Creating My Odyssey

Quirky artist / writer / explorer / wild west, steampunk & ghost nut /renaissance soul / mental health & lifestyle blogger

Thursday, 26 December 2019


CREATING MY ODYSSEY: FOLLOW ME!: PINTEREST I have umpteen gazillion categories. From A for art to E for exploration, from P for ponds to W for wild west. Go and have a p...


I have umpteen gazillion categories. From A for art to E for exploration, from P for ponds to W for wild west. Go and have a peruse!

I'm making a point to try and post more regularly. My creativity, explorations, foreign travel, out and about, everything that interests and excites me, in fact!

I don't post nearly as much as I'd like to, but I promise I'll try to in 2020!

I post whenever I have a blog post to publish, so keep an eye out for that!


 Twitter  LinkedIn    Facebook       Instagram   Pinterest

Follow Me!

Tuesday, 24 December 2019


CREATING MY ODYSSEY: SIX YEARS AGO - MY MEDICATION CRISIS & WHY YOU DON...: I can't believe it was six years ago, starting on Christmas Day itself, that I suffered a medication crisis that lasted several days and...


I can't believe it was six years ago, starting on Christmas Day itself, that I suffered a medication crisis that lasted several days and was finally dealt with on New Years Day. 

     The short version of what happened is that I'd been suffering from depression and anxiety because the effectiveness of my
medication, Venlafaxine, which had worked well for seven years, had begun to wear off. My psychiatrist put me on Prozac a week before Christmas then buggered off on holiday. 

     A week later, on The Day itself, we were downstairs in the sitting room unwrapping presents. Just Husband and me because our son was working. I felt I 'should' be happy. Jolly. I just wanted to cry. I went upstairs and cried. That was the start. I literally became suicidal. Horrific. Husband's family and my daughter helped us through it. Details of what happened after that are in my links, but six years later (it's Christmas Eve, as I speak), I've never felt better (more often than not).

     And now, let me talk about Christmas itself. (You don't have to do it!). Although it's a bit late to be saying this, it's certainly something to bear in mind for the future. 

    I was brought up by a mother who knew how to be a hostess. We all loved her food and Christmas dinner was fab. They were family gatherings with friends added on. The day was good. Pressies followed by dinner followed by lazy Christmas afternoons reading our new annuals and watching Christmas telly. 

     But as I grew up I grew moody, and after getting married, I began to dislike these family gatherings. I felt left out. Neither of my two older brothers communicated with me (they never had), and their wives treated me with distain. I was forced into being sociable, which I disliked. 

     After I had the kids and depression overtook me, Husband and I began to hate Christmas and family gatherings. The enforced jollities, the jolly mask we had to adopt. Yeuk. But we had to do it for our kids' and our families' sakes. Husband's family were fine. They were sympathetic and understanding of our situation, but my own family dismissed it, ignored it, brushed it aside. I felt inadequate and out of it. Not part of my family. 

      Then I had my medication crisis. One of our neighbours introduced us to the brilliant mental health team who cured me. Not just like that, obviously, but over a period of five years, with a medication combination and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. 

      The year after the crisis I was on the mend and gradually getting better and better. That year both my parents died within days of one another, and suddenly I was free. Free to separate myself from emotionally damaging family and those social gatherings. My new found happiness was paramount and nothing and no-one was going to ruin it!

     For three years following my parent's deaths, we took off to Looe in Cornwall, for Christmas, and that was brilliant. We did our own thing and thoroughly enjoyed it. One thing changed my mind over the enforced jollities and being sociable over Christmas. On Christmas day in our apartment overlooking Looe Estuary I looked out on Banjo Pier that jutted out from the estuary into the sea. Fishemen sit there most days. And on that Christmas Day, a fisherman was sitting on the end, fishing to his heart's content. Doing what he enjoyed most on Christmas Day. And why not, eh?

     Since then, we've decided that the memory of that horrific Christmas has passed and we're happy to remain home for that day. And do you know what? It's good. We're not forced into celebration if we don't want to. I give cards to our cul-de-sac neighbours, I email a design I created to various friends... and that's it. We give money to our offspring and our thirteen year old granddaughters. We have a Christmas dinner with our creative group, take our granddaughters to Birmingham Christmas market, have Christmas Day dinner with our son, and the week after, we go out for dinner with our daughter's family. And we decorate our sitting room and have a coal fire running. It is rather nice.

     We've discovered how many people don't enjoy Christmas. A lot! More seem to not enjoy it than do. Of course I wouldn't wish to pour cold water on those who do - and millions love it - but for those who don't - respect their wishes. 

     So, my advice is - if you don't enjoy Christmas - leave it alone. Easier said than done, I know (I've been there) but if you possibly can, tell friends and family that, if they don't mind - or even if they do - you'd rather spend it at home in your comfortable environment. Doing what you want to do, whatever that is. One year on Christmas Day Husband changed the differential on our classic car in the garage. A work colleague was shocked. 'Did Jo mind?' Why should I mind, for goodness sake? Husband was happy! Good enough for me! 😄

How to Survive Christmas - Don't Do It!  
Five Years Later..
Christmas Five Years Ago
Californa Rocket Fuel - This is a Miracle...
Incredible Healing Journals - My Guest Post


Past posts:

Headtalks - Oliver Chittenden

It's Okay to Ignore Christmas
          - Honestly!

The Matterhorn in the background - 
the none familiar side! 
On a rail trip some years ago.


Saturday, 14 December 2019


CREATING MY ODYSSEY: IT'S BEEN TOO LONG...NOVEL PROGRESS.: One example of the zillion pages  of notes I've written Hi guys! I have a gazillion posts in drafts, mostly unfinished, an...


One example of the zillion pages 
of notes I've written

Hi guys!

I have a gazillion posts in drafts, mostly unfinished, and it's been a while since I posted. A lot of it is because I'm being more creative artistically, but mostly it's because I've been concentrating on the novel. I've made some major changes in the plot line which are going down well, all encouraged by Husband, my fabulous critic and mentor.

     I've come to the end of Part Three, which I haven't touched since I first envisaged it all those years ago, and it seemed very wishy-washy. It wasn't working. I won't go into too much detail because I've become a bit paranoid about plagiarism, but suffice to say that I couldn't envisage part of the plot, which involved the gang mates of my protagonist, Jeannie, so I've changed it. 

      A challenging chapter to write, so, some time either this year or last, Husband helped me brainstorm it. He's my 'plot bunny'. It worked, making it more credible than the childish scribble I'd had initially, and I rewrote that chapter.

     That was either this year or last. Do you think I could find that chapter? Of course not! I lost it completely. I don't understand my laptop's document filing system which didn't help, and that chapter was nowhere to be seen. I was more than miffed because I remember typing it, and I liked it. Luckily I remember a lot of it, so I rewrote it. I think it works. 

     So this is a warning to all of us in the long process of writing/editing novels, long or short. save your work! USB stick it - two or three times, at least, and keep a stick outside the house or somewhere safe. Print a hard copy.  😣 

     Actually, what we've done now is at Husband's insistence because I don't understand software filing systems. (Give me a metal filing cabinet any day - but that wouldn't work for the amount of editing I do!). I ditched the USB sticks because my method of saving and filing wasn't working and was giving me a ton of unnecessary work. Then copy the whole thing onto two portable hard drives, one of which is outside in my wild west cabin/shed.

     About the writing itself, the tactic I use when writing complicated chapters is search 'Books' under Google. I type in key words, such as 'bank robbery', 'old west', 'posse' 'chase' and see what comes up. Often novels or relevant books pop up containing these words and I can use a sentence or description as a basis by changing words using Thesaurus or Rhymezone synonym/ related and turning those sentences around. Some folk might suggest that many of these novels could be rubbish and you can't rely on their writing. True. But I think I'm experienced enough to know the difference between good and bad writing, and I can differentiate between the two! So I might see a reasonable sentence and be able to turn it around to suit me. This often works, but one does have to be aware of what kind of writing the reference is, and not cut and paste willy-nilly. I could be done, quite rightly, for plagiarism!

     There we are. My editing/writing is challenging but not impossible. That's how I'm feeling about my writing, which is not a bad thing, although more often than not I feel desperate to do some work on it, particularly if I hear a piece of music or see something on the telly. That must be saying something!

     So keep going. I've divided the novel into parts which makes it seems less of an elephant to consume. That's how it works. Thanks Husband!

Recent posts:

                                                                        We're Gonna Go 
                                                         & Steampunk!

                                              Gran Canaria, Canary Islands
                                                             - gorgeous!



 Pinterest  Ello  Bloglovin'

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Billy The Kid Mystery In Upstate

Billy The Kid Mystery In Upstate

My son found this on the net. I'm sure it's him cuz I'm pretty good at facial recognition.

Tuesday, 26 November 2019


CREATING MY ODYSSEY: WE'RE GONNA GET A CAT!: Sorry it's been a while. I've been diligently working on the novel and getting the chapters in order on my laptop filing system. It...


Sorry it's been a while. I've been diligently working on the novel and getting the chapters in order on my laptop filing system. It's bonkers and taking forever because I don't understand computer filing systems. 😕 What I really need is a metal filing cabinet and cardbourd folders. 

Now, about pussy cats...


Our ownership of cats goes back a long way.

I was brought up with a cat. A black persian called Mickey. The parents bought him for my older brother. Sadly Mickey was run over when I was around twelve years old. We returned from holiday and my aunt, who lived over the road, had found him in a soggy heap next to the curb on the road. Aww...  Anyway, after that I was determined to own my own cat.

   Husband and I had been married a while. One weekend morning he brought up the morning tea, and in his dressing gown pocket was snuggled a tiny Moppet! Once more, with feeling... Awwww...  😃

     Moppet was a black and white rescue cat from a caravan site, found for us by Husband's work colleague. At first we thought Moppet was a girl, until a friend was stroking 'her' on his lap. Moppet rolled over and our friend exclaimed: 'Hey - Moppet's a boy!'.

     We had Moppet for a very long time. He died in his eighties and he was adorable. My parents loved him, and used to catsit him whenever we took our holidays. We'd drive the motorway to my parent's house, and Moppet would be nestled on the lap of whoever wasn't driving (could be awkward otherwise), and when we came off the motorway he'd sit up, his ears pricked up and he'd gaze out of the window. He knew we were nearly there.

     Dear Moppet died aged eighty-four or thereabouts. Bless his furry socks. I hate it when the time comes, and you vow never again will you have a cat and go through that. Famous last words.

     Because, after that we acquired Humphrey. Poor lad had been found hunting for scraps in a car park litter bin, and his tail had been chopped in two. I think he'd probably had it run over by a car. He was a bit of a mystery, but we theorised that his previous owner, perhaps elderly, had died, and Humphrey had gone walkabout. He was a well behaved, affectionate black cat, climbing into my arms when his RSPCA cage was opened. He'd been with the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) for over six months, and they reckoned that people didn't want him because he wasn't physically perfect. 😠 

     He was a delightful cat and Husband adored him. Again, he died at a good old age, but he suffered from cancer and we had to have him put down. It was the evening of our daughter's hen do, and Husband had joined our future son-in-law's stag do, so I had been left alone with an ailing cat. By the time Husband returned, Humphrey desperately needed help, so Husband put on his work suit and walked with Humphrey in his cage to the vet. The work suit was Husband's suit of armour, because we knew what Humphrey's destiny was, and it helped Husband through it while Humphrey was put to sleep.

      That was some evening.

      A year or so later, Husband declared that he wanted two kittens, so we acquired black furry Jessie and black and white Benny. The pair of them mostly totally ignored us until, a few years later, Benny died of heart failure. Jessie became a little more affectionate, but was so jumpy it was absurd. She died after some years of various physical failures. After which we vowed never to have two kittens again.

     And now? A year or two later Husband has been making noises about having a cat again. 😄 Truth is, we've been pretty busy outing and abouting, and we felt we didn't need the responsibility of leaving a pet on its own while we were away. On second thoughts, we've discovered that we're not keen on lengthy holidays, and our need to return to our 'stuff' after a maximum of a couple of weeks holds true. In which case we could adopt another cat and leave him/her unattended by us for a while. Son can feed him/her, and when he's not around, either neighbours or an automatic cat feeder would go down equally well.

     You see, we're missing having a furry face around. Husband recently bought and installed the cat flap and that was the biggest hint of all! Now all we need is a furry face. 😺

A drawing I made of Moppet 
 years ago


                                                     Two local cats. 
I love 'em!

    Recent Posts:

                                               I'm Working on a Novel
                                      I'm working on a novel 
                                    Been writing since year dot.


                                         Venice - Paying Attention
    This was my third trip to Venice.
This time I paid attention.


                       Facebook  Twitter   LinkedIn  Instagram 
    Pinterest  Ello   Bloglovin'

Tuesday, 12 November 2019


CREATING MY ODYSSEY: IF IT WASN'T FOR PEOPLE LIKE MY GREAT UNCLE CECIL....: It was Remembrance Sunday . We were packing up to return home from our narrowboat in Warwickshire, where we'd spent a couple of days se...


It was Remembrance Sunday. We were packing up to return home from our narrowboat in Warwickshire, where we'd spent a couple of days seeing our daughter and her family and doing some work on the boat.

     The telly was on, broadcasting the Remembrance Sunday service and the laying on of wreaths by the 
Royal Family at the Cenotaph Memorial. When the service observed the customary two minutes silence at eleven 'o clock in memory of all those who lost their lives through two world wars, so did we. I've grown the habit of thinking about my maternal Great Uncle Cecil at this moment for the last couple of years.

     As we drove home, it occurred to me that I could tell you a little about Cecil, my grandma's younger brother, who lost his life during the Great War on February 1st, 1917 in Mesopotamia, Greece. 

Cecil with my maternal 
great-grandmother (above) and great-grandfather 
and my grandma, Winnie, 1901/2.

     As a kid, I'd endure visits to the maternal grandparents in Surrey during the sixties, and, being bored silly, my mother would sit me at the dining room table and plant a box of old family photos in front of me. (I have that box today). Inside the box were albums and umpteen loose photos - mostly in sepia. I was fascinated by these really old images of great and great-great grandparents and extended family. 
      I grew fascinated, too, by family history, joined and took on the mantle of 'family historian'. in later years I discovered documents and papers referring to Cecil's death, and I learned that he had been killed by a Turkish shell explosion above his post on the front line. 

     There were many photos of Cecil as well. It wasn't until later, when I was old enough to appreciate it, that my mother began telling me about him.

      Cecil Hubert Baxter was born in 1890 in Willesdon, Hendon, London
. He was a member of the South London Harriers athletics association where he met my maternal grandad, Ernest James Holt, who was to become director of organisation for the 1948 Summer Olympics and who was also a member of the
Harriers. My grandma, Cecil's sister, then met grandad. Funny old world.

'No 63. Cecil Hubert Baxter  
This team I was told beat 
Oxford University. Your mother 
may know more about it.  

(Probably written by my Great-Grandfather 
William Dacier Baxter, Cecil's father).
 (Cecil is fifth from the left).

Cecil's Royal Horse Artillery document

I love this pic of Cecil!



Cecil Hubert Baxter was 
a Second Lieutenant in 
A Battery of the Royal Field
Artillery. Not a lot of 
information is known about 
him, but he is likely to have 
served in Gallipoli, infamous 
for being one of the 
bloodiest campaigns of World 
War One, before being posted 
to Mesopotamia, where he was 
killed on 1st February 1917. 
His body was never identified 
and he is commemorated 
on the Basra Memorial. 

                  A Commemorative Dinner

A commemorative scroll

The telegram from the King and Queen extending 
their sympathies.

The original letter from Cecil's commanding officer 
informing my great-grandparents of his death. 


Dear Sir, I am writing on behalf of every man - officer, N.C.O & other ranks to offer you our deepest sympathy in the heavy loss you have sustained. 

Your son had not been long in this brigade but on his arrival I posted him to my worst battery and Captain Gardiner has told me frequently that he was invaluable and his        ing work  - everything he put his hand to was most thoroughly carried out.

He was out on the front line yesterday as forward observing officer and was sending his most useful information when a Turkish shell burst over his observation station and he was killed almost instantaneously. I can only repeat how much I feel for you and that  your son is a very great loss to the Brigade.

Yours sincerely,

Having re-read this, I'm astonished and rather shocked. It's making me want to research this further. Cecil deserves it. 

(Ps. My apologies over formatting sizes. Blogger can be rather fickle!)

cecil hubert Baxter