Yes, it is with much excitement that I inform you that The Writer’s Bubble has now moved!

It all happened much faster than I was expecting.  This is because I am much cleverer than I gave myself credit for.  Or maybe it’s because WordPress.org just makes importing your old blog to them pretty darned easy.  Personally, I think it’s the first option.  I know the rest of you wouldn’t dare disagree with me!

So, anyway, we’ve moved!  Along with The Writer’s Bubble, The Thought Bubble and Pictures By bubbleboo have also made the transition.  This is great for me, because it means all my stuff is together at one host, and I now also have all the domains registered under the ‘bubbleboo’ brand!  Yes, I like to think of myself as a brand.  We don’t have a problem with that.  Do we?  Good.

So, all you guys have to do is update your Readers and your bookmarks and you’ll be all set to keep in touch and up to date, just like you were before.  Because Iknow you were before.  Because we already had this conversation, right?!

These are the new links that you need:

The Thought Bubble now resides at http://bubbleboo-thethoughtbubble.com

The Writer’s Bubble now resides at http://bubbleboo-thewritersbubble.com

Pictures By bubbleboo now resides at http://bubbleboo-picturesbybubbleboo.com

(You can copy/paste those links into your address bar, or just click the names of the sites above, which will get you there in a flash!)

I am also probably going to set up redirects from the WordPress.com sites, at least for a while, just so I don’t lose any of you lovely people along the way!  But until then, those are the only links you need.

Oh, and don’t get a shock because you’re expecting the new sites to look just the same.  They don’t – I decided to have a little…fun!

That’s it!  You can go update your bookmarks now.

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It was a little after 7am when I reached her room.  I knew she would be awake – she probably had been for a while now.  I tapped gently on the door, and entered the room.

“Good morning, Agnes”.

“Good morning, dear,” she smiled at me.  “What’s your name?”

“It’s me, Agnes – Martha,” I reminded her gently.

“Oh yes, of course…”  I could see the look of confusion on her face.  The struggle behind her pale blue eyes as she tried to remember who I was.

“How did you sleep, Agnes?” I asked her, keeping my tone as light as I could.

“Oh, fine thank you, dear,” she replied.

“Really?  No pain?”

“Oh, not really.  Just the usual, you know.”  She gave me another one of her lovely smiles.  Agnes never would say if she was in pain.

I set her cup of tea on the table beside her bed.

“There you are, Agnes.  Tea, two sugars.”  Her eyes lit up.

“Ooh, thank you, dear.  Are there any biscuits?”  Her child-like excitement when it came to biscuits always made me laugh.  I usually managed to sneak her an extra one or two.  Our secret.

“Of course,” I chuckled.

“Goodie,” she grinned.  “Is Charlie coming to see me today?”

I sighed.  “No, Agnes, not today.”  Charlie, her husband, passed away years ago.

“Oh.”  Her disappointment was tangible.  I felt that familiar lump in my throat and fought back the tears.  We go through this same thing every day.  The same hope.  The same disappointment.  For months now.

“Shall I open the curtains, Agnes?” I ask quickly.  “The sun is out today, it’s beautiful out there.  How about a walk in the gardens later?”

“Yes, please.  That would be lovely, dear.”

“I’ll come by after lunch,” I promised her.  “We’ll go around by the lake.  See the birds on the water.”

That smile again.  “I can’t wait!”

She stops me as I am about to leave the room.  “Excuse me, dear?”

“Yes, Agnes?”

“I was just wondering…what is your name?”

“Martha,” I say gently.  “My name is Martha.”

She nods.  “It’s lovely to meet you, Martha,” she says warmly.

“It’s lovely to meet you, too, Agnes,” I tell her, before turning and leaving the room.

Written for the {W}rite of Passage Writing Well Challenge #7:  Dialogue

Stillness.  Unending quiet.  The kind that is almost overwhelming in its entirety.  No noise.  No whispers.  No sound at all.  Nothing.

The quiet is all-consuming and stifling.  More claustrophobic than anything ever felt before.  I want to move, but I cannot.  I want to cry out, but I have no voice.  I have nothing left.

Somewhere in my mind, the memory of the chaos.  The laughter.  The singing.  The endless noise that made concentration impossible.

No drama, no fighting, no crying.  The screaming rows and the love that came after.  The vibrant man.  The gentle boy.  The cherished lover.

The sound of the ocean as we walk along the sand.  The birds singing.  The rain falling.  The wind howling and the crackling of the fire.  The sounds of the house.  The sounds of a home.

The irritation.  The yearning for quiet.  For peace.

Now, that peace is here.  And he is not.

The many sounds that come from being with another are no more.

I am alone with my quiet.

And all I want is the noise.

Written for the {W}rite of Passage Writing Well Challenge #6:  Broccoli

NB:  Anne Lamott tells us:  “Listen to your broccoli, and your broccoli will tell you how to eat it.”  She’s referring to that inner voice that we hardly ever hear anymore.

Today, take a few minutes to be still and quiet. Listen to your inner voice and write what she says. That’s it. Whatever it is that’s in there, let it out.

So, now you know 😀

It is just turning 9a.m. as I make my way up the steps.  Gently, I push the front door of the building.  Locked.  I sigh, and turn around to head back down the stairs.  I walk around the side of the building to the yard gate.  I lift the latch and give the gate a shove, mentally hoping that whoever went in last remembered to leave the door ajar.

Entering the yard, I immediately glance at the staff entrance as I kick the gate closed.  I breathe a sigh of relief.  The door has been propped open with the handle of the broom that is used to sweep the yard – the handiwork of one of the chefs, no doubt.

I duck inside the half-open door and head down the corridor to the break room.  Passing the manager’s office, I see that it is locked up.  That would explain why the front door is not open – the manager’s obviously haven’t managed to drag themselves out of bed yet.  I carry on to the break room – a tiny, claustrophobic cupboard, with three chairs and a tiny coffee table.  This serves as the room where the staff – up to ten at a time – have to eat their meals.  If someone is smoking in there, it becomes intolerable.  Tossing my jacket and bag into my locker, I drag my uniform out and change into it as fast as I can.

I hate my uniform.  It is a hideous, clashing mix of colours and patterns.  The shirt is scratchy and the trousers never sit right.  The only good thing about it is that I get to wear trainers – paid for by me, of course.  The company would never think to provide footwear for its staff.  I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror behind the closed door and shudder.  I look like a clown.  I hate clowns.  Shoving my clothes into the locker, I turn the key and quickly head back out into the corridor.  I take hold of the handle of the door that leads into the main building.  Taking a deep breath, I steel myself for the day ahead, and open the door.

The restaurant is in darkness still.  It looks like none of the front-of-house staff are in yet.  Good.  I like it like this.  Quiet, still, peaceful.  No chattering staff.  No bickering parents.  No fractious, noisy and rowdy children running around all over the place.  Opening the door to the play area, I am hit by a blast of icy air.  I shiver involuntarily and quickly turn on the heat.  The fans whirr into action as I busy myself turning on lights and putting a CD into one of the games machines at the far end of the enormous room.

I find myself humming as I set up for the day.  I start with the toddler area – video on, ball pit tidy, various toys in their boxes ready to be picked up and quickly demolished by the first children who enter this space.  I make sure the gate is pulled closed – hopefully it will encourage parents to do the same.  Most of my days are spent fishing tots out of the older children’s area while the parents sit and have a chat, oblivious to what their offspring are doing.

Moving on to the rest of the room I set up face paints, circus activities and colouring stations.  I enjoy the face painting – it is an oasis of calm among the frenzied activity going on all around.  The child in front of you has to stay still and calm, and it is a wonderful opportunity to unwind for a few minutes, before the reality of the play area inevitably invades once more.

I grab the box of modelling balloons out of the small cupboard underneath the internal telephone.  It is at this point that management usually call down to make sure everything is all right.  I think that they are actually making sure the play staff are at work on time, although they would never admit that.  Eyeing the telephone warily, I carry on with my task.  I do not mind the balloon modelling.  It can get hectic though.  Once you start, you end up surrounded by a sea of children clamouring for flowers, dogs, bears.  There is no escape until they have to leave for dinner, or it is time for them to go home.  They always compare me with those clowns at birthday parties who make the balloon animals.  I hate clowns.

I check that the play equipment is in order – as far as I can behind the netting.  Some of my colleagues take this opportunity to enter the area and climb the ladders, slide down the slides and play in the ball pits.  I do not do this.  I can see perfectly well from this side of the barrier.  Everything looks fine.  I can always tell who worked the night before by the state of the room in the morning.  Today, thankfully, all is well.  I retreat to the store cupboard at the back of the room and begin to inflate the first lot of helium balloons.  These will be taken to the front of the restaurant for the children as they arrive.

Finally, I am done.  I check the diary to see whether I need to set up for any parties today.  There are none.  I cannot help but be relieved.  Although I have run a two-hour party for twenty children on my own before, it is not an experience I would willingly repeat.  We rarely have enough staff to cover all areas – the management seem to forget about us stuck at the back of the building – but today, at least, we should be ok.  Now all I have to do is sit and wait for the arrival of the screaming hordes.  The children all seem to think I am a clown.  I hate clowns.

Written for the {W}rite of Passage Writing Well Challenge #5:  The Job

New Year’s Resolutions.  Every year, the same thing.  The same pressure.  What will it be this time?  Lose weight?  Get fit?  Get healthy?  Stop drinking…stop smoking…be kinder…nicer…better.

I sit here, staring out of the window…trying to make up my mind which resolution to pick this year.  It doesn’t really matter.  It is always the same.  I am enthusiastic for a few days.  I try for a bit longer than that.  Then, slowly but surely, I give up.  The resolution somehow just fizzles out, lost in the constant hustle and bustle of everyday life.  The spark of inspiration so evident on the last day of the old year has gone out before the first week of January is over.

My motivation is as cold as the snow falling outside my window.  My resolve as fragile as each individual slake, melting on the glass that I am looking through.  It is somehow disturbing how the first day of the new year somehow brings dread, instead of hope.  Despair instead of a bright new start.  The knowledge that any resolution is doomed to failure within a matter of weeks from now.

It isn’t that I don’t try.  I do, honestly…truly.  It’s just that the fervent resolve becomes less urgent…the feeling of power and action is replaced by the thought that I have a whole year ahead of me to reach my goal, why do I have to start now?

It is the same every year, which is how I know what is coming, even as I sit here at my desk.  By the window.  Determined that I will come up with a resolution for this new year.

Suddenly, I am angry.  I don’t want to start my year with a list of rules about what I can and cannot do.  I don’t want to feel guilty every time I look at a slice of chocolate cake or accept another glass of wine.  I want to be free of this.  I want to be happy.  I want to be me.

I close my notebook and put the by now well-chewed pencil back in the pot on the desk.  Pushing my chair back, I stand.  I take a deep breath and smile to myself.

I have made my New Year’s Resolution and it is this:

From now on, there are no more resolutions.

Written for the {W}rite of Passage Writing Well Challenge #4:  The Resolution

Standing in the cold living room, I turned the parcel over and over in my hands to see if I could decipher any clue as to what it may contain.  I had arrived back at the house the day before, having visited my parents and friends back home for my birthday a couple of days before.  I moved away back in September, striking out on my own at the grand old age of 20.  It was now only a few days before Christmas, and I was wondering whether the package was a late birthday present, or an early Christmas one!

I decided to take it upstairs to open it, in the privacy of my room.  The house I was living in belonged to someone else, and I just rented a room.  My housemate was not the friendliest of people, and to be honest I did my best to avoid her.  She was chillier than the temperature in the house, even in the middle of Winter.

Reaching the sanctuary of my bedroom, I sat on my bed and began to undo the tape which was wrapped around the outer envelope.  Inside, was an envelope containing what I assumed was a card, and a gift wrapped in Christmas paper.  Well, that answered that question then!  For a few seconds, I debated whether to leave the gift until Christmas.  That was all the time it took for me to decide against that idea!  Besides, I was working on Christmas Day, and figured I probably would not have an awful lot of time left for opening cards and gifts.  Opening one of them early couldn’t hurt.

I started with the card, opening it to read a lovely message from my Aunt and Uncle.  I didn’t get to see them very much, and the message they had written me was really lovely.  I propped the card up on my bedside table, and picked up the present.

Gently, I undid the pretty Christmas paper and found what appeared to be a jewellery box inside.  I opened it gingerly, to find the most exquisite necklace.  Made of white gold, it was an intricately carved cross on a delicate chain which sparkled in the light from the lamp on my nightstand.  It was so beautiful, I could hardly bring myself to take it out of its box, fearing that to wear it would somehow damage it, or make it lose it’s beauty.

As I looked upon that wonderful gift, I was moved beyond words.  A mixture of emotions rushed over me.  I realised how much I hated being stuck in that house with a person who hardly even bothered to say hello from day to day.  A place where I was scared to touch anything or use anything in case of doing something wrong.  A place that did not feel anything like a home.  I realised that I loved my life in the Westcountry, loved the friends I had made.  But I also realised how much I was loved back at home.  How much my family meant to me.  How the distance didn’t matter at all.

That gift was not simply a golden necklace, glittering on its chain.  It was a gift of love.  It was the true meaning of Christmas.

Written for the {W}rite of Passage Writing Well Challenge #3:  The Gift


You may or may not have heard of The Denver Cereal – a little glimmer of wonderful writing in a sea of mediocre stories!  Whether you have or have not, I recommend you check it out. In the meantime, there is a special offer available, for a limited time only.  You can download a copy of the limited-edition 2009 Holiday version of Denver Cereal, which is available only until January.  All 100% of the proceeds go to charity – Dress for Success being the beneficiary.  The author is Claudia Hall Christian – fantastic writer and darned nice lady!  Please, at least follow the link and have a look – it would make a fantastic Christmas gift either for yourself or someone else, and you would be doing good for others, too!

The Denver Cereal is available either as a proper serial with a chapter published every week, as a downloadable e-book, or in ‘proper’, hold-it-in-your-hands book format.  Whichever your preference, you really should check it out!

And finally – No, this is not a paid post!  I count Claudia as a friend, therefore I want to help her out – and quite simply, I believe in her cause!