not an instruction."

Friday, 11 October 2013

Nature Witch

"Does the night sky look different in autumn?"
"It does.  What do you sweep the night sky with?"
"I don't know.  A broomstick?"
"I was thinking more along the lines of a telescope."

The Long Man on the Hill

Again she watched the dog fox cross the ploughed field below the chalk figure, heading for the vicarage garden.  He stopped, one front paw raised, to watch a rook digging in the furrows.  Then (did he shrug?) he went on his way.  The fox lives at the vicarage.  And the Long Man on the hill.  She sipped her coffee.  That wasn't a man's walk.  The angle of the leg to the hip: that was a woman.  Walking away over the hill.  Where to?  And why?  And for how long had she been on the hill?  Had she been there, like Rupert's observatory, over five thousand years?  Like a henge monument?  Like Stone Henge, maybe?  What was she marking?  A direction perhaps.  South?  Again, why?  Surely, if these people studied the orbits of the stars and were capable of creating this figure on the curve of the Down, they must have been able to write?  But if so, on what?  Not on stone, or clay tablets, or they would still be with us.  So something less durable, less long lasting.  Like paper, perhaps....An advanced culture over a thousand years before the pyramids of Egypt.  How tempting was that then?

Friday, 27 September 2013

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Kings & Heroes

Kings and heroes white as windflowers
Dance around the Promise Tree.
Ears and eyes wide open sleeping
Dumbed the moonless night all laughing
In and out the Promise Tree.

Gypsy Toast cooked over an open fire of twigs

A great way to use up old French bread.  Cut an old baguette into 1 inch roundels, about 9.  Soak in a mix of egg and milk beaten together - roughly 2 eggs/1/4 pint of milk.  Leave for approximately 20 mins, turning once, until all liquid absorbed.  Heat oil in frying pan and shallow fry until golden and slightly puffy - approx 2-3 mins on each side.  Serve 'salĂ©' with bacon or 'sucrĂ©' with fruit compote eg apple and blackberry.  Creme fraiche and sugar optional.  Great with coffee for breakfast.

Of course this can also be done on your cooker in the kitchen.

Off the Wall Pizza

No oven, nor even any electicity, but a need for a glass of red wine and a pizza?  It can be done, over an open fire, with a heavy flat ridged pan for the base and a frying pan for the topping.

The best base is a naan bread:
8 oz plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp bicarb
1 tub Greek yogurt approx 5 oz.

In a bowl mix together the dry ingredients.  Stir in the yogurt and mix to form a dough, adding water as necessary.  Knead.  Put the bowl with the dough into a plastic bag for an hour.  Cover a plate with flour.  Place the dough on top and flatten with the back of a metal spoon until it covers the plate.  Brush the ridged pan with oil and place on top of the plate.  Reverse, so the pizza dough is now on the pan.

Make the topping.  Fry onions and peppers in oil in the frying pan over the fire.  Add a few mushrooms and diced bacon.  When cooked, take off the heat and cover with slivers of cheese.  Sprinkle over some herbs and olives and put the lid on the pan.  Set aside in a warm place.  The cheese will melt, sticking everything together.

Now cook the base on the fire for about 7 mins, turning once.  Remove from heat.  Lift topping in one with 2 fish slices and place on top of pizza base.  Serve.

Note: An open fire cooks at a very high heat.  A pair of thick leather garden gloves are recommended as the pan handles can get very hot.  Hardwood twigs cook better and faster than logs.  Take care where you light your fire.  Our forests are valuable and vulnerable at this time of year.  Perhaps try doing the whole thing in your BBQ with twigs.

If you want to carry on cooking like a gypsy, try the Gypsy Toast with blackberry and apple topping for pudding, also cooked over twigs.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Beech Mast

A magnificent stand of beech trees marked the limit of the wood with the western ridge beyond.  Crunching beech mast underfoot, she trudged on up, trailing a golden-brown wake through the fallen leaves towards the ridge.  A constant stream trickled silently now from the Down, over mossy stones.  Ferns grew here in the dripping hollows.  As she came to the edge of the wood, a rabbit, sitting on a stump, was daintily washing itself.  One of last spring's youngsters, its liquid black eyes blinked in the sunshine, parchment-thin ears twitching information from its surroundings.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Linen & Thatch

'Into the private, dark, snuggling, rose-pink shire of sleep, Walter spun quick, looking-glass years of innocent childhood.  Under linen and thatch he wormed and stretched.  The glow from his Aladdin, paraffin, pig-roasting hot chimney burned the star of wonder on his bedroom ceiling.  A golden, buttermilk, wild rose, cuckoo spit summer melted, lugubrious, into him.'

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

To Nature

It may indeed be only phantasy
That I essay to draw from all created things
Deep, heartfelt, inward joy that closely clings
And find in leaves and flowers that round me lie
Lessons of love and earnest piety.
So let it be, - and though the whole world rings
In mock of this belief; to me it brings
Nor fear, nor grief, nor vain perplexity.
So will I rear my altar in the fields
And the blue sky my fretted dome shall be,
And the sweet fragrance that the wild flower yields
Shall be the incense that I offer thee -
Thee, only God, and Thou will not despise
Even me, the priest, of this poor sacrifice.

By Samuel Taylor Coleridge 1772 - 1834


From Book One of The Promise Tree by Si Texen


Friday, 9 August 2013

The spiky-haired shop assistant: one of Freda's invisible ones.
Lovely: an old friend of Charles's who runs a caff in Smithfield Market.
Mave: Charles's vegetable preparation Treasure.
The Proctor Sisters: two fragile old spinsters who run The Friary Tea Rooms.
George Lace: Charles's Dad.  Big man.  Hell's Angel biker, now working in his son's restaurant.
Mary Richards: the vicar's wife & barmaid at the pub.
John Richards: the vicar of the village.
Roxy: Charles's transexual head waiter.
Freda: Walter's sister.  Absent-minded.  Talks to the ever-present invisible people who take things she can't find.
Les: keeper of the local post office.  Welsh, with a sardonic wit.
Roger: his tabby cat.
Mike: the village publican, ex 60s & 70s musician, lover of Pentangle's quality sounds.
Valentine: a pedigree Persian cat with a hippy attitude.
Rupert: Dani's friend.  Bizarre, gay, well read & intelligent enough to never just accept the consensus of opinion.
Edwina: a country girl whom the city can't dilute.
Charles Lace: a London barrow-boy done good, now super-chef with his own restaurant.
Walter Hurst: an old country gardener.  Man of the woods and the old ways.
Dani Lace: five feet ten inches; 34A, 24, 34.  Brunette.  Blue eyes.  A model turned photojournalist.