They’re HOME….

Our beautiful daughters are back home! They arrived on the 3rd of November and ended up in Quarantine in Christchurch, midway down the south Island (East Coast) which is about ten hours from where we’re living at present. The next thing was how to get them home? Fly again (not cheap though probably more efficient) or have a mini holiday, explore Christchurch (the girls have never been there before this) and then board the Coastal Train to Picton, the Ferry to Wellington and a Train back to Palmerston North. I started to book things and as per-usual, nothing goes to plan.

The story starts when I decide to go to Picton to visit a good friend and go house hunting. Yes, we’ve decided to move to the South Island, probably next year. The house we’re in at present isn’t big enough for all of us especially since I need an office and craft room (for my new business). The house I wanted to look at was no longer available, so with many thanks to Jamie, I went looking further afield and found another in Woodburne close to Blenheim. We didn’t get this one either. Stepping back, I ended up having a mini makeover (bought some clothes too) and some photos done by Jamie. She’s great. Such a wonderful lady and sure knows how to make a woman look and feel good about themselves.

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Picton is as beautiful as ever. Below is a photo of Waikawa Bay, about five minutes down the road from my friends house. Yes we went for a paddle. It rained for the next few days.

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A few more photos from Picton Harbour at Sunset, when the Ferry was coming in. Gorgeous.

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A few more photos from Raranga Beach, which is out towards Blenheim. It was gorgeous, though not advisable to walk over the pebble beach in bare feet…

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On the Friday before travelling down to Christchurch, I attended a ‘Wine o’clock’ neighbour evening. It was lovely to meet others and have a chat. It was late to bed that particular night. On Sunday Jamie and I left for Christchurch at five o’clock in the morning. My daughters were  being released from Quarantine earlier than we’d all expected. We finally picked them up just down from the hotel they were staying in, packed up the car and drove on to Top 10 Holiday Park. A nice place, though it seemed we were put on the second floor. I’d thought the place were all single story. Oops, I will remember to ask next time. Taking all the luggage up two flights of steps was a mission and a half.
Jamie decided to drive back to Picton. I’m sure she was exhausted by the time she got home. I worried about all the travelling she’d be doing over the following few days.

Back to the girls and what to do for the rest of Sunday and the next few days I’d booked for us to show the girls around Christchurch, not that I knew it overly well. Lucky me, had a few friends who lived in the area.

Mandy is a beautiful lady I’ve known since my children were little. We met in Rotorua, and our children went to school together for a while. It was Mandy who put me on the right track for my depression, something which I’ll always be grateful for. I’m not sure what would’ve happened if Mandy hadn’t noticed the mess I’d got myself into. It was also Mandy who sort of told me about the terror attack in 2019, though she didn’t know it at the time of the text. I was in the UK and turned the TV news on. My world was turned upside down in an instant. I am sure many never thought this would happen in New Zealand…well not twice and not for affecting so many people and taking so many lives. It is horrendous and I have no idea how some countries live with this kind of thing.
Oops… slid away again. Anyway. We caught up with Mandy, her eldest daughter and granddaughter on Monday. We bussed into the city having no idea where the main station was. The tickets were costly and no return tickets. They apparently had a transfer to another bus if used within two hours…sigh. Not good enough! This is a total negative in my opinion for Christchurch.
Mandy collected us from Cathedral Square. Picture of the girls below with the broken cathedral behind them. I’ve no idea what the sculpture is called. It looks like an ice cream cone with fancy lattice work.

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We went to Christchurch Museum. It was brilliant. So much to see and do. I just wish there were a few more sitting areas because my back is giving me grief right now. The one part I really loved was the Street showing old shops and what they sold. It reminded me of the Cobbles Streets in the York Museum in England. Memories are what we make them and seeing the early years of Christchurch was  a wonderful lesson in history. We also went to the children’s area to sit and chat while Mandy’s granddaughter crawled around, having cuddles, standing and sitting. Such an adorable child.  Moving on to the museum café we had morning tea. Ice chocolate is a favourite of mine right now along with cheese scones. Delicious. Next we went to the Riverside Market, which is mainly food shops. It is lovely, though I got sore again and I’d forgotten my walking stick leaving it in Mandy’s car. The girls wandered around while we waited for Mandy and family to arrive. By the time they did, we’d ordered lunch, so I could sit down and Mandy gave me my walking stick. I hate not been able to walk far without it. Chatting for a while in the sun was lovely. Mandy and family went home and we went to sit by the river for a while before returning to the bus station for another expensive ride home…ouch.

We had fish and chips for dinner, the first for the girls since their return to New Zealand. It was nice to see home cut chips (fries) for a change. That evening I went to book our train ride back to Picton only to find it fully books… weeks ahead. Now we were stuck. It was OMG time. How would we get home. I looked at flights and cringed, especially since there would be extra baggage. Managed to contact my husband and he was off work too so he could spend time with our girls. I asked him to find out if it was cheaper for him to drive and pick us up. It probably cost heaps more in the end. All this sorted and we had another day out to Northlands Mall to shop and meet another friend for lunch. We all had an amazing chat with Paula, such a fun lady to be around. It was at this stage we wondered if we should seriously start looking for a house in Christchurch instead of Blenheim. Then you remember the earthquakes and the terror attack that happened and wonder if you’re brave enough. Yeah, I know the whole of New Zealand is on several fault lines and we rock a lot… but seriously? Then I remember we used to live in Rotorua which is situated inside an old volcano caldera. LOL. Where we are at present is on a main fault line. Therefore do what you want and live where you’re going to be happy. South Island it is.

On Wednesday we stayed at the holiday park to relax. We’d spoken to my husband a few times, finding out how the cats were getting along. Hissy at times, chasing each other. Bonnie chased Nero so far, she got lost for a few hours, though found her way back… thank goodness. By the time we got home they are a bit more friendly and putting up with each other. Though from the expression on his face, he’s asking why we’ve got another cat in his house…LOL

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Wednesday is also the day my husband started to make his way down through New Zealand, across on the Ferry. Though the trip to down for him was good, with the Ferry and a few sleeps along the way, so he didn’t crash. We were worried at time due to lack of messages to work out where he was. Found him in reception at the holiday camp at 8 am. Took him to our lodge room, calling the girls who hurried down for cuddles and hugs… tears and all. The below photo is a few minutes after.

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My husband hadn’t seen the girls in three years. Our son is yet to catch up with them. I hadn’t seen them for two years and about eight months.

We packed up the car my husband had rented and set out for breakfast at Northlands Mall, breakfast was yummy, sorry no photos. Back in the car park we looked at booking the ferry. This is where stress, anxiety and pure frustration comes in. Palmerston North Hertz… I doubt we will ever hire from them again, they made a solvable issue harder, demanding more money because we couldn’t get a spot for it on the ferry. You’d think in these covid times, the ferry wouldn’t be fully booked. Sadly it was, though there was a good reason. Interislander had two ferry down. We were travelling with Blue Bridge and booked as foot passengers. The issue was still the car… and how to get back to Palmerston North. God, what a bloody mess. We ended up driving to Picton with a few stops, showing the girls the changes since the double earthquake in Kaikoura and the gorgeous ocean. Below are a few images of the coast line as we travelled up towards Picton.

Finally arriving in Picton I went to ask about getting our car on the ferry. The lady at the desk was amazing… No can do.  Why was she amazing? She put us on Standby and worked with us, her boss and a few other customers and they managed to get three more cars on the ferry including ours. I’ve never prayed so hard for such a length of time in ages. Fingers crossed, touched wood (my walking stick). Even now I sometimes wonder how this lady did her job so professionally and with such good humour. I need to send her some flowers… We also had dinner in Picton a lovely woodfire pizza. Caught up with Jamie (I’d left something at her house) and I can’t wait to get back south again in the New Year. House hunting will begin in earnest.

The photos below show the beginning of our Ferry crossing. The first three are of Picton Port, the fourth is Oxford Bear which is milk chocolate drink sitting on the windowsill and the rest of of Marlborough Sounds through a dirty ferry window on a cloudy day…

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The Ferry ride was good. The thing about Blue Bridge Ferries is they have stabilizers and if you don’t know, The Cook Straits are (can be) one of the roughest to cross in the world. We had a good sailing. It was Isabelle’s first time on a ferry and she coped really well. My hubby slept some, the girls went exploring and I stayed. We sailed rather late and didn’t get into Wellington until twenty-three hundred hours. (11pm) Getting off takes about forty-five minutes at most and then it was set off home to Palmerston North. Another two hours or more. I think we got home at two-fifteen in the morning. Dumped the suitcases in the house, checked the cats and we all went to bed. Exhausted.  Hubby had to take the car back by nine in the morning…and sort out the mess they’d made of our car rental.

We’ve been home for just over a week now. Luckily my husband was on holiday and has ben able to spend some time with the girls each day. It’s so good to have them home and things are starting to settle, including the cats. We are still going to be moving South… Another Story.

Introducing Chad Crowe, Artist and Author

Introducing Artist – Chad Crowe.

Plaisted Publishing

ChadWithBooks#1Tell us a bit about yourself!

I’m a 48-year-old man who just painted faces on 25 corks, wrote descriptions for each and made a book of them – if that isn’t frightening enough, then please read on. I have been working as an artist and illustrator since 1996, mainly for publications and news media. The more exciting aspects of my career have been drawing parade floats for the annual Carnaval de Nice in France, designing and helping to create a 10ft tall sasquatch snow sculpture in Japan, and working in New Delhi for one year as a staff artist for The Times of India. I am currently living in Portland, Oregon with my talented wife Brenda, who helps me to design these books.

At what age did you discover art?

Probably like most kids, at an early age with crayons on the walls.

What type of art did you enjoy…

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Introducing Jenzy Montague and learn about her children’s books.

A wonderful new author with picture books for children. Look out for Cynthia’s Thankful Halloween.

Plaisted Publishing


Interview With An Author – Jenzy Montague

 

Jennifer Noahs Book

 

Tell us about where are you from?

Everywhere, LOL I was born in Missouri. I call Colorado my spiritual home. I loved it there and would move back in an instant. I’ve lived in California, Montclair, New Jersey, and now Virginia. I love mountains and college towns. Virginia gives me both. Even though I live an hour from Charlottesville, Virginia, I consider that home too. I’m a history nut so much history to glean from this area!

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Tag team with my daughter and hubby in homeschooling my three precious grandbabies! If not a nose in a textbook, I’m sewing and working with my crafts. I love to get outside and dig in the soil with my gardening. My youngest grandchild loves mother earthing with me.

When did you start writing stories?

I wrote…

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Eighteen Days and Counting #What’s Up #News #Joy #Love

The excitement is mounting, my daughters are coming home. It’ll be two years and eight months by the time I get to hug them. For my husband it will be just over three years and then there is our son living in Wellington who I’m sure if looking forward to seeing his sisters and introducing his girlfriend to them. It’s going to be a wonderful Christmas this year. I can’t wait to get the whole family together for the first time since 2017. Along with all this we get another cat called ‘Bonnie’ whose story you may have read. 

Photo of Bonnie, my girls cat.Bonnie is my eldest daughter’s cat and is coming home with the girls. How my cat ‘Nero’ is going to take this, we’re unsure, because Bonnie is sociable, and Nero isn’t. Along with this we have to find somewhere else to live due to the unit we currently rent is too small for all of us.

Rent in NZ is horrendous these days, getting close to 3/4 of your wages if you’re on a low income, of course, it also depends on where you live in New Zealand. At least the laws are better for those renting and we have a healthy home criteria which our currently place still doesn’t meet much to our annoyance, considering the owners knew this from when we moved in just over two years ago.

My other news!  I have my first hardback book with a brand new cover, with thanks to Mara Reitsma who is one of my contractors and works as an Illustrator with ‘Covers by the Rose’ Excellent work, and I’ve added a photo below of Oxford Bear reading one of the new hardbacks. The story is the first Children’s book I ever wrote (six years ago) called ‘Girlie and the War of the Wasps.’ An adventure in an English Country Garden. I actually used my parents garden from the house I grew up in. This story also has some learning curves for children. Healthy Eating, is the main one along with Bullying and Racism. You can buy a copy HERE

Oxford Bear reading the new hardback book of Girlie and the War of the Wasps

The image shows the new hardback book cover. In the background is Oxford Bear reading a copy. This book is the first in a series of Girlie Adventure Stories, about a little blue ladybug called Girlie and her friend Sammie Kitten. We are in the process of making the rest of the books into hardback copies. Until then you can still buy paperbacks and ebooks on Amazon.

Time to head out into the garden and plant some edible flowers. Enjoy the read.

The Year that was…

 

 

CLAIRE PLAISTED PROFILE IMAGEI returned to New Zealand in March 2019. A changed New Zealand, though one still filled with hope, love and togetherness. As a country we didn’t break, though we cried and grieved with each other. A terror attack in New Zealand. The loss of 52 innocent people which brought the country and the individual communities together once more. It seems you can throw anything at us and we’ll handle it.

The country changed. I remember exactly where I was when the attack happened. I was working as a live in carer when on the morning of this tragic day I received a message on my phone via Facebook.

“There are police everything telling us to stay inside. Not sure what is going on.” It was from a close friend, Mandy, who lived in Christchurch. I turned on the TV and was horrified by what followed. How could this happen in our beautiful country, who the heck… etc. When we found out the man was Australian, fury erupted in both countries. Even today, I feel for his parents and the horror their son created. Pure hate and murder on a minority group. Muslims of all cultures, heritage and colour. The majority were Kiwi’s. Our own people.

I arrived home about 12 days later and even though this attack changed New Zealand; it was still home, and a weight lifted off my body. The darkness that had hit me in England evaporated. A healing moment in my life. I was so pleased to be back home. My country, our strength of character, helping each other. Obviously, not everything is good here. I doubt there is a country without negativity. Even so, home is where the heart is and even though we are a family split into two, we hold together like the people of New Zealand do, each and every day.

A year and two days after I arrived in New Zealand, we were hit again—this time with COVID-19 and a lockdown for seven weeks. Once again, we stayed strong, working together for our communities. People were tested voluntarily, we self quarantined when a test became positive, the majority of people cared for each other as every business closed down except for essential services – Supermarkets (who did online shopping as well) Hospitals – though some services were cancelled or reduced. Petrol Stations—and more. All restaurants, cafes, retail, hairdressers, schools, universities—closed for close to six weeks as the country changed emergency levels. By the time we were on level two, people were getting eager to get back to another new normal, and supporting their local shops. Thousands on small online businesses appeared on a new Facebook Group. It was amazing to see all the support for each other grow.

The negative was the loss of business, which looked like a 12% loss. By the time the second lockdown was over due to several community cases in Auckland, the results came out as a loss of 3% because Kiwi’s were still spending money and supporting each other. Another negative was the loss of jobs and an increase of at least triple of people using food banks. Once again WE SURVIVED—I’m sure there were many more negatives, though I prefer to find the positive in life.

All our community cases came into the country via Kiwi’s returning home, bringing the virus with them. Our government closed the borders to all except returning Kiwis. All returnees had to go into MIQ quarantine for fourteen days. They had two tests, one on day three and one on day twelve. Most of it was great, until several selfish people decided they didn’t want to quarantine and escaped, going to supermarkets which resulted in shutdowns and deep cleans, testing of staff. Those who ignored quarantine rules were arrested and charged. This is still ongoing today. 2020 ended with the whole country going into level one lockdown, where we would stay until a Delta case was found.

Though the country knew there was Delta Virus in MIQ Quarantine, we all hoped it wouldn’t get into the community. Sadly, it did. One person’s test came back positive for Delta in the early hours of the start of lockdown levels rising. Within twelve hours, we locked down to level four for the entire country. Auckland locked down for 5 weeks on level four, and 2 weeks on level three with over 1.3k cases, though most have recovered. Today we see if levels will drop of stay the same. Everyone was hoping they would drop, however… 

Some people like flouting the rules, which may affect this decision. It has left a lot of Kiwis Angry. First case was a funeral. Only ten are allowed to attend in Auckland at this stage. Fifty cars plus motorbikes later and we have a possible rise in positive tests. If this wasn’t enough another so-called leader of a church decided to do a protest two days prior to today’s decision, in an area of Auckland where they didn’t live, where motorbikes destroyed grass where families picnic is the good times and by a war memorial for those we’ve lost in war. 2K protestors…few wearing masks or social distancing. To add to this there are two more cases in Waikato which they haven’t connected to the first man and also a truck driver isolating in the city i live in. Apparently, he is the only one in his family not vaccinated. His choice, of course. As far as we know, his family are or have tested negative so far. Lucky for me and my husband, we didn’t actually go to any of the same places as the truck driver… we were there three days prior. We also both now fully vaccinated. Our choice.

On top of this, our daughter got stuck in England, though they will be home next month with their cat. It’s been a long time between hugs and I know there will be a lot of tears when we finally get them in our arms.

Health wise, has been up and down. Since I’ve returned home, I’ve hurt my right shoulder and had to stop my hospitality work. Also in 2019, I injured my left shoulder, tearing a muscle. Yes it was bad, no I didn’t do anything. It took me a year to get X-rays done and even then (as with my other x-rays) nobody did anything. No physical therapy, nothing. Didn’t even get the x-ray results until I asked what was going on.
For the first time ever, I also had a Friday 13th accident in September. Fell and hurt my tailbone. No x-rays, no real therapy, though it is noted on file. I have a walking stick these days for the bad days. I hate not been able to walk as well as I used to. I hate carrying the extra weight as well. Never mind. I’ll get better, still not quite there yet.

During the last six weeks, I’ve done a lot of knitting. I knit with round looms and make beanies or scarves. I’ve decided to set up shop and see what happens. My publishing business is also going well this year, and my writing is picking up. It’s been a challenge, though progress and moving forward is better than any negative. 

My time in England is another story…one I’m not sure I’ll ever tell.

The Excitement Grows

I’m not sure whether to sing, dance or shout with excitement. Our girls are coming home. I’ve not seen them since March 2019 and my husband and son, since November 2018. It’s going to be a huge Christmas this year. We can’t wait to hug them both, and I’m sure there will be plenty of tears involved.

The first to arrive will be Bonnie, their cat. At this time, I’d like to thank everyone who assisted with helping my daughters raise money to bring Bonnie home. She has helped both girls through their mental health issues over the last few years. A wonderful companion. It’s going to be fun to introduce her to Nero, my cat. We have to make arrangements to get Bonnie from Quarantine, ten days after she’s arrived. I’ve decided to go and collect her, so here is hoping the lockdown levels have dropped and I can get in and out of Auckland without any issues.

The girls arrive a week later and will have a two-week stay in a hotel. No idea which one yet since there are several around the country. Depending on where they have to stay, we will fly or drive and pick them up to bring them home.

Next steps! We’ll need to pack our house and move to another, because it is too small and we’re only allowed one cat and three adults. The hunt has started, though we have to be careful date wise due to parcels. We may have to wait until after Christmas. We shall see. I suppose it depends on the landlord as well. There are a few lovely houses out there, the rent is now prohibitive. One of the units beside us was $250 for a two-bedroom place, was recently refurnished and updated to healthy home standards and they are now charging $450. I’m totally horrified. My eldest daughter also mentioned the house we used to live in up to Sept 2017 has gone from $310 to $520. Some minor alterations. It was a three bedroom with a small garden. Nice house, though not up to standard when we lived there. It looks like we’ll be paying anything from $500 upwards for a decent place now…

Off track again…

Meanwhile, we can’t wait to see our daughters.

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Authors in the Sun – #WWII – Butterflies of Dunkirk by Claire Plaisted

A short story I wrote about five years ago. Enjoy and please share. Thank you.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

When I worked on radio in the south of Spain I presented and recorded four series of Authors in the Sun showcasing local writers and their short stories. I ran a series here on the blog in 2017 which was much enjoyed and showed off the skills of some amazing writers.

There have been some wonderful stories shared in  this summer’s series with the last being shared next week.

Butterflies of Dunkirk by Claire Plaisted

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

All shapes and sizes of vessels left the English ports. Any seaworthy boat went to rescue those from the French shores and the horror of the massacre on Dunkirk. The boats approached the French shoreline, horror on the faces of the captains and seamen, as they watched the slaughter continue. The boats powered ahead to rescue as many men as they could, praying for the souls of those they…

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Delta is HERE! Opinion Piece…

hands with latex gloves holding a globe with a face mask

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

 It’s been a weird 18 months to say the least with Covid coming and going and now we have Delta,  which we seem to be managing to contain, which is another win for New Zealand. We went into lockdown within 12 hours of the case been reported. At that time nobody could confirm it was Delta, though it now shows it was. Better safe than sorry. Even so, Delta took off and spread. (Confirmation came through a few hours later.)

It’s nice to be free to do what you want when you’re not in a virus war. Though we aren’t there yet, we have peaked and cases are getting lower, sadly one elderly lady died, and my condolences go to this family. It is also known this lady had other health issues. 

Most of the Delta cases are in Auckland, who are on a level 4 lockdown, meanwhile the rest are on a level 3 lockdown and looking forward to level 2. Vaccinations are up and now offered to 12 yrs upwards. It is still your choice. 

Similar to other countries, we also have a tracker, (for those with a phone) though ours isn’t the government stalking us. All information is private unless you become a contact of someone with the virus, then you are REQUESTED… to give information so the virus can be traced to keep our communities safe. If you don’t have a phone you will be requested to sign in on paper at all businesses. This will be mandatory as of the 7th Sept due to the lack of use during level one when we were all complacent and thought we were safe…humm. Masks are also Mandatory when out shopping. I rarely go out due to anxiety when wearing a mask. I tend to stay in our car. 

The rest of the world watch and thinks we’re in cages, have communism and stuff. Makes me laugh at all the fake news we hear from others. Including some of our own people. Most of us prefer to work together to rid ourselves of this virus rather than spread it. Do you want to know why?

Well, my opinion—putting it mildly, is that we have 5 million Kiwis in New Zealand. 2.7 million of those are working adults. No idea how many are front-line workers. (like my husband) Now imagine if Delta got out of control here! The country would literally shut down. No imports, exports, nobody to work the front line…It would be a bloody mess. We export food worldwide… which means you’d be without as well. One London reporter told people the only reason we lockdown is because we can afford it. NO WE CAN’T. More to the point, we can’t afford NOT TO.

Since many countries have millions of people, you don’t notice the little things. I’ve heard many say Delta isn’t as bad as people think. Once again, with a smaller population, you see things better. When we had Covid the first time, one person infected 89 people at a wedding. With Delta, so far we have over 753 people connected to ONE person who got Delta, (so far) with around 37,000 people in isolation as contacts or having been in the same locations (over 400 of them) as contacts. We have 43 in hospital and 7 in ICU. This is a lot more than last time. This isn’t much compared to some countries until you look at statistics… 

Our Delta came from New South Wales via a person coming home and in MIQ (Quarantine) They have yet to discover how it got out from there to the community. One thing I would like to know is where NSW got Delta from! Since we’re both Islands with only residents returning, it makes things—in general, easier to discover.

Our daily count is going down. Last one I saw were 20 new community cases via contacts. Here is hoping we’ll beat it again.

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Authors in the Sun – #Mystery – The Coin by Rob Shackleford

I love this story from Rob. A great read for anyone.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

When I worked on radio in the south of Spain I presented and recorded four series of Authors in the Sun showcasing local writers and their short stories. I ran a series here on the blog in 2017 which was much enjoyed and showed off the skills of some amazing writers.

I would love to share your short stories here too this summer and details of how you can participate is at the end of the post.

Today Rob Shackleford, author of two time travel novels shares a story that will have you scratching your head…..

The Coin
By Rob Shackleford

When I was a kid, things weren’t as structured at school as they are now. Then, children would either walk or ride a bicycle to school and, rather than being met by crowds of paranoid parents carefully scrutinising the surroundings for paedophiles, at the ring of the school…

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Podcast Trial with Anchor. #Learning #Podcast

Learning how to use Anchor & WordPress together… This is the result. Let me know what you think…

Plaisted Publishing

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