Bathing in the Splendor of Bath, England

Life has been crazy! I can’t believe it has been five months since the London trip and I still have stories to tell.

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In prior blogs, I touched a little bit on Bath, England, but wanted to devote a special blog to just the small town of Bath. (Pronounced Bahth as in Awesome or Always.)

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We rode the tour bus through the patchwork country side clicking and videoing every bushy sheep, fat pig, and rock wall that presented itself. I was struck with how much England looks like places I’ve been in America. Then I realized just how old the settlements are in England and felt a sense of awe. As Trudy the tour guide talked of ancient rites and peoples, my imagination went on a romp.

I was suddenly walking across the moor in a long gown and riding boots, leading my black stallion down to a small river that ran along the valley. Then I was an outlaw in Robin Hood’s band of merry men drawing my bow, taking aim at a stag. I galloped alongside King Arthur, armor clanging, as he chased the Picts over the wall. I was a Druid priestess drawing a hawthorn stick from which to fashion my staff.
 

Trudy got my attention back when she said a photo op was coming up of Bath and if we would get our cameras ready, we would be able to get a good shot.

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With camera poised over my head, I looked through the window and was overcome with the beauty and timelessness of Bath.

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An entire city built of honey colored limestone, Bath welcomes travelers into another period of time. Bath Stone is made of Oolitic Limestone that was quarried from surrounding mines. It is a freestone, which means it can be sawed and squared up on any side.

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Bath is a World Heritage City with Roman Bath’s lending its name. We only had an hour in Bath, so we opted to not do the 45 minute tour of the Roman Baths in order to explore the streets and beauty of the city.

Dome in the Roman Bath

Dome in the Roman Bath

In the same square of the Roman Baths, stood the stately Bath Abbey. With history dating back to 675 AD, the church was dedicated to St. Peter. Over the centuries, it was burned, ravaged, over taken by Saxons, Romans, and various other peoples. It was in a state of ruin by the time Oliver King became bishop in 1499 and refurbished it to the same building that stands today as an active parish church.

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The architecture is fascinating. On either side of the main entrance, two Jacob’s ladders ascend into the sky with cherubs climbing up the rungs to get to the top.

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When Oliver King, Bishop of Bath and Wells, visited Bath in 1499 he was shocked to find the church in ruins. He took a year to consider what to do about it. In October 1500 he wrote to the Prior of Bath to explain that a large amount of the priory income would be dedicated to rebuilding the cathedral.  ~~Sacred-Destinations.com

He completed the refurbishing of the building and signed the building with his seal. (Very few people could read, so icons were used to identify the architect.)

Oliver King's Seal

The olive tree with a crown indicates Oliver King.

Released into the city with two hungry teen age boys, and this our only lunch break for the day, we set out to find a pub worthy of the Bath experience.  Roman and Italian food seem to be the favorite, but we already had our fill of pizza for the trip, so we sought a place for Fish N Chips and Bangers and Mash.

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We found it! Can you believe that our escape from pizza turned out to be named The Crystal Palace?

Tummies full, we set out to explore more of the glorious sites of Bath.

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We entered a square and were serenaded by a street performer. Listen to the tranquility that exists right smack in the middle of the city.

Click link below to eavesdrop on a peaceful minute in Bath, then press the back button to return.

A minute of tranquility in Bath, England

We reluctantly left the peaceful square and walked a block to the River Avon and soaked in the serenity of the area. The Pulteney Bridge drew our attention with its rushing current and ancient stone arches. We later found out they used this very site in Les Miserable movie as Javert’s suicide bridge.

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All too soon the tour guide beckoned us away to the bus. I stood and gazed at the city built into the hillside and knew that my Bath experience was strikingly limited.  The city sprawled on and on and I had just seen a few blocks of the amazing beauty of Bath.

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Soaking in every detail as we pressed through the streets, I left with a sense of wonder that a place of beauty, history, and peace could exist in this hustle-bustle world.

If you get to Somerset, then plan a day for Bath, England. You won’t regret it.

Inspired by a Blue Monkey and a 14 foot Snake

I was inspired to write a short story by Devin Berglund’s blog on Blue Monkey Writing. Check it out!

She talked of her trip to the coast and the stories she gathered and it reminded me of a story I saw at the Tybee Lighthouse in Georgia. Here is my version of that encounter.

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View from the Tybee Lighthouse.

Swamp Monster!

by LaDonna Cole

Kip hunched over and blew warm breath into his fingers then reached for the light house door.  It opened into his face and he lurched back.

“Ho!”

“Sorry Kip,” Keeper Mark apologized. “I’m so cold, I couldn’t wait for you another minute.”

“No worries,” Kip laughed. “The sun will be up soon. Should warm a bit then.”

“I’ll go see if Mary has some porridge ready.”

“You’d best leave Mary alone. She won’t take kindly to you traipsing around her kitchen.” Kip slapped Marc on the back and passed into the base of the light house and began to climb the spiraled stairs.

He could just imagine the uproar that would soon be pouring out of the kitchen. Mary of the red hair and Irish temper was a great cook, but she was not one to wrangle with. Kip would sooner wrestle a swamp monster than tangle with an Irish cook. He pictured the monster in his head and drew a comparison between the fiery Mary and the Slimy Monster. Yep, Swamp Monster, any day!

A hissing sound drew him up short.

He stopped and listened, turning his head left, then right.

Ssssssss.

Was he imagining things? Maybe the back of his coat was rubbing against the stairwell. He stepped forward and heard the hiss again.

SSssssss.

He climbed up and peered around the corner to the upper levels.

Ssssssss.

What in heaven’s name? Kip climbed three more steps craning his neck to see around the winding stair case into the dark heights.  The third window landing came into view and he could see the swath of light sweep by from the great lamps above, then the bright moon, low on the horizon.

Sssssss.

The moon blinked out suddenly, then reappeared. Something was in the window moving back and forth.

Ssssssss.

Kip swallowed and took another step up to get a better look. The lighthouse beam cut across the ocean and back lit the creature.

The largest snake Kip had ever seen sat coiled in the window landing. It lunged at him and Kip fell backward and went down hard on the steps, thumping down several before he could stop his fall. The long creature kept coming and Kip let out a yelp and tore off down the stairs screaming. “Swamp Monster! Swamp Monster!”

He hit the bottom of the stairwell and burst through the door.  Henley the grounds keeper drew up next to him.

“What’s the ruckus, Kip?”

“Sssnnake! Fourteen feet long!” He pointed behind him into the lighthouse.

“Aow!” Henley grunted in disdain. “Y’ ain’t gonna let a little garden snake turn ya yeller, are ya?”

He tromped up the three stairs and backed out. “Holy mother of…” He burst out of the door. “It’s huge!”

Kip ran through the Keeper yard. “Snake! Snake! Snake in the lighthouse, it’s huge! Fourteen feet at least, bring a spade!”  Keepers poured out of the barracks with whatever instrument of attack they could find.

Mary and Mark ran out of the cooking house. “What’s going on?”

Kip grabbed Mark’s collar. “Man, didn’t you see that huge snake sitting in the third window landing?”

Mary yelped and ran back into the kitchen.

“It’s fourteen feet long if an inch, I tell ya!”

“No, I didn’t” Mark snapped his head toward the lighthouse where Henley and three other men with various farm tools stood at the door, pointing and yelling.

“Come on!”

“Let me get the shovel.” He ran to the tool shed.

The screen door slammed and Mary came out with a steaming pot of boiling water.

They all converged on the lighthouse and stood in the grass at the bottom.

“Ya ready?” Henley paused with his hand on the door knob.

Several nods and determined faces met him.

“Ahhhhhh!” Henley opened the door and three men rushed in hacking as they went followed by an army of pitch forks, old boots, and torch sticks.

A flurry of strikes and blows rang through the lighthouse accompanied by grunts and yelps. When the dust cleared, Henley exited with the fourteen foot snake, minus ten feet, draped across his spade and tossed it to the ground.

Mary doused it with boiling water just to be safe.

The lighthouse was once again secured against intruders, even the slithering kind.

Updates

Water balloonHello Friends!

Hope the first half of 2013 has been kind to you. Can you believe we are already nearing the half way mark?

I have started a launch team group for Book I of Finding Kate Trilogy, The Torn. If you would like to join the team, let me know. I hope to see a launch by the end of the year, unless I can get a publisher to pick it up between now and then.

The Torn is a Heartwork Village Story about Katie Lynn Wilson, a character I used to play when we promoted Heartwork Village Grief Recovery camps.  Katie is a teenager in the trilogy and deals with loss and grief in the books.  I hope that through the words, Kate’s path to healing will resonate with readers who have gone through emotional pain.  Her difficult choice between forgiveness or hatred can be a catalyst in readers to make a good choice. The deeper allegory of our battle between higher love and fleshly desire is one that we can all identify with.

Keep this series in your prayers, I hope we can launch several Heartwork Village Stories in the years to come that will impact lives.

There are many significant changes coming at the end of the year. I covet your prayers for direction as I move forward into the writing career.

Help me out by liking my pages, recommending them to your friends, and leaving comments or reviews when you see something you like.  Everytime you hit like on Facebook or Tweet a post, you are helping me increase a platform to reach more readers.

Here is my new author website: A work in progress: http://ladonnacolern.wix.com/ladonna-cole

Read more about Kate’s story at: www.HeartworkVillage.com

Follow my facebook author page: www.facebook.com/LaDonnaColeAuthor

A writer’s journey, though sequestered during the work in progress, is not a solo journey.  It is an adventure with the characters, readers, editors, beta readers, artists, and many who make the quest for the story a successful venture.  Thank you for being my quest partners in this journey!

Heads up! Our sphere is here! Hold on tight!

Update from South Africa

I heard from my baby girl! Yay! Best Mother’s Day present ever!

First South African Sunset

First South African Sunset

Mom,

I hope I am sending this to the right email address, if not I’ll read it to you when I get back 🙂

It has been about a week and a half since we’ve been in South Africa and we have spent all of this time at Bethesda Children’s Village.  It has been such a joy getting to know the children and the parents here. They have

bricklaying masters

bricklaying masters

been so welcoming and sweet-hearted.  We have been paving the entryway with bricks, and we finally finished yesterday!  It looks pretty good, considering we are not at all professionals.  I think it is more special because we worked so hard on it.  I’m all sore and sun burnt (it is hot here!), but I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.

Brick Drive way

Brick Entry way

The language barrier has not so much been a struggle as a challenge.  It is amazing to see how much communication can be done without words—smiles and hugs and laughs and animated faces.  South Africans are SO animated.  You would love the people here.  They are just like you; they love to sing and dance and goof off.  I could see you moving here and using all of your talents to make this a better place.

Bridget and Dipuo

Bridget and Dipuo

One day we worked with this hospice ministry that went into homes in this little shanty district.  I took blood pressure and pulse and temperature for these poor shut-in men and women.  It was crazy walking through the little neighborhoods.  It is exactly what you expect South Africa to look like.  Tin walls and everyone has a huge fence and gate around their little piece of land.  One house I went into smelled so strongly of gas that I could hardly stand to be in there.  The family spoke no English, but they were so sweet and the old man only knew how to say “I love you” and he kissed our hands and told us “I love you” over and over.  I have been on the verge of tears every day since I’ve been here.

church door

church door

Saturday we did a bible club/feeding ministry at one of the parents’ church.  They went around the neighborhood and got kids to come and we played games with them and sang and told a bible story and did a craft.  The craft was just a tracing of their hands with a bible verse written inside, but every kid was so proud of their artwork.SAM_0653 While we were singing, one little girl walked up to me with this grimace on her face and pointed to her mouth.  She was so hungry and she wanted the white people to feed her.  Later we were able to feed them some crackers and bread, and they were so thankful.  I have never been so sad and happy at the same time.  After the snack we were all sitting around and one girl touched my hair and said “so fresh” I let her touch it again and smiled.  Then a swarm of girls came and started playing with my hair and my face.  They were braiding it and pulling it and trying to make it fluffy like theirs.  It was an amazing bonding moment, I think, because I was freely giving myself to them.  All I could do was smile and touch and try to show some love.  When we were leaving they all gave me long hugs over and over; and I kissed them and told them I love them because it was all I could do. SAM_0539 One girl who had been aloof and skeptical the whole time (until I touched her hair back and told her it was pretty) hugged me and looked into my face and told me “I will never forget you.”  I said I would never forget her either, and it’s true.  I will never forget her beautiful face that had too much wisdom and heartache for a girl so young.  I pray that God never lets me forget her.

rose and peinkie

Rose and Peinkie

I cannot express how in love I am with this culture.  Everyone is so friendly and open and happy.  Obviously there are still problems of racism and sexism that arise from their recent transition to democracy, but there are also things that we need to learn from them.  In South Africa every greeting goes, “hello, how are you?”  “I’m fine, and you?”

Grave yard

Grave yard

It is considered impolite to not ask this of people, because people are more important that whatever business you are about to conduct.  One family told me that whenever you make a meal, you should make more food than you need, just in case someone drops by for a visit.

We have been scheduled down to the minute and I wish we had been given more time to spend with the parents.  They are so wise and they have given up everything to serve God in Bethesda.  I hope that I am able to make God as proud as, I am sure, they make him.

There is so much more to say, but I cannot find the words to say it.  I have attached some photos, trust me I have taken so many more.

jesus-the view through my window

jesus-the view through my window

I love you!  I will see you soon.

Dayla Cole
(P.S. tell Grammar that my hiking boots are perfect for this)
Dr. Steve hates pictures!

Dr. Steve hates pictures!

 

tall grass all around the property

tall grass all around the property

Work gloves are my life here!

Work gloves are my life here!

 

 

 

 

Final Act Featured at the Realm

I wrote a flash fiction story and won a contest with it.  One of my friends, Donna Kilgore, is featuring the story on her short story Saturday blog today. Check it out!

Click picture below.

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Supernatural Flash Fiction Contest Winner

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As promised here is the winning entry. This is a fictitious account of an actual event. Names and setting changed.

The Voice

The ancient building creaked and moaned in the wind. Rumblings and pops were as familiar to us as the whispered prayers and deep cries of intercession. Dim inside the sanctuary, the five of us were closed in with God, around tear-stained altars.

We had prayed for nearly two hours, crying out for mercy, interceding for our church, city, nation. Each of us took a private place in the sanctuary to whisper and pour out our prayers into the carpet. We came back together at the end of our individual prayers and sat in a circle on the floor at the foot of the podium.

Red eyes and streaked cheeks were the evidence that we had each touched the heart of God.

“I keep hearing this song in my head,” Dorothy whispered. “It’s just a short refrain over and over.”

“Sing it to us.”

Dorothy cleared her throat and softly sang out four eerie lines of melody with minor chords. The haunting refrain hung between us as we closed our circle even tighter.

A voice directly behind me picked up the tune and it rang out with such purity and clarity I turned to see who was singing. At the same time the other four women turned to look behind them. We had all heard the same thing at the same time.

“Did you hear that?”

“Yes!”

“A woman’s voice.”

“Over there!” We all pointed in a different direction.

The place where I heard the voice was up near the ceiling. No human could be singing from there. We were the only ones in the building. No human voice could sound so clear and pure. No human voice could be singing from so many different places at once.

No HUMAN voice.

contest winner The Voice

If you want to hear a sample of the song that was sung, listen to this.  Found this song years after this event happened. Proves to me that the Holy Spirit sings in the hearts of people everywhere. We were just blessed enough to hear it with our ears that night.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYyBr2VNSAg&feature=share&list=UUorO8Tt2Yafnc0o5iE9dXaw