Sunday, 25 April 2010

PS to Last Post

My beloved (Happy Birthday!) read my blog last night and said "I have a photo of the Frederik after she capsized, would you like to scan it for your blog?"

So here she is. She capsized because she was so full of water after 100 firemen had struggled to put out the fire. The inside of the ship was completely gutted.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

More Bugs, Ships and St George

And a bit of a worrying day yesterday as one of my daughters in law caught the sickness bug and we thought she might go into early labour. I can’t imagine much worse than having a sickness bug whilst heavily pregnant, poor girl.

It gave me a bit of a kick up the backside though – I realised I need to have my bag packed ready for when she does go into labour. They’re a two hour drive away – that’s if we’re lucky and the M25 isn’t doing its impression of a car park.

I watched the second debate. Enough said.

The Coffin Dancer was brilliant – finished it last night so maybe now I can get some sleep. I was wondering what to read next and think I may have to do some catching up with the magazines that are stuffed into my bucket.

Would you like to see my bucket?

Pretty isn’t it. It's very heavy and the rings are made of brass. It was salvaged from the Kronprins Frederik, a Danish ship that caught fire whilst moored at Parkeston Quay in April 1953. She subsequently capsized.

She was written off by the insurers, but the owners DFDS (now known as Scandinavian Seaways) refused to give up on her and they bought her back from the insurer, salvaged her and she was towed to Helsingor, restored and put back into operation just over a year later.

After the fire in 1953 she continued to serve on the north sea routes and for a while up to Iceland and the Faroe Islands before being put up for sale in the 1970s.

She was bought by the Arab Navigation Company in 1974 and renamed MV Patra. Shipping companies rename ships all the time. It is quite common practice, but it is a superstition among sailors that it is unlucky to rename a ship unless you leave the original name somewhere about the ship’s person.

In December 1974, the Patra set off from Jeddah with almost 500 passengers and crew aboard. Many were pilgrims returning from Mecca or Medina, some were Egyptian workers returning home.

A fire broke out in the engine room followed by a series of explosions. The order was given to jump overboard and the crew had to chase some of the passengers with axes to force them to leave their belongings behind.

It must have been awful. The Patra sank, still in flames, a few hours later. 102 lives were lost.

You wonder how many of the ships out there have interesting pasts and previous identities and where are some of the old ones now? Are they still going or have they ended up being broken up on a distant beach.

For those of you viewing in black and white, the ship was grey and white and the funnel red and black. Today the colours are white and blue.

And if you remember 1980s shipboard soap Triangle (who could ever forget poor Kate O’Mara shivering – er I mean sunbathing topless on the chilly deck) – that was filmed originally on a Tor Line ship, but Tor Line was taken over by DFDS and the ship became part of the DFDS fleet.

I was just going to show you my bucket and I went off on a bit of a tangent there didn’t I?

I saw a St George’s Day parade – it consisted of a Scottish band in full regalia with bagpipes – they did look and sound rather magnificent I have to say, but . . . Hm.

In other news I have a My Weekly pocket novel out now “The Call of Home”.

Warming up isn’t it? I did eleven thousand steps on Friday according to my pedometer – must have been all that pacing up and down worrying about early babies! It did include a walk up a very steep hill – yes we do have one in Essex. I tell you if it was any steeper you’d need crampons and pulleys.

If you’re still here, I hope you have a happy weekend.

Saturday, 17 April 2010


You start to wonder if it will ever end. Actually I started to wonder that before Christmas and it still goes on.

In years gone by my mum used to say that we needed a good cold snap to kill off all the bugs. Well we had that this year and it didn’t seem to work.

The clocks changed, the days warmed, the sun shone but still the bugs marched on. You get over one thing only to be floored by something else and if you’re not floored by it, you’re worrying about those that are.

I was going to write about the debate – you know the one, it’s been picked over more than the bones of a turkey at Christmas, but I think it has all been said.

Then I thought I’d write about writing, but in all honesty what hasn’t been said about it? There are some terrific blogs out there that do it a lot better than I could.

My Writer’s Forum dropped through the letterbox this week and I thought I’d review that, but I haven’t had time to open it yet.

Just read the Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto Guevara. I have his other diaries to read, but have put them aside for later. Every once in a while a book comes along that gets me deep inside. Wild Swans was one, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists another and the Motorcycle Diaries will join them.

And now I am reading The Coffin Dancer by Jeffrey Deaver. Gripping isn’t the word – I am half asleep now because I couldn’t put it down last night.

I was talking with a friend this week about books we’ve read. She said another friend remembers every book she’s ever read – and she’s in her eighties.

It occurred to me that the books I remember well and will never forget are the very ones that line my shelves at home. I remember them and I keep them to read again. Isn’t that the mark of a good book? You want to read it again even though you know how it will end?

There are many books I’ve read and enjoyed, but the enjoyment has been wondering what would happen and I see no point in reading them again. Those I keep and enjoy again and again are the ones with characters that are so real, I want to stay acquainted with them.

Characters like Atticus Finch, Maggie Moran, Dolores Claiborne, Paul Edgecomb – I could go on and on. But most of them are ordinary people, real people.

And haven't the daffs been lovely this year?

Monday, 5 April 2010

Beautiful Bloggers!

Thank you Julie P for giving me a Beautiful Bloggers Award – I am so chuffed and delighted. It was a lovely surprise to come back to after being offline for a few days.

Here are the ten Beautiful Bloggers I am passing the award on to with links to their blogs.

Lynne Hackles – I Should Be Writing

Joanne Fox – A Zigzag Road

Martin H – Square Sunshine

Diane – Tales From Baggins Bottom

Lacey Devlin

Hydra – Told You I Was Ill and Hillingdon Wilflife and

Karen – Get On With It

Menopausal Old Bag

Joanna – Brightwrighter60

Suzanne Jones

Yes, yes I know I’ve pinched one off Julie’s list, but I think she should get it twice!

Now it’s over to them to pass on the award to ten more blogs.

Thank you Julie!