30 June 2012

Random pics

I forgot to prepare a Saturday blog so I rushed these pics on. All except one were selected at random. 

You might detect that this picture of the cat is actually a completed iPad jigsaw

 a framed picture of the pieris in my garden

a photograph turned into a sketch, showing a friend dancing

The lounge, when sketched, looks a bit barren

The animal here is practising yoga

It was all a bit rushy, wasn't it? 
Wishing you a fabulous weekend. I will try and ignore the rain which, incidentally has created a record. It's been the wettest June since records began in 1910. 

29 June 2012

More pet pics, an interloper, and rain

I can see I'll have to remove the 'weather forecast' from the blog if it carries on telling lies. Yesterday in my area there were severe storms, flash floods and general chaos. It was unbelievable. Two hours worth of rain in twenty minutes. Now, as I type, the sun is shining from a blue sky. It was very warm today but I hearsay it is going to turn cold tomorrow. Flaming June!

To change the subject here are more pet pictures ... only three, two old and one new. The ones of Chalkie were 'fiddled' photographs like I did with those shown yesterday.

First the old
Chalkie, the cockatiel, sadly no longer with us...

...being taught bad habits!

And a new picture of a young fox that deserves the caption.....

...'What a damned cheek!'

28 June 2012

Meet Goldie

The other day, when I was sorting out a drawer full of photographs, I came across some pictures of our first Labrador, dear old Goldie. There were a few pics that had escaped being included in my computer's photograph file when a new laptop refused to recognise the scanner. To overcome the problem I photographed the photographs just to see how they would turn out. I had to angle the camera (iPhone) so that the picture was at the top of the screen and any flashes only showed up at the bottom of the end result. When that was done I emailed the pictures to myself and then proceeded to crop them, thereby cropping out the flash light. I ended up with smaller but still good photographs for my file. Earlier I had tried the same thing using the Nikon camera but wasn't able to be as selective with the shots. iPhones certainly excel in some situations. Here are the results of the exercise.

This is Goldie and Blaze with my son's Staffordshire Bull Terrier. I'm not sure who won!

Goldie and hubs on a beach somewhere

Me (honest) telling Goldie he was going on the train, and him saying 'That's what you think!'

Goldie and his play ring. We kept throwing it into the sea so he would go in to fetch it back

Tired out but still handsome ... this is one of my favourite pics of him

Goodness only knows what was going on here ... Blaze seems more interested in what was on television!

26 June 2012


Monnie Stewart breathed in the salt air, listened to the sounds of activity as the ship docked. Naples, vibrant with activity, and welcoming.

In an hour’s time she would be heading off the ship and onto the coach that would take her to the place where her heart lay. Impatience hit her. She’d waited three years to get back to Sorrento and now her dream had come true, thanks to the lottery win. The entire voyage had been taken up with thoughts of first things to do. She wanted to go straight to Marina Grande but she knew she would have to curb her enthusiasm until she had booked into the hotel. Still, it was only a stone’s throw, a quick run down the steps and she would be there. Her memory was so sharp she could almost smell the haul of fish on the trawlers and she could have sworn she heard Roberto’s voice urging her to hurry.

Monnie moved off the balcony, back into her cabin. Her luggage had been collected by the stewards, her account was settled, all she had to do now was go down to the lounge and wait for the call to disembark. Her stomach was in turmoil with excitement.

All the seats were taken in the lounge. People sat around reading newspapers, surrounded by flight cases and coats, sometimes occupying more than they should of the seating. Monnie didn’t mind, she would prop up the bar and think of her last night on board.

Tim had been very attentive. He had been her dining companion throughout the journey. They had joked about being single travellers and discussed how natural it was to forge friendships on board ship. Discounting a mop of fair hair that obviously defied the comb he was quite easy on the eye, and he had the most piercing blue eyes Monnie had ever seen. As far as she was concerned he was simply a guy to pass the odd hour with when she had nothing else to do so when he suggested meeting her on shore sometime during the vacation she pretended she hadn’t heard. Nice as he was she didn’t want to encourage him. There was so much for her to do she would feel hampered by his presence.

She wondered if there would be a table available at Ristorante L'Antica Trattoria. She and Roberto always went there on their first day in Sorrento. The proprietor gave them the same table every time, on the outside terrace, right next to the overhanging flowers. It was the first time she ever tasted sea bass baked in salt. On the other hand, if she went there she would be alone and the experience wouldn’t be the same. Monnie sighed, remembering those glorious summers spent with Roberto.

This visit was as much to remember her dearest friend as it was a vacation. She still missed him, missed his happy, smiling face, his jokes, his profound wisdom, his loyal support when things went wrong. Even though there was a distance between them, Roberto was always there for her.  He was her strength. Monnie’s life had seemed to end the day Roberto died but inevitably she recovered. It was as if she had inherited his common sense.

They met in the Trattoria da Emilia, a restaurant with a jetty that went right out into the sea. Roberto had asked to share her table. Initially, with the language problem their conversation was hilarious but they managed to understand each other with the use of expressions and signs. With his help Monnie had mastered the language and she had often wondered if she would ever need to use it again. Well this was testing time; she would soon know if she remembered how to speak to Italians.


Tim Rowlands was one of the first to go through security. Quickly he went down the gangway and headed to the area where the coaches waited. He hadn’t seen Monnie and regretted the fact that he might not see her again in Sorrento. At the very least he could look forward to bumping into her on their return journey to England.


Monnie nursed her cup of cappuccino, her eyes fixed on the fishing boat entering the harbour. She wore a flimsy white blouse and wide floral skirt and her feet were snug in flat white sandals. Overhead the gulls cried kee-aa, kee-aa, seemingly unaffected by the beating sun. She tilted her straw hat to protect her eyes. A gull swooped and caught a piece of bread thrown by a young boy. The boy giggled and tossed up another piece. Monnie aimed her camera, took the shot.  She felt happy, already entranced by her surroundings.

There had been a few changes since her last visit, another restaurant, another coffee shop, more scooters following the bus. The fishing boats seemed larger and the piles of nets looked higher, but the weather was exactly the same. There was so much to remember, her first taste of squid, the first sip of limoncello, a recipe for tiramisu she’d copied for her mother and promptly lost, seashells she and Roberto collected in Positano. Vivid memories of early morning swimming, late night dancing, and fine dining.

Marina Grande was a charming sun-soaked fishing village. Except for the occasional roar of a motor scooter it was unspoiled by modernism. She and Roberto adored it. They would go there every day, to eat at a trattoria, drink coffee outside the pink house, browse the stalls, talk to the women and watch the fishermen, or merely sit and inhale the beauty of their surroundings.

Monnie finished her coffee and smiled at the buxom apron-clad proprietor to indicate she wanted to settle the bill. ‘Grazie,’ she said when the woman handed her the change.

‘Arrivederci.’ The woman waved as Monnie moved away, wisps of dark hair wafting in the gentle breeze.  

She walked the length of the Marina, stepping over fishing nets and small oars lying near the boats, pausing to watch four men lift a swordfish from a big trawler. She knew that before long the sword would be displayed on the slab at the local fishmongers. Ahead of her were the stalls where hand-embroidered tablecloths hung from lines strung between stalls, the sales women seated nearby, chatting as they knitted. Carefree women, each wearing a crisp, white apron over full skirts.

Beyond the stalls was the walkway that led to the town where tourists gathered round the shrine to Our Lady. Monnie knew from experience that magic happened at the shrine. She had heard the voices many times. When evening came she would come back and listen for Roberto’s voice.

Three nuns strolled along the walkway, smiling at everyone. Monnie smiled back, made a comment about the glorious weather, ‘Bella giornata.’ The nuns smiled and nodded, said in unison, ‘È bello.’

The place was filled with atmosphere. Outside a green door a boy played with a small puppy, while his mother shouted from inside for him to bring the animal indoors. The sight brought back memories of Monnie’s first experience with a puppy. She would have been the same age as this child, just old enough to appreciate the joy of ownership. While she watched, the boy’s father came on the scene, swarthy and rugged, an obvious fisherman.  He picked up the pup and placing his hand on the boy’s head turned him gently towards the door.  Seagulls called as they flew by, probably grateful for a recent meal of fish. 


Tim sat in the Foreigners’ Club. He had finished his lager and was studying a map of Sorrento. He should be outside enjoying the weather but he had yet to buy sunscreen; with his fair skin he had to be cautious. Idly he riffled through the brochures he’d picked up at the door. Capri was a must, so was a ride along the Amalfi coast. It was his first visit to Italy and he wanted to see as much as possible during his eleven day vacation. One brochure described a fishing village called Marina Grande. He wasn’t sure a fishing village could be called an attraction but he supposed the Italians thought it was. He pulled the map towards him to check the location. It seemed just a short walk from his hotel.


After dinner Monnie left the hotel and sauntered down Via Capo hill to Corsa Italia and Piazza Tasso, where she would try to resist stopping for ice cream. It was a good walk and she noticed how breathless she was getting. She had thought of hiring a scooter but decided against it. Exercise was what she needed. Exercise or not she couldn’t resist buying cappuccino in the square. Tomorrow she would take the bus to Amalfi; this evening belonged to the magical shrine.

She drained her cup, resisted the urge to finger the remaining foam to her mouth, recalled how she and Roberto tried to do it surreptitiously. How they laughed when they were seen and tut-tutted at by English tourists. She paid the bill, left a couple of Euros for the handsome waiter, and walked down the steps to the square. She had plenty of time before dusk descended and it would only take half an hour to reach the shrine.

She went the long way so that she could see the sea while she walked. Occasionally she leaned on the rail to daydream. Once she thought she heard her name called, turned to look, saw no-one.


For a minute Tim thought she had heard him but when he realised she hadn’t he felt relieved. Monnie wasn’t the sort of girl who would welcome being whistled at. On the ship she’d been aloof and unwelcoming and he didn’t intend to push in where he wasn’t wanted. All the same, she had been on his mind ever since they landed. She was an attractive woman with a slender figure that curved in all the right places. Her clothes were stylish and expensive and she wore excessively high heels like they were comfortable slippers. Her dark hair, styled like a cap, suited her elfin features. It was good to see her relaxed in casual gear and sandals.

She was no longer in sight and he guessed she’d turned down a narrow side street. If he did that he would get lost and anyway if she saw him she would think he was following her. No, there were two more weeks, he was bound to see her again.


By the time she reached Our Lady’s shrine Monnie felt she’d had enough walking.  Hitching up her skirt she eased onto the opposite wall, facing the holy place. There were few people around, most tourists would be preparing for an evening out or relaxing after a meal, not many would pass by at this time. She knew from experience that the owners of nearby houses would soon place lighted candles in their windows and the church bells would ring. Only then could the voices be heard. Monnie prayed that she would hear Roberto’s  voice.

‘I’ve missed you, Roberto.’ Monnie had crossed to the shrine and placed a single red rose in one of the vases provided, no doubt, by local residents. Filling it with water from the nearby tap, she held it high so that Roberto could see it before placing it beside Our Lady. 

The reply was barely audible but Monnie heard the words as if they’d been shouted from the heavens. I’ve missed you too, Monnie. A single tear rolled down her cheek which she quickly brushed away. ‘Oh Roberto, I’m here at last though there’s not much to tell you. I keep myself occupied as you advised but it gets lonely. We had such good times together; it’s hard to move on.’

You must ... move on.

‘More than anything I need a friend. I need you, Roberto.’ Monnie realised she was being silly but it was the way she felt. She and Roberto had been special friends for over ten years, close like brother and sister, closer than she was with her mother.

I am no more, Monnie, you must move on.  

‘I met a man on the ship, he was very handsome and I know he liked me. I gave him the elbow. He will be on the ship when I return. Oh Roberto, I would rather stay here in Italy where you are.’

Devo andare, vi lascio in pace, il mio caro amico. I must go, I leave you in peace, my dear friend.

The voice faded. Monnie looked at the rose in the vase, saw that it was wilting. An elderly man had arrived, she hadn’t heard him come. He too brought flowers. ‘For my wife,’ he whispered.

Monnie walked over to the wall and sat there, feeling strangely light-hearted.


Tim looked at his watch. He had spent so much time watching the procession of priests and villagers he’d almost forgotten about getting back to the hotel for supper. It was too late now, it would be better to get something at the fish restaurant he’d seen as he entered Marina Grande. He had stopped outside to watch the fish swimming in the tank and read the notice about customers selecting their own.  He hadn’t the stomach for that... maybe the owner would do it for him and not tell which one he’d picked?

It was while he was deliberating that he heard the commotion further along, just below the wall that lined the path to that flower decked shrine.  People gathered round something or someone on the floor. Curiously, he ambled towards the scene.


Monnie felt such a fool. She couldn’t believe she had actually fallen off the wall. A kindly fisherman said it was a wonder she hadn’t broken a leg or something. Several women helped her up, checked her over for injuries. Satisfied that she hadn’t broken a limb they provided a chair so that she could regain her composure. One woman ordered her daughter to fetch water from their house. Velocemente.

Monnie relaxed, allowed the women to fuss, indulging in it. It was a long time since she’d had so much motherly attention. She looked down at her leg, sighed when she saw the discolouration, knowing she was in for a healthy bruise. She didn’t bruise easily so she must have given the leg a terrific whack. Gingerly she tested it out, putting pressure on the leg without actually rising from the chair, and that’s when she saw Tim coming towards her.

It was the most stupid thing. She was so pleased to see him that her eyes began to water. Here was someone she knew, and yet she didn’t know him at all, they had merely travelled together on a ship. Tim actually knelt in front of her; she actually saw concern in his eyes.

‘What happened?’

Oh Tim, am I pleased to see you. ‘I was sitting on the wall and lost my balance. I feel a right fool.’

Tim took her hand. ‘Come on now, you can’t help having accidents.’

Monnie looked at him, surprised by the compassion written on his face, and wondered why she had wanted to avoid him. ‘You’re very kind,’ she murmured, not trusting her voice too much. 

Tim took charge, helped her to stand, test the stability of her limbs. She was fine. In fact, she had such a glow inside her she felt like dancing. Tim suggested a quiet supper somewhere, maybe some wine, or coffee if she preferred.

Monnie felt the weird sensation creeping over her; it had been so long since... since Roberto.  Could Tim be her new friend? She thought perhaps...  but then she was jumping the gun. Just because a good looking man paid attention to her didn’t mean....

Maybe it does.

Monnie heard the words as clearly as if Roberto was standing beside her. She turned and looked back at the shrine. The rose now stood erect, the bloom fully open, the deep red colour glistening in the candlelight. 

Take my love with you, Monnie, it’s time to move on.

‘Yes,’ she whispered, ‘but I will return one day to let you know how my life turns out.’

Tim put his hand on her cheek, aware that something was going on but not knowing what. ‘Is everything all right?’

‘Oh yes, everything is wonderful.’ Monnie put her hand on top of his, felt the warmth. ‘Have you ever known such a magical place?’ And then she pointed to the firefly fluttering near Our Lady’s shrine. ‘Look, there’s a lucciola,’ she said, but inside her head were the words Thank you, Roberto, wish me luck.

25 June 2012

Monday Mirth

Sorry, it's John Bishop again. You will be thinking he's the only comedian on YouTube. Finding suitable videos to suit all tastes is becoming quite difficult ... if I don't find different comics soon I might have to terminate the Monday Mirth. 

The boss was making a speech to one of his workers on the occasion of his retirement. 'As a symbol of gratitude, we have created this special gold watch to serve as a reminder of your many years with our company. It needs a lot of winding up, is always a little late, and every day at a quarter to five it stops working.'

24 June 2012

Sunday Scenes

 Norway scenes, unfortunately I cannot remember the location of the houses

23 June 2012


(For Margaret, as requested)

'Cheap to run and easy to maintain,' the salesman told the gathering crowd. 'And so safe you could let your granny ride it. She couldn't come to any harm on a three-wheeler.' He was demonstrating the Ariel 3, a new kind of motorised three-wheel machine, bright orange, with a basket at the front. The man said the contraption was designed with women in mind and, by the interest shown on the onlookers' faces, the ploy was working. Maddy Fox was wide awake by this time, having travelled in by train in a half-conscious state due to the late night she'd had. She didn't remember alighting at New Street or being transported up the escalator, in fact she might have stumbled over the rope barrier had the salesman not shouted a warning. He was a real loud-mouth, and he'd made her feel such a fool dragging her across the display area and inviting her to sit on the orange machine until she'd fully recovered.
She had to admit the seat was comfortable and her feet easily touched the ground, and she was quite taken with the idea of travelling to work on the cheap, but could she afford it?
'Money back in no time,' the man said. 'A gallon of petrol is nothing compared to the cost of travelling by train five days a week, and you'd get the extra benefit at weekends. And think of how nippy it is. No parking problems or waiting in traffic queues. Take my word for it, a whole new world would open up.'
A week later Maddy bought one. She had asked several friends what they thought of the new invention and they viewed it as a worthwhile buy. So, since the consensus of opinion was that these machines would become fashionable, she bought one. She had never ridden anything like it before, and before long she knew she would never ride anything like it again.

The Ariel 3 had a mind of its own. It had no problem travelling without a rider, and often did just that, but, when Maddy mounted, the thing refused to budge. She would turn the ignition key and pedal like crazy, but it wouldn't start, then when she climbed off to see what was wrong, the stupid little brake lever would disconnect and the contrivance would take off. As an added exasperation, on the rare occasions she got it going, the spark plugs furred up, yet remained in perfect condition on its solo performance. Nevertheless she persevered, and discovered that if she cleaned the plugs the night before all would be well.
Bernice and Margaret, the two girls Maddy worked with, were impressed, and both were brave enough to have a go. Accordingly, at lunchtime, they gathered in Church Street for a trial run, Maddy starting the machine and quickly alighting so that Bernice could hop on. Without fail it took off before she could hoist a leg, careered mutinously down Church Street, and eventually glided to a halt in a vacant parking space. Bernice slapped her thigh and declared it to be the funniest thing she'd ever seen, but Maddy was overcome by embarrassment, feeling she was doomed to be forever making excuses for the machine's devastating conduct.

One wet and windy evening, a month after taking possession of her flashy tormentor, Maddy, with a good deal of trepidation, kick-started the bike and heaved a loud sigh when for once the thing jerked into life. She quickly set off for home, cutting down the side road which led to New Street. She took the corner carefully, giving pedestrians the right of way lest the machine chose that moment to romp, then prepared to take off. Sadly, her trouser-leg caught on the pedal and the bike tipped her onto the road, then shook itself upright and advanced up the congested street amidst buses, cars and taxis, launching itself directly at the traffic lights, where it crashed, unharmed and in complete control of its own destiny, while Maddy viewed the new invention with all the hatred she could muster.

For two days, as if sensing her disapproval, the bike functioned precisely as it should and Maddy was endowed with a confidence hitherto lacking in their relationship, finally consoled that her money had not been wasted. Almost in celebration, she removed the basket from the handlebars and affixed a square case to the back, more in keeping with her role as city traveller and less likely to strew the contents on the ground. Securing the case with colourful spiders, an added precaution since her handbag, knitting, and lunch box were inside, she donned her helmet and journeyed home, exhilarated for the first time to be handling her newfangled, dutiful machine.
It was Friday and the traffic was bumper to bumper on the steep hill where Maddy lived, but she didn't care. Gleefully she wove slowly in and out, overtaking big cars and small ones, occasionally encouraging the Ariel's progress with a toot on her horn. But half way up the hill, as she was debating the purchase of fish and chips, she heard someone yell, 'Hey, blondie, your bag just fell off.'
Over her shoulder, Maddy saw the blue case bounding on its corners down the hill. Hurriedly she parked the bike and ran to retrieve it.
The demon machine took off.
Maddy's hands flew to her face, watching with horror as it crossed the road and mounted the pavement, then rode the railway station's brick exterior like the wall-of-death, before turning an expert somersault and landing upright on the footpath. But it wasn't over. The impetus drove it back up the wall and sent it spiralling through another somersault before crashing down and narrowly missing a band of teenagers who watched with captivated expressions.

It had to go, and next day it was returned it to the garage from whence it came. Maddy demanded her money back, but was persuaded by the manager to try another machine. She did, and bought a Honda 90. Silver coloured and peaceful-looking.

Her friends, Bernice and Margaret, liked the look of the Ariel so much they each acquired one. Only Bernice had trouble, when her machine drove backwards through the Queensway tunnel - on its own.
Maddy wondered ... but it wasn't possible. Her bike was locked in a garage.
Wasn't it?


22 June 2012

Let's have a laugh

The weather is so awful, wet, wet, wet, and so dark it seems like it's still night. I'm beginning to wonder what happened to 'flaming' June. Honestly it is so depressing I'm resorting to a few jokes to make me smile. 

Morris, an 82 year-old man, went to the doctor to get a physical. A few days later, the doctor saw Morris walking down the street with a gorgeous young woman on his arm. A couple of days later, the doctor spoke to Morris and said, 'You're really doing great, aren't you?'
Morris replied, 'Just doing what you said, Doc: 'Get a hot mamma and be cheerful.'' 

The doctor said, 'I didn't say that. I said, 'You've got a heart murmur; be careful.'

A little old man shuffled slowly into an ice cream parlour and pulled himself slowly, painfully, up onto a stool.. After catching his breath, he ordered a banana split. 
The waitress asked kindly, 'Crushed nuts?' 
'No,' he replied, 'Arthritis.'

'This woman, is she good looking?'

'Not really.' 
'Is she a good cook?' 
'Naw, she can't cook too well.'
'Does she have lots of money?'
'Nope! Poor as a church mouse.'
'Well, then, is she good in bed?' 
'I don't know.' 
'Why in the world do you want to marry her then?' 
'Because she can still drive!'

21 June 2012


Congratulations to all who were born n the 1930s, 40s, 50s, 60s and early 70s!

First, we survived being born to mothers who smokesand/or drank while they carried us and lived in houses made of asbestos. They took aspirin, ate blue cheese, raw egg products, loads of bacon ad processed meat, tuna from a can and didn’t get tested for diabetes or cervical cancer.

Then, after that trauma, our baby cots were covered with brightly coloured lead-based paints.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles or childproof doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes we had no helmets or shoes, not to mention the risks we took hitch-hiking.

As children we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags. We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle. Takeaway food was limited to fish and chips, no pizza shops, McDonalds, KFC, curry shops or Subway.

Even though all shops closed at 6pm and didn’t open at weekends, somehow we didn’t stare to death! We shared soft drink with four friends form one bottle and no-one actually died from this.

We could collect old drink bottles and cash them in at the corner shop to buy toffees, gobstoppers, bubble gum and some bangers. We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank soft drinks with sugar in them, but we weren’t overweight because WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING.

We would leave home in the morning and play all day as long as were back when the street lights came on. No-one was able to reach us all day, and we were okay. We would spend hours building our go-karts out of old prams and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. We built tree houses and dens and played in river beds with Matchbox cars. We did not have play stations, Nintendo, Wii, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 999 channels on Sky, no video/DVD films, no mobile phones, personal computers or internet chat rooms.

We had friends and we went outside and found them.

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents. Only girls had pierced ears! We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt and the worms did not live in us forever!

You could only buy only Easter eggs and hot cross buns at Easter time!

We were given air guns and catapults for our 19th birthdays. We cycled or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell – or just yelled for them.

Mum didn’t have to go to work to help Dad make ends meet.

Rugby and cricket had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn’t had to learn how to deal with disappointment. Imagine that! Getting into the team was based on merit.

Our teachers used to hit us with canes and gym shoes and bullies always ruled the playground at school. The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of… if they, did it was an embarrassment.  Anyway, mostly they actually sided with the law.

Our parents didn’t invent names for their kids, like Kiora, Blade, Ridge or Vanilla.

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility and we learned how to deal with it all.

And YOU are one of them… CONGRATULATIONS.

You might want to share this with others who had the luck to grow up as kids before lawyers and the Government regulated our lives for our own good.

And while you’re at it, show it to your kids so they know how brave their parents were.
PS ... and we had better weather in those days! If it gets much wetter here the island will float and I will shrink. 

19 June 2012

Reflections in the Sea

The rail is slippery after the early mist but he doesn’t feel the dampness. He had come on deck at this godforsaken hour to see the sunrise, that beautiful, awe-inspiring spectacle that has greeted every day of the cruise. He leans on the rail and watches as the first glimmer lights the sky, waits until the orb itself is seen, gazes in wonder as the heavens are transformed. In two days time they will be in Norway, the place where she once lived. Good old days with memories he sought to recapture before it all went wrong.

Cruising had been their thing. Every year they sailed to exotic or interesting countries, capitols and resorts. It had taken her many years to persuade him to go abroad and in the end she won simply by saying she would go on her own. He couldn’t let her do that.

They flew that first time and a few more, until she became sick of flying and just a little scared after an eventful flight that was filled with turbulence. So after a battle of wits they decided to try out one of the big cruise liners. She was very good at winning the argument.

He recalled the hours they spent sunbathing by one or other of the pools. He would break the monotony by swimming but, of course, she couldn’t swim. Nor did she have any desire to learn; maintained she was terrified of the water.

There’s a sudden chill around his shoulders. He glances upwards, knows she is watching. He feels her presence. Shudders. She won’t stay long, she prefers night to morning. At night she is free to plague him, knows he cannot escape while he’s tethered in sleep.  In life she was a sexual explosion, by day a nagging fiend. She doesn’t change, even in death.

He wonders how long she will keep it up, how long she will tease and torment his ageing body, wishes she would materialise so that he could explain. Trouble is, she’s still a young woman, whilst his body is withering with age. Can’t she see that? Doesn’t she realise he can’t oblige her anymore? Oh he tried, by God he tried. He was worn out trying. He told the doctor when she was alive that she would be the death of him. It didn’t end when she died, she’s still like a woman possessed.

He thought a cruise to familiar places would calm her. Seeing the old haunts, places they’d explored, but it doesn’t seem to be working. Tonight, he will ask her why. It’s better to ask at night when the ship is quiet.
He lies on the right side of the double bed, facing the balcony window. The steward had drawn the curtains but that made him feel closed in so he opened them again. Outside the jet sky is littered with stars, none of which he knows. The rhythm of the ship is gentle making it almost impossible to realise they are sailing on sometimes treacherous seas with killer waves.

For the first time since he boarded she fails to put in an appearance but he tells himself the night is still young. He peers at the clock, works out the time by faintly illuminated fingers. Just turned midnight.

An hour passes. He rolls over, tugs the blanket round his shoulders, feels the draught on his neck, knows she has come. He hears the balcony door slide, the white plastic chair scraping on the floor. He turns to look in that direction. She is there, sitting, waiting, impatient fingers tapping on the table.  She swivels her head round, looks at him, her mouth twitches into a lopsided snarl, emitting callous vibes.

Anger rips through him, eats into him, drives away his good intentions. How dare she come to him in that mood. Isn’t it enough to haunt him without being malevolent as well. It’s about time she knew her place.

He thought he’d proved where her place was when he pushed her into the sea the last time. He slides out of bed; seems the crazy bitch needs another lesson.

17 June 2012

Sunday Scenes

Sunday Scenes today features a couple of shots taken in Norway

Just look at that cloud!

16 June 2012

Love in the Garden

Aaah love in the garden. I should have video'd these woodpigeons and might have done if I had time. Couldn't even go outside to photograph the love birds. Along the wall they went, billing and cooing, then settled down for a bit of necking. 

He dared to get closer

but by then she'd had enough and walked away

The pictures were taken before the rains came. And now we've a severe storm heading our way I guess the birds will be sheltering in the trees instead of prancing up and down my wall.

It's great to watch the birds courting and I'm looking forward to seeing the dunnocks 'at it'. They come every year, to the same spot on the patio, only they 'do it' on the floor. They don't seem to mind that I watch their every move. 

According to old theories dunnocks are shy birds, or they were before they cottoned on to the fact that shy birds miss out at feeding time. No longer do they eat the food cast out of a feeder by coal tits and others, the ground being a sort of poor man's table. Instead they come in pairs to get in first, one eating and the other on guard watching out for possible intrusions. My lot are boisterous and greedy, one of them even had the nerve to challenge a bossy robin who thought he had sole rights to the food on offer that day.

Let me tell you about their sex lives. I know I shouldn't gossip but, hey, I don't think anyone will tell on me. I am what they call a voyeur and I don't hide the fact from the dunnocks. The following event isn't a one off, it has happened outside two of my houses over several years.

For some reason dunnocks like to have sex near the house, always in a corner by the patio window near the wall (see above). Forgetting that humans occasionally like to watch a little sex the dunnocks go at it like frenzied ... erm ... birds. I've never seen other birds getting down to it but I imagine they all adopt the same method.

First time I saw it, I thought the male was attacking his mate with his beak, repeatedly jabbing it at her rear while she shivered with ecstasy. Thinking she needed saving I was all for going outside to shoo them off but then I saw Mr D lift his wings and jump at his missus, one quick jab with whatever it is he uses to fertilise, and then fly off. That was it, all over, quick as a flash! Only then did I realise that all that stabbing was foreplay. Oh boy, I'd hate to be a bird ... Hmm all that jabbing...

15 June 2012

Book Review

Harlan Coben, another best selling, crime writing American author who has become one of my firm favourites. A former series starring the imposing creation by the name of Myron Bolitar was enjoyable but I find his stand-alone books much more so. The Woods was a particular favourite and this one, The Innocent, has joined a rank position.

The main character, Matt Hunter, once served a four year prison sentence after a fight ended with his opponent cracking his skull but he manages to live a respectable life with a good job and a lovely wife. But things start to go wrong when he receives a photo on his camera phone that is destined to change his life. Everything he has worked for is threatened and he suddenly cannot trust anyone, least of all his loved ones. 

The Innocent is loaded with tension which demands that the reader keeps reading. The scene shifting is fluent, the characters utterly believable, and the thickening plot only unravelled at the very end.


Daily Express quoted Harlan Coben as being ‘One of the most sheerly entertaining and accomplished writers in the genre.’

The Daily Telegraph says ‘Harlan Coben has made his intention clear: he wants to fool his readers. And he makes a good job of doing so in The Innocent. The enjoyable intricate plot takes several turns before we are fooled for the last time and the villains and motive are revealed. A book to read in one gulp!’

The Times says ’Coben’s electrifying New Jersey based thriller plays games with notions of innocence and guilt. Adding to the enjoyment of this slickly crafted tale is the sharpness of the dialogue and the satisfying realism of the descriptive writing.’