Mid May with Hawthorn in Full Bloom

Mid May and here in the UK the hawthorn (or may) blossom is at its peak. Superstition says it’s extremely unlucky to bring hawthorn flowers into the house. It’s to do with the smell. They have a distinctive scent the main element of which is triethylamine, which is also one of the first chemicals produced by dead bodies when they start to decay. So no one brings hawthorn blossom into our house – if they did it would be over my dead body!

Hawthorn blossom
May tree in full bloom.

Spring has finally sprung.

There’s been a very short window for the spring flowers this year due to the preceding wet and cold weather. But flowers have suddenly burst into bloom and produced their feast of colour throughout our garden and adjacent woods. more…

Meeting the oldest living land animal

Earlier in the year. I was a guest speaker on a cruise going from Cape Town to Namibia and then 1200 miles across to St Helena and Ascension Island. While we were berthed in Namibia, I was able to do a day excursion  into the Namib desert with its striking vistas of endless barren canyons… more…

Pets Aplenty Finally Published

Pets Aplenty Finally Published

That moment all authors relish when I finally have a copy of my book in hand. The finished product. The result of many months of work. Months in which whenever the dreaded writers’ block descended, I wondered if I’d ever get to the end. Now the book’s been delivered. I’m holding it. Rather like the… more…

Penzance Literary Festival

Penzance Literary Festival

A mystic moment on the Cornish coast when I was down giving a talk at the Penzance Literary Festival. I was staying at a retreat near St Just on Cape Cornwall, four minutes walk from the coastal path. The first evening of my stay, I decided to take a two hour round hike up to… more…

Cover of Pets Aplenty

Cover of Pets Aplenty

An artist friend of mine, David Brackston, has put together some cartoons I drew and coloured them in to create the above design for my forthcoming novel, Pets Aplenty. This reflects the content of the book, with the rabbit suffering tooth ache and the pony bent on biting the young vet, Paul, whenever the opportunity arose.… more…

Bluebell Time

Bluebell Time

During mid-April a carpet of bluebells slowly unfurled through the woods that grace the slopes down from our house – a carpet complimented by the tracery of pale green beech leaves above it. I was requiring a new photo of Dora to possibly use for her May diary on www.sixtyplusurfers.co.uk/links so what better than have… more…

Finding a home for Pets Aplenty

Finding a home for Pets Aplenty

The first couple of months of 2014 found me looking at the options for publishing my third pet novel, Pets Aplenty. My agent at Sheil Land Associates proposed using their in-house publisher to produce a print-on-demand(POD) and Kindle version. Robert Hale Publishers offered a contract to publish the book next year. I considered the possibility… more…

My route to Rio

My route to Rio

Another request – this time from Cunard – any possibility of joining the Queen Victoria on a sector of her world cruise?  I had four days’ notice. Was flown over to Miami to join the ship in Port Everglades. It was then over to Barbados where I got the chance to swim with some turtles;… more…

The Saga of Saga Ruby

The Saga of Saga Ruby

This was a last-minute request to join the Saga Ruby on her very last cruise – to the Caribbean and back during the Christmas period. I had just 24 hours’ notice. So a mad panic of packing that afternoon after the phone call and down to Southampton to embark the following lunch-time. The itinerary was… more…