Monday, 29 September 2014

Grass on the Other Side

I don't think I've ever mown a lawn in my life. Yesterday, I changed that. It isn't a large patch of grass, but I managed to shorten it and tidy it up enough to feel somewhat proud that another step towards my independence has been taken. The garden at the farm was vast; like a field. The Farmer insisted on cutting it himself on the sit-on mower. He just couldn't vision a woman (his wife) doing what he classed as a "man's job". I've never been into gardening admittedly, and so I let him get on with it. There are so many things I let him get on with that I knew I was capable of doing. I realise it's my own fault for being so weak, but closed doors made for a sheltered existence, and I spent many years living in someone's shadow.

I know that a lot of people we both know personally won't understand that. I appeared strong and focused, perhaps pushy and determined. But they didn't see the little wife who hid behind those closed doors whilst her husband did his own thing and expected his tea on the table every night.

I think the gossip has already started, though by now it could be old news wrapped around Saturday's fish and chips. People wanting to 'have a word' with me, which frankly I find both insulting and laughable at the same time. I've lost friends and the respect of many people. Maybe those people are reading this now to see what they can relay back to The Farmer, knowing he never reads my blog. I've known him for 21 years. We've been together for 13, married for 11. I'm a grown woman and quite capable of making my own decisions and mowing my own lawn. Before I moved up here I was more independent than most of the women I've met in these parts. You can take the girl out the town, but you can't take the town out the girl. That doesn't make me inferior to you. It makes us different, individual. It's how the world goes round.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

An Uncertain Future

Life has a habit of testing our strength. I wasn't sure I would ever be strong enough to write this post and I've tried so very hard to brush the negativity that has overwhelmed my life for the past twelve months, under the carpet, hopefully to be forgotten, or maybe ignored. But there came a time when I could no longer stand the heart break that had begun to envelop me - and I realised in order to face it, I would have to cause further heart break to someone who has been a very special part of my life for many years. As a sign of respect to The Farmer, I won't broadcast details of our private life, but I made a life-changing decision earlier this year that my life and my destiny no longer rested at the idyllic location I have called 'home' for the past thirteen years.

I lived a dream; it all became a little surreal, and if I'm honest, I knew in my heart I needed more. Sometimes, dreams do come true. It was a life I treasured. A life I longed for since being a little girl. I got married in a castle and went on a romantic honeymoon where a river glistened in the late spring sunshine. I worked with animals and tractors and roamed through barley-clad fields with excited sheep dogs and country clothes on my back. I've lived life on a farm. And I've loved it.

But I knew, earlier this year, that this idyllic lifestyle of everything I'd dreamed of, would one day come to an end. I didn't know how, nor did I know when. But I knew I couldn't go on pretending I was happy. I wanted so much to be content, to walk the halls in my beautiful farm house, treading the floorboards and running my hands along the Georgian banister. I wanted desperately to feel at home there, to feel as though I truly belonged there and fit into the farming community that I so loved.

Then my dream slowly turned into a nightmare and my idea of the next five years that lay ahead became a blur. Holding our heads above water, the threat of poor crop prices and lamb trading affecting farms all over the district, wasn't important. We could have got through the financial crisis. There would have been one eventually, I have no doubt. What I couldn't get through was the fact that I had nothing in common with The Farmer, and even though my heart longed for us to make this work, it simply wasn't making a difference. It's the saddest situation in my life. It's the second time I've walked away from a marriage. A good marriage. Probably one of the best. Yet I no longer felt 'at home' living in the farm house; the fields became fields, nothing special, nothing sentimental like they used to be. I've left so much behind, and now I have to look forward. I have no idea what my future holds. None whatsoever. The Farmer would love me to return. I thought about moving back to Manchester, where I'm from. But I have Amy to consider, and right now she's happy and doing well at her school which is a good enough excuse to stay in Northumberland. Perhaps I will live like a gypsy for a while. Whatever happens, Amy and I now live on our own in a nice house further down the coast, and even though this place will also never be our permanent home, I hope we will be stronger one day to move on from the past thirteen years - many of which I was truly happy and therefore will never regret.

Should anyone be reading this who knows me and The Farmer personally, we both need a friend. Please don't take sides.

CJ x

Friday, 12 September 2014

Open Spaces

Years ago, before the creation of social media, it was easy to keep things to yourself, harbour your feelings and bottle it all up. Now, we have the world at our fingertips, people to talk to everywhere we go, and we don't even need to leave the comfort of our own homes. Living a grown up life in a grown up world can seem quite daunting if you're young and impressionable, just venturing out into the big wide spaces of your life. But when you get older and you've lived through times without computers and mobile phones, Twitter and Facebook and all those amazing inventions in between, you have a wealth of experience to add to the mix and that means you have something to offer. Our young people of today might be being brought up in this age of technology, everything being about clicks and 140 characters and poking friends they'll never meet, whilst we know what it was like before all that. Is life better now, is it easier? Or has it made our existence more complicated, less about face to face contact and more about statistics and how many followers we have? We can all admire our social media stats, and I'm sure most of us do, from time to time. But then we get carried away on a tidal wave of putting the world to rights, airing our opinions and allowing ourselves to open up to people of whom we would never normally give the time of day.

I've built up a fairly substantial social media presence over the years - though I look at some Twitter account holders and wonder how they've managed to accumulate so many followers without a bit of back-handed fiddling, especially when they never speak to anyone but just promote themselves. My own following has grown and I'm proud of that. It's grown because I talk to people online. I've made contacts in different fields, not least 'social' media, but the 'media' in general. I dare say I won't ever be one of these technical experts who spends hours clicking and poking and fiddling with computer innards, but I do have a knowledge of the big picture, and experience alone has taught me that however old (or young) I am, I will never let something get the better of me. I used to be a brunette. Too many grey hairs prompted me to go blonde. Dumb? Think again.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

My Apologies

I will get back to blogging and online communication eventually but I felt it only polite to update those who have been enquiring about my whereabouts that amazingly enough, I am still here. My life is currently in turmoil and I am experiencing an extremely difficult time which I am unable to discuss. Crystal Jigsaw has temporarily left the building; should the world have stopped turning she would have jumped off.

Please bear with me and accept my apologies for neglecting so many friendships, many of which have remained loyal for several years.

CJ x

Wednesday, 23 July 2014


When I first started to write this blog it was hugely based around the paranormal experiences I encountered in the house. Some of the posts were particularly deep but all were true. I knew people would read those posts with a sceptical mind and I also knew the comments would come in along the lines of "Really?" I never expected everyone who read them to believe them even though I would have liked them to. It's usually the case that unless something has happened to you, you've seen, heard or sensed something out of this world, it's going to be hard to appreciate the experiences that some of us do have. Those times have never ceased in the house but things did go quiet for a while, as though it perhaps wasn't necessary for me to be alerted to the presence of an astral being.

But recently, things have started happening again, and I'm now at the point of inviting a medium into the house to confirm who is trying to make contact. I don't believe in coincidences. Things happen for a reason and even though it can take a considerable length of time to work out that reason, we usually get there in the end. I'm pretty sure my dad is the one trying to make that all-important contact. A few weeks ago, my friend Michelle and I were sat chatting in the drawing room when we both very distinctly heard a man shout,  "Hello." We both turned to the door and I went into the hallway as I assumed someone had walked into the house - friends often do. There was no one there.

Last week, Amy and I were in the kitchen making toast and she was giving me her usual teenage cheek when we both heard a man whisper loudly, "Amy." It was quite funny because it seemed as though he was telling her off for being rude to me!

Yesterday, Amy followed one of our cats' eyes around the office as it chased a pin-prick of light. My dad's favourite song not long before he passed away was Cher's "Believe" and she was listening to the song on You Tube at the time. I am sure you will understand why I think this is my dad. I will of course keep you posted, and will update you once my medium has visited...

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

How Not To Win An Election

So there's been a lot of chat in the news recently about female cabinet ministers and our current Government wishing to employ women in politics. I don't think that's a bad idea at all. Women aren't second-class citizens or inferior to men, and they are more than capable of leading this country. We have a very professional and dedicated local councillor here in Northumberland who's doing a fine job for us; her campaigning alone is a credit to her committed approach for our region.

But let's get this into perspective: I don't normally blog about politics because a) I find it too boring, and b) it's such a controversial topic to discuss that most people just click off. Who can blame them?  Not me, that's for sure. However, apart from the article in (I believe) the worst newspaper since the hacking scandal, though it could be the worst newspaper ever created, there is yet another ridiculous write-up about women politicians, what they wear and how they look. WHO CARES?

We are living in the 21st century. 2014. Women are just as entitled to work as men are and if they are the better person for the job in a line up of cabinet ministers then so be it. I couldn't care less if our female politicians turned up in a black bin liner with straw in their hair. So long as they can sort this country out what on earth does it matter? It's not just the talked-about article that has irritated me though, it's the whole fact that this is even being discussed in the first place. There are some absolute dicks in Parliament, never mind the Cabinet, yet they are never judged on what they wear. Women, it seems, are judged on just about everything, yet least of all what policies they have and how good at their job they are. The majority of our politicians are very middle to upper class and have little knowledge about us plebs at the bottom of the pile. We can assume that is because they either aren't interested or they just don't want to be associated with the working class - or should I say "hardworking people"?

So let's stop worrying about what our female politicians are wearing, how they style their hair, whether they're in heels or flats and whether or not they've put lipstick on; let's ask how competent they are at lifting the country from its knees. Sexism is everywhere and perhaps our Prime Minister is trying to eradicate it in his Cabinet reshuffle, though the cynical side of me thinks this could have something to do with the forthcoming General Election and the possibility that a more feminine approach to politics might just tempt our younger generation of women to vote for the Premier and his team. Who knows? And like I said, who cares? Do the job properly and you'll get my vote whatever colour bin bag you choose to wear.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Radio Northumberland

Tune into Radio Northumberland at 4.30pm TODAY AND TOMORROW (Saturday and Sunday) to hear me on the Paranormal Show talking about my books and lots of ghostly communication! With presenters Paul Green and Claire Sloan. (Click the Link below) 

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Shoddy Response from Thomson

You may remember I wrote a letter to Thomson Holidays some time back after being rather frustrated at their shoddy seat booking system and the fact there were hardly any seats left on the plane for me to book. I have finally received a response that is neither here nor there and is, quite frankly, a waste of time.

"Thanks for your letter about your holiday to Cyprus.

Firstly I'm sorry to learn you're unhappy with the service you've received to date from us. We're always aiming to improve our service so it's great to get your feedback so we can monitor our customer satisfaction. (Not much point really if they take no bloody notice of it!!!!!)

I note from your letter, you're unhappy with the seat selection you had to choose from on your flight as you wished to book seats at the front of the plane due to your daughter being autistic. (That is absolute rubbish - it had nothing to do with Amy being autistic. I was actually unhappy with the fact there were hardly any fucking seats to choose from, so something else they took no notice of.) I can advise all customers who pre book  their seats on the plane, will be given access to their seating plan 90 days prior to their return date to select their seat numbers. (That's bollocks for a start; the shop I used didn't have access to it!)

I've today worked out (this letter was dated 28/06/14) that on the 14th May 2014, your seating plan would have been open for you to select your seat numbers. (According to the shop it wasn't open on that date otherwise I'd have sodding booked them, wouldn't I?!!!!) However I can see you didn't choose your seats until the start of June, which meant other customers would have been able to select their seats before you logged on. (Logged on? I went into the shop to book the seats!) All our seats are on a first come first serve basis however when customers choose to pre book their seats we will guarantee their party sitting together, whether this is next to each other, across an aisle or behind one another.

In regards to our seating plan opening 90 days from customers return date of travel, which means customers on a 7 night duration are at an advantage at selecting their seats. Unfortunately we're unable to change this policy so customers can select their seats number 90 days from their departure date or when they add pre bookable seats on to their booking as our policy has always been 90 days prior to customers return date of travel. Once again I do apologise for this and for any inconvenience caused. (Of course, this rule was made by someone so high up the chain of Thomson employees that it couldn't possibly be changed now. Why didn't I think of that...?!)

The service you're received is not what we would hope for, so I'm sorry for your experience. Your comments have been passed onto the relevant department so they can learn from your comments and put any required training and improvements in place. (And the point of that is what, exactly?)

Thanks again for contacting us and letting us know your thoughts. We'll keep working towards making sure we're providing the best possible service. If you've got any other questions then you're welcome to get back in touch. (Welcome?)  I hope that despite any disappointment you go on to have a fantastic time in Cyprus. (Well you won't be spoiling it, that's for sure.)

Yours sincerely"

I think this is a pretty poor response. I didn't expect miracles and I certainly didn't expect preferential treatment, but they are clearly not going to do anything about my "thoughts". I'm not going to let it get to me because so long as we get there and back safely, I intend to enjoy two weeks in the sun. What I won't be doing is going on any of their ridiculously priced excursions. And I do think whoever typed that letter up ought to learn about punctuation and grammar. When writing formal correspondence to a client, it really does matter.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Major Confidence Boost

Had an amazing experience yesterday (Thursday) when I met two fascinating people after being invited as a guest on Radio Northumberland. Paul Green (aka The Psychic Biker) and Claire Sloan (founder of paranormal investigations show Shadows of The Night) made me welcome in their recording studio and we hit it off after seconds of being in each other's company. I admit I was a little nervous about the prospect of speaking into a microphone over the airwaves but it was a recorded interview and informal chat which meant Paul was able to edit out any rambling and tongue twisters I would inevitably manage to do. Both complete professionals, they made me feel comfortable and at ease and didn't ask too many probing questions! In fact, they made me feel so confident that I'm hoping they'll ask me back to do another show some time...

I was asked questions like, what inspired me to write paranormal, when did I first become interested in the paranormal, what experiences have I had - all answers I was eager to give because as you know, talking about mediumship and all things spiritual is what my life is about. We talked about my books of course, that was the main reason for being invited on the show, and I was given some glowing compliments particularly concerning the Rosehill series. (Claire was also quite interested in Bedknobs and Bachelors so I'm sending her a signed copy - I think she quite fancies the main character, Gary Stringer, and his notches-on-the-bedpost-antics...)

But apart from the fabulous fun we had, the great company and particularly interesting experience of doing a recorded interview for a major radio station, those couple of hours have given me a huge boost in confidence, and those regular followers and readers of this blog will know that is something I've struggled with for a very long time. When I got home I realised that there is a whole new world out there and I need to explore it.

So thank you, Paul and Claire, for making me smile again, for all the compliments, for the amazing experience and for becoming my two newest friends.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Another Door

Amy and I go on holiday in less than five weeks. I can't believe it's come round so quickly. I haven't bought very much in the way of summer clothes this time as haven't really needed to due to the amount of new items I bought last year for our fortnight in Kos. We've chosen Cyprus this year, a place I've been to a few times. I dare say I'm ready for a holiday, who isn't, but this one is going to be spent doing an awful lot of thinking and pondering of my future. Two weeks on a sun lounger in heat that not many of us can stand, a glistening pool just yards away and a golden sandy beach at my disposal will be cause for relaxation I'm sure. So many years in my life have been compared to a roller-coaster ride, but this one in particular has found me waiting at the top of the incline, pondering the drop.

It's harvest time soon. How I used to love those days. Tearing round the fields on a quad bike, dodging straw bales, watching four excited collies jump from one bale to the other. Once upon a time the land used to come alive with workers in the fields, roaring up and down in a combine or a tractor before they'd stop for tea in a flask and a homemade scone. We would chat and admire the yield, laugh about the banter on the CB radios, then the wives would hop back on the quad bikes with empty flasks and crumb-laden Tupperware whilst the farmers would climb back into their monster-machines to continue the hard labour that harvest warrants.

Those days are gone.

They ceased a few years ago.

I'm not sure whether I ever really did fit in to the ideal of being a farmer's wife.