Today has been one of those days. Good and…urgh. I was disappointed not to find one order for Beautiful Scruffiness on Etsy. I was extremely happy with the support some friends have shown on Face Book, though. You and me guys, we’re solid. I’ve been a part of the literary scene in Teesside for some years now, about ten or something like that, and I am always telling people everywhere I go what a solid, fantastic, supportive network we have here in the region, but sometimes I feel that a little bit more could be done to help fledgling magazines like Beautiful Scruffiness, the Black Light Engine Room, etc. The King of all Creative Writing magazines Kenaz has always, and will continue to be my main source of inspiration and the blokes who run it; Bob Beagrie and Andy Willoughby have the knack to let everyone, near and far know about their gem of a creation. I want to be more like them. I have noticed that Writers Block has over 2,000 friends on Facebook. I can’t even begin to imagine what would happen if they started to notice Beautiful Scruffiness. It would be fucking fantastic not to mention insane. I can’t wait to be able to say issue three has sold out. But I am going to need a lot of help to do it. Come on all you Northerners! The majority of our ancestors will have come from the Northlands in Dragon headed ships. Show a bit of that passion and fight that runs through your veins and help Beautiful Scruffiness to make its mark on the map of our North East!

In other news, I spent a small fortune in Wynsors World of Shoes (that name is unreal) on steel capped boots and walking boots. I look like I’m going to go and kick start a crane in my steel toe caps. I’m plodding around the house in them, but I think it’s going to take a few, lengthy hikes to wear them in.

I have been jotting down places to submit my poetry and short stories to. The list is so far twenty odd and is set to rise tomorrow.

I have been browsing Etsy and I don’t know why I do it. I always feel this bubble of envy work its way up from my stomach. A lot of the work on there is, quite frankly, out of this world. I wish I could create some of the amazing stuff that is sold on there. It’s one of my favourite sites ever and although I’m jealous that I’m not as crafty and skilled as the people selling their work on there, I absolutely adore fanaticising about the day when I can just buy away, and stock up on magical pieces of handmade art.

A couple of weeks ago, my Dad was in his favourite haunt, Pound Land, and he came across a book called The Fellowship of Ghosts: A Journey Through the Mountains of Norway by Paul Watkins. Knowing fine well about his eldest daughters clinical obsession with Norway and anything whatsoever to do with Norway, under his best and wisest judgment he parted with a pound coin and bought the book. Published by National Geographic (come on, if that isn’t a guarantee for greatness I don’t know what is) I knew from the start that it was going to be a corker, even though I hadn’t heard of the author before. And boy, what a hell of a book! I finished it this morning and put it down with almost every page underlined somewhere and cornered at the top for future reference for I will, undoubtedly, pick it up again. Basically, the gist is this; Watkins sets off, alone, on the (rightly so) amazing, clichéd adventure of a lifetime, travelling, almost exclusively on foot, through Norway’s majestic, fantastical landscape. But…not only does he describe the wilderness he is trekking through with eloquent, gorgeous language he also weaves in Norway’s history from the Viking Era to the awful days of the Nazi occupation to the present times. He also makes space for myths and glorious folklore tales, some of which made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Especially a chapter titled ‘Elementals’ where Watkins learns about ‘beings’ that had been seen by Swedish school children on a class trip and goes to the place where the ‘beings’ had been seen. Here he recalls finding the skull of a reindeer. ‘It looks like a creature from some land beneath the ground, come up to see who is walking on the roof of his world. I half expect the eyeless socket to blink, and for the skull to sink back down below the reeds. But it stays there, bones bleaching in the wind.’ What possibly captured me the most however, was when he described places that I had been to myself, numerous times because they kept pulling me back, places such as Urnes Stave Church and the Viking Ship Museum. The ways in which Watkins described these places made me feel all tingly inside, he made me feel like I was back there, inspecting the intricate, beautiful Urnes style decoration on the outside of the church, or ignoring the voices of other people while staring up at the proud Oseberg Ship. Norway has had a place in my heart since I was a very small child, and I like to think that maybe, there might have been a particular Norseman in Yorkshire a thousand years ago who started a family, because, as Watkins writes, ‘Yorkshire and much of northern England was colonised by Norwegian Vikings, who left a legacy that endures not only in the physical appearance of the “Dales” people, but in much of the language that is specific to northern England.’ The Metcalfes are from the Yorkshire Dales…

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