Port Talbot beachfront
Aberavon beach, Port Talbot

This is a recent picture of Aberavon beach in Port Talbot, a steel working town in south Wales, which also happens to be my old home town. I used to live literally ten minutes away from this picture, in a old terraced town house (built in the early 1920’s) before the steel works was even thought of.

Not sure of anyone’s thoughts on this, but since I have started to write seriously, lots of stories and images that I see everyday have taken on new meaning – they are usually inspiration for a story, in whatever format; sci-fi, romance, crime or thriller.

That’s why I have chosen this image as an inspiration to a quirky little story that I am writing. Entitled ‘Stella Windermere’ it is a crime novel, about an amateur sleuth that lives in the town. Needless to say, her crimes are set around the town and coastline of Port Talbot, with some maybe further afield.She will have a ‘side kick,’ and assistant that will do her running around for her, as well as family and friends in the community that will share their thoughts and advice (whether needed or not) on the crime.

Has anyone else seen an image or reads an article, that has given them inspiration to write?

Please share your thoughts.

In the meantime, here’s an extract from Stella Windermere: The Case of the Polish Sailor:

Mariner’s Drive was one of the many indistinctive streets that made up the estate. Built just after World War Two, the estate consisted of rows and rows of council houses that were built to accommodate the dockland. Stella parked her Golf on the driveway safely tucked away from the school kids across the way. It was lunch time, and she could see groups of blue jumpers and grey trousers leaving the school grounds. Just last week she’d spotted one of them peering into her back windshield and then try the car door; looking to thieve, no doubt. Not bloody likely!

A tinny sound from a radio came from the back garden, and she bypassed the front door, pushing the small gate around the side. Alfie was in the pigeon coop, talking in hushed tones to someone. He stopped when he saw her.

‘Stella, love, you look a picture as usual. What have you gone for today?’ Alfie pecked her on the cheek.

‘It’s supposed to be some sort of warm gold, but I’m not sure. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jenny is just using me as a guinea pig for her colors. She’s gone real posh since she went on that course in London. She’s charging more too.’ She pulled her head scarf off her head and sat down on a patio chair, before addressing Alfie’s companion. ‘Morning, Bert. Is Maggie with you? I want that knitting pattern off her.’

‘Morning Stella! She’s in the kitchen putting the kettle on.’

Moments later, all four were sat under a large umbrella, sipping tea and eating fruit cake. The rain had held off, the sun was out. Drops of excess rain fell from the colorful potted blooms as they sat there, chatting. Marigolds, fuchsia and tulips (an eclectic choice, but Stella was that way inclined) tried to outdo each other as the largest blooms. Further down the garden, potatoes and carrots sat alongside onions and silver beets, whilst huge leaves of rhubarb took up the far corner. Statues of gnomes and other furry creatures were dotted about the garden, as if guarding some rich jewels. Their dog Lucy, a sweet mongrel dog that Alfie affectionately called ‘a mutt of 57 varieties.’ sniffed around the pathway, looking for slugs.

‘Come here Luce! Look what your mother has brought from the shops.’ Alfie pulled a packet from Stella’s bag. It was bulky, and wrapped in newspaper.

A juicy bone.

Betty Turnbull from next door popped her head over the fence. She had on a scarf that hid a row of curlers, and her cheeks were ruddy from the cold.

‘Good morning Stella and Maggie, tho it’s nearly lunchtime. I’ve got some tomatoes from the greenhouse if you’d like; go lovely with a bit of ham and salad.’

‘Yes okay, Betty love.’ Stella stood up and reached for the bowl of luscious red fruit. Betty had placed green beans and a couple of small cucumbers in the bowl as well.

‘Have you heard the news this lunchtime? A man was found up in the dunes. Dead he was, as a door nail. His hands were tied behind his back and he was strangled. The news said that he had on a marines outfit, and they suspect he was a stranger to the area, judging by his ID. Foreign it was; Polish they seem to think, although they’re not giving much away! He came off one of the boats more than likely. They’re a lowly lot to be sure.’

Stella stared at Betty in disbelief. ‘Where exactly was he found?’ she inquired. 

 ‘In front of the Naval Club, next to the docks.’ Betty replied. ‘He was stinking of booze too, so Wilf tells me, although that wasn’t on the news. Although where he gets his information from is anyone’s guess. Sounds strange though, don’t you think?’

‘Now, now Betty. We’ve had enough dramas lately. Don’t go thinking anymore.’ Alfie picked up the bowl of tomatoes and headed for the kitchen. ‘I’ll make some tomato sandwiches for lunch, with some of that nice leg ham. Stella can you make some more tea?’

Maggie reached for her handbag under the patio table, and stood up. ‘None for me Alf; we have to go. I’ve got to visit my mother this afternoon. The nurses there are marvelous with her, especially after the accident, but I still should see to her myself. Thanks for the tea Stell; I’ll give you a ring in the morning.’ She pulled out a booklet that had pictures of Arran jumpers on its front cover, and placed it on the table. ‘Here’s that pattern; it knits up lovely with that wool I got from the precinct.’