Friday, 29 April 2011

Awards, Awards, Awards!

Perri from Lesser Apricots and Rosemary from Romy’s Regency Romance have both awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award – I’m so chuffed. I love Blog Awards, especially when I’m on the receiving end, but giving is better than receiving so I shall be passing it on.

First of all seven things about me. Hm. Well what to say that I haven’t already waffled on at length about.

1. I’d go mad without my emails and the wonderful friends I’ve met through the internet. Whenever I moan and grumble and swear and curse about how pissed off I am with computers and/or the internet, I remind myself that without them I would never have met some of my dearest (what an old fashioned word) friends.

2. I can’t bear to be away from the sea for long. I can only see a tiny bit of it in the distance from my bedroom window, but I spend far too long gazing out at it and wishing I could have a house on the beach.

3. I am a blog addict. My only complaint is that there are so many brilliant and wonderful blogs out there and that I don’t have time to keep up with them all. Or, back to moaning about computers, I try to leave a comment and it starts playing silly buggers, then I go back a few days later and my comment isn’t there and then I think so long has passed and no one likes to be late at a party so I end up not commenting at all. I wish blogs had a little tick box so you could leave a calling card so to speak and let the blogger know that you’d called by, even if you didn’t have time to leave a comment – or else couldn’t think of one! But yes, blogs, I love them. I’ve just added a load more to my blog list. I can’t help myself.

4. I love the moon. Hard to explain, but the moon has accompanied me on many difficult journeys and I only have to look at that silvery white presence in the sky to feel a sense of peace and the certainty that things will turn out all right. However sad I am, heartbroken even, however worried, I find comfort in the moon. And no, I am not a werewolf.

5. I love books. Well that goes without saying really doesn’t it? I can get excited over a book in a way I can’t get excited about anything else. As soon as my hands touch a new book and open the first page, there’s a feeling as if I’m about to embark on an adventure. And in all honesty I’d rather have a book than chocolate and if I really had to give up one or the other, it would be chocolate, no competition.

6. I love Star Trek. The original series, DS9, Voyager, Enterprise, Next Generation – the films. Love them. Love the characters and the stories and I wish they would make a new series.

7. I am lactose intolerant. Doesn’t cause me problems because I use soya milk and tend to steer clear of animal products.

And now – drum roll – I’d like to pass the award to some versatile blogs.

Suzanne at Suzanne Jones

Sally at Quiller's Place - the View from the Shed

Gaelikaa at Gaelikaa's Diary

For reasons I can't figure out, Gaelikaa's Diary doesn't appear in my bloglist and I can't comment on there - so if anyone out there could let her know about the award I'd be ever so grateful, ta.

And the reason for the three Awards in my title is that Deirdra awarded me this Creative Blog Award – thank you Deirdra. Her fab blog A Storybook World has interviews and all sorts! Isn’t it pretty?

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Fantastic Fiction

It occurred to me today when I was visiting this very useful site that some people may not be aware of it.

The site is Fantastic Fiction and it is a fantastic resource. For example if you are buying a series of books one at a time, it isn’t always clear which one comes next, but on Fantastic Fiction the books are listed chronologically.

It also gives the pen names of authors so you may find that a favourite author also writes under another name.

Look at that, a short post from me with no photos of flies. Whatever next!

Saturday, 23 April 2011

More Flies!

Yes just what you needed on a gorgeous day like today – more flies (see last post!).

Not very good pictures of them, but for anyone who has been lucky enough not to encounter them this is they. It’s quite hard to take photos of flies whilst ducking to stop them flying in your face.

The St Mark's fly is the largest of the Bibionidae family and the males are about 10mm long – the females 3mm longer than that. These are the flies that you sometimes encounter joined together – male and female mating – still flying round.

I’m not going to get into a birds and bees discussion, don’t worry! The female looks quite different to the male. She has a much smaller head and smaller eyes. I must say the male is the more attractive when it isn’t trying to fly down your throat that is.

Anyway while I was clicking away trying to get a decent shot, I got this one by accident which I rather like.

And somehow the picturesque Mr I managed to get in this one and I had to pretend I was looking for a good shot of him and not trying to photograph flies at all.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Happy Earth Day

A walk through the woods this week turned up something interesting. Well more than one something actually.

First there were the flies. Blinking great black things with their legs dangling down. They look rather creepy as they dance about in front of your face. We get them over on the fields by the hedgerows, but not in such huge numbers as I saw them in the woods.

Turns out they are called St Mark’s flies as they often appear around St Mark’s Day (25th April). They’re not creepy at all and like everything in this world (except perhaps humans) they have an important role to play.

Apparently they do all this dancing round with their dangly legs whilst looking for females. They land on anything that happens to be in their way and I suppose we were – I mean the last thing you want when you’re out on the pull is a load of humans getting in the way, but if they are and you fancy resting your wings – well why not.

Their larvae feed on leaf mould and the flies are thought to be important for pollinating trees. I bet you always wanted to know that didn’t you?

The woods used to be full of primroses and bluebells years ago before people started digging them up and taking them home. Now there are just a few here and there.

A week or so ago the wood was carpeted with white, but now only a few wood anemones remain.

We saw a tiny bird disappear into a hole at the bottom of a tree and waited for it to emerge. It was a coal tit. I didn’t know until I looked them up when I got home that they prefer to nest close to the ground. Sounds a bit risky to me but I daresay they know what they’re doing.

We walked for miles then the dandelion clock said it was time for lunch so we came home.

I love our planet don’t you? Quite right it should have its own day.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Tilly - Bitch of Mystery

Hello, Tilly here. You may have seen me in photos looking pretty glum and sad. It’s a look I’ve perfected since puppyhood, guaranteed to win me cuddles galore, toast crusts, bits of banana and anything else that takes my fancy.

I’m not like Indy with his tummy troubles. I have a cast iron constitution, well except when it comes to leftover pizza, but perhaps I was wrong to help myself from the bin, but I was right to wake her up in the middle of the night or she’d have had a disaster on her hands or at least the bedroom floor.

No one forced her to run across the garden in bare feet to stop me drinking from the bird bath…

Anyway I’ve no idea why she’s a bit off with me today. It’s not my fault if they put food in the bin is it?

So my brother. They named him Indy after Indiana Jones because being a springer spaniel, they thought he’d have an adventurous spirit.

Yeah right! I wasn’t around for all of his early months, but Oakley has whispered a thing or two about my brother. Not so much Indiana Jones as Corporal Jones.

I love Oakley.

He’s my hero.

You should have seen Indy when I got into the bin. Did he help eat the spoils? Did he heck. He ran upstairs and hid on the landing and kept muttering, “Don’t panic, don’t panic,” whilst panicking profusely.

We went for our usual walk yesterday, played ball and got hot. He usually gets the ball. I tend to let him get to it first after the time we bashed heads and the world wouldn’t stop spinning.

Anyway, hot spaniel, cool, smelly, full-of-rotting-vegetable-matter ditch – in I went.

“Eurgh! Go away,” Indy said. “You stink. And you’re filthy. I only had a bath last week.”

I shook all over him and he had a hissy fit because a blob of mud landed on his leg.

“That’s it,” he shrieked. “I’m all dirty. Must get clean. Don’t panic, don’t panic!” So he went and jumped in the dyke and had a swim round.

Show off.

“Come in,” he said to me. “The water’s lovely and it’ll clean you up.”

He knows I don’t care for water unless it’s warm, in a bath and full of bubbles.

“Who wants to be clean?” I said. “I am happy as I am.”

And I was. Happy as a happy dog in muck.

This week I was introduced to Poppy.

She’s Oakley’s new little sister.

Everyone said I’d have to be watched, that I don’t know how to relate to other dogs and that I was an unknown quantity.

Bitch of Mystery, that’s me.

Well I thought she was quite cute. I don’t go in for this jealousy lark. It doesn’t bother me if Oakley cuddles up to Mum on the sofa. Indy’s the one who glares daggers at him.

To me Poppy’s just another member of the family, someone to chase under the bushes and fossick round in the crispy leaves with. I think I may have a new best mate.

I can’t wait till she’s big enough to come out on walks and I can show her The Way of the Spaniel. I know all the smelliest, dirtiest ditches in the area and I know them well.

Come with me little Grassmuncher I will say. Embrace the mud, soak up the stink.

Your humans will adore you for it.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Losing Sleep!

There I was thinking I hadn’t read anything I wanted to recommend over the past few weeks and suddenly I’m bowled over by not one, but two books one after another.

Thanks to hydra for recommending The Coroner’s Lunch by Colin Cotterill on her blog a while back. Intrigued, I bought it. And I am so glad I did. The characters – oh the characters!

I read too many so-so books and eke out those by authors I love and now thanks to hydra, I’ve found an author to add to my loved list. And I was practically dancing round the room when I found out that there are seven more novels in Colin Cotterill’s Dr Siri Paiboun mysteries. SEVEN!!! It felt like Christmas – or it will do once I start adding them to my collection, if you can call one a collection…

Siri is a 72 year old Coroner in Laos and he is one of the most endearing characters I’ve read in a long time. Dr Siri isn’t just my cup of tea, he’s the whole flipping teapot!

Colin Cotterill also has a damn fine website here. See if you can find the naked bookseller if you visit. I spent far too much time there wandering round enjoying myself. Not because of the naked bookseller I hasten to add.

Also my cup of tea - John Harding’s Florence and Giles. I’ve read all his previous books so knew this was going to be good – what I didn’t expect were shivers down my spine.

Florence and Giles is a hugely atmospheric book set in 1890s America and told from the perspective of 12 year old orphan Florence in her own imaginative language.

You soon get into Florence’s flow and some of her phrases are just breathtakingly beautiful. You even start thinking in Florencespeak. The tension builds as Florence strives to protect her little brother Giles from the new governess who appears to possess supernatural powers.

It’s hard to know how to describe Florence and Giles – sinister, charming, spooky, Gothic – none of those words do it justice, but all I can say is that I know a book is doing its job when I wake up in the night and find I’m scared to open my eyes. It isn’t often a book gets under my skin like that. I loved it!

So there we have it, not one but two books that have kept me from my sleep because I just couldn’t put them down.

Friday, 8 April 2011

All Change!

I have finally succumbed and bought a new mobile phone. My dear old Nokia used to make calls, take photos and send texts – what more could I want? Okay so I dropped it a few times and once or twice drove off the drive with it on the bonnet and sent it flying across the road.

I used to do that with my purse – I’d put it on the bonnet while I got the kids into the car and I’d be driving merrily along the by-pass when one of them would point it out to me – “Don’t take your eyes off it!” I’d shriek as if they could hold it in place with eye power until I could safely pull over and rescue it.

Occasionally a kindly sharp-eyed neighbour would be waiting for me when I got home, “This flew off your car as you drove off,” he’d say handing my purse back to me.

And yes, I’ve driven home from the shops with a bag of shopping on the roof. Once.

Back to my phone. The rubber bit protecting one of the lights peeled off and there was a large crack in the case which used to catch on my clothes. And sometimes it went silent on me and refused to ring, but I am fond of that old phone. It’s been all over the place with me and it has brought me a lot of happy news.

I dreaded getting a new one. But I love my new phone already. It’s easy to navigate round and best of all, when it beeps for a message, it doesn’t send Tilly into a panic. For some reason when my other phone used to receive a message, she’d leap up, run from the room and hide. In the end I had to have my message alert on the quietest setting possible.

It may be because the beep used to mean I’d have to rush off somewhere to pick someone up and perhaps she associated it with me leaving. Who knows what goes on in that funny little head of hers.

When I get a message on the new one, she doesn’t even bat her eyes.

The phone isn’t the only thing that’s being replaced. My computer has been playing up as you’ve probably gathered from previous moanings!

One of the fans packed in. It was replaced and the replacement was just as ineffective so the broken one was oiled and put back and every morning it has to be opened up and started with the help of a screwdriver – all very technical - like the prop on an old plane.

Then a second broken down fan had to be replaced and a third sounds as if it’s on its last legs. The computer rattles and clanks and at least once a day it has to be restarted because everything freezes.

I am quite fond of it – it was my eldest son’s Alienware computer and has a smart black shiny case and a silver alien head on the door and blue lights shining from within, but I think it has had its day.

So begins the task of finding a replacement.

My first computer was an Amstrad and over the years since then I’ve had several, mostly inherited or that have been cobbled together with bits and pieces.

This will be the first new computer I’ve had for yonks and I want one of those flashy see through ones with lights inside. But what you want and what you get are two different things I’ve found.

I just hope this one lasts until I can get a replacement! It’s not so much the new computer I fear as the new software I’ll be forced to use. But if it all turns out to be as easy as the phone I’ll be quite happy.

At the moment I am very happy - I can put paragraphs in my posts again - yay!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

First Line Competition Results

Apologies for the absence of paragraphs in this post - I'm still having problems, but didn't want to delay this posting. Thank you to everyone who entered. I thought this would be an easy competition to judge, but it wasn’t – far from it. It was tough and I had far more entries than I expected (not that I’m complaining – I enjoyed it!) Some entries made me laugh out loud, some made me gasp and some made me nod my head and identify with the narrator at once. Before I go any further, I just want to thank Lynne Hackles for her generosity in sharing her experience and wisdom when it came to the final judging. What I asked for was a line to make me want to read more. I couldn’t come up with an outright winner because as soon as I chose one, one of the other three would call to me. So I have to declare a draw. I will be chopping a copy of Diamonds and Pearls into three equal parts and…. No, I won’t really. Three winners will each receive a copy of Diamonds and Pearls. So without further ado… Congratulations to: Beryl Brown for: 'Outside the door, on the pavement, lay a red umbrella; it was the third one that day.' Susan Wright for: ‘I’m sure my granddaddy told me that human flesh is akin to beef, but Tanya’s leg sure tasted like pork to me.’ Heather Parker for: ‘Sarah trembled as she stared around the empty cell, whitewashed walls hiding the evidence of other interrogations...’ Congratulations Beryl, Sue and Heather on three very different intriguing winning lines. I would love to see where all these are leading. Your books will be winging their way to you tomorrow.

Friday, 1 April 2011


Having problems posting this - not sure if it is my ailing computer or Blogger causing the trouble, so I'll keep it short. The first line competition is now closed. I’ll post the results on Sunday. A great big thank you all those who entered.