Holly and Ivy

(Originally published on Booksie).




You could hear the shouting from the back of the church.

“Holly! It represents the blood of our Lord and saviour! It’s his birthday, after all.” Matilda drummed her fingers on her crossed arms, that’d got the old coot for sure.

“Well, technically that blood came from the crown of thorns, which the Holly represents also, more of an Easter thing too, I’d say. Now, Ivy, Ivy is as evergreen as our love for the Lord. It clings steadfast where it makes its home, much as we cling to our faith in Jesus and his heavenly Father”. Iris felt her bosom swell with both the love for her saviour and the satisfaction that she’d won.

“Ivy should only be used outside”, Matilda fired back. She arched an eyebrow, there was no way she’d back down on this. The congregation in Mickelwell would be dying off soon and without young blood like her taking the reins, their message of the Lord’s peace would be lost. Iris made a soft humph.

The outer door opened and forced smiles across both their faces, as the Rector arrived and brushed the snow off his shoulders. For an old lady, Iris sprinted towards him with uncharacteristic verve.

“We were just discussing the decorations, Peter”. She used his first name deliberately. “I was thinking about Ivy, now I know it can be a bit plain, but I thought we could spray paint it. I’ve been watching YouView videos, all the young ones do, right Tilda. We need to think of the future of our Church.”

“Holly looks much better, Iris dear, with the berries to brighten the pews. It reminds us of Jesus and his sacrifice. Don’t you think, Peter?” The air inside the Church felt as cold as outside and it wasn’t the faulty heating, this time.

Years of dealing with people had given Peter a keen eye for trouble. Despite the women looking like cordiality itself, he knew better. It was time for subterfuge.

“I think that’s a marvellous idea,” Peter began, Matilda turned to her nemesis and grinned extra wide before he continued, “the fusion of traditional and contemporary. How about you each take an alternate pew?” Their mouths dropped open in protest but Peter didn’t miss a beat. “What could be more appropriate at this time of year than the spirit of helping your fellow man, or woman in this case, in their endeavours?” He nodded to both of them. “In fact, you’ve both inspired me for my Sermon for the big day. Wonderful work, ladies!” he tapped them both on the shoulders and made haste to the Vestry.

And so it was that Iris and Matilda each forged their new purpose- to each outdo the other. Iris with her work-free days spent every moment she could on YouView. She created bronze versions, copper versions, even a hot pink variation (it would clash with the red berries perfectly, and if she got hers up first Matilda would look the fool). Matilda created antiqued musical scrolls that curved around the foliage, softening the hard edges of the holly. It was surprising how effective a used teabag could be on paper, and she could dry them during the day and then work on them in the evenings. They each poured their very souls into their displays, never once consulting the other.

Bright and early on the first Saturday before Advent Iris arrived. She hung her Jackson Pollock Ivies in their allotted positions and stepped back to admire her work. They looked hideous! It was like a toddler had spat paint at the leaves, she thought, but it looked very modern. She heard the hinges of the outer door squeak open and dived behind the pulpit. Iris gave a quick glance to the heavens and prayed for forgiveness over her transgression into the most sacred of spaces. For the first time since their stupid argument began Iris knew guilt. She urged her feet to find a way to reveal herself but her mind remained stubbornly aware of the repercussions of hiding where only the clergy was allowed. She would carry the shame to her grave, better to do that privately.

Matilda breezed her way over to her pews and laid her offerings out. They were the epitome of “vintage chic” and not a berry out of place. She shuddered at the sight of Iris’ attempt. There was time to rectify that though.

Iris poked her head around the edge of the pulpit just in time to see Matilda reach into her pocket. Something glistened in the light of the bare bulb that suspended from the ceiling. With a light clip, several of the paint-splattered Ivy leaves dropped to the floor. Matilda swept them up in her hands and took a swift reconnoitre. She shoved the leaves in her pockets and made for the door. Iris shot up. This was war! She stomped her way out into the daylight, only stopping to grab at handfuls of Matilda’s hard work.

“MATILDA SAUERMANN!” Iris raced after her. She shouted expletives the whole way. She managed to round her opponent, just at the corner of the street, by ducking through the other church-gate.

“How dare you?”

“How dare you?”

“Well, I don’t know what you’re talking about but I just saw you deliberately take your pruners to my displays!”

Matilda scoffed at the suggestion, despite her guilt.

“Honestly, Iris, I think you’ve been reading too many of those Cozy Mysteries you like so much.” Iris grabbed towards Matilda’s left pocket, but a swift angle of her hips protected Matilda’s pruners. She uncrossed the arms and leaned in towards Iris.

“Now you listen here—” A high pitched squeal came from the inside of the church. Matilda looked at her watch.

“The wedding rehearsal!” Both women sped back to the churchyard.

“Follow my lead”, Iris warned.

The poor bride to be sat in the front pew sobbing and shaking, her beau offering the odd “there, there” at intervals. Iris and Matilda entered the church, all smiles.

“Honestly, I’d forget my own head, Tilly.” She gave the girl a light tap on the forearm. Iris rushed over to the front pew. “Oh no, you caught us halfway through! It looks such a mess and now the surprise is ruined.” Iris turned to Matilda. “So the other half of the scrolls will go in these spaces,” she gestured to the missing clumps of Ivy, “and their drying at home you say?” Matilda nodded slowly and reached into her pockets.

“And these bits will get woven in amongst the Holly, here. Well done matching the pink to the bridesmaids’ dresses, Iris. A master touch!” She turned to her partner in crime.

“Now all we need to do is continue removing the Holly berries and weave them into the bough that hangs in the porch, Holly and Ivy together. Male and female, a joining of souls.” They waited, nervously, to see if the ruse had worked.

The bride leapt up and threw her arms around them both, before wiping her tears away with a hankie.

“Oh thank you, thank you so much. What a wonderful idea. When I walked in I didn’t realise you hadn’t finished, you’ve put so much thought into the display. I should have known you’d both worked it out together and everything would be perfect.” Matilda and Iris each gave the other a knowing look. No-one would ever know any different.


Potluck Post: Wunschtopia


A sneaky glimpse into Zuckerland’s second city (and its infamous King).


Readers of Bad Candy will be familiar with Charmnia, sleepy home to Marvelo, where nothing more exciting than the annual swell of the River Sahne occurs.  That’s a bare-faced lie, of course, smuggling and poisonings seem to be all the rage lately.

But what of the urban “paradise” of Wunschtopia?  It’s mentioned that Marvelo’s penpal lives there, but mystery surrounds the city.  Until now.

Wunschtopia is an aspirational town, mostly because it isn’t half as fancy as it likes to tell everyone it is.  Most Zuckerlanders believe Wunschtopia is where dreams come true (Wunsch is “wish” in German).  The name actually derives from the phrase “I wish I’d never gone there”).

The first problem stems from regular outbreaks of Browntrotz (caused by mould deposits leaking into the Syrup Distribution System). Tourists are warned not to drink the Syrup with meals, but they forget to use bottled Syrup to brush their teeth.

Next up, their former King.  Zuckerland banned Kings after Blad the Kebbaber, he liked to serve up parts of his enemies thinly-sliced in the middle of a flatbread.  The people are “king” in Zuckerland now, and most of them avoid Wunschtopia like the plague 🙂


Want to hang out with a geeky Wizard while he fights crime?

Grab Bad Candy, here-



Gaming Wednesday: Leaf Tickets/Fortune Cookies

So much to buy, so few Leaf Tickets.


Game developers deserve to be paid and Leaf Tickets are one way to do that (I imagine pre-sales for the Switch version will be boosted by the “try before you buy” method for Pocket Camp.


That said, I wasn’t happy about the price difference for female clothing in the Coat range recently.  Nor the claim of a “craftable” balloon (if you buy it with Leaf Tickets that should be made clear).


With a limited supply of Leaf Tickets and so many cool things to buy with them, how can you grab what you want?  Here are my top three tips:

  1.  Do the daily tasks to get Silver Snacks.  These help you level up your friendships and therefore your own overall level.  Each level up bags you ten Leaf Tickets.
  2. Take part in events because they usually reward you with Leaf Tickets in the Event Jobs section.
  3. Check the expiry/number of wants on Fortune Cookies and bag items before they end.  This sounds obvious but there’s usually an overlap for Cookies.  Right now, I’m after one item from the Autumn Cookies and several from the Christmas Cookies.  I’m not too bothered about the single item, so I’ll risk running out of time on it 😉


Got any tips about Leaf Tickets and Fortune Cookies?  Let us know in the comments 🙂

Deutschland Dienstag: Silvester (New Year)

I’m full of cheese when it’s time for New Year.




First up, this year will come with extra cheese as I’ve bought a Raclette Grill 🙂  Traditionally you fill the eight little trays with your choice of veg and then melt the cheese over the top, but you can grill all sorts.  I’ve seen Flammkuchen (sort of Pizzas but better in my opinion), Nachos, and Pfannkuchen (Pancakes).


I’ll also admit I watched Dinner for One, last year.  Dinner for One is an English short play from the 1920s and it’s so popular here it’s aired over several channels and from New Year’s Eve into New Year’s Day.  My favourite part is the explanation in German at the beginning for those that don’t speak much English.  I love the mixture of slapstick from the Butler and the seriousness of his employer.  Will I watch it again this year?  We’ll see.


We did indulge in Doughnuts last year for New Year’s Eve, but I didn’t pop a Mustard-filled one in the mix as per the party trick.  Somehow, I don’t think my four-year-old would have been pleased.


Next time, Television: To DE or not to DE?

Welcome to the Week: Week 50

More Candy, fewer sweets 🙂



This week sees me push to get as much done on Bad Candy 3 before Christmas.  I’d like to be available whilst my Husband and Daughter are at home, so it’s time to get my head down.  I’m also trying not to eat my body weight in sweets 😦

I said in the first blurb that I’m writing Bad Candy to escape the real world (which is rapidly turning into a hellscape similar to my usual writing), but spending time with my family is far from Dystopia 🙂  We can indulge ourselves sweet-wise in a couple of weeks.

I wrote a flash fiction last week which I’m busy editing, a Christmas tale in a very roundabout way.  A lost Virtual Pet and a hospital team’s desire to keep it alive.

Until next week, stay awesome, my friends.


Book Review: Fido and Fendi by Adaline Chase

Fido and Fendi (An Erin Summers Dog Walker novel Book 1)Fido and Fendi by Adaline Chase

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Having not read for a few nights, I fancied something light to read and once I started, I couldn’t stop! Fido and Fendi is funny, heart-warming, and who doesn’t like dogs?

Erin Summers is a thoroughly loveable character and I found myself rooting for her more or less off the bat. I adored the “small town” feel with gossipy neighbours and town politics, and Erin’s transformation away from “city girl” felt natural and provided a few giggles along the way.

I normally go for grittier reads and I’ve never read a “cozy mystery” before, but I’ll certainly will again, after this show-stopper!

View all my reviews

Potluck Post: Mermaids

Mermaids have always held a fascination for me; not the Disney Mermaid singing sweetly on a rock, the “lures you to a watery death” type.  Fun fact about Sirens- in Homer’s Odyssey they were half-human and half-bird.  Back to the fishy variety though.


The earliest recorded Mermaid type creature was known as Oannes by the ancient Babylonians.  Oannes took fish form but with the head of a man hidden under a fish head and human feet beneath its tail.  It’s said that during the day Oannes came to shore to teach educate man about the arts and sciences, as well as writing.

As I live in Germany, I should mention Lorelei (a beautiful place to visit).  Lorelei is so named because there’s a strange echo which is attributed to a maiden who threw herself in the Rhine.  She then assumed the form of a Siren and lured men to the rocks with her call.  I can’t say I heard the echo but we had an excellent meal at one of the nearby restaurants and on a summer’s day it’s a gorgeous spot.


If you like Mermaids (especially devious ones), you can read Ghosts of the Sea Queen, free, over here-

Ghosts of the Sea Queen

Gaming Wednesday: Back to Camp!!!

My phone managed to update to the new version of Pocket Camp 🙂


I’m holding back some excitement in case the next update fails; but so far, so good.  Christmas has come to camp and there’s a Flower Festival on (as I write).  So, here are my top tips for being a great camper during Flower Festivals.


  1. Share your catches.  Your quota won’t deplete if you share your catches with other players.  In fact, you’ll get Friend Powder and new seeds back when you share.
  2. Water friends’ plants.  There’s nothing more frustrating than logging in to harvest and finding your plants dried out.
  3. Check Friends’ Status.  With the new Friendship menu you can see if someone needs their plot watering or has space to share at a glance.


There we have it, Flower Festivals should be in full bloom with these tips 🙂

Deutschland Dienstag: A German Christmas

Making new traditions



Tomorrow night, my daughter will clean her boots and put one outside before bed.  The following morning she’ll rush to the door and check if it’s been filled with fruit, nuts, and sweets.  I love this tradition and, for us, it’s an important step in “fitting in”.  Nikolausabend marks the start of Christmas “proper” for me (any sooner and I find it an anti-climax).

In other new traditions, we open presents on Christmas Eve (with some spilling over to Christmas Day to prevent overload).  We usually do a buffet to graze over for the two days rather than a huge meal (a tradition I’ve instigated) and that keeps us all present rather than “in the kitchen”.

Weihnachts is also a great time to learn German through songs!  My daughter and I both love “In der Weihnachtsbäckerei”, we sing along to YouTube videos with the lyrics and slowly memorise them.  This year, I got extra credit by watching Johannes Strate perform it on Sing meinen Song (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it).


Next time, I’ll be revealing the German cliché I turn into over New Year 🙂

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