Animals, Equestrian, Happiness, Life, Writing

Eira Diaries – Post #1

Welcome to the Eira Diaries!

Why the ‘Eira Diaries’? Not only does the title sound poetic, but both words contain ‘Eira’ – which, I think, earns extra ‘writer points’ πŸ˜‰

This series of blog posts will feature not only my beautiful pony, Eira, but also our family’s handsome horse, TΓ’n, and, from time to time, my sister’s gorgeous horse, Kara.

The reason I’ve decided to create a blog post series is to document the journey Eira and I are taking to get fitter and healthier, after many years of struggling to get moving with our adventures.

Throughout this series, I hope to include stories of both mine and Eira’s past experiences, alongside the tales of our – inevitably winding – road to fitness. I also hope to include some useful product reviews πŸ™‚

So, this first post of the series will focus on the beautiful pony herself…

I rescued Eira when she was 11 months old, in the summer of 2013. Destined for the meat market, Eira was bought at auction by landowners who were inexperienced in caring for horses, but longed to save horses from slaughter. Eira was turned out in a huge field with countless other horses who had been rescued from various auctions. The people who’d bought Eira thought it was a great idea to leave the mismatch herd of horses and ponies (from huge cobs to teeny tiny miniature Shetlands) fight over crates of bananas left in their field!

Perhaps naively, I purchased Eira without being able to get anywhere near her. There were several horses and ponies available to choose from, though even from a distance, I fell in love with Eira’s scruffy chestnut foal coat and near-white flaxen mane. The next day, it took us hours to get her into a trailer. When we arrived at her new, temporary home, she was so terrified of us that she hid in the corner and trembled whenever we tried to approach her.

It only took a couple of days for Eira to realise that we weren’t going to hurt her, and, once she’d learned how to eat from a bucket, she decided she was happy to let us near – after all, someone who feeds you three times a day can’t be that bad, right?

By the end of her first week with me, I’d managed to remove the scraggly foal coat still clinging on since winter (it was June), and I couldn’t believe how beautiful my new pony was underneath all that grime and dust!

I chose the name ‘Eirawen’ for her because it means ‘snow white’ in Welsh, and at the time her mane and tail were so bright they looked almost white. Plus, it was clear from the get-go that Eirawen believed she was a princess, so the name suited her. It didn’t take long for her name to be shortened to ‘Eira’ – the name ‘Eirawen’ only resurfaces when she’s acting like a diva, or decides to stand on my foot.

Prior to Eira’s first vet visit, it was obvious she had conformational issues. As the years have passed, she’s developed a plethora of health problems that have meant her insurance costs are ridiculously expensive (#cry). Aside from having wonky legs that require specialist front shoes, Eira has very sensitive skin that turns into sweet itch over the summer, she had laminitis around 4 years ago so is now prone to that, she has cysts on her ovaries, a few small sarcoids, dodgy teeth that require 6-monthly check-ups, a flat back that makes it really challenging to find saddles to fit her, and she can’t seem to keep more than half of her mane at any given time. (Oh, and she likes to sit down in the field, like a dog!) So, all things considered, she looks pretty darn good for a pony with all those issues, if I do say so myself πŸ™‚

Eira has a naughty streak and can be stubborn when she wants to be – she also loves a buck when asked to canter, whether under saddle or on the lunge, which I’ve learned has nothing to do with discomfort or imbalance and everything to do with overexcitement. For all her cheekiness, Eira is the most gentle pony – no more so than when she’s with my niece, whom Eira adores. Of our family’s horses, Eira is the one we introduce visitors to, because she’s the only one who can be trusted not to accidentally headbutt, nip, or squish them! We may not be flying around show-jumping courses or dazzling in the dressage arena, though I am incredibly proud to have produced such a kind, willing – if a little stubborn at times – pony whose fate could’ve been totally different if I hadn’t taken that leap of faith 9 years ago…

Due to a hand injury 7 years ago (that still isn’t better 3 surgeries later) and having such a hectic life since Eira was old enough to ride, my poor girl is still extremely green under saddle – through no fault of her own. My parents and sister help take care of Eira when I’m unable to due to my ridiculously long work hours and when my hand is too painful to move, for which I am eternally grateful.

I wish I could wave a magic wand to fix her health issues, fix my hand, and add a few extra hours into every day, but for now, we’ll just have to settle for trying our best under our given circumstances.

I’ve ordered a saddle for Eira that should be arriving tomorrow, so *fingers crossed* it fits because it’d be fab to finally return to ridden work after a month-and-a-half of lunging!

Anyways, I hope you’ll look forward to the next instalment of the Eira Diaries πŸ™‚

Thank you for reading!

Best wishes,

Dannika & Eira

Adventure, Author, Book Publishing, Career, Creative, Teaching, Writing

End of an Era?

Hi Everyone, I’m sorry it’s been so long…

How are you? How have you found the last few months? I feel this post is all about me, so please share anything you’d like to celebrate about your own life in the comments!

TL;DR – A lengthy essay detailing recent happenings and life changes. Honestly, I’m not expecting you to want to read the entire post, it’s more for my own ‘journal of life experiences’, so in the future I can look back to appreciate how far I’ve come. If you do manage to read this entire blog post, congratulations! You now know more about what’s going on in my life than most of my own friends and relatives do πŸ™‚

After four years of hard work, my BA (Hons) English Literature & Creative Writing with The Open University is complete! While I longed to achieve a First-Class degree, I may just miss out and am predicted a 2:1 classification – which I’m told is still pretty impressive, considering my status as a mature student who works full time and has a hectic home life. I hope that my experience will inspire others to embark on a degree, if it’s something they’ve always wanted to do, because if I can do it so can you πŸ™‚

However, I have found the last few months – well, last few years if I’m being honest – overwhelming. My schedule has been so saturated with work that I’ve felt time slipping by uncontrollably. While I love writing, adore reading, and enjoy studying, I underestimated how much time would be taken working for myself as a ghostwriter while studying towards a degree full-time. I am still passionate about writing, though recently, I’ve been forced to reconsider my ambitions…

I’ve always been fascinated by education; the science behind it, learning processes, and the incredible opportunities brought about by collecting new skills. In fact, some of my favourite ghostwriting projects have been based in children’s literature.

As a teenager, while I was told by a few of my high school teachers – and high school careers advisor, and relatives, and friends, and basically anyone I discussed careers with – that I’d be a great primary school teacher, I toyed with the idea but never felt confident enough to pursue that career path. Initially, I was training to become a horse riding instructor and equine behaviourist, since – aside from writing books by myself, which, unfortunately, will never guarantee an income – being around horses was the only place I felt truly confident and comfortable. One painful hand injury, seven years, and countless trials in various career paths later, I cannot seem to shake that longing to be involved in the education sector.

Therefore, I re-considered becoming a primary school teacher and sought advice to that affect from wherever I could – I even work as a classroom assistant for a local tutoring company one to two evenings a week, to gain valuable teaching experience and refamiliarise myself with a classroom setting – yet still didn’t feel comfortable with the thought of managing a class of thirty unruly children by myself. My experiences working with young people have, however, reaffirmed that feeling that I should be working with them to make a difference for the better. But I kept wondering how could I possibly do that unless I became a teacher?

Luckily, my love of books led me to read the Guide to Writing for Children and YA, which I discovered in the hope of improving my craft as I work on my own YA sci-fi series. Within the pages of that invaluable book, I learned of an entirely new realm of children’s literature – and it has opened my eyes to the possibilities available to me in the world of educational publishing! I intend to pursue work in a school (preferably library-based or as part of a reading/literacy intervention role, though I’m certain working as a teaching assistant will be equally rewarding), in hope of gaining amazing insight into the young people I intend to write for, before I embark on creating exciting books for reluctant readers and children whose reading levels don’t correlate with their curriculum age groups. I am beyond excited to – after many, many years of uncertainty and deliberation – have finally found a route to utilise my literary skills and experience to support young people in developing a love of reading and appreciation of books. It may take a few years to accomplish, though I am truly looking forward to the wonderful literary challenges ahead!

Therefore, is the completion of my university course the end of an era, or the beginning of an exciting, new adventure? I hope it’ll be the latter πŸ™‚

Anyway, in other news…

Unfortunately, despite the lifting of restrictions, the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic has been devastating for many businesses:

First, I was represented by the fabulous company Top Rated Ghostwriters for two years, though they sadly had to close down due to unforeseen losses caused by the pandemic. It was an honour to have been represented by such a fantastic company, and having the opportunity to work with a team of amazing ghostwriters was brilliant – I cannot thank Top Rated Ghostwriters enough for their support and encouragement.

The loss of an agent is another factor that has forced my decision to limit the ghostwriting projects I take on in future – because I no longer have a ghostwriting support system in place if ever I need help, advice, or encouragement. However, I do intend to continue working on smaller-scale ghostwriting projects when I have time, such as those for charitable organisations or memoir writing, because there are so many fascinating stories out there just waiting to be told – I’d love to use my experiences to bring those stories to life, especially for people who may not otherwise be able to afford to do so πŸ™‚

Second, Wordcatcher Publishing became a victim of the pandemic, too. Not only did Wordcatcher Publishing traditionally publish two of my books, but the company also gave me the opportunity to work as a publishing assistant – which provided me with invaluable experience that I may never have had otherwise. I learned so much while working for Wordcatcher Publishing, from proofreading and working with authors on various editorial projects, to typesetting manuscripts for print and managing book metadata. I am incredibly grateful for the publishing experience I gained at Wordcatcher, and it was a pleasure to work with so many wonderfully talented authors – several of whom have become my friends!

As a result of the closure of Wordcatcher Publishing, however, I now have to re-publish my debut novel – Larry – and series of short stories – Animals’ Guide to the Human Race. Although I have now completed my university studies, my time is still extremely limited, so I have decided to edit Larry and AGTTHR for the very last time in every spare moment I can find, with a view to self-publishing them through either KDP or Ingram Spark in the very near future.

A little bit of good news – for those who enjoy my writing – five years in the making, I still haven’t given up on my series of YA sci-fi novels! I am crafting a dynamic cast of characters for my sci-fi series that, I hope, will help readers feel more confident within themselves, alongside the inspiration to act with greater compassion towards others – my novels will also be packed with mystery, suspense, conspiracy theories, and super-advanced tech that requires significant research to write coherently. So, please ‘watch this space’ for updates…

Thank you, once again, for your continued support! You are incredible, and I am honoured that you’ve chosen to spend your time with me (well, with my words, which is pretty much the same thing) πŸ™‚ <3

Best wishes,

Dannika

Uncategorized, Writing

About the Art of Writing

Hello, for the third time today!

I promise I’ll stop sharing blog posts for the rest of the day πŸ™‚

Third and final blog post of the day is another revived post from an older blog of mine – I hope you enjoy this post.

Writing is an essential part of life. Harbouring the power to change our world, the written word still holds such enchantment and discovery, despite the digital age.

Here, I share some inspirational words from fantastical writers…

Anna Sewell, author of my all-time favourite book Black Beauty, made such an impact with her work that it led to improvements in equine welfare; such as removal of the ‘bearing rein’ and inspired the provision of water troughs for over-worked horses in Victorian towns/cities.

“Now I say that with cruelty and oppression it is everybody’s business to interfere when they see it.”

“We call them dumb animals, and so they are, for they cannot tell us how they feel, but they do not suffer less because they have no words.”

“There is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast it is all a sham.”

“Master said, God had given men reason, by which they could find out things for themselves; but he had given animals knowledge which did not depend on reason, and which was much more prompt and perfect in its way, and by which they had often saved the lives of men.”

Nobody will ever forget the changes inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. A civil rights activist, he believed in non-violent protest – succeeding in changing perspectives and encouraging equality.


“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

“I still have a dream, a dream deeply rooted in the American dream – one day this nation will rise up and live up to its creed, ‘We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal.’ I have a dream…”

J.K.Rowling, famous for creating the wizarding world of Harry Potter, is one of the most influential authors of our time! Her words inspire that hard work and dedication make dreams come true.


“Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.”

“You control your own life. Your own will is extremely powerful.”

“I believe in hard work and luck, and the first often leads to the second.”

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

Roald Dahl’s stories have been captivating the imagination of children for generations. Everyone can remember their favourite story of his.


“You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double-chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”

“Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

Although not an author, Macklemore’s lyricism is fantastic. When you cut through the surrounding profanity and filler, listening to lyrics uncovers surprisingly insightful depth within the words.


“No law is gonna change us, we have to change us. Whatever God you believe in, we come from the same one. Strip away the fear underneath it’s all the same love.”

“The quickest way to happiness? Learning to be selfless. Ask more questions. Talk about yourself less.”

“I might not be the same but that’s not important. No freedom ’til we’re equal, damn right I support it.”

“The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint. The greats were great because they paint a lot.”

It is an ultimate dream of mine that my own words might one day make a difference to the world for the better too πŸ™‚

What writing most inspires you?

Please keep creating – I’m going to <3

Best wishes,

Dannika

Uncategorized

About the Benefits of Reading

Heyy πŸ™‚

Here’s a revived blog post from an old page I created years ago. It feels especially relevant to what we’re going through right now, having to stay in to stay safe from this COVID-19 pandemic. The brilliance of being able to enjoy escapism through some cleverly-styled words printed on the pages of a book is remarkable. I don’t know about you, but I adore that ‘new book’ scent!

So, here it is, the benefits of reading…

Reading offers us magical escapism. It takes us to mystical new worlds, and allows us to adventure with colourful characters. But is that brilliant book you’re reading doing more to benefit your health than you know?

Brain Power

Yep, reading actually makes you more intelligent! Especially if you start reading at a young age, since reading introduces you to new vocabulary you wouldn’t otherwise obtain in everyday life. Reading provides exercise for your mind, improving memory and brain function. It also educates; even reading fiction can help us learn about history and other ways of life.

Inspires Compassion

Reading stories from another’s perspective encourages us to think of others’ feelings. Seeing the world through another’s eyes makes one better understand emotions, and teaches one to deal with complex social situations.

Reading is Relaxing

In our stressful lives it is so important to take some time out to relax properly. Settling down at the end of a busy day with a good book reduces anxieties and helps us forget the happenings of the day. Relaxation is significantly important for mental and physical health. It enables one’s body to unwind and recharge.

Incorporating reading into your bedtime routine can also help you sleep better too! By exchanging a real book for your mobile phone, television, tablet or e-reader, you can remove the stimulus of a screen – enabling a restful night’s sleep.


“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr Seuss

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Please do go an adventure today, and tell the world about its wonder.

It takes a team to produce each book you ever read, don’t forget to review books you enjoy, to help others enjoy the enchantment of them too! πŸ™‚

Hope you’re staying safe and well – we will get through this, though books will help us survive isolation and emerge all the better for it <3

Best wishes,

Dannika

Uncategorized

A Revival of Reviews

Hi Fellow Readers πŸ™‚

I hope you are staying safe and well!

Having just re-discovered a book review site I set up after having major hand surgery early 2018 – when I was confined indoors – and had joined a book club, I felt it might be interesting to share those reviews here. As a disclaimer, I will explain that when I wrote these reviews I hadn’t yet worked for a publishing company, nor had I started any editorial/proofreading training. I didn’t start my BA (Hons) English Literature and Creative Writing until much later that year too, so my apologies if the writing style isn’t what you’re used to from me…

Life with the Lid Off by Nicola Hodgkinson

Back of the Book:

‘When single mother Nicola Hodgkinson decided to follow her rural dream, it involved transporting her young family – three rowdy children, her beloved horse, a wilful donkey and two single-minded bantams – to a ramshackle cottage in an idyllic seaside village. The family soon attracts the horrified attention of nosey neighbours, and annoys motorists by hogging country lanes with a horse-drawn caravan.

But amid the chaos, the magic of family life shines through, peppered with humour; love, moments of high drama and nostalgia.’

Firstly, I have to mention how shocking the amount of interests I have in common with the author of this book are – not only am I passionate about horses, my favourite book is Black Beauty, and I thoroughly enjoy everything nature/wildlife related, but I also love to write stories that are emotive; stories that I hope invoke laughter, relatability, and deep thought.

I quite literally laughed out loud on so many occasions whilst reading this book – I thoroughly enjoyed the style in which it was written, which kept me so gripped that I stole every spare moment I could and finished reading it in less than a day!

Nicola Hodgkinson’s sense of humour shines through, regardless of how embarrassing or ridiculous the situations seemed – however, this humour was laced with a darkness that, just as happens with us all, did seem to preside over certain moments. Despite the darkness faced, on ploughed the story – to weave a wonderful tapestry of what country life is really like.

Although surprising, I felt the story’s end offered the chance of a new beginning – something so many people fail to believe is possible as their age progresses. It’s truly refreshing to read a story written by an older author whose view on life is so appreciative and positive, regardless of the relentless struggles she had to deal with. And the fact she couldn’t fathom the writings of Virginia Woolf only made me like her more (apologies to any Virginia Woolf fans!).

I applaud the honesty of life’s revelations as Nicola Hodgkinson portrays them, though I also admire her way with words. Some of her descriptions offered such magical scenery, that it genuinely inspired me to strive to try writing such lovely imagery myself.

I definitely give this book 10/10 – and although aimed at the adult market, I’m sure it’d do no harm for a YA audience to delve into this story too πŸ™‚

I recommend this read wholeheartedly, and am probably going to purchase a copy of my own to read (the copy I read was owned by the Book Club I’m part of) during difficult times as a comfort of sorts; if in no other way than to relate to equine based hilarity!

Thank you for reading <3

Regulus by Aaron Ozee

Book Description:

‘King among the mice and eater of all the cheese. Regulus, the lord of all squeaking feuds within the wall, is betrayed by those closest to him for the ego he holds so high. Struggles between the just and wicked come to pass in this paramount tale of the darkest and brightest sights in our lives.’

A story, although entertaining for children, fueled by the underlying importance of being appreciative instead of greedy. Children won’t only find this book funny, but it’ll also teach them about treating others as equals – showing that differences are to be celebrated, not to be utilised for self gain.

This is something we don’t often find nowadays, books that offer children a sense that their moral compass is their responsibility to wield and control.

Choosing the subject of a rat has proven popular for series such as Wind in the Willows etc. It seems to be a suitable character choice here too! The illustrations are just lovely, so children of all ages would enjoy them.

On the topics of learning and illustration, some of the wording may seem a little advanced for young children – however, given the cleverness and clarity of the illustrations, it enables children to widen their own vocabulary by using the images to give definition to words they may not have encountered before. As well as this, the style of poetry is not the general ballad type, in which every last word of every or every other line rhymes. There are a variety of sentence structures, allowing children to explore a diverse range of writing style which they may not find in other children’s books.

I think it unfair to give a score to children’s books, since I am not their intended audience and so my mind may not appreciate the book in the same way a child would. Therefore, I suggest this book is suitable for children of all ages, whether read by parents or children themselves.

Thanks for reading <3

Small Truths by Josanne Wilson

Book Description:

‘Following the lives of Isabella and Estafano Celestino, there are so many changes as their family enter the early 1900s. Business is booming, and the married couple utilize their wealth to improve the lives of those less fortunate – as well as to take care of their employees. As they tussle with the challenges of balancing family and work-life, can Isabella and Estafano’s love survive such turmoil, or will their love find them lost amidst the temptations their wealth unveils?’

About the Author: ‘Josanne Wilson’s grandparents immigrated to the United States from Italy and she always wanted to build a story around their journeys. Wilson is married with five children and one granddaughter. She enjoys reading, writing, crocheting, and making crafts. She lives in Jamestown, New York.’

Talented author Josanne Wilson tells the tale of Isabella and Estafano.

Continuing on from the Cobbler’s Daughter, Small Truths entails a series of unexpected twists in the storyline. Laced with romance, drama, tragedy and happiness, this book would be an ideal summer holiday read.

It’s so easy to become entrapped in the fascinating descriptions of a world we wouldn’t know now, with the rise of technology and social media.

If you enjoy historical or romance novels, you will certainly enjoy reading Small Truths – which will entertain until the very last sentence.

I rate this book 8/10, and recommend you keep an eye on Josanne Wilson’s Author Page for its official release: https://www.facebook.com/josannewilsonromancenovels/

Thank you for reading <3

The Cobbler’s Daughter by Josanne Wilson

Book Description:

‘In search of a better life, young travelers make the journey from Italy to America in the late 1800s. Not only do Guiseppe and Josephine find that better life – they also find each other. What begins as a few stolen glances on the ship soon becomes a clandestine affair. When Josephine realizes she’s pregnant, they both worry about how her abusive husband will react. Enjoy reading the story of how they each make a home in their new homeland, how each endure hardships but find prosperity through hope, love, and a belief in God. Understand that life is short and it’s important to follow your heart.’

About the Author: ‘Josanne Wilson’s grandparents immigrated to the United States from Italy and she always wanted to build a story around their journeys. Wilson is married with five children and one granddaughter. She enjoys reading, writing, crocheting, and making crafts. She lives in Jamestown, New York.’

Following the hazardous journey from Italy to America in the late 1800s, the Cobbler’s Daughter depicts the detriments and fortunes of two families pulled together through tragedies – held together by the strength of family.

As the story unravels, it reveals not only interesting historical descriptions of the time, but also the awakening of a multitude of emotions and feelings of every character.

Delving into the intertwined connections of the characters, this story won’t cease to keep you turning the page – to follow each of the shocking revelations around every corner of the narrative.

Recommended to readers of romance and historical novels.

I would give this book 7/10, simply because there were not chapters to break up the story’s sections – though that is just personal opinion.

Thanks for reading <3

Together by Julie Cohen

Book Description:

‘Robbie and Emily they have been together for decades. Now, their joints are creaking and their eyesight is failing – but their love for each other is as fresh and fierce as the day they first met. They have had children and grandchildren, lived full and happy and intimate lives. But they have been keeping a secret since the day they met, when their lives changed forever. Over the years, the sacrifices and choices they made have sealed their fates together.’

(Borrowed from a local Library, on recommendation of a relative who’d enjoyed it…) This book is structured reading events backward from 2016 to 1962. As you progress through the pages, history is revealed and secrets are slowly but surely unraveled.

The reader is kept guessing throughout!

It’s difficult to understand why the book is structured the way it is, until the story begins to take shape. I actually found the unusual setup interesting, and I believe it matched the subject of this story well.

The settings and situations read fluidly, with lovely descriptions of the environment – as well as characters that really draw you in. You’re made to feel for the characters’ circumstances, which definitely brings them to life.

I particularly loved how the characters’ pet dogs were described! Although a secondary detail of the story, I felt realistic canine characters added a sense of depth.

I was grateful the story wasn’t left on a cliff-hanger! Though the conclusion was shocking…

Found the style of writing so ‘readable’, that I couldn’t stop turning the pages.

It kept you wanting to find out what might happen next; which I liken to getting hooked on binge-watching a new television series!

My review mark for this book is 8/10. I enjoyed the read, but felt there were a few small details that were left unexplained (which I imagine is largely due to the backward structure of the story-line) – and the ending was such a surprise, that it took away a little from the sense of affection you might have developed for some of the characters; whilst leaving you wondering what happened to other characters.

I’d recommend as a Book Club read, as ‘Together’ offers much opportunity for the discussion of a variety of topics.

Thank you for reading this review <3

A Sorry Affair by Kirsten Nairn

Back of the Book:

‘Jen and Mack are the perfect couple; meeting at university, moving in together and engaged to be married. Then, one day, Abbi turns up on their doorstep and throws a huge spanner in the works of their seemingly well-oiled relationship. On that day, Mack’s life is turned upside down and it seems there’s no way back. Resigned to the fact that the relationship is over and Jen is selling the house, Mack is forced to go back home and live with his parents. He comes to blows with his father, who was close friends with Jen’s father, and emotions run high when past hurts are revisited. Despite several letters from Mack, years pass without any word from Jen.

The reader is left in suspense, always wanting more and wondering if it really is the end for Jen and Mack.’

The story follows a unique perspective of three people affected by an affair.

Although at first difficult to get to grips with, the original style and setting of the story became intriguing – I found myself enthralled by the story, and couldn’t stop turning the pages!

I particularly liked the way Kirsten Nairn built up the image of each character through their own perspective in each chapter. It really gave the characters a great sense of depth, to the point the characters felt as though they were real people who could be anyone, anywhere – neighbours, acquaintances, colleagues etc. It just goes to show that you can never know what’s going on in another’s life, behind closed doors!

I don’t normally read many romance novels, though I’d definitely recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys romance, or would like a steady introduction to reading romance genre for the first time. I believe it would be suitable for adult readers, especially if you enjoy a little suspense.

There was a balance of emotions, which never left me feeling too disheartened or overly ecstatic for the characters. Although there are times that make you truly feel for the characters’ situations, the surprising twist at the end of the story almost consoles you for all that.

It genuinely leaves you wanting to find out how the characters’ lives turn out – which is definitely the mark of a good writer.

Personally I believe I would give this novel a score of 7/10, because I feel the script could have read with more fluidity to begin with – given that the style of writing is so original. However, once I understood the layout of the chapters, the book was a thoroughly enjoyable read that I struggled to put down!

Thank you for reading <3

The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse

My first ever ‘Book Club Read’ – for the first Book Club meeting I attended, 20th February 2018 πŸ™‚

Back of the Book:

‘It’s 1928. Freddie Watson is still grieving for his brother, lost in the Great War. Driving through the foothills of the French Pyrenees, his car spins off the road in a snowstorm. Freddie takes refuge in an isolated village and there meets a beautiful, captivating woman. They spend the night talking of love and loss and war. But by daybreak, Fabrissa has vanished and Freddie realises he holds the key to an ancient mystery that leads him deep into the mountains, to a cave that has concealed an appalling secret for 700 years…’

A grieving Englishman seeks solace for his mental health in France. Whilst there, he happens across a ghostly, mystifying lady, who helps him talk about his grief; and step foot on the road to recovery after many years. Losing her suddenly, he fights all odds to find her. When he does, his discovery is haunting…

I really like the way the book is set out. The way the story is told enables your imagination to become immersed within it. The author’s descriptive style of writing makes the book exceedingly difficult to put down!

If ever you’ve, or someone you know has, suffered mental health issues, the protagonist Freddie is not only relatable, but the author genuinely makes you feel for his character – willing positivity to shine upon his life’s darkness.

Scenes of revelation are written so very well, that your imagination is gifted vivid images that could so easily be reality somehow – I believe this book could be transformed into a fantastic film! I felt the length of the story, and indeed the book itself, was just right. Not so long as to make you lose interest, yet suspenseful throughout its 239 pages.

I like how much background information and research are included after the story; the author was very gracious in her acknowledgements too. I thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘The Winter Ghosts’ by Kate Mosse, and look forward to discovering more of her work.

I rate this book 10/10.

Thank you for reading <3

I also included a selection of brief reviews of equestrian-themed books I grew up reading…

For readers who love all things equestrian, this list comprises of works I believe are essential equestrian reads πŸ™‚

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

About the Author:

“Anna Sewell was born in 1820 in Norfolk, England. After an unfortunate accident, Anna seriously injured her ankle – for the rest of her life she couldn’t walk for any length of time and needed a crutch. This led to her travelling by horse-drawn carriage, which contributed to her love of horses and concern for their welfare. Although she passed away in 1878 – so sadly didn’t see the popularity of Black Beauty after its publication in 1877 – Anna Sewell’s work resulted in the use of bearing reins – which are particularly painful for a horse – falling out of favour. There is also an Anna Sewell memorial fountain and horse trough outside the public library in Ansonia, Connecticut, in the United States of America.

Black Beauty, having sold an estimated 50 million copies, is one of the top ten best selling novels for children.”

Book Description:

“Black Beauty is a well-bred horse with a fine black coat, who beautifully narrates the story of his life. The story tells of his idyllic upbringing, followed by the hardship and cruelty he suffers at the hand of unscrupulous owners, before finding security and happiness in a new home. Being one of the most popular children’s novels ever written, Black Beauty’s story was successful in inspiring more humane treatment of horses in Victorian Britain; anti-cruelty impact of this novel is still recognised today.”

My Review:

“Powerfully thought-provoking, Black Beauty is still one of my most favourite novels of all time. (It has even inspired my writing!) The way Black Beauty makes you truly feel what horses at that time were experiencing is beyond enchanting. Whether you’re a child who’s pony-mad, or an adult experienced equestrian, Black Beauty is sure to make you laugh, cry, and long to cwtch the nearest horse/pony!”

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

About the Author:

“After meeting a World War I veteran, who had been in the Devon Yeomanry working with horses, Michael Morpurgo began to think of telling the story of the universal suffering of the Great War through a horse’s viewpoint. He also met another villager who had been in the cavalry in the Great War – and a third villager who remembered the Army coming to the village to buy horses. Michael thanks these men in the dedication of the book. Another event inspiring the writing of War Horse was when Michael encountered a young boy with a stammer who was terrified if spoken to by another person, was able to speak freely to a horse – the trusting relationship that child had with the horse amazed many.

With his wife, Michael Morpurgo founded ‘Farms for City Children’, a charity that allows inner city children to experience spending time on rural farms.”

Book Description:

“Told through the eyes of Joey, War Horse follows Joey’s journey during World War I. Originally a working farm horse, Joey was sold by the farmer to become a cavalry horse – which saddened his young owner Albert. Having been captured by Germans, then finding himself in the care of young Emilie. Joey and his companion enjoy farm life for a short while, before being taken away again to pull an artillery wagon.

After many trials Joey finds himself alone in no-man’s-land, wounded by barbed wire. Eventually ending up in veterinary hospital, where he reunites with an old friend.

A children’s novel that teaches not only of the horse’s role, but also of the devastation experienced during war.”

My Review:

“It’s impossible not to fall in love with honest, hard-working horse Joey. His willing nature and integrity highlight how much of an impact wartime had on horses, as well as people. Through brilliant storytelling, War Horse carries you through every emotion – drawing you in with each page turn. I originally read this novel whilst in school, and would choose it as reference whenever wartime was the topic in class. I felt it so very important to show the truth of war through the eyes of a horse, whose involvement in it wasn’t through choice – if future generations continue to read War Horse and relate with Joey’s experience, I honestly believe it holds the power to prevent war ever happening again.”

The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans

About the Author:

“The Horse Whisperer was the debut novel by English author Nicholas Evans. Selling over 15 million copies, with The Horse Whisperer Nicholas experienced much success – especially in the United States of America. The story is said to be inspired by a real-life horse whisperer from America.”

Book Description:

“Beginning with teenager Grace and her horse Pilgrim going out riding with Grace’s friend Judith on her horse Gulliver, The Horse Whisperer follows the journey of Grace and Pilgrim after an horrific accident in which Judith and Gulliver lose their lives. Desperate to help her daughter through the trauma of losing a leg, her friend and the trust of her horse, Grace’s mother Annie seeks the help of a horse whisperer. Taking the reader on an emotional roller coaster, The Horse Whisperer follows Grace and Pilgrim’s expedition to recovery together – along with the short-lived affair Annie has with Tom, the horse whisperer himself.”

My Review:

“I read The Horse Whisperer for an English Literature project whilst at school. Having watched the film beforehand, I believed I was prepared for what I was about to read. I wasn’t. There was so much depth in the writing, that it became impossible to stop turning the pages. Found myself staying up until the early hours – even on a school night! – to ‘finish one more chapter’. A gripping tale I found fascinating – since equine behaviour is a subject close to my heart anyway – not only does The Horse Whisperer travel through coping with post traumatic stress experienced by horses and people, but also enlightens to the effects a traumatic event has on those indirectly involved in the resulting impact of an accident.”

Heartland Series by Lauren Brooke

About the Author:

“Lauren Brooke is one of the pen names of British writer Linda Chapman. As well as writing the Heartland series with Beth Chambers, she has written around 200 books – most of which are fantasy series for younger children.”

Book Description:

“25-book series about young Amy Fleming who lives on a horse ranch in Virginia called Heartland. Amy, along with her family and friends, rescue and rehabilitate mistreated horses. Amy prefers treating horses with natural remedies and therapies, over traditional methods. Having experienced trauma resulting in psychological issues herself, the series follows Amy’s story as she overcomes her own issues whilst working tirelessly to help horses. Heartland has a target readership 8-14 year olds.”

My Review:

“I thoroughly enjoyed reading every book in the Heartland series. I’ve forever been interested in equine behaviour and welfare, so reading these heart-warming and uplifting stories became a lovely past-time for me whilst in school. I even encouraged my friends to start reading Heartland! I would definitely recommend this series to any child who loves horses. However, regardless of the fact this series was written for children, I am certain adults would enjoy this series just as much – especially if they hold interest in the field of equine behaviour and alternative remedies.”

The Silver Brumby Series by Elyne Mitchell

About the Author:

“Australian author Sybil Elyne Keith Mitchell was a keen horsewoman, famous for her series of children’s novels. Elyne Mitchell won many awards for her writing.”

Book Description:

“The Silver Brumby series follows the adventures of creamy-silver stallion Thowra and his herd of wild horses. The reason Thowra is known as ‘The Silver Brumby’ is because during winter Thowra’s cream coat becomes much paler, having an almost silver shine. In combination with his silvery mane and tail, Thowra’s pale winter coat blends into his native snowy landscape. A rarity for a brumby, since their coats are usually black, bay, grey or chestnut.”

My Review:

“Wonderful stories following the adventures of wild brumbies in Australia. I read these stories as a child, and believed them fantastic! Usually finding stories originating from Britain or America, to learn about the Australian landscape through these magical stories offered a lovely reading experience I believe children today would also thoroughly enjoy.”

The Black Stallion by Walter Farley

About the Author:

“American author who primarily wrote horse stories for children, Walter Farley’s most famous book was ‘The Black Stallion’ published in 1941.”

Book Description:

“Following the story of a wild stallion known as ‘the Black’ or ‘ShΓͺtΓ’n’ who encountered young boy Alec Ramsay, and ended up stranded on an island with him. They form the strongest bond. When they’re eventually rescued, the Black and Alec are found to be a formidable racing partnership – and are trained by retired racehorse trainer Henry Dailey. Due to the fact his breeding isn’t documented, the Black races as a mystery stallion, enabling young Alec to remain his jockey.”

My Review:

“I’ve never been a fan of horse racing. Though The Black Stallion wasn’t purely about racing. It told the tale of the unique bond between a horse and his boy, brought together under unique circumstances. The Black Stallion novel is full of descriptions depicting the time in which it was written, providing an outlook that may have otherwise been lost to future generations.”

I hope you’ve enjoyed this time capsule of book reviews πŸ™‚

Take care <3

Best wishes,

Dannika

Author, Uncategorized

Pros & Cons of Lock-down

Hellooo πŸ™‚

I hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and well <3

So, my lovely boyfriend gave me the idea to write this blog post.

People around the world are feeling the effects of lock-down. Currently, here in the UK, we’re at the beginning of week 3 in lock-down; which for us involves home-working where possible, restaurants/non-essential shops/pubs/clubs/leisure centres/sporting facilities/event venues etc. closed temporarily, all sporting/entertainment events cancelled for the foreseeable future, non-essential travel stopped, and one form of outdoor exercise a day is allowed with your household only.

There are positives and negatives to be taken from this situation. From my perspective, these are in a kind of balance – with a leaning toward the negative end of the spectrum.

In keeping myself busy I’ve been completing ghostwriting projects, studying toward my university assignments, achieving CPD certificates from online courses, caring for my dog and horses, as well as reading more.

Basically, I’m trying to accomplish inspiration from isolation.

I will share with you a Facebook post I added to my own page (as opposed to my author page) yesterday, which I believe clarifies that the stupidity of a large section of the general public are the reason this pandemic is still in full force…

“** Public Announcement **

LOCKDOWN IS NOT AN EXTENDED BANK HOLIDAY!!!! STAY IN!!!

From Cai and I….

We were quietly enjoying our one form of outdoor exercise for today, Cai remaining on a lead so as to avoid risk of contact with anyone else, though our efforts to keep ourselves, our loved ones and others safe were in vain.

On our very brisk walk (because there was nowhere to go without being within 2 metres of people!) we encountered:

  • A drunk guy downing cans, then peeing in a hedge.
  • Plethora of dog-walkers with every dog – aside one – off their leads.
  • Countless numbers of people, in groups, hanging around the local lake (I understand families will be exercising together, but from what I could see, there wasn’t much social distancing going on between these households).
  • People who had travelled by car to walk around the area (one particular dog walker I’ve spoken to a while ago and know for a fact lives in St Fagans – come on, there’s no way she can claim there’s nowhere to walk around St Fagans!!!).

I am staying away from loved ones, such as my Grandparents and Gareth, to protect them and everyone else around both them and myself. The sacrifices we are being asked to make are challenging, but not as challenging as having to hide in Anderson Shelters, fearing for our lives because of deadly bombing raids.

Come the f*ck on – please Please PLEASE, stop being selfish. All you’re being asked to do is stay in, chilling out on the sofa, to watch Netflix. It’s not difficult. Every person I know is sticking to the instructions given, to them I say – wholeheartedly – thank you. To every person putting thousands of loved ones at risk because they can’t follow simple rules I say, take a good look at yourself. Stay the heck in!!! Read books written by survivors of Auschwitz, study what life was like living in the trenches experiencing untold horrors to protect your loved ones, find out the stories of immigrants going through hellish situations whilst escaping war-torn countries to save their children.

Please, stay in, stay healthy, stay safe. Remain positive and consider others; if you cannot consider others, realise that you are at as much risk from COVID-19 as anyone else.

Rant over! Haha.

Infinite thanks to all who are following instructions and all those working tirelessly to keep us safe, fed and well ❀”

As you can see, my tone was pretty frustrated. I do understand the challenges of not being able to enjoy being outdoors and spending quality time with loved ones, but it is incredibly important that directives are followed, else we are all at risk of losing loved ones.

Sacrifices made during the darkness of today will ensure a brighter, safer tomorrow.

Distancing from loved ones is the aspect of lock-down I am struggling with most. I haven’t seen my amazing grandparents or brilliant niece, nor have I seen any of my other great relatives, let alone any of my fantastic friends. Though, the person I have become closest to, who I am feeling deeply the effects of distance from, is my wonderful boyfriend. We’ve been keeping in touch by telephone and Skype; however, I don’t have to tell anyone going through this that it just isn’t the same. I’d love a good cwtch with him right about now…

However, I saw on a news program last week an interview the UK’s eldest gentleman, who told his story. Having lived in 11 decades, he said the greatest moment of his life was meeting the lady who was to be his wife. They only met briefly, as she was travelling to be a volunteer nurse in Ghana, whilst he was destined for Taiwan to become a volunteer teacher. He told their story of a relationship maintained by the written word, with letters taking as much as 8 weeks to arrive. They maintained this for 4 years, before getting married and enjoying over 60 years of joyful marriage. Having lived through wars and financial disasters, this inspirational gentleman was so full of resolve that humanity will make it through this pandemic by working together, that one couldn’t help but feel inspired.

The Queen’s address to the nation yesterday was poignant, yet empowering.

It seems sometimes, distance gives us opportunity to gain a thankful perspective. Despite the fact I make efforts to be grateful every day for all I am fortunate to have, I for one know that I am going to emerge from this lock-down with a brand new appreciation for absolutely every aspect of awesomeness in my life.

If you’re struggling with lock-down at the moment, here’s a list of resources you can contact, as shared by South Wales Police on Facebook yesterday:

☎️ Mind Cymru 0300 1233393
☎️ Samaritans 116123
☎️ Anxiety UK 03444 775774
☎️ Live Fear Free 0808 8010800
☎️ Age UK 0800 0556112

There’s also a useful list of mental health support services on the NHS website.

Should a telephone call not be your ideal form of accessing help, here are some other ideas for accessing online help:

And for meditation, the NHS provides some useful information, or, you could always try any of the following apps:

Don’t forget to keep in touch with family and friends through FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, etc. – isolation doesn’t have to equal loneliness.

And, as always, please feel free to send me an email at d.e.kendall@outlook.com should you wish πŸ™‚

Please keep washing your hands and staying home as much as possible, follow guidance and we’ll get through this all the stronger, sooner.

You are not alone.

Best wishes,

Dannika

Uncategorized

Lots!

Heyy πŸ™‚

Sorry I’ve been away. I definitely haven’t been idle though!

As you’re able to see from exploring my website, I have worked exceedingly hard to update the services I offer. In this modern world of uncertainty, to be able to diversify is to remain financially afloat. I am absolutely delighted to be able to surround myself in the fascinating world of words.

I imagine you’re wondering what else I could have possibly been doing in a lockdown, to have prevented me from writing blog posts. Well, I’ve worked a little on my own writing projects, worked on a ghostwriting project, studied for my next uni assignment, cut my own fringe, kept up with caring for my horses and dog, as well as completing distance learning CPD courses. Phew! No wonder I am absolutely shattered…

Whilst my poor – already injured – hand is painful from all the writing (the printer ran out of ink and as printer ink isn’t an essential purchase, I chose to hand-write notes instead), I successfully completed a Bookkeeping for Personal & Business Accounting course, along with a CPD (Continued Professional Development) Proofreading & Copy-editing course; for which I achieved 100% on the final test! *High-five myself due to social distancing rules*

I may have square eyes and a broken hand now, but the fact I’ve managed to achieve a lot in lockdown got me to thinking as to why more schools and universities aren’t offering online courses for free. What better way is there to utilise our time than to better ourselves? Education is power. Surely, it’s about time we all had access to opportunities to pursue our dreams? Life is too damn short not to.

I am exceedingly fortunate to be on track to pursuing my dreams, having recently taken the leap into freelance ghostwriting – now proofreading and beta reading too – though some aren’t so lucky.

All I can hope is that everyone finds their own piece of positivity, amidst this time of turbulence. I hope you’re able to find your own peace during this pandemic!

Best wishes,

Dannika

( P.S. In case you needed a laugh, following are two photographs from this evening – ‘before’ and ‘after’. My apologies in advance for not having any make-up on whatsoever, for not using a filter, and for wearing my PJs. Hope my embarrassing attempt at DIY hair-cutting gives you a giggle! <3 )

Adventure, Uncategorized

About Dog Walking

Here is my handsome dog Cai on his morning walk today πŸ™‚ You can find his Instagram account here: @cai_the_collie_xx

Dog walking isn’t only essential for your dog’s welfare, but in my opinion, it’s essential for my welfare too.

As the entire world seems to be on lock-down, human interaction is being kept to a minimum. I’m dreadfully missing loved ones I normally see on a daily basis, which makes dealing with anxiety surrounding the enormity of this COVID-19 pandemic evermore difficult.

However, there’s a ray of sunlight amidst this global crisis – and I’m not just referring to the glorious weather we’re fortunate to be experiencing in the UK right now – and that is my gorgeous dog.

Cai has been part of my family for five years now, since he was the cutest puppy on the planet (I’m biased I know; but just look at him!).

He has been by my side through the some of the toughest times of my life; he has also been there for me to make the best times even greater.

Although he was initially destined to become a working sheepdog – to help us manage sheep at the farm we keep our horses at – that wasn’t meant to be. So, my sheep-phobic Welsh Collie cross Border Collie not only became my best friend, but actually gave me reason to keep getting out of bed no-matter how horrific life seemed; because he was not going to let me avoid walking him! I love my Cai infinitely, he truly is wonderful.

My three fur babies, in one photo <3

Don’t get me wrong, there are trying times too – for instance, he recently pooped on two Nurses and a Vet who tried to clip his claws (oops!). He has the most piercing bark, which he uses continuously if there are dogs on the TV (real or animated, he doesn’t discriminate). And he has the same relationship with food as any overweight human; despite my best efforts to manage a balanced diet for him, turns out one dental chew a day was enough to push his weight over the edge. Cai ended up having to go onto a strict diet and exercise regime for his own good. We’re still working on that weight loss, though 26kg down from 31kg is a fantastic feat!

Walking Cai helps me keep my weight in check too!

Dog walking provides unlimited possibilities for adventure. Cai loves walking in the field across the road from our house every day; he enjoys a stroll around the local park; now he’s decided horses aren’t scary, he takes great delight in walking around the countryside surrounding the farm; he’s fond of forestry walks; and he adores the beach.

However, one aspect of walking Cai does not like is going out in the rain. He has a wardrobe’s worth of coats, to keep him motivated to walk in rainy or cold weather.

How handsome is he?!

Whilst out walking your dog, I feel it’s important to reiterate that not all dogs are confident or friendly when approached by other dogs. Cai can become very nervous when unfamiliar dogs approach him; though if he’s chasing a ball, his focus is solely on the game of fetch – in his five years so far, he’s had three instances of loose dogs run full-force into him; each time they both rolled onto the grass, then Cai jumped up as if nothing had happened and continued to chase after his ball, leaving the other dog a little bemused. When walking with his best doggy friends Kally and Milo, Cai does get protective whilst on the lead. So far he’s only ever growled at other dogs who approach them – he’s fine off his lead – but being a collie, I am aware their behaviour can be unpredictable, so I don’t take any risks. If he’s on his own and another dog approaches him whilst he’s on his lead, he will cower and hide under my legs. Therefore, I walk him in a bright yellow lead with the word ‘NERVOUS’ in bold letters across it. That seems to have helped considerably, since fellow dog-walkers realise he’s a nervous dog and tend to put their own dog back on a lead until they’ve passed us πŸ™‚

It goes without saying really that with dog walking there’s a lot to be mindful of. Not only being mindful of other dog owners – I’ll put Cai back on his lead immediately if another dog appears in the vicinity – but also ensuring you maintain responsibility of cleaning up after your dog. I carry doggy poop bags everywhere, and I mean everywhere. I’ve been out to posh restaurants for meals before, and accidentally dropped doggy poop bags as I’ve fumbled for something in my bag. I find them in all my coat pockets, and even once discovered some in the hood of one of my coats. There really is no excuse not to pick up after your dog – thankfully, most people do.

If you’ve been inspired to consider adding a furry friend to your family, always seek expert advice from a Vet or qualified Canine Behaviourist before embarking on the wonderfully rewarding, yet at-times challenging, adventure of caring for your own dog – responsibility akin to having a child.

It’s advisable to re-home a rescue dog if you can. Had Cai not been intended for a working life, I would searched dog re-homing centres for the new member of my family. I’ve worked in a Veterinary Hospital and have seen first-hand the dangers of puppy farming, as well as the disgusting trend of purchasing a dog breed for fashionable purposes, or to make money from indiscriminately breeding the current ‘in’ breed – owners not realising the consequences of their actions (namely brachycephalic dog breeds with shortened noses, who tend to have a plethora of health issues derived from breeding defects, such as breathing issues). If you feel a specific breed of dog would best suit your family, then please do get in touch with reputable, certified breeders – make sure you see the mother, if not also the father, of whatever puppy you’re hoping to buy.

Just to get you started, here’s a quick checklist before searching for your forever dog:

  • Ensure your garden is completely secure, and large enough to incorporate space for your dog to run around/relax in the sunshine, as well as ‘do their business’ outside (also worth deciding on the best system for disposing of dog waste every day – dogs do produce a lot of it, especially as puppies!).
  • Check your house is ‘dog-proof’, meaning there’s no food or potential toxic substances within reach of your dog (some dogs do learn to open cupboards, so be careful!)
  • Be sure you’re able to set aside at least 1 hour a day to exercise your dog (depending on their breed, certain breeds require far more exercise than others), as well as all the time required to train and bond with your dog (there are plenty of qualified, insured dog-walkers out there to help exercise your dog if you’re stuck in work during daylight hours, especially during winter months).
  • Have somewhere safe to keep everything your dog needs, such as their food/water bowls and bed; along with places to store their food, toys, bedding etc.
  • Ensure they’ll have somewhere to access a constant supply of fresh, clean water and decide where and how you’d like their feeding regime set out (for example, some dogs enjoy trickle-feeding throughout the day, whereas others suit set feeding times best – always ask a Vet for advice if you’re unsure).
  • Be aware that your dog will need vaccinations at the same time every year, they’ll need flea treatment every month and – depending on the type of worming treatment – standard wormer every 3 months.
  • Also, make sure your car is ‘dog safe’ – whether that’s purchasing a crash-safe cage for your boot, or investing in a harness and seat-belt attachment (again, you can always seek advice from a pet professional about all of this).
  • Last but not least, get your dog insured! I cannot stress enough the importance of getting your dog insured. Obviously none of us dare even think about the worst happening, though should it, insurance will help you financially so you only have to focus on dealing emotionally with whatever the situation is.

Whether you’re already fortunate enough to enjoy the companionship of an amazing dog, or you’re thinking about adding a dog to your family, or even if you just like to look at cute dog pictures, Cai and I hope you’ve enjoyed a short break from the panic-driven hysteria encompassing us all at the moment πŸ™‚

Best wishes,

Dannika

Cai and I on our walk this morning πŸ™‚
Uncategorized

On Losing Your Glasses

Ever experienced that irritating instance of losing your glasses, stressing and rushing around in attempt to find them, whilst panicking that you’ll have to live in a state of short-sightedness for the foreseeable future? If so, you tend to end up re-tracing your steps and racking your brain as to where you could’ve possibly lost them, only to make the embarrassing discovery that they’ve been on top of your head the entire time.

It’s a little like getting on with a situation that’s not right for you, as if your lack of vision forces you into an anxious state for fear of never finding what you need – when what you needed was easily within your reach the whole time.

Now that many realms of work are on lockdown, maybe the only perk of your employment situation – financial stability – is no longer there. With people all around the world tackling lack of wages, worrying about not being able to buy basic supplies (due to selfish people stockpiling), and feeling utterly lost amidst these unprecedented situations, it kind of feels like everyone needs to take a step back.

This horrific virus has, terrifyingly, not yet reached the peak of its impact. We are in fear for our vulnerable loved ones’ wellbeing.

Given the stark reality of this, considering individual health – both physical and mental – is of utmost importance. So, why not consider that career change you’ve always wanted to make? Or using this time in isolation to plan extensively for that adventure of a lifetime? After all, we have access to infinite internet resources. Alternatively, why don’t you try out that new hobby you’ve always wanted to but never had time for?

Being out in the countryside, it’s obvious there’s been a positive impact in favour of nature. One swift swipe of any social media site will display dolphins returning to Venice’s waterways, the pollution levels in China greatly reduced, and I’ve noticed that here in Cardiff there’s been more wild birds than ever braving trees close to houses that they’d never normally perch upon.

We need to work together, to help everyone emerge at the end of this COVID-19 outbreak safe, healthy and happy.

So before humanity delves into insanity, let’s take a deep breath.

We can do this.

We all need to be sensible, considerate, and patient.

Just as every time you’ve accidentally left your glasses on top of your head, you’ll find them when that state of panic is over and you’re calm enough to be rational.

Thoughts are with all affected during these difficult times. Focus on the light, and it’ll guide you through the darkness <3

I’m here for anyone feeling lonely during isolation. As you already know, I love writing – so please feel free to send an email if you’d like to share a virtual conversation πŸ™‚

d.e.kendall@outlook.com

Best wishes,

Dannika

Author, Uncategorized

About Emetophobia

Millions of people around the world suffer this debilitating phobia, yet shockingly few people seem to know what it is.

If you dont already know what emetophobia is, I wont be explaining it here; so as not to trigger any fellow emetophobes. It should take seconds to search on Google though πŸ™‚

I’ve suffered from it since I was around 7 years old. They say it can usually be traced back to one particularly horrific experience. For me, I’m almost certain it was the Christmas my Dad under-cooked a turkey.

For those who cant understand, whatever I am about to write will probably confirm whatever judgements you may have made about me being out-of-the-ordinary. If you happen to think my anxious habits strange, then I totally get it, I do. Heck, I have always stressed myself out over it, but it is part of me now. And I wont apologise for being me, just as no genuine, good, considerate person should – without our uniqueness the world would be a pretty boring place!

Anyways, instances of the phobic variety cause any emetophobia sufferer to go into panic overdrive. No amount of disinfecting, hand washing, starvation or self-isolation seems enough protection. It’s a guarantee an emetophobe will take weeks if not months to recover from being in the vicinity of an incident, regardless of the fact they almost certainly weren’t to experience it themselves. Should anyone around appear to show any sign remotely related to the instance that sends we phobics into a full-power nervous breakdown, we will not only keep our distance – we’ll also obsessively clean ourselves, often avoid food just in case our already anxious stomach is upset to the point of no return, and even lock ourselves away from the outside world for 24-48 hours, until we’ve satisfied the emet-demon that we’re safe from catching anything sinister.

As you can imagine, this makes virtually every activity an anxiety attack risk. Travelling in the car or public transport there’s a chance fellow travelers become a cause for concern – whether on the side of the road or within our immediate breathing space. Going clubbing, or for nights out, or house parties involving copious amounts of alcohol consumption never end well – the resulting effects are usually a source of hilarity for everyone else; whereas it’s the complete opposite for us. Going on holiday and trying new, exotic foods is terrifying enough to put us off going away in the first place. And don’t get me started on the agonizing strength of anxiousness experienced when attending or working in an environment surrounded by children – the majority of whom don’t seem to have a decent grasp on hand hygiene, and tend to find foul happenings funny. Watching films, especially in the cinema when relatives and friends haven’t been able to ‘vet’ it for you first, is a white-knuckle experience akin to jumping out of an aeroplane if you have a phobia of heights. You become superstitious, afraid to wear the same clothes as the day of any given incident – even if it was experienced by someone else – just in case it’s bad omen.

Emetophobia turns you into your own worst enemy, as you are petrified of your own body. Can you imagine living in this constant state of highly pressurized anxiety 24/7? It’s the reality for emetophobics.

Due to emetophobia, I developed anxiety, OCD and depression. However, after attending my GP, therapy (CBT didn’t work for me unfortunately, though I was thankful it helped me understand the phobia a little better) and going through some rather challenging times, I learned that any traumatic experience has potential to be a trigger for emetophobia. For me, being bullied in school, then sexually and emotionally abused as an adult, had a devastating effect on my mental health due to the added strain of living with this life-limiting phobia. Occasionally to the point I wasn’t sure how I could continue to live in this state of constant torture (I have my horses, dogs, family and friends to thank infinitely for helping me save myself).

Over the years I developed many habits a normal person would certainly consider odd. Whilst in school, I’d change my clothes and shower at least three times a day – wouldn’t allow any of my school clothes, bags, shoes etc. to ‘contaminate’ anything related to the rest of my life (most namely that which I considered precious, so primarily anything to do with my horses). If Mum expected me to leave school and go straight to the stables without showering and changing my clothes, I’d have a meltdown. I went through a phase when starvation seemed the best way to avoid the risk altogether. Since I was being bullied anyway, I figured losing weight whilst preventing any threat to my ‘safe’ existence would be a win win. So, I would eat as little as I possibly could. My lunch would end up fed to the seagulls hanging around the high school playing fields, and I’d do all I could to avoid mealtimes – my parents rarely allowed me to leave the table without at least a few mouthfuls of dinner. Even then I’d only eat bland food. I would spend as long as humanly fathomable at the stables, exercising off as much ‘fat’ as I possibly could, content in the knowledge I was safe from my phobia, as well as from bullies. I was never an overweight child, but I was 6 and a half stone until my late teens.

Once I’d left school I learned to manage my phobia far better. Without skipping by my adult experiences, during the couple of years of fighting continuous phobic tendencies, I ramped up my usual OCD handwashing and personal hygiene processes. I started using excessive amounts of hand sanitizer, to the point I developed severe eczema on my hands. I stopped having to change clothes every five minutes, but I ended up trying out many different stomach settling medications and meditation to try calm myself down. I had a few exceedingly wobbly days and took to the drastic measure of staying awake all night when I believed myself most vulnerable to all manner of horrors – worst of all that phobic instance. Quite sad really, that because I was so focused on dealing with the hellish mental state emetophobia forced me into, I didn’t realise the extent to which I should’ve realised how terrible other realms of my life had become. I daren’t risk getting pregnant, for the crippling fear I experienced just thinking about what might happen to me relating to this dreadful phobia. Perhaps that was why my situation was fraught with frustration; I couldn’t bring myself to provide what everyone so desperately wanted.

Thankfully, that phase of my life ended. Divorced from the shackles of fear controlling my every manouvere, freedom seemed all the more wondrous. It took quite a long time to recover, and I’m sure that perhaps deep down I will always be recovering, but I want to assure you there’s light at the end of the tunnel if you suffer emetophobia.

You don’t have to be terrified of your body every second of every day, despite the fact that’s what we end up being.

I get my bad days like everyone does with this awful phobia-demon, though my protective habits mainly consist of:

* Being vegetarian (I admit my phobia isn’t the only reason I chose to be veggie).

* Keeping my hands clean as possible at all times.

* Always avoid touching my face unless I’ve just washed my hands.

* Carrying extra strong mints with me if my stomach does feel a little off (which tends to do the trick by settling such sensations).

* Taking great comfort in learning that the only real cause for a phobic instance is poisoning (even then it could manifest in the opposite direction; through pregnancy or catching something it isn’t a necessity either) – there are people who have genuinely lived their entire lives without remembering an instance.

* Reminding myself that I’ve survived many awful episodes surrounded by phobic triggers, and I’ve been absolutely fine once I’ve looked back – which makes it feel I’ve wasted time worrying and overthinking.

* Working as a vet receptionist and having to repeat trigger words literally hundreds of times a day, means I can say trigger words without experiencing a spike in anxiety levels.

* Having an amazing boyfriend/wonderful family/fab friends who keep an eye out for phobia triggers in films so I know when to avoid them. I’ve improved to the point that I’ll even watch films with phobic instances in, provided I cover my ears and close my eyes until the offending scene is over – something I’d never have done even two years ago (I’d have avoided watching the film at all).

I’ve also been following some Instagram pages that review films and post whether they’re ‘safe’ for emetophobes or not. In fact, I decided to do something to help others in my situation, using the fact I was noting TV programs and films as being ‘safe’ or ‘unsafe’ for fellow emetophobics as a sort of self-therapy.

If I get enough of a response, I may well post what I managed to list if I can find it. I may even start adding to it again if there’s demand…

I do really feel it would be worth having films, TV shows, books, magazines, even plays marked with logos such as the following. It would make life a heck of a lot more bearable for those of us with emetophobia – what do you think?

<- Image Copyright 2020 Β©D.E. Kendall

(I’m aware it’d be virtually impossible to roll out, as there are countless phobias that could be triggered by any of the entertainment vessels mentioned above, but it may be a consideration for a particularly ambitious collective to create some sort of listing for anyone with varying degrees of different phobias, to make consuming entertainment more comfortable for everyone.)

Now you’re fully aware of my idiosyncrasies, I hope I’ve helped you feel a hundred times better about yourself – regardless of whatever mental health issue(s) you’re dealing with πŸ™‚

Please know that you are never alone. Don’t be afraid to reach out if you’re struggling. We are all stronger than we believe – the fact we’ve fought our fears up to this very moment prove that; we have no reason not to continue being courageous.

You’ll be fine <3

Best wishes,

Dannika

Author, Uncategorized, Writing

About Sheep

Heyy Ewe!

Thought it might be nice to write a blog post about sheep – the underrated heroes of the British countryside.

They graze and fertilize pastures to allow for improved grass growth in the future; they cross-graze land with other livestock such as horses – consuming plants that horses cannot; and, let’s face it, there’s no lovelier sight on a glorious spring day than newborn lambs pinging and springing around our fields.

I confess, I am not fortunate enough to have my own farm. I pay to keep my gorgeous horses at a beautiful (arguably the most beautiful) place around a 30 minute drive away from home. In the spirit of helpfulness, my family and I try our best to assist with the care of the 100-or-so sheep who live at the farm. All baaa (see what I did there?) one are female, with just one castrated male – we helped hand-rear him a few years ago – who blends in perfectly with the girls.

We’ve had countless adventures whilst helping look after the sheep over the last decade; far too many to fit into one blog post! So to summarize, most winters are spent trudging through thigh-high (well, almost – maybe mid-calf to knee level on average) mud in all weathers to feed and check over the girls. Most of them are polite, standing back until their feed is in the trough and we’ve stepped away. There are a few Welsh-breed ewes who were born with attitude, however. They’re the ones we have to watch, because in their falsified state of starvation, their enthusiasm and affection are exaggerated; they’ve been known to knock us over accidentally – we’ve all face-planted the mud at some point. Then there’s lambing – wondrous and stressful in equal measure. Since a serious hand injury 5 years ago, unfortunately I haven’t assisted with any births. Before that, I am proud to say that when called upon I was able to save the lives of quite a few ewes and their lambs. One lamb was named Dannika by the lovely lady who owns the farm, after I saved both the lamb and her mother from what would’ve been an impossible birth. I am pleased to report that Dannika has grown up beautifully, and has since gone on to have twin lambs of her own πŸ™‚

We’ve also helped hand-rear a number of lambs over the years. Again, just as with lambing, there are sad times accompanying that delightful sense of achievement when the lambs you’ve helped raise are able to join the flock. There’s no feeling quite like watching the lambs bounce around with joy in the spring sunshine, after you’ve worked tirelessly to keep them happy and healthy.

They don’t only provide entertainment as lambs though. We’ve encountered an array of colourful characters, the most infamous being Dot. She was the biggest character of all. A seemingly straight-forward, normal, run-of-the-mill sheep with a black dot on her knee, to the average observer Dot was no different to the thousands of other sheep gracing our Welsh mountains. To us, however, Dot was a legend.

Confidence permeated her fluffy white fleece. No obstacle was too much for her to take on. Even dangerous dogs with sharp teeth posed no threat to Dot.

Sometimes we wondered whether Dot actually realised she was a sheep, and not an adrenaline junkie horse-dog.

If Dot had a CV, the opening lines would read something like this: “I have the ability to escape any field. Doesn’t matter how reinforced the fencing is, I will defeat it. I teach my offspring to attack on command; they establish the weakness of their enemy and exploit it (with humans it’s the back of their knees, with dogs it’s their face). If you need a tack shed or barn broken into, I’m your girl. I boast excellent lock-picking skills; I’ve been known to terrify the living daylights out of liveries, by appearing in their tack sheds unannounced. There isn’t a creature on the planet I’m scared of. Dogs, horses, cattle, cars, tractors, cyclists etc. flee at the mere sight of me. I can walk up to any horse on the farm and demand they share their dinner with me – they never refuse. All-in-all I’d say I’m pretty well-rounded, as I work well as leader of a team (sheep seem to follow me everywhere), but even better as an individual. I’m a champion lawn-mower too, having escaped into many a garden to save homeowners expensive gardening fees.”

Sadly Dot disappeared two years ago, never to be seen since.

One of the newest characters in the flock is Janet. Once a shy, retiring type, the day-before-yesterday she waltzed up to me for the first time ever, demanding I feed her.

Janet says, “Hi!”

I will undoubtedly keep you updated on various sheep shenanigans – I’m sure you’ll be introduced to many more characters over this series of blog posts – but for now, I’ll sign off. Leaving you with this photograph of Janet and I from the other day…

Janet & I πŸ™‚

Best wishes,

Dannika

Author, Uncategorized

About The Pandemic

Another grey day here in exotic South Wales πŸ™‚

Though a new day brings with it further panic and confusion about the dreaded COVID-19 outbreak, a.k.a ‘Coronavirus’.

Not only have workplaces, entertainment venues and schools been closed, but people seem to be divided into two types; the helpers and the hoarders.

‘Helpers’ are those who selflessly ensure all around them are safe, entertained and catered for.

‘Hoarders’ are those who have lost sight of humanity and choose to act like raving wild animals, hoarding supplies as if settling down for a year-long hibernation.

From what I have seen, there are thankfully far more helpers out there than hoarders. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by level-headed, sensible human beings, who have put their caring hats on to make a positive impact for their local communities.

Whereas hoarders seem to have pushed any form of thinking hat aside, in favour of useless face masks that will not protect them from catching COVID-19. These are the people stockpiling ridiculous amounts of toilet-roll, hand sanitizer, washing-up liquid, tinned food, pasta and potatoes – though to be fair to them, they have graciously left plenty of Pot Noodles available for the rest of us. It is disappointing to see this in the twenty-first century. A time of plenty, in which more people are aware of goings on in the world than ever before.

I can understand the sense of panic, but what I cannot fathom is the fact they’re leaving vulnerable loved ones at risk – because most people, particularly those who are vulnerable, simply can’t afford to stockpile anything (I know I can’t!). All we can hope is these people see the error of their ways, and share supplies with people in need.

My thoughts go out to everyone affected by this pandemic in any way… <3

I have awesome relatives and fantastic friends working in front-line services, such as the NHS and social care sectors; my infinite appreciation of their efforts will – I’m sure – be echoed by everyone, as they keep the UK going.

In case anyone is unsure of the symptoms of Coronavirus, or protocols surrounding self-isolation, here’s the link to the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

There’s a heck of a lot of false news floating around, creating incomprehensible levels of hysteria. Please be very careful and selective about the information you share on social media! If none of us are careful, social realms will be ruled by dodgy individuals intent only on causing further havoc. Likelihood is, those spreading incorrect information about are the very same people who are selling basic sanitary products, such as hand sanitizer, online for extortionate prices. Let’s not fall prey to their deplorable dealings; let’s keep looking out for one another, focusing on staying positive instead.

Luckily, I have no reason to self-isolate at the moment. Although, because I am not risking contact with my grandparents – as they’re in the highest risk category – I realise how much I take for granted being able to see them whenever I’d like. Which is why it’s so important to keep one another’s spirits lifted right now; despite having to remain 6ft apart, we’re all in this together.

Take care of yourself and your loved ones!

Best wishes,

Dannika

Adventure, Author, Uncategorized, Writing

A Blog!

Hi πŸ™‚

So, given the state of the world right now, thought I’d add some consumable content to the ether…

Welcome to your daily dose of Dannika!

It’s my sincerest hope that you gain something from my ramblings. Whether that’s a smile, a laugh, a new viewpoint (we readers are naturally nosy after all), or simply some entertainment for a few minutes of your day.

I want to ensure everyone remains connected during these uncertain times of isolation and toilet-roll hoarding. My wish is that this is a safe place to go when you’re feeling overwhelmed, alone, or bored. I’d love for you to share your own ideas and stories too, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Together, we can try to turn this devastating reality into an amazing adventure. Are you with me?

If so, please visit whenever you’d like – I will be writing to my heart’s content. Even I have no idea what I’ll be writing about, so I cannot tell you what to expect – all I know is it’ll be a fresh experience for us all πŸ™‚

Best wishes,

Dannika