Online Shorelink Week 14

I knew when I saw that Debbie’s theme for the week was ‘What if’,  that we would have some fun with that, and I was not disappointed.  Reading through the week’s contributions, I have been amused, educated, enlightened and thoroughly entertained. Where to begin among so much excellence – and without running out of adjectives?!

Perhaps with the reworking of history. Following a reflection on how much the country would have changed if the Battle of 1066 had been won by Harold, there was a splendidly heroic reimagining of that battle, embodying a considerable amount of research. And who knew that the site was once called The Grey Apple Tree? Certainly not me.

A couple of longer pieces left us on cliff hangers, the whereabouts of the heroine of the Moose saga unknown, and the baby dragon in the elegiac forest facing… well, hopefully we shall find out in the next instalment. Our continental traveller was given a brief break while we visited a very strange village, and another writer took us on a bear hunt.

We Shorelinkers have a running joke concerning one member’s obsession with nuns (the result of a Catholic education?) and this was poetically parodied hilariously. There were two poems envisaging a world reborn, one saw perfection and the other was a retrospective on wishes made and the possibility or desirability of changing them. Food for thought?  There was also an amusing and thought provoking poem on the Witness Protection Programme. And illustrating the range and capability of our members, one submission was a dark, gripping story of abuse and fear, which was so brilliant it was hard to shake off.

There was charming article on the received behaviour of humans and the sometimes inbuilt restrictions that stop us achieving our true potential, and oh yes, yet another story from our favourite punster involving nuns ( OK . it was very funny).  And a rather clever 2 line summing up of the causes of the pandemic.

The student with the maths problem was an autobiographical tale and I loved the equation it finished with: 20mt+i=story. A brilliant and affectionate summing up of the Shorelink workshops! Another true story was the delightful journey through early romances to a long and happy marriage. And yet another which I suspect of being factual was not only an interesting wander though the writer’s earlier experiences but a fascinating take on gender and privilege.

It is quite impossible in these brief blogs to sum up the versatility and talent that comes in every week. In some ways, it has been even more highlighted by our online efforts than ever. Though I shall be SO pleased to see you all again eventually!

But for now, on to next week, when the theme will be: It changed my life.

And off we go again! Sally


Online Shorelink Week 13

At the time of the New Moon, this week’s theme, provoked an even greater mix of facts and fiction than usual. Reading though the pieces this afternoon I found myself reflecting, not for the first time, on the diversity of our group.

Several of us were fascinated by the different names for the moon, though there was one lament that our English moon is nameless, if you discount Luna, which is Roman. We were invited to put this right, and I am still running through various possible options, from Boadicea onward. I think that thought leads me seamlessly (almost!) to the fantasy about Queen Nicola of a subjugated England, though that has implanted the image of the writer in a tartan kilt which I could do without. Och aye!

Among the various facts and figures I was interested to hear about a piece of homework, once set in a primary school, which involved drawing 30 squares and then looking at the shape of the moon every night for next month and sketching it in the boxes. What a brilliantly simple idea for learning about the moon – and why didn’t I have teachers like that?!

I was gripped by the (I think) true story of a group of women praying by the light of the moon and some candles, this was powerful stuff. I was struck by how similar the supposedly primitive rites were to the Catholic Easter Vigil, also reliant on the phases of the moon, of course.

The moon’s super powers dominated several of the stories, we found ourselves back in Gensing Park with the lay lines, (I must go and explore!), had the perfectly delightful conclusion of William’s adventure, and watched fearfully with an 11 year old boy as the moon threatened to implode and shatter our planet.   We also had a story of young love which ended on a cliff hanger; I do hope there will be a Part 2? And Daphne continues her slightly salacious continental adventure while her friend Alice is on a more timorous path – also to be continued! And I must not forget the intervention of Rosie the moon fairy.

There were some quite beautiful poems, several which described exquisitely the glorious effect of the moon on the writer. Beautiful indeed. And a longer, quite stunning one, which visualised the moon as an infant reluctantly starting on an as yet unimagined journey.

Thank you all. Such really superb writing. And so to Week 14, and Debbie, whose workshop it should have been, has set the theme, below, in italics:

What if …’

Imagine an alternate reality for an event in your personal history, perhaps something you wish you’d done differently, a path not taken.

Or write an alternative reality for an event in history, or for the behaviour of a prominent historical character.

Or anything else…

Thanks, Debbie! I imagine we will have some fun with that. ! Looking  forward to reading them all.

Heads down and pens at the ready…    Sally xx


Online Shorelink Week 12

The contributions came in thick and fast this week, inspired by Alan’s theme – described in my previous blog. I think there were rather more aliens than murderers, though it was a close run thing, and a lot of rather amiable aliens which was a comfort.  And I would like to begin by saying what a pleasure it was to welcome back two of our number who have been absent for a while due to health reasons, and I am sure I speak on behalf of our whole group.

Where to start when trying to sum up the work? With some rather splendid poems I think. I loved the Gothic morality tale, and also the delicate musing on humanity’s state, and was deeply moved by threnody outlining the difficulty of adjusting to a new life, but was heartened by the glimmer of hope at the end. There was a delightful and uplifting take on the lock-down via Auden’s Stop all the clocks, and a sad meditation on the fall of a sparrow.

I enjoyed the time travelling grandson and the dry reaction of his relative, which was mirrored humorously in a couple of other pieces, and also the charming tale set in Gensing Park which had the added bonus of filling us in on some fascinating history. And who could not enjoy the suggestion of a pandemic virus spreading love around the world– bring it on! Or the deliberately laborious path of one member from imagining an alien invasion to a simply terrible pun?

It wasn’t all space invaders, we had some impressive murder stories as well, one with an excellent twist in the tale, and another presenting us with a conundrum, ie could the unseen witness to a gruesome killing simply pretend he had seen nothing, or report it and thereby  become inevitably involved.

Two of our writers, in engagingly different ways, envisaged an alien sent to save us from ourselves, interestingly one of these was the only female alien. Food for thought? There was a hilarious description of one huge extraterrestrial being crammed into a Morris Minor, and another about creatures from outer space kidnapping and then returning human women – this was surely a Chapter One to be continued?! (Sorry, that’s an in-joke’!) And we await the next instalment of the latest wonderful William stories that we all love so much.

In fact several of our group are going for the long haul, there was the second instalment of the story concerning the cult in the forest and the mannequin in the stream, the third chapter of the European mystery, and the latest update in the battle to defeat the moose – how’s that for diversity?!

Great stuff, everyone! Next week’s theme is At the time of the new moon. Did I just hear a wolf howling…?

Virtual hugs to all from Sally


Online Shorelink Week 11

As the group is aware, there was no Online Shorelink Week 11 as the administrator (OK, it’s me) decided to skive off for a few days. However, I am now returning to the fray, refreshed, energised and looking forward to reading this week’s contributions.

Alan has provided us with the theme for Online Shorelink Week 12:


With a busy working week it’s important to have a hobby that takes you to a different place and pace. Something relaxing, in the wilds of the country, so quiet even the wildlife do not know you’re there. A keen angler hidden in thick bushes, witnesses the murder of a man by two others in a small motorboat. What happens next? 


In a Scottish forest, snugly hidden in your bird hide you’re in paradise. You have seen more rare owls, hawks, eagles in one week than you have seen in a lifetime. With dusk making things dim a pale green light grow brighter and brighter, hurting your eyes. Into the clearing, seemingly stepping out of the green radiance stands an alien. The size of a large human man, it slowly scans the landscape, it can’t see you can it? Tell me more. 


Your idea

  Thanks, Alan   Interesting!       Sally

Online Shorelink Week 10

I sat in the garden this afternoon reading through this week’s contributions and found myself ruminating on what a gifted bunch of writers you Shorelinkers are. Well, OK, I knew that anyway, but sitting in the sun reading through 18 pieces, one after the other, I was metaphorically blown away by the sheer variety of this week’s work. The theme was Waking up in a cave with no memory, and nearly everyone chose to do that.

It inspired an unusual amount of poetry, nearly half of the submissions, and much of that was quite beautiful as well as deeply thoughtful. There was an eerie, expressively illustrated, reflection on our presently invisible cities, but the same writer also sent an uplifting elegy to a gorgeous rose. And perhaps that rather sums up the breadth of our feelings at the moment.

We received a heart wrenching threnody describing the plunge into blackness caused by the death of the person you love the most, and the slow reaching for the light, which reached deep into the emotions of many of us.

We mused on at a delightfully abstract fantasy of a purple haired girl in a veil, pondered on the spirit of the Shaman working through the cave painter, and were caught up in a long poem which turned the theme on its head by speaking of the memories of caves, which led to an essay on the meaning of suffering, whilst questioning if there actually was any meaning.

Of course, we had the lighter stuff as well. A great comedic look at the Beatles and Cilla’s first gigs at the Cavern, an ironic take on the advent of Covid 20 followed by Armageddon, and a perfect terrible (but funny!) pun combining cheese and bears in caves. (Work it out for yourself!) And a great skit of the current recreational cult of Escape Rooms.

Our moose hero was in great action man form, but happily still surviving, and we left another male protagonist with a naked lady in a cave (did I imagine something fishy going on here?!). Both of these stories are to be continued, we are told…

Our newest member gave us a nice melding of fact and fiction, set in WW2, and we left yet another cavorting in a cave with a friendly dragon named Basil – what else, indeed? And yet another used the caveman theme to send up some of his fellow members – hopefully they enjoyed it! In fact, we were treated to our usual agreeably eccentric miscellany of offerings.

As you know, this Monday is a Bank holiday, which has little meaning at the moment, but in normal times would have meant we were not meeting. So I thought perhaps a short break might still be good for us all, and am not setting a theme for this coming week. I will, however, ask Alan, whose workshop it would have been the week after, to choose the new theme for the following week , beginning June 1st.

I hope that is OK with everyone. Thank you all for your writing, your support for me and each other, and your wonderful continuing friendship and constant encouragement. You and your writing help to make this lockdown bearable.

See you next Sunday, when I will send out Alan’s theme.    Sally

Online Shorelink Week Nine

Jacquie set this week’s theme, and she chose: I have seen something very strange in the local woods.  As most of you know, Ro and I walk our dogs every day in our huge local woods so I was delighted and intrigued by this, and it certainly did fire up our collective imaginations. The stories and poems ranged from the horrific to the humorous, and reading through them this afternoon was a hugely pleasurable task.

I began with Jacquie’s own brilliantly written woodland sightings, both actual and illusory, deliberately very unsettling stuff. Then I was plunged into a romantic poetic fantasy, which like so much of the work this week, whisked me from classical mythology to traditional fairy tales. Beautiful.

There were several references to the Teddy Bears Picnic, including a hilarious updating of the song, and a wonderfully ironic take on traditional fairy tales which finished with a bald Rapunzel – I can’t get that image out of my head, poor woman!

Another journey through folklore was also a contemplation of the gifts of solitude which choosing a rural existence can bestow. And the dogs! Oh, yes, dogs featured largely in these contributions. I guess they are so much a part of wood-walking, but who knew what a Chug was until today? Apparently it is a cross between a Chihuahua and a Pug, and in one charming story it disappeared briefly, with its owner some weeks later discovering it had used the time to father a litter of .look-alikes. I think there is a pun in there somewhere but I can’t quite get to it!

Quite a few of the contributions were poems, which ranged from thoughtful musings to   seeing the woods through children’s eyes and also contemplating their more primal aspects. And one paid tribute to Hastings Jack in the Green festival, made world famous this year by going virtual, an unexpected lockdown bonus.

Our resident comedians really found their stride here , from the wood-living would-be super-hero (with a somewhat risqué name) planning a sky dive without a parachute while relying on flapping his long artificial arms, to another claiming aristocratic descent from King Erwig the Average. And I have only just realised, as the moose fighters prepare the technology to decamp to the moon, that the moose are addicted to chocolate!

And inevitably some very creepy stories – there be monsters in them thar’ woods…

Thank you all, such fun! And for so much really luminous writing.

Next week’s theme is Waking in a cave with no memory. And as the following week is theoretically another Bank Holiday I was going to suggest we take a week’s break and restart on June 1st when I will ask Alan to choose the theme. Let me know if that is OK with you all. In the meantime, I look forward to next week’s contributions.




Online Shorelink Week Eight

As most of you know, I save your submissions as they come in during the week, and sit down to read them all before embarking on this blog. I have just read all seventeen pieces, and I have laughed a lot, admired a great deal, and been left with the definite feeling that Shorelink is even more collectively bonkers after eight weeks of lock-down than before. In the best possible way, of course! The given theme of We’ll meet again, which had a certain inevitability on this 75th anniversary of VE Day, proved to be inspirational in unexpected ways.

Now where to begin, having been somewhat overwhelmed with your inventiveness? There were definitely more poems than usual.  A profound musing on the infinity of love was very moving, as was the ode to the long awaited returning soldier father. We had a quite delightful ballad to young love, telling of both the yearning and the fulfilment.

This was counter-balanced with a shadowy, rather creepy rumination on the unstable nature of life. But I was cheered by the nicely prosaic recitation of a love lost but happily then substituted with another, and also the glorious play on words by the same writer beguiling us with a loose moose in the hoose. Which brings me to our long running moose story, of course, and this week saw the blossoming of romance between the two main characters, a respite from the warfare. But we were plunged back into violence by another piece was an essay in betrayed friendships and revenge, with only a tiny spark of hope illuminating it.

However, never let it be said we are not versatile in our group. The kebab shop owner was hilariously and horribly brought to life (whale meat again indeed!), and another was definitely Shorelink’s answer to 50 Shades of Grey – or perhaps, pink, in this case? A nostalgic ramble down memory lane ended with an unexpectedly surreal flourish, and then there was  that dubiously handsome Count hanging around a young lady in a casino. Possibly to be (gruesomely?) continued, this one?

There was a suspicious-looking preacher who led us, and his target, down an unexpected alleyway, and a totally off the wall sketch involving an unnamed royal (who just might have borne some slight resemblance to the heir to the throne), who runs over his mother’s corgi and then tries to get an illegally immigrated genii to resurrect it. I do hope I have done it justice!

One of our members could not disguise his irrepressible life-long optimism (we are definitely all doomed) and gave us an essay on how the Covid plague was all our own fault and would undoubtedly finish us off. Just to cheer us up, in this time of revelry, I guess! But, to prove that some of us are still cheerful , a charming story of a chance meeting of four young people on a train conjured up the courage and the hope of the war years. Much of which has been revived in this present crisis, I think. But then, like Anne Frank, I still believe that people are really good at heart.

And that feeling is emphasised and embellished for me every week as your incredible and often outlandish contributions come in. Keep them coming. Jacquie was going to do this week’s workshop (swapping with me) so I have asked her to choose next week’s theme, and she has suggested: I’ve seen some very strange things in the local woods.

I reckon that one should get you going! Sally



Online Shorelink Week Seven

This week’s theme was What’s that Sound? and unsurprisingly several of the poems mentioned the Thursday night clap, when most of the country goes outside to clap and shout and generally raise a cheer for our beleaguered but heroic NHS workers. One of the hardest parts of this lockdown is giving the week some structure, and that national celebration is welcome landmark on our somewhat bland horizons. This week was special indeed as those of us who stood in the rain applauding were rewarded with the sight of a wonderful, vivid rainbow – the sign of hope from ancient times.

Hope was reflected, not only directly in some of the pieces, but happily also in the humour and downright absurdity of much of the work. The father trying and failing to shut out his children’s voices on a long car journey and the wonderfully eccentric brother, who when not blowing up the garage was filling it with hungry reptiles, were two examples of this. A wonderful, humorous, duologue, set presumably somewhere in the 50’s, on the merits (or otherwise) of the radio programme Housewives Choice, took daftness to new levels, as did the tragic-comic poem of the amputated toe.  And hard not to love our favourite fantasy character, Tac, slowly learning to read and too shy to ask his young wife where babies come from. A treat indeed.

We had plenty of action, as well. Terrorists in the desert foiled by a drone, the moose hunters practicing martial arts, as well as the animal population fighting off a black bear. Of course, we had our serious side as well. An enigmatic reflection on the quality of silence, golden or otherwise, and a beautiful poem on the loneliness of bereavement, as well as another poignant but hopeful one on a similar theme. And a quite brilliant scream on the inherent anguish of being born female.

I am, as so often, blown away by the variety and quality of your work. Thank you all. Tomorrow is theoretically a Bank Holiday, only relevant because we would not have been meeting, so, ergo – no set theme. So Ro and I decided that, in view of the upcoming 75th anniversary of VE day, and the inevitably somewhat muted commemoration, there was only one possible theme.

Yes, you’ve guessed it: We’ll meet again.   What else could we possibly come up with?

Until we actually can, and do – I am looking forward to reading all your contributions, which are helping to make the lockdown bearable! Thank you all. Sally



Online Shorelink Week Six

This week’s theme, which most of the group followed, was Winner Takes All, and, as you might expect the contributions ranged from the comic to the heart-wrenching. The beautiful weather and the flowering of this glorious spring obviously inspired some of the pieces, proving once again that it takes more than an outbreak of plague to dampen the Shorelink spirit.

I think I shall begin by mentioning some of the stories that were rooted in nature. Who could resist the tale of the nearly tame hedgehog, trotting (do hedgehops trot?) up to a back door every night for her supper, not only un-phased by a thieving fox but eventually bringing her offspring to the garden café? And this was illustrated by a charming photograph of Mrs Tiggywinkle and her progeny. Wonderful stuff!

One of our members treated us to eleven Haiku’s, and another impressive picture, this time of a seagull. Yet another gave us a fable on the nature of evil, sadly attributed to mortals and their affinity with killing. To balance this was a delightful, true account of a carer making a game out of self isolating for  her charges with learning difficulties, which led the writer into a paean of praise for the way the majority of people have reacted to the present difficulties, a convergence that perhaps our country badly needed.

One more true story was about the coming together of special needs children at a sports day, and their instinctive bonding with the loser, waiting, helping, and then crossing the finishing line together with linked arms. An essay in the power of love and empathy. Not sure the same could be said about the poem where two naughty sisters tricked their brother into an embarrassing outing – but even there the mutual love shone through.

There were some splendid stories, a delightfully sinister one of an embryo gambler not quite losing his circus of animals, a highly amusing one of a failed matricide and the unexpected consequences, and totally off-the-wall (so Shorelink!) set in the land of Agogagog about (wait for it) the Leather Workers Best Dressed Goblin Competition. Is there no end to your imaginative talents? Well, obviously not, as this was followed by one set in the land of Zimzim-Zamador peopled by angels and devils conjured up by their bored prince.

Then Chapter 11 of our favourite Moose story left us wondering who is watching our hero, Ryan? And, indeed, why?  I am sure we will be enlightened soon. And we had another chapter in the ongoing novel set at the turn of the century – always a good read. We had our more serious side. I loved the poetic musing on the workers on the Bayeux Tapestry, and the somewhat less poetic musing on mortality from a member of the group facing a very minor operation

I had just sat down to do this blog when we had a domestic catastrophe, and it was 90 minutes before I resumed, so forgive me if this is a bit patchy, but to sum up the week’s work, as always, you did good! Thank you.

Looking forward already to receiving next weeks, and Dan has chosen the theme, which is: What’s that sound? I can almost hear those little grey cells gearing up!


Online Shorelink Week Five

I can hardly believe we are in the fifth week of this lockdown, in fact I had to look back at our web site to check. I think I probably speak for the whole group when I say that Shorelinkers have definitely brightened our days with all the submissions for this week’s theme, The Music of my Life.

The theme lends itself to reminiscence and one of the bonuses has been learning new things about each other. Two of our members wrote about parents involved in Am Dram and music hall and the legacy of musical memory’s that this left their offspring. Also another two of you belonged to groups in the 60’s and 70’s, happily both successful enough to look back on with affection.

We had a variety of poems, a charming piece about a schoolgirl using phantom music lessons to avoid the hated physics ones, and a bitter sweet one of a waiting for the right partner.  Also a short piece describing a musical farewell to a lost love. And on this theme, our moose story diverted into new territory with a thoughtful  look at relationships, both romance and bromance

Spring played a huge part in our writing this week. Somewhat ironically, as so many people are restricted and having to stay indoors, we are having a glorious spring. We are lucky enough to have artists in our group and we were gifted from one of them with two wonderful drawings of bluebells this week, as well as a riveting fantasy poem about a thousand antlered deer. And there was another song of spring beautifully summing up the annual unfolding of nature.

There was fun as well, of course.  A story of the chiming of music and nature which was also full of hidden musical references – clever stuff, that! And another that held us to the very end before revealing that the chief protagonist was only six years old! Yet another took us to a virtual pub quiz – a popular way of meeting friends at the moment – and the quizzers Eurovision experience of null point!  A splendid black comedy about Physcho-killer was finally revealed to be a dream, phew!

A couple of you were enthusiastic enough to send me two pieces, one pair, in their different ways, thanking everyone who is helping us through these daunting times, and the other pair, a much more cynical poem on the origins of Covid 19 and a pastiche on the music of Status Quo.  All human life (and opinions) are welcome, at Shorelink!

So, onward and upwards we go. Next week’s theme is Winner takes all, and the following week I will ask Dan, whose workshop it should have been, to set the theme.

As always, thank you all. Your commitment to the group means more than I can say.  Sally