A selection of short pieces, written in response to a series of writing prompts. Enjoy!

MARCHING ANTS   –  Liz Ceruti

Walking walking it never stopped, every day it is the same exercise, a repeat of the day before, and the day before that, and the day before that…….

Ever since I could remember, ever since  I opened my eyes after popping out of that moist egg, into the dry air, that is  all I know.  The story of my life, and that of my brothers and sisters. We have all just accepted that this is the lot in our lives.

The Head of our colony of Ants has never had any mercy.  There has been no deviation from this pattern …. Up in the morning and off to work we go.  We have marched in this line, keeping our heads down, just following the brother in front of  me and he in turn following the one in front of him.  Here we go again one pad in front of the other, systematically moving forward with no thought other than to reach our destination.

So throughout the days we formed this long line, avoiding any obstacles that were found on the way.  These we circumnavigated & continued relentlessly, on our mindless journey.  The front ants whoever they are, wherever they are in search of whatever, just keep going until they find their bounty.

We Ants have an incredible sense of smell which serves us very well in our bid to find and store food. In the past we have usually been successful in seeking out a bowl wherein  sweet grains of sugar is kept. This is a favourite among the nursery Ants and is always welcomed with great enthusiasm.  On reaching our prize we circle and find the familiar path taken by the preceding brothers.  We head up the rim over the lip and slide down into the snowy sugar.

We lift a grain,  nip it in our mouths turn and then we carry it, once again keeping in  an orderly line we  march one behind the other on the return trip. We pass alongside our peers that are still on their way to the bowl. We head back to our nest, and it is the same pattern all over again, march, march, march. Once we have reached our familiar camp and deposited our prize, we turn and follow our brothers back to the our supply of sweet grains, and it is once again, march, march, march.




Daughter to people I never knew.

Sister to people I never knew.

Wife to a fisherman.

Mother of six.

Grandmother to twelve.

Great grandmother to six or seven before she died.

The mother of my mother.

My grandmother.

I didn’t regret her passing.

She favoured one child above the other four.

She favoured his children above the other nine.

She called me the grandchild from hell.

My mother now calls her a saint.



ICE  – Daphne Jaaback Ley

“She could sell ice to the Eskimos”

I wonder how my friend would manage with de-icing my fridge-freezer. Perhaps she would sell me a new one!

Over the years I have tried multiple ways of de-icing this vital piece of kitchen equipment…..hot water bottles, hairdryers, even a boiling kettle nearby.

One lesson learned is that whatever the method used, the task is simplified by more frequent de-icing.

My most dramatic occasion, governed by stressful circumstances, occurred a couple of years ago.

My time was taken up with caring for a very sick husband. The frosting in the deep freeze was the last thing on my mind until the available space diminished to almost the size of a small lunch box.

I made alternative arrangements for the  contents of the fridge…..all available cooler boxes, even cardboard boxes lined with newspaper. Just before retiring to bed I turned off the switch and  left the fridge freezer  door open. The floor was lined with trays and old towels.

A crash woke me. My immediate reaction was to check on the wellbeing of my husband. He was okay.

Only then did I remember the fridge freezer. Sneaking into the kitchen, I turned the light on.

Global warming was in evidence. An ice tsunami  had occurred.


EVENING   –  Bob McMahon

My earliest recollections of evenings occurred in the nineteen fifties, when my family and I used to visit Norfolk on the east coast of England, to stay with my Uncle Joe.

We always considered that Uncle Joe lived ‘in the countryside,’ as opposed to ourselves, who were city dwellers. Consequently, the evening skies in Norfolk were much clearer than those seen above an industrial city. But the biggest thrill for me was that Uncle Joe owned a telescope, and he would attempt to educate us about the planets and stars in an unpolluted sky.

He would describe glorious Venus as the ‘goddess of love’ and Mars as the ‘red planet’ but in all honesty it didn’t look red to me! He would enthuse about the ‘bright rings of Saturn’ and my favourite planet Mercury – which he described as ‘the messenger of the Gods.’

When he really got warmed up he would rave about soaring through the universe, flying past Jupiter and Neptune, on and on, up and up.

Looking back, I realise that Uncle Joe put on a show to entertain us kids in those early years after the war, when most families had very little.

He died in nineteen sixty seven, and I still have that telescope.

I miss Uncle Joe.







Our U3A Writers spent a busy April, responding to a series of daily Writing prompts. Here are some of their responses:

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THE BABY GRAND –  Corinna Turner

It sat there, glorious, dominating the room, reflecting the morning light coming through the bay window. Dark burgundy, rich, almost black with a high gloss. I had to get dressed to go to work but I just could not resist going into the room and touching it – my very own baby grand piano. Shivers ran down my spine. I couldn’t wait to  play beautiful music on it.

Aunty Milly, bless her, had left me her baby grand piano and yesterday afternoon a specialised moving company had delivered it.  The piano tuner was waiting when it was delivered.  He almost drooled at the mouth when he saw it, and the rest of the afternoon he spent tuning her expertly, constantly making comments about what a wonderful piano I had.

When he finished he asked if I would like to try it, but I demurred, so he asked if he might play a couple of pieces on her and I agreed; it seemed only fair. I made a pot of tea and laid a tea tray with some small scones, jam and cream and after putting the tray down on the coffee table I relaxed in my comfy armchair and enjoyed his expert playing.  What bliss.    Now I just needed to learn to play more than Chopsticks, sigh.


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PAGE –  Anna Herrington

Well, hello there. I see you looking at me with a pen in hand. Are you going to write today?

Or should I rather say, are you going to attempt to write today? I know how many times you have sat there with your pen and failed to write on me. Even worse, I know the crap that you have written when you have gathered up enough courage to write. Word gets around, you know.

So, you think you are going to soil me with your unworthy writing? I am a clean, blank page. I deserve only the best, you know. No one wants to read what you write. You have not been found worthy.

If you think that you are worthy, I dare you write on me. Come on do it! Prove to me that you can write something that is worth reading. Prove to me that you are worthy of messing up my clean, blank state.

Ooh, I can see the fear in your eyes. You’re wavering. Soon you’re going to put that pen down and put me away. I can already see the excuses running through your mind. Maybe I should do the washing first? I have to get Mom’s papers organised so that I can go and see to her new bank card at the bank. Aha! An email just arrived. You’ll have to go and read it. It might be important.

Well, that didn’t take long. I knew you couldn’t do it.



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SCOOTER –  Daphne Ley

A scooter, of mobility genre, is my new Ferari . The only difference is its colour!

With me at the wheel , it corners with panache and rolls down the path with amazing grace.

Speed control, headlights, indicators, reverse lights and hooter are all there at the touch of a button. The brakes activate automatically when the four wheeled scooter stops. This is just as well as there is a slight downward gradient  at the pedestrian crossing. Watching for the lights to change needs full time concentration.

I wonder whether you have heard of a dog walking at wheel. My trusty  scooter is the wheel and Sasha, an exceptionally talented border collie, the dog. Of course I am operating the wheel. The first few lessons have been challenging, bordering on traumatic. As long as I have kept a regular pace so has Sasha.

A scooter can go cross country, a Ferari cannot. But there are challenges there too

We set out along the public path bordering the Medway River. Sasha was  running free and my beloved toy boy was on shank’s pony. Stops were made to marvel at wild spring plants . Round one muddy bend  the path sloped precariously down to the high tide waterway. Gnarled, arched tree roots broke the surface. My ambulant carer made light of the impediment.

“Just keep the motor running” With my heart in my mouth I did just that. Crossing accomplished, tears of relief ran down my cheeks

We travelled onward down the path, knowing that shortly a main pavement would be reached.

An uprooted tree put paid to those thoughts. Sasha leapt across and seemed perplexed as to why we were not following . Despite Jimmy’s herculean efforts, there was no budging of this arboreal blockage. I managed to turn on a level, albeit muddy patch. That gnarled, rooted, sloping patch had to be navigated once again.

I needed that drink!




PIZZAS – Liz Cerruti

My Dad who is Italian owned a bakery in the North of Italy – Domedossella a town in the valley at the foothills of Mont Blanc, the famous mountain on the Italian-Swiss border.

As a little girl I can remember the smell of the rising dough, it permeated the air I breathed from my waking moments till the dark of night when my eyes closed and my senses shut down.

I loved being the baker`s child, I always had friends who never went away empty handed.  There was always broken cookies to be given away.  The main delicacy from our shop that opened up on the main street, apart from the daily bread that was baked and bought every day, was the most delicious pizzas that found themselves on lunch and dining tables, throughout the little town.  Every family ate Gino`s pizzas at least once per week.

My father had over the years perfected the ingredients of the thinnest pizza base.  Gino`s pizzas had become popular with the neighbouring little towns as well.   Some people just came for the pizza dough and then created their own masterpieces of delicatessen in the own kitchens, but a stream of people came for our ready-made delicious pizzas.



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ICE  – Love it or hate it ?   –   Bob McMahon

Freezing cold days in the middle of winter. Rain and snow, turning to ice. Slippery under foot and a danger to all – don’t you just hate ice?


Kids playing in winter, sliding down slopes covered in ice. A home made sledge providing fun for all – don’t you just love ice?


A frozen lake. Don’t dare step foot on it for fear of your life. One wrong move and it’s a frozen end. Don’t you just hate ice?


Ice skating – spinning and dancing on ice – don’t you just love ice?


Central heating broken; icicles on the window. Don’t you just hate ice?


A crisp white South African wine. Sample the cheese board; enjoy the sunshine, two lumps in the glass – don’t you just love ice?


First trip on the Titanic. Don’t you just hate ice?

An Eskimo building a new home – don’t you just love ice?


Ice – Fran Lombard

A moment of ecstasy: When I stretch myself out on one of Springfield Wine Estate’s comfortable deck chairs, under a big oak tree, next to their glorious handmade pond, with their precious three dogs Anna a German Shepherd, Leach and Feliz, Anatolian Shepherds, lying at my feet.  I gently hold in the palm of my hand a glass of their world renowned Springfield Life on Stone wine.  Then I slowly lift up the ice cubes from the bucket and drop three of them gently in my crystal wine glass and watch how those wine bubbles intertwine with the ice cubes as they surface to the top.  It is almost if they just come up to catch a breath of fresh air before they sink down to the bottom.  Nothing, but nothing can beat that moment of bliss when Ice meets Stone!


Nothing worse: When I drop my wacked body on a very busy coffee shop chair.  It is hot and after a hideous day at work all I want  is a glass of tap water, no ice, just with a slice of lemon.  I make myself clear to the waitress that I do not want ice!  Yes, I repeat myself twice, no ice please!   There is no reason why I have to explain to her  my preference of how I like my glass of water.  Lo and behold the tall glass appears on the table crammed with ice cubes.  Time after time it happens.  Ice or no ice that is the question!





















A Life for All Seasons         – Bob McMahon  






Hannah stood outside the patio doors and marveled at the beautiful display of daffodils. She had planted the bulbs some four months previously and now, in early April, the flowers had blossomed into a vibrant cascade of yellow. She loved gardening. Aged thirty six, married with two young sons, she was content with life. Her job took in only three mornings a week which left her enough time for the kids and the garden.


As she pottered about in the early spring sunshine, her contented life took a massive jolt when the telephone rang inside the house. Her brother had been diagnosed with cancer. She was stunned. He was only three years older than her and they had grown up as close as could be.


She stood in a daze staring at the rows of daffodils.




It was three months on from the day of that phone call. Lung cancer, with chronic obstruction pulmonary disease. ‘COPD’ they called it. What the hell did she care how the bloody medics termed it? Her brother was dying. Less than a year to live they said. The doctors had been professional and supportive, devising a treatment plan which involved either radiotherapy or chemotherapy. They had talked about small cell cancer, breathing problems and lymph nodes. But all she knew was that her brother wouldn’t be around for much longer.


She strolled in her garden and admired the freesia plants now in full bloom. Inside her mind she lamented that the beautiful flowers also had a short-term life span. In a few weeks they would also be gone.




She was angry. He had been a smoker. ‘So what,’ she thought. Wasn’t he entitled to some small pleasure in life? Did pleasure always have to have a downside? Did the scales have to be balanced? What was the point of pleasure if it had to end in despair? She was angry with herself, angry with her brother, the hospital staff and everything connected to cancer.

The leaves were turning orange and brown now as autumn approached. ‘It was always like that,’ she thought, ‘new life, sparkling colours and fragrance, and then the downside.’




Her worst time. It was too cold to go out into the garden. The flowers had withered and died. The trees were bare, and there was a long wait before spring arrived, and with it, new life.


Her brother’s health had steadily declined and she knew that the end was close now. Winter cast long dark shadows across the garden as she stared vacantly out of the window.




The funeral was sad, and she thought how much life mirrored all that went on in her garden. You sowed the seeds and planted the bulbs. Then, by some miracle, they blossomed into beautiful specimens to be admired by all – just like her brother. Slowly the plants ended their life and disappeared, to be replaced by the long shadows of winter.

She stood in the church and read the eulogy. ‘Only the mountains and the stars last forever. All things share the same breath. The beast, the tree, and the man. Life is the shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.

There was a tear and a smile when Hannah noticed the bright yellow daffodils arranged within the church.


The following pieces  were in response to a series of Writing Prompts, sent over the month.  As you can see, the topics were varied.  Enjoy!


Fynbos  – Corinna Turner 

The fynbos kingdom owes nothing to fairies, dragons, ogres and suchlike – though with such special plants in it this is a kingdom that would be a good place for them.  A sort of Flower Fairies of the Fynbos.

So, down here near the bottom of the world live many, many special plants that can only be found here, though I believe, Australia having once been attached to us may well have one or two similar species.  It is the tiniest floral kingdom in the world – way down here, hanging on at bottom of Africa.

I am not an expert on the subject of fynbos, but many people who live in South Africa will know of the Protea, possibly even the King Protea and the Pincushion Protea, and any sports fanatic will obviously know about The Proteas, who use the Protea as their emblem.
The fynbos kingdom is a small coastal belt, 100 to 200 km wide, of natural vegetation located in the Western Cape of South Africa. The Western Cape is predominantly a winter rainfall, coastal and mountainous area with a Mediterranean type of climate.  Fynbos makes up around 80% of the vegetation in this area – The Cape Floral Region.  The plants that make up the species are adapted to live in poor soil conditions and are mostly shrubby, heath-like and woody.  Their seeds often need regular burns of the areas to germinate them, other seeds being taken down underground by the African ants that are indigenous to the area and others only pollinated by specific butterflies, bees and bugs.  Fynbos consists of over 9 000 of the plant species, and 7000 occur in only five fynbos vegetation types.  70% of these are endemic.

Actually, this subject is fascinating, and I could go on quoting dry statistics, but perhaps you should rather go out there to places like Fernkloof in Hermanus and Stanford, as examples and walk amongst these amazing plants that have been around for so long. Sadly for such a tiny biome humans are encroaching more and more on the areas where fynbos grows and some areas are illegally ploughed for grape vines to be planted  and the tiny kingdom is fast vanishing.

You can also go and read articles such as http://www.southafrica.net/za/en/articles/entry/article-southafrica.net-south-africas-fynbos to find out more and how to protect an area that has more plant species in it than the huge Amazon basin/forest.



Like staccato notes the first raindrops danced on the roof. Later it became a fully fledged orchestra. Thunder, sounding like kettle drums, roared in the distance. Soon the water was rushing through the downpipes, overflowing in the catchment areas.

Pieces of plastic, small branches and paper surfed their way to the drain pipes. Cigarette butts from discarded motor car ashtrays bobbed down the stream. The  potholes were starting to fill. Pools of water appeared on the streets and driveways. Like a corp de ballet the falling drops danced on the surfaces of the water pools. Leaves, hanging like limp hands from the branches, dripped with water. The wet bark of the tree trunks turned dark and shiny.

Turtle doves, with bedraggled wet feathers, sat quietly. They were huddled together on branches of the oak tree. The usually noisy hadedas were quiet for once. The fig tree offered them some protection from the driving rain.

With noses pressed against the windows, children watched the water, now streaming down the gutters. They waited impatiently for the rain to ease.  Grabbing coats and boots they ran outside. Shouting, laughing and splashing as they made their way down the road, their lungs filling with moist clean, cool air.

Auntie Ethel, apron tied around her ample body, was in her kitchen, her electric whisk beating the pancake batter to its own music. As soon as the rain is down to a drizzle each neighbour will get one of her delicious pancakes. The enticing aroma of the cinnamon mixed with the smell of wet earth and bruised vegetation is a symphony for the senses.



   –  Daphne Jaaback Ley

Cadbury, mouth watering

Heavenly, taste buds tingling

Obesity bedeviling

Cappuccino coupling

Obviously a special thing

Lately have become quite spoilt

As the shops here do support

Trays of assorted chocolate fare

Enticing me to buy and share




Saturdays  – by Daphne Ley

Saturday is the day we meet

At Sainsburys for coffee and something to eat

We consider the world’s  problems from east to west

Global warming, mass migration and all of the rest


Gales of laughter  from  our table of six

Our common history, a powerful mix

Average age just short of eighty

And one perhaps a little weighty.


Weather permitting, most travel on wheels

Bringing up the rear and hot on our heels

Are the ambulant two, one helping the other

The to and fro distance we easily cover.



Red Roses  –  Daphne Ley

Roses are red and violets are blue

A saying familiar to me and to you

The red of the rose has always been known

To herald a passionate, affectionate tone


But, sadly today, on Valentines’s Day

The prices have soared at the floral display

For a dozen red roses the price is extreme

Forty pounds is more than it ever has been



THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY.   – Liz Ceruti


Dear George,

t is ten years now that your statue of man on a horse called “Energy” is proudly standing on a hill in Cape Town.  We have placed it on the grounds of the Rhodes University, which is called after my name.

I am overjoyed, it`s magnificence hasn`t faded over these last ten years. Aptly called “Energy” which describes the feeling of pure strength and energy which exudes from it.

This gift so graciously bestowed on me from you my dear friend George Frederick Watts will be viewed and appreciated for generations to come.  I am enclosing a photo for your perusal. Note how it rises towards the sky, truly capturing the Energy of Man and horse.  May I thank you once again sincerely for your generous gift to me and the people of Africa.

Sincerely,  Cecil.


(Sir George Frederick Watts renown artist and sculptor in London who sculpted the original statue which can be seen in London`s Kensington Gardens has bestowed this gift to me, and allowed a casting to be made and erected in my beloved country South Africa.

My statue stands proudly on this campus for all to enjoy. )



10TH ANNIVERSARY   – by Corinna Turner 

This morn when I awoke

My wife reminded me,

(While giving me a painful poke),

This was our anniversary.


And not just any one, oh no,

Our 10th, good gracious me!

I rushed downstairs to make the tea,
Stubbing my big toe.


While my wife, the bathroom went in.

I checked good old Google

To see that 10 was tin.

Yippee, that wouldn’t cost me too much boodle.


Shouting, See you later,

I reversed the old car out

Just missing a lounging lout,

‘Watch out, you stupid old gator.’


I drove down to the shopping mall,

Parking in the car park,

And nearly had a fall.

When a stray dog did bark.


Without further ado I went in

And headed to my favourite shop,

And after buying a card and pretty tin,

I thought I deserved a dop*.


To the local Slug and Lettuce

I duly did retire

Where I spied my wife, Lettice,

Her eyes sparking with fire.


‘I thought I’d find you here, you louse,

I wondered where you were off to,

Sneaking out like a shifty mouse,

As I came out of the loo.’


‘A sherry for you, dear?’

As I headed for the bar.

Clutching my carrier bag in fear,

To run? No, the door was too far.


Back at the table sipping my drink,

She eyed my bag, in a strop

And in a blink,

Asked, ‘Not the Crazy Shop?’


‘You cheapskate!

Is that all you think of me?’

No loving look, just a look of hate,

Was all that I could see.


‘I haven’t finished yet, my dear,’

As I got up from my seat,

‘I’ll see you  back at home my dear’

As I gained my feet.


I ran to the hardware shop real hard

To make my final purchase.

I wrapped the tin, wrote the card

With a smile upon my face.


Back at the house

I gave Lettice her present.

She snatched it from me, ‘You louse’

As the paper she did rent.


‘Tin?’ she said, looking at me,

As she pulled off the lid,

‘Ooh, chocolates, how nice.

Maybe you’re not such a Yid.’ [apologies]


She gobbled them down

As looked on,

Then I saw her frown.

She looked at me and said, ‘You son…’


The chocolates laced with strychnine,

Gave me more pleasure

For the anniversary of tin,

Than nasty Lettice, my old treasure


Who lies below my deckchair,

The ground buried within.

As I swig my beer, things look set fair

It’s much more fun living alone and in sin!


* dop – South African slang for “a tot, a drink ”.

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