Write 250 words celebrating trees

Arnos Vale star tree by Judy DarleyTrees in local public gardens and parks boost our spirits, offer a natural haven, improve air quality and willingly offer us something to hug. Sydney Gardens TREE WEEKENDER Writing Competition invites you to put your feelings about trees in public gardens and parks into just 250 words.

The deadline for entries is midnight (GMT) on Monday 1st November 2021, or whenever 125 entries have been received.

It is free to enter. Entrants are limited to two entries only – you may submit a poem and a flash story, two poems or two stories.

Sydney Gardens in Bath, UK, has been a public park for more than 100 years attracting residents and visitors alike, including Jane Austen. Once a private Georgian pleasure garden limited to those who could afford a subscription, it’s now a green jewel within the World Heritage site of the City of Bath.

A recent recipient of Heritage Lottery funds, Sydney Gardens has undergone a restoration that has been delayed by the pandemic but is now coming to fruition, which is being celebrated with a ‘Tree Weekender’ on the weekend of 27 & 28th November.

As part of this celebration of trees, you’re invited to write a flash story or poem of 250 words or under about trees in your local public garden or park.

In particular, they are seeking pieces that examine the value of trees in local parks and public gardens. They want to know the stories from where those trees came from, how they’ve been managed, cared for and loved, and what they mean to you.

Poet Samantha Walton & Charlotte Smith from the B&NES Parks and Trees Service will judge the poetry competition. Nigel Bristow and Andrew Stuck are the judges for the flash pieces.

Judges will draw up a longlist from the entered poems and stories, and all works on the list will be published on the TREE WEEKENDER web pages during November. Shortlisted poems and stories will be chosen, audio recorded and geo-located within and around Sydney Gardens to be available over the TREE WEEKENDER.

Shortlisted authors will be invited to join an exclusive nature writing on- line roundtable on Saturday 27 November, and will be invited to read their work at the TREE WEEKENDER Showcase online finale on Sunday 28th November 2021.

The winner and runner up in both the poetry and prose categories will receive a Book Token to the value of £50. They and the runners up, will each receive an artwork that illustrates their poem or story, created by Alban Low. There will also be special prizes of artwork for the best poem and story submitted by a resident living within Bath & North East Somerset.

The longlist and shortlist will be announced by Monday 22nd November.

The Sydney Gardens Tree Weekender writing competition is run by Rethinking Cities Ltd / Museum of Walking on behalf Bath & North East Somerset Council.

Find full details and terms and conditions here: https://www.bathnes.gov.uk/sites/default/files/sgtw_writingcomp_final_eligibilityrules.pdf

Got an event, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw attention to? Send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud (dot) com.

Book review – Random Observations

Random Observations cover. Shows sepia photo of woman and boy.One afternoon in September, a slim envelope was pushed through my door. It contained a book with a title but no indication of the authors, and 32 pages of text interspersed with curious images.

Random Observations begins with a foreword that encompasses in two pages a rescue from a crevasse and a devastating marital rift, plus an introduction to Nevil Short, the apparent author of this work. What follows are snippets of klutz – a spaceship gone awry, a woman in the wrong place at the wrong time, and her child, Short, looking on. Our narrators vary from Short himself at various points in his life to Xyllophital, aka Colin, the extraterrestrial who accidentally kidnaps a human. Oh, and then there’s Inky the dog, who gets a chapter all of his own.

Often the people stepping into the spotlight seem incidental to Short’s central tale, but as he explains in his introduction: “The notes below have been painstakingly compiled through my lifetime’s association with persons of a perplexed disposition.”

Continue reading

Writing prompt – moped

Moped in Arnos Vale. by Judy DarleyThis poor moped was abandoned in a local Victorian Cemetery, looking utterly at odds with the gravestones and lush greenery.

There are plenty of questions you could explore to create a story inspired by the sight.

Who might the culprit be, and why did they leave it there? Could this be a statement about fossil fuels and our fragile grasp on life, or might a bunch of squirrels, badgers or buzzards have gotten up to no good in the gloaming? Is the Learner plate significant to the tale?

Why not make a play on the word ‘moped’, meaning small-engined two-wheeled vehicle, and ‘moped’, meaning behaviour revealing a melancholic mood?

Given the setting and the season, you also have the option to take a spookier route and write of ghouls taking nostalgic joyrides. I saw it at 7.15am and when I returned a few hours later, the bike had disappeared…

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Enter a Halloween podcast Flash Fiction competition

Pumpkin eating person. Photo by Judy Darley

The Failing Writers Podcast Halloween Flash Fiction Writing Competition is eager to hear your words.

Entry is free. The prize is £100 plus the chance to hear your story performed in full by professional voice actors.

The deadline for submissions is Friday 22nd October 2021.

They invite you to send them a Halloween-themed flash fiction story of no more than 666 words. It can be any style, any genre, anything you like, as long as it’s themed around Halloween.

To enter, you need to listen to Episode 24 of the Failing Writers Podcast (available here) for a specific word or phrase that you MUST include in the story. They also recommend you subscribe to the podcast and sign up to their newsletter.

Once it’s ready, email your eerie masterpiece to failingwriterspodcast@gmail.com by Friday 22nd October.

Find full terms, conditions and entry requirements here.

Good luck!

Got an event, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw attention to? Send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud (dot) com.

Writing prompt – pork

Bramble Farm pig by Judy DarleyAt local urban farmstead Bramble Farm open day. a friend and I enjoyed sausage baps before strolling over to meet this meat, ahem, pork, ahem, pig

As someone who rarely eats meat and loves wildlife, it shocks me how much is consumed daily, and how that impacts our planet.

This pig trotted over to have its ears scratched before toppling onto one side, I assume in hope of a belly-rub, but it made me think of the cow-like creature in Douglas Adams’ The Restaurant at the End of the Universe that’s been bred to want to be eaten.

I’ve been reading recently about scientific advances in lab-grown meat, whereby a single cell from a pig can be nurtured into a batch of sausages or mince. As sci-fi as this sounds, it’s happening right now, with the target audience being uneasy meat-eaters who want to limit their contribution to deforestation and questionable animal husbandry practices.

Can you turn these strange truths into a fantastical work of fiction?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Affordable Art Fairs Autumn 2021

Full Harbour by Michael Praed

Full Harbour by Michael Praed

The Affordable Art Fair (AAF) returns to Nacka Strandsmässan, Stockholm, from 14th to 17th October 2021, with works on sale from 40 local and international galleries.

If that’s a little too far to travel  in the current climate, why not head to Battersea Park, London, from 20th-24th October?

The Battersea edition of the fair launches with a private view on Wednesday 20th October. Though there will be few galleries and timed visitor slots this year to allow for social distancing, there will be more than 100 galleries displaying fantastic artworks. These include the marvellous Eleven and a Half, who will be showing works by Cornish artists Michael Praed, Iona Sanders, Ben Catt, John Piper, and, for the first time, landscape artist Jill Eisele.

Other hotly anticipated highlights are the Recent Graduates showcase, curated by designer and artist Pascal Anson – a chance to buy innovative work before artists hit the big time. You’ll also find a new immersive installation, Fluid Form.

From 27th to 31st of October you can catch the AAF at de Kromhouthal, Amsterdam.

For me the best part of any Affordable Art Fair is simply the opportunity to traverse corridors of exceptional art and letting it set my imagination alight.

Find booking details here.