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Butterfly Shadows


I stopped under a moving shadow of a Monarch butterfly. She fluttered around a tree and flit above a house. My eyes darted left and right hoping to catch a glimpse of orange. Her fire a smudged blur in my memory. Original link
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  142 Hits

Slugs in love...


Two slugs locked in love's embrace and forming a perfect circle, symbol of infinity. This morning on my walk. Photo copyright SvD. Original link
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  448 Hits

Memento mori.


My wonderful friend, Gwen, died today and I shall miss her terribly. Over more than twenty years, we laughed riotously, drank a lot of wine, ate a lot of good food and consumed vast quantities of whisky, cognac and anything 40% proof after dozens of suppers shared as we put the world right. There is an expression that one will die peacefully if one has lived a good life. Gwen did exactly that surrounded by those who loved her. Farewell, witty, sarcastic, beautiful and special Gwen. I shall never forget you. Hedgerow Sparrow last Saturday morning flew into my glass door. I put him in the greenhouse to wake up but he never did. Photo copyright SvD. Original link
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  476 Hits

Food is fuel......yee ha!


I walked four miles today and I was in the office from 9 to 5.30. There are some days when cooking makes me cringe but if it's so easy I could do it with my eyes closed, I might be tempted. This recipe is inspired by the great outdoors and cowboy films. You fry your bacon, you add your beans. Simple. Now let's watch that sunset together. Cowboy Beans (with cherry tomatoes for colour). Photo copyright SvD. Original link
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  263 Hits

Take a Gamble on My New Romantic Adventure!


It’s finally here!! My second book about Penny, and though it’s a standalone sequel, Penniless Souls is the second half of a two-part journey called the Lost Compass Love Series . Follow Penny and John through the Mojave Desert to Las Vegas, Nevada where old dreams and dark nightmares intertwine, colliding with the bitter truth. Is Penny up to the challenge? Is she willing to bet her last cent?  Here’s a snippet from Chapter One:   “Can you trust me?” Quietly, she nodded and placed her head back on his shoulder.   “I have so far,” she mumbled without conviction. It felt like a white flag of surrender.  The type of submission that reminded her of submissive women in advertising campaigns of t...
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  196 Hits

Spaetzles to Heaven


I'm not German neither am I an expert on German cuisine but my love of spaetzles came to me from my ex-husband whose first wife was German. Spaetzles are a type of quick noodle made with flour, nutmeg and eggs. I use a flat cheese grater to pour the batter into simmering unsalted water- all Germans are politely asked to forgive me for improvising with a cheese grater. Once cooked, the spaetzles are tossed in bacon fat, butter and sauerkraut and topped with crispy lardons and breadcrumbs. Delicious! My supper tonight. I will walk off all this scrumptious fat when I trot my usual 40-50kms per week. Photo copyright SvD. Original link
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  238 Hits

A Plethora of Roosters or a Peep of Chickens?


Not a flight of swallows or a murder of crows--not a siege of herons or a gaggle of geese.... Nor an exaltation of larks or a dole of doves but perhaps a plethora of roosters.... A month ago, we had a few roosters decorating our kitchen. I have this idea that the rooster is an image of forgiveness. So much so, that I wrote a short book about it, called The Fifth Commandment. In my short novella, rooster symbolism abounds. If you haven’t read it, then please click here. Originally, we had one big rooster on the top shelf that my husband painted, and two old ones on the second shelf.   Both of the smaller ones were gifts. Then, at the end of July, my artistic friend Melodie gave me a gray, woo...
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  178 Hits

How to Live.


When I see people buying ready-made meals in the supermarket I want to scream. Cooking is easy and if you want to stay healthy, learning to cook is an absolute necessity. I work full time and I cook every day. Why? Because I love the ritual involved plus I need to know what I am eating. I make my own bread because I loathe supermarket bread. The way I live is not extraordinary, it's how I grew up. Tonight I was inspired to make apple sauce from the orchard outside my kitchen window (the dry summer has forced the apples to ripen months early). And pork and apple sauce are a match made in Heaven. This meal took less than an hour. Broad beans in a parsley sauce, pork chop with a homemade apple ...
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  246 Hits

Althorp and the mystery of Diana's resting place.


Althorp, the Spencer family home, makes for an interesting day out. I recently visited but I doubt very much that Diana is buried on the island on the lake. Why? The lake is some distance away from the house and it seems a cold and lonely place to be buried. I'm more inclined to believe the local rumour that Diana is buried in the family vault in the nearby St Mary The Virgin church at Great Brington. Her father is buried there as well and it would make perfect sense for Diana to be with her dad. I have no proof, of course. I can only say what I feel. The Spencer crypt below: The crypt is behind  these blue railings which are fitted with an alarm. The spot (near the window) inside the Spence...
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  439 Hits

Still Grinning About July


The month of July began with a bang. We had the absolute cutest family members visit us during the week of the Fourth of July. They chased Pinky and Fiona and then jumped in the pool. It was non-stop fun and laughter. We even went hiking in the Santa Rosas, played Jenga and took the dogs for walks. One day, we visited an antique shop and a French soap maker in Old Town Temecula. This was immediately followed with unlimited supplies of soft-serve with toppings. Pinky and me. I laughed my head off! Chalk drawings on pavement, chess championships and a colossal number of crayons kept everyone entertained. Pinky and Fiona received extra belly rubs and forbidden, under the table snacks. Seems eve...
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  155 Hits

Huge skies, endless vistas.


In screenwriting they call it POV when the audience sees something from a specific angle. This shot is perhaps more reminiscent of a cowboy on horseback but it is, in fact, on my daily walk. Tonight as I took this shot, I could swear I saw a face in the clouds. An anguished face looking backwards. Photo copyright SvD. Original link
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  275 Hits

Now that the wheat has been harvested....


Mr Badger has lost his secret passage to the water trough in the calves' field. El geriatric dogo feels very small next to the hay. (For townies: after wheat is harvested, the remaining stalks are rolled into bales of hay for animal fodder in the Winter.) In memorium. Photos copyright SvD. Original link
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  247 Hits

Love and My Fear of Cooking


My people show how much they love you by serving massive amounts of food. Then, if you don’t eat several portions, they feel that you don’t love them back. It’s a common disorder and painfully difficult to navigate. Let’s say I invite family from far away. If we’re not going to a restaurant and the kitchen is available, they will make themselves at home and prepare some delicious comfort food. Gigantic vats of the stuff. During the meal they’ll keep checking my eyes to make sure I love their creation. If I try and act cool, they will ask, “Do you like it?” “Of course, of course. It’s delicious,” I answer, knowing how hard it is to make a great dinner. Plus, they came from far away and deep i...
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  278 Hits

Forget Summer...


In 23 years I have never seen apples ripen in Summer but our recent drought has forced the fruit to mature too quickly. Apples traditionally ripen in the Autumn when they are picked and stored over Winter. The sun-drenched immature fruit is ripening then falling off the tree from lack of water. A long dry Summer will mean little stores in Winter. Once again nature has a lesson for us: what we do today has an impact on tomorrow. Photo copyright SvD. Original link
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  267 Hits

Midweek supper...


Food to me is about nourishing my body. I work hard and I'm getting older so anything processed is out. I cook every day and eat supper at a dining table with lighted candles. This clears my head from the office dramas and allows me to appreciate my meal and to give thanks. As one gets older, a simple, peaceful life is a type of paradise. After supper I might go for a short walk and if I see a badger or deer that will be a perfect end to my day. Be yourself. Be happy with whatever is your lot. Shut out the noise around you. Peace. Photo copyright SvD. Cumberland sausage and kidney bean stew with roasted bell peppers. Original link
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  289 Hits

Lucky? Happy? Happy. Lucky.


On my 6.30am walk today, the hound and I came upon a mortally wounded pigeon, its left wing ripped off by a dog. Shame on the dog owner to have a stupid animal and to leave the pigeon to die an agonising death. By the time the hound and I arrived on the scene, the pigeon was conscious but unable to move other than to drag itself on the stomach, a gaping wound where its wing used to be. Another dog walker appeared with his pug, Monty, and we decided to ring the pigeon's neck. I would hold the bird and Monty's dad would do the deed. We debated clubbing the pigeon to death with a stone and went in search of a large enough one. As we discussed the execution, along came a cat who grabbed the dyin...
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  171 Hits

You Humans Are Very Strange....


This morning. Photos copyright SvD. This sheep looks at the hound and I with utter disdain as we walk past every day. I love the black patch which adds to that look of utter antipathy. The local vicar who is a frequent walking partner dislikes sheep and often remarks that they are 'born to die'. That's usually when I remind the vicar that faith is about peace and love... Original link
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  253 Hits

Setting Sun.


Nature teaches us about how irrelevant we are in the grand scheme of things. The sun rises and sets in spite of us. Think about that. Tonight on my walk:   Photo copyright SvD. Original link
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  271 Hits

Summer Light.


The summer sun has such intensity as it energises nature with an overdose of vitality to flourish, reproduce and bear fruit. One of my favourite books is L'Etranger by Albert Camus and the scene where the protagonist is blinded by the sun and pulls the trigger is a masterstroke of writing, creating an image that is instantly emblazoned on the brain. I used to live in a village where the only exit road meant you drove right into the sun and because the landscape was completely flat the sun appeared as a giant orb on a very close horizon. One had the sensation of driving into Hades quite literally, and for five or more seconds it was impossible to see the road or oncoming cars at all. The summ...
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  309 Hits

The Secret to Happiness.


You'll find it the words above. Look carefully. One sentence will stand out and will change your life forever. Good luck. Photo copyright SvD. Blenheim Palace. Original link
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  190 Hits