Lyra’s Christmas in the city

Hi, Lyra here! I’ve just come back from a holiday in the city. It was totally different from home – busy and noisy, and we stayed in rooms that were all upstairs. There were new toys, new stuff to chew and new furniture to play with. I had loads of energy after being cooped up in the car, and it was all so new and exciting I was bouncing off the walls!

We went to my human’s brother’s house for Christmas dinner. There was a Christmas tree with lots of interesting dangly stuff on it, and TURKEY! I met two other dogs, a big woolly one called Max…

….and a little woolly one called Benny.

Benny fell in love with me on sight (doesn’t everyone?). He was younger than me – still a puppy really – so at first I played hard to get, but in the end I let him be my boyfriend.

I tried to steal the turkey, but the humans stopped me. It was agony watching them stuff their faces, we were afraid it would all be gone before we could get a sniff of it, but luckily there was enough left over for us dogs to have our own turkey dinner afterwards.

There was so much good food around over the holidays, it was driving me mad! I couldn’t reach most of it, even with my telescopic neck, because the humans pushed me away whenever I got near it. I eventually managed to steal a cake, but my human got it out of my mouth before I could swallow it. She went crazy because there were raisins in it and she was afraid I might have swallowed one. Her phone had told her that a dog can die just from eating one raisin*. What a fuss about nothing. Anyone would have thought there were explosives in that cake the way she went on.

Apparently, most Christmas cakes and puddings have dried fruit in them. Why is there so much Christmas food that dogs can’t eat?

Walks in the city were a bit weird. I’m used to zooming around in wide open spaces, but I had to spend a lot of time on the lead, walking on pavements next to a road where big noisy cars whizzed by and splashed me (it rained a lot while we were away). Luckily, there was a field behind the big church where I could run about.

I met another whippet there, called Wilbur. He was well fit, with a cool brindle coat, and we had an awesome time chasing a ball.

I loved our holiday in the city, but I don’t think I’d like to live there all the time. It’s good to get back to the country and its wide open spaces.

Happy New Year, everyone!

*Note from Lyra’s human: It’s actually not advisable to let dogs eat raisins, currants or sultanas as they can cause kidney failure. Don’t listen to your dog if she tries to tell you they’re harmless.

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Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Posts from Your Archives – 2022 – Christmas and New Year Special – #Music – How To Make Your Own Christmas Song by Annabelle Franklin

Head over to Sally Cronin’s blog to find out how to make your very own Christmas hit. Many thanks to Sally for re-posting!

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Since this series began in January 2018 there have been over 1200 Posts from Your Archiveswhere bloggers have taken the opportunity to share posts to a new audience…

The topics have ranged from travel, childhood, recipes, history, family and the most recent series was #PotLuck where I shared a random selection of different topics.

This series is along the same lines and is a celebration of Christmas and New Year.

I do appreciate that this is not a religious festival for everyone but it is a time of year when families and friends come together and our thoughts turn to our hopes and wishes for the coming year. At the end of the post you can find out how to participate in this festive series.

Today children’s author Annabelle Franklin shares a recipe for a festive musical money maker that will also delight all who hear it…

How To…

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The very next day, they gave it away…

It’s always sad to see the queues of people in the stores after Christmas, taking back unwanted gifts. The trouble with surprises is they don’t always turn out to be what people want.

So how’s this for a solution? Before Christmas, adult family members could simply give each other cash to buy gifts for themselves. They could wrap their own presents without telling anyone what they’ve bought, and put them under the tree ready for the big Day. There would still be the element of surprise as they out what they’ve bought each other, and everyone would get something they want. A win-win situation all round!

Christmas at Grandma’s

Of course, this wouldn’t work for children or dogs.

If you’re looking for a last-minute stocking filler for a young reader, my middle grade novels are available on Amazon. The Slapstyx are a tribe of grubby goblins who fill people’s homes with dust and grime, and Gateway to Magic features a gaming fanatic who is trapped in Fairyland where tech is banned by law.

Merry Christmas!

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Night in the Sock Garden #Halloween

Here’s a spooky little snippet from my kids’ novel Gateway to Magic, the story of a gaming fanatic trapped in Fairyland where all tech is banned by law. Steven has been made to live in a toadstool and work for the Fairy Queen, and he’s hating every minute…

Enrique Meseguer from Pixabay

Bedtime came at last, and Steven sank gratefully into his bunk; but just as he was dropping off, he heard a hideous snorting sound right under his window. ‘I’m not having another sleepless night,’ he decided. ‘The Queen said there were no sockworms, so it must be some ordinary animal making that racket. I’m going out to chase it away.’

It was the first time he’d been outside at night since he’d first come to the Sock Garden. Once again everything was shrouded in mist, so he couldn’t see much; but he could still hear the grunting and snorting of whatever-it-was under his window.

‘It sounds like a pig,’ he thought, as he crept round the outside of the Toadstool. ‘And it smells horrible…’

The smell reminded him of cheese – not yummy cheese-on-toast-type cheese, but ancient and deeply rotten cheese that someone forgot to throw away. He longed to bolt back indoors, but he knew this creature must be chased off if he was to get any sleep.

‘You can’t be scared of a smell,’ he told himself, creeping on until he could see the outside of his window. Below it, a blob of darkness quivered gently as it snuffled about in the flowerbed.

Steven took a deep breath and shouted ‘BOO!!’ at the top of his voice.

The Thing stopped quivering and snuffling, but it didn’t run away.

BOO!!’ he shouted again, flapping his hands.

The Thing turned to face him, snuffling with renewed vigour. Steven could now see two points of burning yellow light in the middle of the black shape. He tried to shout ‘Boo!’ again, but all that came out was a squeaky whisper.

The creature changed shape, elongating and rearing up, and hissed loudly. Steven hissed back – he was trying to say the word ‘snake’, but all that came out past his chattering teeth was the first letter. Somewhere in his head was the thought that he should run away, but he couldn’t move.

A sudden breeze stirred the fog, ripping it apart so the moon could pop through, providing just enough light for him to see the mysterious creature in detail.

It wasn’t a snake. It was something much worse.

It was certainly snake-shaped, but fatter and lumpier than any snake should be. Its skin was patterned with diamond shapes in shades of brown, but instead of being smooth and scaly, it looked sort of fuzzy. Half of it was coiled up in the flowerbed while the other half reared up, cobra-like, its head on a level with Steven’s.

The head was the worst, being mostly mouth, stretched in a snarl and crammed with scissor-like teeth. Its eyes seemed to be full of boiling, luminous, yellow oil, and above them a pair of antennae waved menacingly.

There was only one thing this horrid creature could be, and when Steven finally got a word out it wasn’t the word he’d started to say a moment ago:

‘S-S-S-S-SOCKWORM!!’ he shrieked, and bolted back to the front door…

…only to find a second sockworm hissing and grinning on the doorstep.

Pete Linforth from Pixabay

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Jade’s Cartoons #amwriting #short story

Pixabay

Jade sat on the footstool in front of the TV, trying to watch cartoons. Behind her, the room was lined with ancient relatives: great-grannies and great-aunts, resting their capacious bottoms on chintz chairs, munching cakes and slurping tea with dodgy false teeth, their cauliflower heads nodding and shaking as they gossiped and grumbled the afternoon away.

The cartoons had high-pitched speeded-up voices. Usually Jade had no trouble following the action, but it was hard to concentrate with all that mumbling and grumbling going on in the background.

Tentatively her hand reached for the remote, lurking on the coffee table among the cups and cake-stands. She twitched the sound up a notch.

‘Turn that down!’ yapped Great-Granny Pim. ‘We can’t hear ourselves think with that racket!’

Sighing, Jade obeyed.

‘Aren’t you sitting too close to the telly, dear?’ said Great-Granny Grimsby. ‘You’ll spoil your eyes.’

‘She always sits there,’ said Mummy. ‘I’ve told her not to, but what can you do?’

‘Discipline, that’s what she needs,’ said Great-Granny Pim. ‘And isn’t it time you got rid of that dirty old poof?’

Jade pricked up her ears. ‘Poof’ was a bad word. Josef wouldn’t like it. Josef was Mummy’s new best friend who’d been living in the loft since Daddy had gone off with Mummy’s old best friend.

Mummy didn’t like it either. ‘You shouldn’t talk about Josef like that.’

‘What on earth do you mean?’ said Granny Pim. ‘I was talking about the footstool.’

‘Oh, that,’ said Mummy. ‘Jade won’t part with it, I’m afraid.’

‘But while we’re on the subject,’ Granny Pim went on, ‘I don’t think Josef should be living here. I don’t know what my grandson would think about it.’

‘Your grandson doesn’t have any say in the matter,’ Mummy said sharply.

‘Lovely cake, dear,’ said Great-Auntie Mary. ‘Lovely and moist.’

Jade put her hand over her mouth. That word always made her want to giggle.

‘Yes,’ said Great-Auntie Annie. ‘I do like a moist sponge.’

Jade snorted.

‘About Josef,’ said Granny Pim, refusing to be deflected. ‘Do you really think you should have that sort of person living in the same house as a little girl?’

‘I’m not a little girl,’ said Jade. No one took any notice.

‘What do you mean, “that sort of person”?’ said Mummy, in a dangerous voice.

‘Well, you know,’ said Granny Pim. ‘You hear things, don’t you?’

‘No, I don’t know. Josef is good for Jade. He makes her laugh.’

‘I like Josef,’ said Jade.

‘You don’t leave her alone with him, do you?’ said Granny Pim.

‘Of course I do. Josef is a good person and a good friend.’ Mummy sounded angry now. ‘I trust him implicitly. Just because he’s gay, it doesn’t mean what you’re suggesting.’

‘Did you hear about Doris?’ said Great-Auntie Mary. ‘She was taken in on Friday, and they think she might have to have a bag.’

This made no sense to Jade. She wanted them to go back to that interesting argument about Josef, but they’d returned to their usual boring chit-chat about who was ill and who was dead.

‘She’s been under the doctor for ages…’

‘I don’t know how Edward’s going to manage, with his gout…’

‘Such a pity about Mrs Harris…’

‘They’ll have to miss their trip to Margate now…’

‘When is the funeral?’

‘She used to do the church flowers, didn’t she?’

And on. And on. And on.

Jade’s hand sneaked back to the coffee table and picked up the remote. She looked at the gadget thoughtfully, remembering a cartoon about a boy who could do magic with a remote control. Then she remembered what Josef had told her about magic. It wasn’t all abracadabra and waving wands, it was much simpler than that. You could make anything happen if you wanted it enough. You just had to be good at imagining and believing…

‘I’ll make some more tea,’ said Mummy, in a tight voice. She was obviously still angry.

‘That would be nice, dear,’ said Granny Grimsby.

Mummy went out, her lips pressed tightly together.

Jade pointed the remote at each yacking, clacking relative in turn, her finger on the ‘off’ button.

When Mummy came back, they were all gone.

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When Pan is the DJ

The most boring thing you can say to a dog is ‘Go and lie down’.

I’m at the age when I want to party. Lying down is for old dogs. It’s the last thing I want to do on warm summer evenings, when the fairies are holding their festivals and Pan is the DJ. Pan has the best tunes, and I want to go out there and dance all night.

All too soon it’ll be autumn, and the summer fairies will be going home to Fairyland. I want to make the most of every moment of their magical, musical company while they’re still around. There’ll be plenty of time to lie down when the world is cold, dark and wet.

So please don’t tell me to do it now.

 

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The Slapstyx – a great summer holiday read! #kidlit #fantasy #humour

What if the dirt and grime that appears in our homes was actually put there by goblins?

What if those goblins filled our homes with dirt that could only be removed with one product – a detergent that poisoned the sea?

Twin sisters Georgie and Gem are the only ones who know about black magician Zachary Zigstack’s evil scheme to make his toxic detergent a world bestseller. Luckily the twins have a magical skill – they can leave their bodies and fly around in spirit form – which means they can spy on Zigstack’s goblin accomplices and find a way to stop them.

But can they do it before all the sea creatures are destroyed? The Slapstyx Goblins are dangerous as well as dirty, and have nasty ways of killing people who cross them…

What Amazon readers had to say about The Slapstyx:

“Annabelle Franklin is a natural at writing for children. This story keeps you wanting more from start to finish.” Jill Moffat

“I really enjoyed this story and sympathised with the twins being blamed most unfairly for something that wasn’t their fault. There were laugh aloud moments through the book too.” Daisy Lewis

“Very funny. An amusing way to highlight the dangers of harsh cleaning products and their effect on the environment. Full of magical creatures – goblins, mermaids and sea monsters.” Lynnee

“This is what I call a ‘real children’s book’. It’s bang up to date and deals with today’s issues in a magical, imaginative way. It’s a great concept. We all loved it.” Alhaze

Pick up this fun seaside adventure here!

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Educating Lyra

Lyra had her first birthday last month. She has also had her first season, and killed her first rabbit. She’s well into adolescence, and like most teens she sleeps all morning and wants to stay out all night.

It’s great that she’s quiet in the morning because that’s when I do most of my writing, but bedtime can be trying. She likes to spend the long summer evenings in the garden partying with the fairies, and I have my work cut out getting her to come in and settle down. When she does come in she’s completely manic, jumping on my bed (where she’s not allowed) and dragging her own bedding around the house in protest.

In order to channel this delinquent energy into more wholesome activities, I’ve enrolled her in Greyhound Rescue Wales Therapy Hounds. She’s not actually a GRW dog, but the project welcomes any breed as long as they pass the assessment.

To my amazement Lyra did pass, and she and the other dogs have been visiting local colleges helping stressed students chill out.

Lyra at Gower College

Greyhounds are the best for promoting relaxation, as they’re happy to lie around generating good vibes while people make a fuss of them.

Chilled out grey at Swansea Uni

Chilled out grey at Gower College

At first I was afraid Lyra wouldn’t measure up to greyhound standards, as she just wanted to chase her whippet mates and jump on the furniture…

…but she did make people laugh, and eventually she settled down and allowed herself to be stroked.

The Therapy Hounds will be visiting care homes next. Not sure how well Lyra will go down at a care home – she certainly won’t be allowed to show off her flying whippet skills there. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Fingers crossed!

 

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Happy Beltane!

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Lyra Goes to School

Lyra is almost a year old now, and much calmer than when she first came. Her couch potato training is going well and she sleeps most of the morning, allowing me to get on with my WIP. Soon she’ll be a fully-fledged Storyhound, travelling to the astral planes to hunt down ideas for my books.

Teaching her to be a good Storyhound is up to me, of course; but she also needs to learn basic obedience, so I’ve been taking her to a local dog training group. She’s improving gradually, but still a long way from top of the class.

It’s interesting to observe the different characters in the group. Lyra has two special friends, Jimmy and Lottie. They are both much bigger than her, but about the same age, and their size doesn’t faze her at all. When they all get together they just want to play, and their play is boisterous and noisy. They’re like the kids at the back of the class, disrupting everything. A bit like I used to be in school, in fact! It’s often said that dogs resemble their owners, and Lyra is a lot like I was as a child.

There’s a collie in the class who is obedient and highly intelligent, and gets everything right. If he was a kid, he would be top of the class and a prefect. He can’t be bothered with the other dogs, and occasionally growls at the naughty ones. Lyra takes great pleasure in giving him cheek.

There are no other sighthounds in the group, which is a pity because sighthounds really enjoy each other’s company. They tend to play rough, with a lot of growling and nipping, so it’s good if they can play with their own kind. Owners of other breeds tend to get upset if an excitable pointy dog comes barrelling up to their precious pooch and tries to play the Bitey-Face game.

Lyra loves it when she can get together with other whippets, even if the play is rough. When I first took Lyra to play with a friend’s whippets, they all ganged up on her, like children with a new kid on the block; but Lyra held her own, and before long they’d accepted her into the pack.

I’m glad Lyra is so sociable. Whippets can sometimes be nervous, and this can cause problems with other dogs; but Lyra just wants to be friends and play with everyone. All in all, she’s coming along well, and I feel really lucky to have her.

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