The BIG #BLOGGERSBASH COMPETITION 2017

Have you entered the big #BloggersBash Blog Writing Competition yet? If not, why not? It’s just a bit of fun, with a great theme – CONNECTIONS – and could win you some nice prizes! You have until March 1st… GO!

 

bbGOOOOOOOODMORNING bloggisphere… It’s the start of another year, and what a year it’s going to be. I have a little tickle in my tummy about 2017, and it’s screaming sparkle a…

Source: The BIG BASH COMPETITION 2017

CONNECTIONS #BloggersBash Bestest Blog Post Competition The Tree and Me

The Sacred Tree – na Bílí – is where I made my home, called by a voice unknown, challenged but in the end found worthy. The heart knows when it is home. I pay my respects from a distance, content to wait.

And trees have time to kill.

My life has been filled with trees, from the day as a teen when I missed my train to work because I was so busy writing a poem (Winter Trees) about the trees which bordered the platform, to the day only a few months ago, when I planted the first trees in my garden.

I love them. I admire them. I respect them. I cry when I see one cut down. I feel pain when I see the naked wound of pale, fresh wood.

Trees are tactile. They invite touch. Against my skin, the trunk is cold, hard, unyielding. The tree is not like me: I am soft, warm, weak flesh. Silent and strong he stands, old long before I was thrust into existence; he will remain long after I am gone.

The tree is not like me. He reaches for the stars, blossoms for the sun, always standing tall and proud, bowing to none, resisting. When the storm rages, he dances and sings, but he is resolute.

I am not like the tree. I drift where life’s breeze blows me. I shy from sun and storm. I am human, enslaved to my weak, warm flesh.

The broad path leads me through the forest, and I am dazzled by the myriad shades of green, by the capricious filter of sunbeams, by the golden fall of last years leaves, shed like autumn tears. Above me, branches interlace, shaping the vault of nature’s cathedral. Protecting. Embracing. Forming me into the precious relic contained within their shrine. I breathe, and the burden of life’s woes is lifted.

Beneath my feet, deep in the dark, damp earth, roots search out kin, binding, weaving together, supporting one another, connecting. They are all different – the oak, the scots pine, the rowan, the willow. And yet, they are all the same.

Just like us.


I was inspired to write this by the #BloggersBash Blog Post Competition, which this year is all about ‘Connections‘.

Submit your entry here.


COME ON A JOURNEY OF ANCIENT IRELAND WITH ME.

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Maynooth | Plain of Nuada and Seat of Learning

Lectures start today. That’s right, at nearly fifty, I’m going back to school. Maynooth University, to be precise, for a BA in Irish Medieval and Celtic Studies, History and English. I must be mad.

First up, it’s Celtic Civilisations at 11am, followed by English Prose and Fiction at 12pm, and finally History; Vikings and Normans at 1pm. If you know me at all, I think you’ll guess that I’m as happy as a muc in muck! That’s ‘pig’ in mud, for the non-Irish among you! 😃😂😜

After my interview back in May, I walked out the door straight into this…

… and my heart started to flutter; I was falling in love, and knew instantly how much I really wanted to study there.

The university is split into two campuses; north and south. South side is the old part, north is more modern, and where I will probably spend most of my study time. On Thursdays, however, I will have five hours of free time spread between three lectures, and some of that I will use to explore; the south campus has an old church, a museum, and Maynooth Castle stands guard at the entrance. Also, there are rumours of mysterious tunnels beneath the old buildings…

It also boasts the oldest yew tree in Ireland standing in its grounds; it’s said to be 700 years old, and I can well believe it. I mean, just look at it! Yes, something else which I think you will realise makes me very happy. I think this university and me were made for each other. 😃

Of course, being such an old institution, Maynooth University has its own set of resident ghosts. Room 2, located in a building called Rhetoric House (now the History building), is where two students in C19th, took their lives 19 years apart from each other. It’s claimed that a ‘diabolical presence’ made itself known to them, and caused them to jump out of the window to their deaths in terror.  Dark stains on the floor of Room 2 are said to be human blood (allegedly confirmed by the college’s chemistry department) which can’t be removed or covered up. Creepy, huh?

In 1860, as a result of all this, Room 2 was converted into an oratory of St Joseph, and the window sealed. The room has since become a waiting area between offices.

Maynooth actually means ‘Nuada’s Plain’ in Irish, and if you have read any of my books or early blog posts, then you will understand why this thrills me; Nuada was the King of the Tuatha de Danann, and it was he who was responsible for leading the Danann into Ireland.

Nuada lost his sword arm in the First Battle of Moytura against the Fir Bolg, who ruled at the time. It was cut from his body in single combat with Sreng, the enemy’s champion. Nuada was carried from the battle ground and tended by his skilled physicians, Dian-Cecht and his son Miach, a surgeon, and daughter Airmid, a herbalist.

He survived, and the next day when Sreng saw him, he couldn’t believe his eyes. He challenged Nuada to another armed combat, and cunningly, Nuada agreed, on the condition that Sreng tie his sword arm behind his back and fight with only his left hand. Sreng refused, and relinquished power to the Danann.

Unfortunately, though, despite how well-loved Nuada was as a King, he was unable to continue in that role, as the King was required to be whole and unblemished if the land and the people were to prosper.

Nuada and his Sword of Light
Nuada and his Sword of Light

In the years to come, as Nuada healed, Dian-Cecht worked with Creidne, one of the Danann’s leading craftsmen, and fashioned a fully functioning  ‘arm of silver’ for Nuada. Perhaps this was the world’s first bionic arm, or at least a prosthetic one, created over four thousand years ago.

Miach somehow managed to grow skin and blood over it, and thus in due course, when Bres was deposed for being a bad King, Nuada, now considered whole again, was elected as High King. He ruled for another twenty years, until his death at the hands of Balor in the Second Battle of Moytura.

Nuada also carried the Sword of Light, known in Irish as Cliamh Solais in Irish (pronounced Klee-uv Shull-ish), and is considered to be one of the  lost Four Treasures of Eirean. It was made in the northern city of Findias (or Gorias, depending on which version you read) by a powerful fílí and magician named Uiscas.

Undoubtedly, the High King’s great sword came to have symbolic meaning for the people; it represented strength, power, unity, physical prowess and identity. But what did its title mean? Did it refer to the illumination of knowledge, justice, truth? Or was it something more obvious, like a laser, for example, or a flame thrower. You can find out more about this magical, mystical sword in my post The Sword of Light.

Reading about Nuada all those years ago began my fascination with Irish mythology. I never thought then that he would spark the idea for a book series, a blog, and all the other things which have grown from it; storytelling, tour guiding, vlogging (my newest venture that I’m working on, coming soon!), even the Bloggers Bash, which I would never have been a part of if I hadn’t met Sacha through blogging.

uni9

The coincidence is not lost on me; going to Maynooth to learn more about ancient Ireland and its mythology kind of feels like a full circle has been completed. Well, almost. And it’s fitting that it should take place here, where Nuada’s legacy remains.


Ps. I spotted a whole row of beautiful mature rowan trees nearby, so I’ll get some pictures this week and post them on Instagram, for those who love them as much as I do. 😊


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I’ve been SHORTLISTED for the Littlewoods Ireland Bloggers Awards 2016! #LWIBloggies2016

Excitement overload! I just found out I’ve been short-listed in the Arts and Culture category of The Littlewoods Ireland Bloggers Awards 2016! To say I am delighted is an understatement! You can tell just by the number of bad boy exclamation marks in this short paragraph! Luckily, this being a Blog rather than a Vlog, you don’t have to witness my demonic grin, demented jumping up and down, and depraved ‘happy dance’. Sighs of relief all round, huh?

But see, this is where I really need your help, because in order to progress through to the next round, I need your vote.

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Yes, there is a public vote, and it’s brief; voting opens today, Wednesday  17th August, and closes Tuesday 23rd August. That’s only one week to get your vote in, so please don’t put it off till later… you’ll only get distracted by important, real-life meaningful stuff, like should you have peas or beans with your dinner, or taking the cat for a walk, or which selfish sod (ahem… it wasn’t me. No, really it wasn’t!) drank the last dregs of that last bottle of wine.

If you have ever enjoyed anything you have read on aliisaacstoryteller, please VOTE NOW. It would mean so much to me. How? By clicking the whopping great ‘VOTE FOR US‘ button. Lol! You can’t miss it! And please don’t forget to annoy tell all your friends, family and social media followers too.

Littlewoods-Blog-Awards-2016-Website-MPU_Vote-For-Us-Button

Go raibh míle maith agat. A thousand thank you’s! Not just for voting, but for supporting me and my blog over the years… it’s been a wonderful journey so far, and you’ve all been great company. 😊

I’ve been long-listed for the Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards 2016! @BlogAwardsIE #blogawardsireland

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I am delighted to have made the Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards 2016 Long-List in two categories; Arts and Culture, and Books and Literature. If the judges consider me worthy of short-listing, the winners will be chosen by public vote, so I may be enlisting your help in the not too distant future.



In the meantime, congratulations to all my fellow nominees, particularly lovely Blogger-Friend Tara Sparling, who I am up against in one of the categories, and she is a former winner… gulp! Exciting times! Wish me luck!

You can check out the Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards 2016 here.


Oh and by the way, some more great news: I’m off to university in September to study for a BA in Celtic Studies and Irish Medieval History! Nearly 50 and starting university… I must be crazy! 😤😄😃‼

#BloggersBash Myth 2016: Part Two The Pyjama Party

Two lonely figures made their way cautiously up the loooong winding drive.

“Could do with some lights. It’s pitch black around here,” complained Hugh, looking nervously over his shoulder and walking headlong into a gold plated lamppost.

“Ouch!” He rubbed his tender hooter.

“Matches his dark soul,” replied Ali. “You OK?”

“I’b fide.”

“What?”

“I said… oh, forget it.”

The mansion reared up like a forbidding dark shadow ahead of them.

“How does anyone afford a palace like this in the middle of London unless it’s through ill-gotten gains?”

“He was a solicitor in the 80s. Of course it’s through ill-gotten gains!”

“Well he’s obviously trying to save money on his leccy bill then,” said Hugh, stubbing his toe on the diamond studded kerb.

“Look, we’re here now. Ring the bell.”

“No, you ring the bell.”

“Fine.”

Ali pushed tentatively at the doorbell, and from somewhere deep inside the house the muffled sound of chiming reached them.

“No one’s home,” said Ali, and turned to leave.

“But what about the Pyjama Party? I’ve brought my best sparkly pj’s with the glittery collar and my favourite nightcap.”

“You wear a hat in bed?”

“Hardly.” Hugh grinned. “It’s brandy.”

“Ssshhh. Someone’s coming.”

Slow shuffling footsteps could be heard pacing on the other side of the door.

“D’you think it’s a ghost?”

“I don’t think ghosts shuffle, do they?”

“Only when they’re dancing.”

“There was no mention of dancing on the invite.”

“No one said anything about ghosts either.”

“Must be a very long hall. We’ll be dead and buried by the time the door opens.”

With that, the steps stopped. Hugh and Ali clutched at each other nervously as the door began to creep slowly open. Light spilled brightly onto the stone steps, making them blink as they tried to focus on the shadow silhouetted in the door way.

“Hello chaps! Just in time for dinner,” said a voice they recognised.

“Geoffle!” cried Hugh with relief, and bounced through the door.

“We thought we’d got lost and arrived at the wrong house. Your directions were a little… confusing,” said Ali as she followed Hugh inside.

“What’s with all the shuffling? Have you injured your leg?”

“You try walking in these cute fluffy bunny slippers, and see if you get on any better. The Textiliste insists I wear them when we have guests. She’s not keen on me showing my toes. Makes me wear socks with my sandals, too.”

Hugh took a closer look, and blinked. “Are they real bunnies, Geoff?”

“Yes, but it’s Ok, they’re dead. The Vet shot a couple out on the grounds this morning. I needed a fresh pair. The others were getting a bit whiffy, and they don’t fare very well in the old washing machine.”

“Love the nightshirt,” said Ali, stifling a giggle.

“Yes, turned out rather well. I’m thinking off extending the official line of Bloggers Bash merchandise with these. I’ve had boxers and padded bra’s printed too. Wanna see?”

“No thank you!” Hugh and Ali chorused hastily.

“This way then chaps.”

The dining room stood at the other end of the hall, past many intriguing closed doors. Inside, a large polished mahogany table was set at one end with five places.

“Five?” Ali raised her eyebrows enquiringly.

“You’ve been spending too much time with Sacha,” Geoff commented.

“Talking of whom, where is our glorious leader?”

“She’s been upstairs painting on her eyebrows for the last hour.”

“Well, they are a work of art. They’re very mobile. If she makes a mistake, one of them will arch a little too high and completely flip off her face. Beauty takes time, you know.”

“Surprise!” At that very moment, Sacha flounced through the doorway, wearing a steampunk nightdress in black brocade overlaid with a velvet corset with genuine authentic steel boning. She waggled her eyebows. “What d’you think?”

Ali gasped. “They’re PURPLE!”

“Yes, I thought I’d brand them with the Bloggers Bash colours this year. Beat Geoff at his own game.”

“Gorgeous!” said Hugh.

“As ever,” said Geoff, taking her hand and leading her to the table. Which is just as well, because she could barely walk. She collapsed gratefully into a chair.

“Bloody Leboutins,” she grumbled kicking them off under the table. “I don’t know how I’m going to manage in them all day tomorrow. Might need a wheelchair at this rate.”

“But they do give amazingly good toe cleavage,” said Geoff appreciatively.

Sacha levelled a hard stare at him. “You got a secret foot fetish we should know about? Is that why the Textiliste makes you keep yours covered? Ali, Hugh, make sure you keep your socks on tonight.”

“Let’s eat,” said Geoffle, changing the subject hastily. He picked up a slender silver bell beside his plate and shook it. Immediately, a food trolley was rolled in by…

“Urszula!” gasped Sacha. “What are you doing here?”

“I got lost following Geoffle’s directions, so he agreed to take me in for the night providing I cook up a fabulous vegetarian feast.”

Ali and Hugh nodded their heads in sympathy.

“But… the Bash isn’t till tomorrow,” said Sacha.

“I know, but I like to arrive early.”

Urszula served up the feast, and took her seat at the table. It didn’t take long for the committee to inhale the grub… partake of the delicious offerings with the delicate manners and grace of a sty of pigs.

“Wonderful,” sighed Sacha with great satisfaction. “I haven’t eaten real food in weeks.”

“We have serious matters to discuss, ladies and Hugh,” said Geoffle, lighting a cigar. “The small matter of the BOOB.”

“Well you seem to be in the know, Geoffle. We’ve seen enough to guess at your gangsta background. We think you’re the BOOB.”

Geoffle spread his hands and assumed an innocent look. “Come on. I may be a tit at times, but I’m hardly a BOOB.’

“It’s not Geoffle,” said Sacha, looking thoughtful. “But it’s clearly someone with inside knowledge.” She looked at Urszula. “Funny how you turned up tonight so conveniently.”

Urszula laughed. “It’s not me. If it was, you’d all be dead by now. I’d have poisoned your food.”

“Don’t look at me,” said Ali. “It was me and Goeffle who saved the day last year, remember?”

“True,” mused Sacha. “That leaves…”

Everyone stared at Hugh, who flushed bright pink.

Sacha’s eyes narrowed. “It’s the perfect disguise. Everyone loves you. You’re the Chief Hug Master. You have legions of adoring fans. No one would suspect you.”

“But I love the Bash, and I love all of you. I would never sabotage the Bash,” Hugh protested, looking greatly upset.

“But you did write The Truth App.”

“That was just a story. But this monster we have created, this Bloggers Bash is real, and it’s my baby just as much as yours. I would never hurt it.”

Sacha grinned. “Just kidding! No one as lovely as you could be capable of doing something so dastardly and despicable. But we need to be vigilant tomorrow, just in case. I suspect there are BOOBs everywhere.”

“If one of them comes anywhere near the Bash tomorrow I’ll bonk ‘em over the head with this!” said Ali fiercely, whipping out her shilelagh.

“My, that’s the biggest one I’ve ever seen,” sighed Hugh. “Is it new?”

“Surely is. Specially carved from magical hawthorn by the fairy king himself for just such an occasion.”

“Will you two stop thinking with your shilelaghs and concentrate for a minute?” snapped Sacha, both brows arched to the max. She delved into her dainty postage stamp sized vintage Victoriana lace handbag and pulled out a wad of red envelopes. Then she pulled out ten small boxes.

“Wow! You have a handbag like a Tardis,” breathed Ali, enviously.

Sacha gave a smug smile. “It’s Sacha Black Magic. I need it for carrying all my make-up and my airship puncture repair kit around.” She looked around at them all. “The day has finally come. Tomorrow we open these little red bad boys and announce the winners. Then we present these super duper luxury one of a kind awards. Are you ready for this?”

There was a solemn nodding of heads.

“Right. You…” she pointed a purple talon at Hugh. “Go and get your bottle of pink sparkly stuff so we can dye Geoffle’s beard. And you…” she turned to Ali. “Go and get your PJ’s on, and Geoffle, pour us some Champers and let’s get this party started.”

No one noticed the dark shadowy figure which had been peering through the window as it turned and slipped noiselessly away into the night…


ABBA 2016

You can read Part One of the Bloggers Bash Myth here.

You can read last years Bloggers Bash Myth here.

And if you want to know more about BOOBjust take a look at this, but don’t say I didn’t warn you!


As you are reading this, I am already on my way across the sky from Ireland to London! Keep your eye on our Facebook page, and on our Twitter hashtag #Bloggersbash to catch up with everyone as they set off on their travels to the Bash.

See you tomorrow, Bloggers!

 

The #BloggersBash Agenda and Who’s Who

London skyline2You’ve all been asking for it… and now you’re gonna get it! The Bloggers Bash Agenda, that is. I can’t believe that it’s already nearly a year since the very first Bloggers Bash. When Sacha, Geoffle, Hugh and I sat down to our first Google Hangout to discuss Bloggers Bash 2016, it seemed ridiculous to even contemplate it so soon after the first one, yet here we are, only 16… yes, SIXTEEN days to go, and I can honestly say the time has flown by.

We are really looking forward to seeing all our old friends from last year again, and meeting all our new ones too. It’s an extraordinary experience meeting a blogger for the first time when you have known each other for ages on WordPress. I’m so excited!


what will the day look like?
1:00 PM
Arrival and registration
2:00 PM
Welcome Address from Sacha
2:30 PM
Presentation of first two ABBA awards
3:00 PM
Presentation from Luca Sartoni, GROWTHKETEER AT AUTOMATTIC
Introduced by Geoffle
3:30 – 4:45 PM
Presentation of ABBA Awards
4.45 PM
Closing Speech from Sacha
Food will be served throughout the afternoon
Hugh will be circulating during the event, capturing the day on film

who’s going to be there?

In no particular order. Please feel free to drop by the virtual homes of your fellow bloggers and say “hi”, by clicking the links. Have fun!

Lbeth 1950
Nutsrok

Shell Baker
ChellesBookReviews

Noelle Holten
Crime Book Junkie

Judy E. Martin

Sherri Matthews
A View from my Summerhouse

Lucy Brasier
Secret Diary of Porter Girl

Helen Jones
Journey to Ambeth

Linda Hill
Linda’s Book Bag

Cynthia T. Luna
Living in Cyn

Lucy
Blonde Write More

Ritu
But I Smile Anyway

Rich Moran
Wafflemethis

Esther Newton
EstherNewtonBlog

Marje
Kyrosmagica

GraemeCumming

Barb Taub 

Julie Lawford

Suzanne Cronnolly
Suzie Speaks

Thalia
April4June6

Christina Philippou
Writing Round the Block

Rosie Amber

Alison Williams
Alison Williams Writing

Amanda Lyle
Inside the Life of Moi

Simon Farnell
Universe of Possibilities

Dwane Bickersteth
The Rantaman

Adam Dixon
Adam Dixon Fiction

Christoph Fischer

Shelley Wilson
I Write. I Read. I Review.

Emma Robertson
Hello Emma Kay

Sarah Hardy
By the Letter Book Reviews

Urszula Humienik-Dworakowska
Confessions of a Broccoli Addict

Steve Tanham

Loretta Milan
Literary Lightbox

Becky Brown
It Caught My Eye in Portugal

Ruth
Image and Word

Dave Robertson
Misty Books

Lauren Wills
My Kind of Movie

Alex
Alex Raphael

Willow Willers
Willowdot21

Mary Smith

Erika Kind

Steve
Steve Says

Mick Canning
My Writing

Elouise de Souza
Thoughts by Mell0-Elo

Annika Perry’s Writing Blog

Constantina Kaponi
LondonHealthMum

Olga Nunez
Just Olga

Judith Barrow

Luca Sartoni

Sacha Black

Geoff Le Pard
TanGental

Hugh Roberts
Hugh’s Views and News

Me (Ali Isaac)
Aliisaacstoryteller


So that’s everyone! Hope I haven’t missed anyone off the list. Have fun getting to know one another before the big day, if you don’t already, and see you all there very soon. Any questions? Check out the FAQ on Sacha’s blog. Geoff will be posting directions to the venue on Thursday 2nd June, and if you still haven’t voted for your favourite bloggers, you have until Thursday 9th June.