Category Archives: Celebrations

And my final results are in . . .

I received an email from a student friend yesterday, telling me that she had just received her exam results for her final module, and that she had also accepted a First Class Honours in Literature!

I was just so delighted for her, as we have been studying together through all but this last, sixth, year with the Open University, and I know how hard she had worked 🙂

Before I sent her a congratulatory email, I quickly signed on to my Open University account, and checked my results!

For a few minutes I felt quite down, as I saw I had only received a Pass 3 for my final module – which was the first time I’d got one. But, after thinking about it, I realised that it wasn’t that bad a result, considering thatif you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know this last year has been absolutely awful for me, due to my many, and varied, health problems 😦

But, for some reason, I got it into my head that, with this result, it would mean that I wouldn’t pass my honours degree!

It was only on reading further that I saw, to my huge relief that, far from failing, I was actually being offered an Upper Second Class Honours in Literature – which wasn’t too far short of my friend’s result!

(I do hope you’ll pardon me, for the momentary sin of pride?) 


Once I’d calmed down a little, I quickly followed the instructions to accept my degree – and so, now all I need to do, is to wait for the certificate to be sent to me through the post 🙂

When I first started this learning journey in earnest, I had occasionally wondered if I could, or would, ever get a degree, and had daydreamed occasionally about walking on to a stage, in front of my fellow students, to accept it. This daydream often had lots of pictures being taken of me, in my OU gown, grinning triumphantly, and grasping my degree in my sweaty hand – but, of course, the reality of my situation always burst that little daydream – after all, if I can’t get as far as my nearest town, which is only a mile and a half away, how on earth did I think I could make it to an awards ceremony right across the country from me!

It took me a little time to accept this would never happen, and I kidded myself, for some time, that it didn’t really matter, knowing in my heart of hearts that, yes, actually, it did matter! 

But, six years after starting this adventure, it is really, and truly, the fact that I have kept on going with it, despite all the hurdles I’ve had to face, that is, I think, my best achievement!

So the idea of an awards ceremony is something to smile about now, and something I really don‘t regret missing out on, as the reality of my achievement gives me so much more pleasure 🙂

There was a little blood, a lot of sweat and, in this last year of study, a lake of tears has been involved in my achieving what I set out to do six years ago but, despite all of this, I’m just so glad I did it!

Not bad for a 50-year-old, broken-down, bookworm! 🙂

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Filed under Celebrations, Disability Issues, Exams, Learning

Yay! 78%, and nearly at the end!

I was both shocked, and delighted, when my score came in for TMA 05. I managed to get a score of 78%, the highest score so far for this course!

I’m both delighted, and very nervous now, as this raises expectations for the next, and final, TMA, which I know I won’t be able to match 😦

Not only am I 2 weeks behind with this next one, but I won’t be able to have an extension to catch up, as that would eat into my End of Module Assessment, and there’s definitely no extension’s allowed for that!

So I’m going to have to skim-read a couple of weeks work, and hope I absorb enough to be able to write at least a coherent TMA 06. But, whatever happens with it, at least I would have tried! 🙂


I’ve also had some great news from my daughter, who is a professional stilt-walker, based in Bristol. 

She’s had the chance of getting to the 2012 Burning Man festival, in the USA, as she’s teamed up with the Fireworks Collective, a group of around 40 performers who use fire in their acts, and who go out there regularly to perform.

They’ve just launched an appeal for funding, which will pay for developing and building the props they’ll be using, the cost of fuel and safety equipment both here in the UK while they practise their routines, and in the USA for the performances, the costumes for the performers, and the cost of transporting the props and gear to the USA, and back again.

All of the performers will be paying their own fares and living costs, so the money raised will be going just for the above. 

I’ve already donated my bit towards it all, and am looking forward to receiving a sticker designed by a top London Graffiti artist as a gift for my contribution 🙂

The link for their site is:

Hope you go to the site, and see the wonderful photos already posted, and you’ll be able to read up all about what’s happening so far – and see how awesome it’s going to be! 🙂

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Filed under Celebrations, Daughters, Learning, TMA's, Travelling, Uncategorized

The results are in . . .

. . . . . and, to my huge surprise, I managed to get a Grade 2 pass!

To say I’m over the moon with that, is an understatement! 
Considering just how ill I was when I did the EMA, I honestly thought I’d only just scrape a pass at all.

This means that, if I can get the same result for my final module, or even if I get a Grade 3 result, then I will be entitled to an Upper Second-class Honours (2:1).

On the off chance I get a Grade 1 pass (in my dreams!) I could claim a First Class Honours degree but, being realistic, I can’t ever see that happening :/

I can also put DipLit after my name, as I got my Diploma in Literature as well!

I’m a very happy bunny

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Filed under Celebrations, Exams


I had a phone call from a fellow student from my tutorial group, and she told me our results were in, so I quickly went to the site to get my results and, much to my amazement, and total delight, I’d managed another 85%.

I honestly hadn’t imagined that I’d get as good a mark as my previous one, so I’m over the moon with it.:)

Now all I have to do, is to try and shift this virus that I’ve got, so that I can concentrate on the next Block of the Module – much easier said than done at the moment, and I’m even having a job to concentrate enough to read the set books. 😦

I managed to finish reading Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome, and I’ve also even read all the critics for that section, but I’m now on to Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce and, although I’m enjoying the story, I’m finding it a job to concentrate enough to keep reading the book, let alone all the critics. I manage a few pages, and then I find that I’ve dozed off – not the fault of the story, but just this virus dictating to me! Grrrr

I’m really, really, hoping that I feel better soon, as there is so much reading to be done in this section, and I just can’t concentrate enough to do it at the moment 😦

I’ve not only got TMG to read, as well as all the critics attached to this section, but there is also Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D Taylor, to get through – although I do remember it being an excellent story, so I’m looking forward to that 🙂

 I did read all of the set books (apart from Swallows and Amazons) at the beginning of the summer last year, and I do still remember the basic plot-line of them all but, of course, I need a lot more than that to be able to complete the activities necessary to get my TMA04 written.

Let’s just hope the virus goes soon, so I can get what little energy I would normally have, back again 🙂


Filed under Celebrations, Health Issues, Reading, Studying, TMA's

Wishing you Peace and Joy in the coming new year!

I hope that all who read this will find Peace, Joy and much Love in the coming new year.

May God keep you all in His care 🙂

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

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Filed under Celebrations, Changes, Faith

And the results are in . . .

I had a phone call yesterday, from a fellow student in my tutorial group, and she told me the results are in for our latest TMA so, with great trepidation, I went online to have a look.

I expected to have a similar result to my first TMA but, to my  delighted amazement, I’d managed to score a massive 85%!

In all the years I’ve been studying, I’ve only once got higher than that – I’d managed 2 x 88% passes for my first Creative Writing module – and I’m totally gobsmacked that I have managed to get such a high mark again – we’re talking about a Pass 1 mark here, for a girl who fights to keep up with Pass 2 results!

After receiving my lowest score for my first TMA, it’s made me so happy to get such a good result with this one, especially as my health has been appalling while doing it! 

When I think about it, the last time I got such brilliant results, was when my health was really bad, and I was struggling to keep up with the course!

Go figure . . .

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Filed under Celebrations, Health Issues, TMA's

The good news and the bad news . . .

My good news is that, as of yesterday, I have passed A363, Advanced Creative Writing, which also means that I’m now the proud owner of a Diploma in Literature and Creative Writing. ;~))
I got a Grade 2 pass which was, frankly, a huge surprise for me – so I’m well delighted at the result!
I only learned that the results were in, because a couple of my fellow students posted on Facebook that they had passed, so I, figuratively, hot-footed it to the Open University site, and signed in to see how I did 🙂
I got 77%, which amazed me, considering how ill I’d been throughout the whole course, so I’m just so grateful to whoever the kind person was who marked my ECA, and who must have given me the benefit of the doubt {grin}

My bad news, is that I got a letter in the post yesterday, and I hadn’t even been placed in ‘The 4th Annual Ted Walters International Short Story, Poetry and Playwriting Competition 2010’ 😦
I had entered my very first attempt at a sci-fi story, so I guess I wasn’t surprised at the result, especially considering that the competition came from a Merseyside Creative Writing group, with the help and full support of the University of Liverpool’s Continuing Education Centre.
Still, it’s a learning curve that every writer has to go through, I guess :/

As I didn’t get anywhere, I’ve decided to post my story on my Blog, and would be grateful for any critique that may be offered on my efforts. It’s the only way I’m going to learn what I’m doing wrong, I guess. 🙂

Anyway, here it is below. It’s 2,000 words long, and it’s called:

And There Is A Right Way (c)

As the stark, white sun sank beyond the horizon, Zed placed the burning torch into the Ptwarin in front of him. For a second nothing happened; the only sound was the wind whipping the flames, sending sparks flying in the air to dance briefly in a firefly waltz. Zella quietly intoned the requiem, as was her role in this passing of a mate and, in the next instant, flames flared brightly and the wood, stacked neatly in the sacred pattern of the cremation pyre, caught and quickly spread to envelop the tightly wrapped form of Zarn.

            Zed stood back, placing the torch in the waiting holder. He turned to face west, and saw a flare, an after-image of coruscating green, where a shard of light from the setting sun reflected back from the clouds. He knew this was a sign of their mate’s soul reaching the Place of the Gods, and he felt a deep happiness that Zarn would be there, waiting patiently for them to join him, when their turn came.
            Zella finished intoning the requiem, and then joined Zed. She stared at him for a second, and bowed.
‘You did well, Zed.’
Her thoughts came clearly to him, and Zed felt relief that she approved of his actions.
He bowed in return, feeling that deep, mutual sadness at their loss.
‘Your actions will speak well of you when Zarn reaches The Place of the Gods,’ Zella continued. ‘He will tell the Gods of our faith in them. It will mean much when it is our turn to journey there.’
‘I only did what I should to make his passing as quick, and painless, as possible.’ Zed responded. ‘It was as I should do for a mate, just as tradition demanded of me at this time of death-dealing.’
            Zed remembered how he had used his paddle claw to quickly chop at the exposed section of Zarn’s neck, where the chitin was segmented for ease of movement. He had made sure that it was done at exactly the right moment, so that Zarn would know nothing of it. As he remembered, he felt the soft touch in his mind that indicated Zella’s sharing of his memory, and he was content. This death-dealing, when a mate became too crippled to continue in a traditional role, was the only way that made any sense to them, and they knew they had done as they should.
Now Zarn should be almost in the presence of the Gods, transfigured at his death back to the vigorous being he had once been; this, so he could serve the Gods in whichever capacity they chose. This comforted the two remaining mates. They knew the time might soon come when it was their turn to join him, especially with the present war against the strange, bipedal race, that were trying to take over their planet; a race that seemed to have a never-ending supply of soldiers to keep on fighting.
Zed found it hard to imagine that anything could be so aggressive as to annihilate his people, just to have the land that they lived on – a mistake they had quickly realised, and tried to rectify. But this bipedal race seemed determined to capture his planet, and kill every living triad it could find – even the young brood that were totally defenceless against this aggression! Zed was only grateful that there had been a break in the fighting, so that they could arrange for the correct death-dealing for Zarn.
They had fought hard, struggling to keep their sector free of the bipeds, but not having much success against the strange machines that the bipeds carried, which gave out great surges of light, that burnt to a cinder any organic matter that it touched. It had been one of these machines that had crippled Zarn. They knew that the struggle was nearly over, and they had both known it was the right time to do what was necessary to ease Zarn on his way.
            As they watched, the pyre slowly burnt down, until only ashes remained. Zed and Zella waited patiently and, as soon as the ashes were cool enough to handle, gathered them into the beautifully carved wooden box waiting nearby in its special niche. With solemn steps, and respectful silence, they made their way along from the headlands, scrambling deftly down the steep cliff, until they reached the promontory that led out for a distance into the sea.
When they reached the furthest point, where there was nothing else but the water almost entirely circling them, they continued their task with all the solemnity it deserved.
‘Zed, would you start the scattering?’
Zella’s question came quietly, and Zed turned to her in some surprise, knowing that their tradition dictate that she start the ceremony.
‘Are you sure, Zella? Wouldn’t you prefer to do as is usual?’
 ‘I’m sure, Zed. This honour should be yours. After all, you were the one to ease Zarn’s passing.’
Zed responded with a bow to her, and took the first claw-full of ash from the box, scattering it into the sea. Zella took the next and, with each dispersal of ash, intoned the many deeds of Zarn, making sure his war deeds were recounted, so that the Gods would know how brave a servant they were getting. They sang the songs created for him, after his bravery in rescuing a young brood of larvae that had been attacked by a rogue trio of Larns, two seasons ago. It was an injury caused by this rescue that had slowed Zarn down, and so enabled the bipeds to catch him with their light beams the previous day.
            Just as the last claw-full of ash was spread, they looked eastwards, and saw the sun beginning to rise once more. They had timed it perfectly. They looked at each other in the quickly growing light of the hot, white sun, and the nictating membranes that served to protect their eyes in this bright-lit world automatically slid down. With a last look out over the sea, they turned, their segmented bodies almost forming a circle as they did, then they stepped back along the promontory and upwards, using their powerful back legs to push up the steep cliff, and back to the headlands again.
Zella carried the emptied box in her central arms, using the front set to clamber over the rim of the cliff. She stood for a moment, staring back to the place where the ashes were now just part of the heaving green of the ocean, and then she turned once more, and walked back to the site of the pyre. With a dignity that Zed quietly admired, she set the box back in its place, ready for the next cremation. As one, they stepped back from the area, heads bowed, the rapid nictating of their eye screens showing the correct form of sorrow.
 Quietly, they turned, and began to walk along the path that led away from the site. The light was swiftly becoming almost unbearable, with the eye movements necessary until they made their way to the living-cave.  Without the warmth and humour of their mate, it would now seem a darker, and more solemn, place to be. But they arrived at last, grateful for the dim coolness it afforded them. They immediately started clearing out everything that had belonged to Zarn, carefully placing all of Zarn’s body trinkets outside the entrance to the cave, displaying them on a large, flat rock, so that all could see what was there. This was now the time that any passing Larn could look at what was offered and, if they liked a certain piece, could take it. None of these could be kept by his mates, as it might create a link that would draw him back away from the Gods, so close was their partnership. Zed and Zella watched from the mouth of the cave as his possessions were slowly but surely claimed by those living around them.
Night was once again nearing by the time the last object was taken from the stone, and Zed breathed a sigh of relief that everything had found acceptance with their neighbours. It would have been ill luck to have anything left behind. They retreated back into the cave, slowly cleaning any last vestige of Zarn’s occupancy, both still silent, as tradition demanded. With so little energy left, neither of them felt much like eating, but they did so quickly, knowing what was to come. They then settled into their respective nests, grabbing sleep while they had the chance.
Bright morning light flooded the mouth of the cave, and they woke with a sense of dread, knowing that the war against the bipeds was imminent once more.
‘Can you smell it?’
Zella’s though came slowly into Zed’s mind, and he turned to her, rubbing his mandibles against hers, in a reassuring manner.
‘Yes, but they are still far enough away that we can do what we must.’
Zed tried to keep his thought-tones light, despite his own doubts. A smell on the breeze came clearly into their cave; a sharp, actinic smell, which the biped’s light burners exuded. Zed knew that they were nearing the cave complex and Zella, realising just how near, quickly started to prepare their defences. She rapidly ate the store of fat-rich Klettl they had put aside for this very purpose and, within moments, she felt the spinning bulb beneath her abdomen start to swell. With no time to spare, she immediately went to the cave opening, turned around and, with a careful side-to-side movement, started to exude a fine spray of liquid from the bulb.
As it hit the air, the liquid started to solidify then, as it touched the ground and sides of the cave mouth, it formed a fine, breathable, mesh. Zella angled her body so that she covered all of the entrance, and then started once again from the base, until a thick, rigid wall had formed, creating a barrier as strong as the stone around them. As soon as she completed it, Zed came forward, and began to regurgitate a liquid from his second stomach, which he spread into the mesh using his paddle claw. Once covered, the liquid dried into an almost diamond-hard consistency and, having left a small section above uncoated for air-flow, they felt satisfaction in knowing that the entrance looked like part of the natural stone surroundings. Now it was time to wait.
Waiting was all that Zed and Zella could do, and they knew that their neighbours would be doing as they were. They didn’t question the instructions their leaders had given them two nights previously, but they did wonder why they had been told to prepare for metamorphosis at this time. Zed suspected that this was the only way they could ensure the survival of their species, and that, by hiding away in their chrysalis forms, and adjusting the chemical balance to slow down the process of change, their race might, just, survive this initial invasion, and be able to continue their eons-old cycle further along in time.
So Zed and Zella did as instructed, knowing they were doing as tradition dictated and, as soon as the entrance was hardened, they attached themselves to the extrusions on the ceiling that had been prepared when they first came to the cave.
‘Until awakening!’
Zed sent this anticipating thought to Zella, hoping it would raise her spirits at what they feared was ahead of them. Zella looked over at Zed, almost amused at the unusual sight of her mate hanging upside down.
‘Yes, I look forward to that day!’
With that thought, they immediately began to spin the threads necessary to form the chrysalis that would protect them through their long change.
Soon there was silence in the cave, with only a few intermittent movements of the chrysalides hanging from the ceiling to disturb the cool darkness.
Then all was still.  

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Filed under Celebrations, Short Story, Writing