I thought I’d died and gone to Wales.

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Hello folks: just a reminder to let you know I’ve not fallen off the end of the planet. I’ve been on a mini-break to North Wales and the 1st picture above was the scene that greeted us whilst navigating a track so narrow even sheep can’t get down the mountain road if a car is on it. We wanted to see the most remote farmhouse in Wales which was at the top of the mountain and the road happened to once have been the main road into London. Can’t imagine how long it took to get to London in the 1700’s. Apparently if you don’t go back the way you came you are likely to get stuck on the mountain.

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This is the farmhouse at the top of the mountain: my little bit of heaven. What a fantastic place it would be to write; no one else around. Reminded me of Lumb Bank near Hebdon Bridge when a few of us post-grads received a bursary to attend a creative writing course for a week, given by a male poet, and a lady author. This ‘lady’ instead of getting my creative juices flowing got my bile up instead, but what I did like about my stay at Lumb Bank was the fact Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes lived there for a while.

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The following day was spent at Portmerion. A lovely place on the coast where the 60’s cult series The Prisoner was made. I’ve actually got the T shirt: I am not a number, and I will not be filed or indexed etc. etc.

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The granddaughter taking a break at Portmerion. Note the red lesser- striped tree-creeper attempting to climb the rocks to her left. The other picture I just had to post as I think its a lovely picture of her sitting on the pointy end of a ship down by the beach.

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This is the beach where Patrick McGoohan tried to escape from The Village. To those not in the know, he had previously made a series called Dangerman. It was about an MI6 operative during the Cold War. He finally retires and because he knows too much they imprison him at The Village. He never escapes because they have enormous big white balloons which patrol the beach like Rottweilers.

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I think a mother should always come between her daughter and son-in-law, don’t you?

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Time for a well-earned rest before travelling on to Bangor for one night: and didn’t we have a lovely time. Remember Ffidler’s Dram? Didn’t get any cuddles from Jack though: perhaps it was the fact there was no one in the car named Jack, also we didn’t open a bottle of cider: had a G&T when we got to the hotel.

Did take my lap-top on my mini-break, but during our two night stay in Caenarfon, I was frankly too knackered by the end of the day to even lift the lid, and still knackered the following morning. Upon rising it took a good half-an-hour before I could use my legs, but this was helped by numerous cups of tea. It was then off to fuel the tanks with a BIG full English breakfast, before donning my red National Trust rucksack to set off again.

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Penrhyn Castle was our next destination, but whilst having a chat with one of the National Trust volunteers in the first picture (you can hardly see me as my hair and top almost blend in with the background) a couple of weirdos trolled by, one of them pulling an odd looking gentleman in a rickshaw made from and old armchair and a couple of large bicycle wheels.

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Wherever you travel in North Wales there is always a view of the majestic Snowdonia mountains.  The beauty of the place is stunning: a place I would like to live and write because during most of our stay there were no signals on our mobile phones.

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“Still no signal, Granny?” It’s all well and good having no phone signal, but when you need one, like trying to find out where hubby is,  who just happens to have trundled off all by himself like a two year old, then it can get very frustrating.

Finally we arrived back home after a 3 hour drive, including a one hour traffic jam on the M6. I slept for 11 hours that night and was as stiff as a board the following morning. So was hubby, but too tired to do anything about it. I am still suffering the after effects of all the climbing and walking, having difficulty even lifting my arms to type. When I did finally uncover my keyboard I found my grandson had nominated me for the Ice-Bucket Challenge (I’ll kill him)

So when this SHB gets her mojo back she will let you know how the Ice-Bucket challenge went. Perhaps if it’s flattering I might even post a photo, but then does anyone look their best when drowning. But if anyone out there owns a remote shack, a villa, a basha even, where I could lie-up for the next 6 months, I desperately need somewhere so I can get out of this bloody ice-bucket challenge.

SHB – Silver-haired blogger.

Where have all my author-mates gone?

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See the similarity? Spooky, isn’t it?

You don’t suppose it’s the grey – sorry, white hair – that’s putting them off? I know what it is, they’ve been and gone and got themselves a Caribbean hideaway for the summer – lucky buggers. You may be thinking I’ve got some successful author-mates, well to be honest I have two very special ones, and both are male, who I hope will turn out to be like veruccas – difficult to get rid of.  So, wherever you are author-mates, I trust you will emerge at the end of August to enter the exciting world of fiction again as I am missing you both. I trust this heart-felt plea will wrench at your guts so you come out of hiding to enter a fantasy world again.

Back to reality. My third novel, A Life Once Had, is 45 in the ratings of the ‘German’ genre: what that means I haven’t a clue, but can only guess it’s a genre for historical fiction about Germany or Germans. I have already had one 5* review which says, “it is exceptionally well written… and is the best book (of the genre) I have ever read”. Now what more could a writer ask for? Even if I don’t sell any more books I can go to my grave with a smile on my face, knowing I pleased someone with my work.

It’s been a long summer; my first summer after publishing my debut novel last December, and it’s proving difficult having no contact with other authors. It’s what keeps me going. Without other authors to encourage and support, we writers would perhaps flounder on the riverbank like a trout on the end of a line. I don’t like gasping for air, so I’ll be glad when this summer’s over. Perhaps I can organise next summer a little better now I know that everything seems to stop. I did wonder if I was releasing my third book at the right time, but it’s done now, so no use fretting about it. I’m just glad it’s being well received, and that most of my sales are in America, which is something to be proud of.

I’m off to Wales next week, not only for a break but to do some research.  Have lap-top will travel, that’s my motto, but my family won’t know I’m doing it, I just get up early then take everything in whilst sight-seeing: soaking up sounds, smells, surroundings: I’m like a sponge, I always have been. I’ll be going up Snowden and visiting Port Merion the place where The Prisoner TV series was filmed in the 60’s – had the hots for Patrick McGoohan at the time.

I have come to realise I live two separate lives: a writer’s life which is quiet and solitary,  and a family life which is busy and boisterous at times. I love them both, but the twain never meet, they might bump into each other occasionally but that is all. The fact is I cannot live without either, so I’ll be glad when this summer’s over and my author-mates come back on the scene to start publishing again.  As Alison Moyet sings, “I’m all cried out”, I’m singing, “I’m all read out” so come on, author-mates, I’m in serious need of some action.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

100 YEARS AGO TODAY – 4th August 1914.

 

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I have lived for over half of the last 100 years, and have had grandfathers and other family members who fought in WWI. The following pictures and comments commemorate all those who participated in, or fell, during WWI, and for other family members, of each generation thereafter, who fought in wars and conflicts. This blog is not only for my family, but all the other families who will share a moment of remembrance with me today.

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The lead shot above, and the bread, were found in the Crawford’s Hero Box when we cleared my Great Aunts house just after she died. It was in a trunk full of memorabilia and WWI photos. To give some idea of the size of the shot the long piece is about 6 cms long, and the round piece a little bigger than a 50pence coin.

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This photo was taken on 29.7.1917 at Herstenmoor POW camp near Soltau, Hannover. One of these men is the father of my Great Aunt Nellie. I believe he’s the one on the front row in the middle.

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This photo was also taken in Germany on 2.4.1918. Do not know any of them but was recovered from my Great Aunt’s trunk.

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This photo might be of the graveyard at the POW camp at Herstenmoor in Germany where prisoners were buried. On them are carved names, but I cannot make all of them out, even from the original photo. One I have managed to recover with the use of a magnifying glass. It’s the first cross in the picture and it says, ‘5640 Sgt. L. C. Rumley. 1st East Kents. Died of wounds received in action’.

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Members of a POW hut at Herstenmoor. On the back of the photo are the names: Goolsby, Glossop, Clayton, Noel, Harrison, Rothway, Foster, Craven, Mason, Garside, Warton, Gunston, Turner, Ebbage? Webster, Brown, Pattrell, Smith, Kirk, Wallace, Barwell, Graft and Walker.   The man, Barwell, in the front row, in the middle sitting cross-legged, is the father of my Great Aunt.

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Concert Party/pantomime at Herstenmoor POW camp.

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Postcards of the surrounding area of Herstenmoor POW camp, Soltau, Nr Hannover which were sent to England.

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This card was sent 2.2.1918 from Harry Barwell at POW camp Herstenmoor to the O. C. Depot of the 16th West Yorks Infantry Regiment requesting verification of his rank by asking for a certificate and statement of his account. It is not clear as to why.

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As you can see this is Barwell’s army wallet. Inside I found this postal order for 2 shillings made out to Private Harry Wright. Is it possible they were good friends and Harry was shot and the lead in the above picture was taken from his body before he died, therefore, the postal order couldn’t be cashed?

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Both these delicately embroidered cards were sent from France to Edith, Harry Barwell’s wife at the beginning of WWI, before he was taken a POW.

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These pictures were found in my Great Aunts trunk. I don’t think they are of her husband, my Great Uncle Sid, as he was in Burma during WWII. I have a photograph of him in uniform with the rest of the men, but cannot lay my hands on it at present. We shall never know who the diver is or what he was blasting out of the water. But I do remember being told by a family member that Nellie was once engaged to a Naval man who was killed during WWII. I wonder if this is him? She met and married my Great Uncle Sid after the war when he came back from Burma.

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The following are the words of the above ex-serviceman.

“I am an ex-soldier who fought for Queen and Country and proud of it. When I joined the RAF at 19 I was doing something I always wanted to do. I had a great time learning my trade as an avionics engineer; passing with flying colours. But I wanted more out of forces life; something  was missing, and I was always up for doing anything dangerous – just ask my Mum. So, I applied for a unit that was wanting top physical and mental performance; a unit that had a world-wide reputation of being the best. I trained hard and passed. We were forever joking and had many a laugh, even though circumstances sometimes had us pissing, shitting, wanking into a bag which you then had to carry in your webbing/Bergen until the exercise/mission was over. And if I was ever caught I was Trooper 1234567 A.N. Other, of the Royal Yoemanry (Territorial Army). I remember my sergeant saying to me once during the 1st Gulf War, ‘laughing is something you can always do’. He said this just before he killed the enemy with one clean shot to the head. Laughing and joking was how we dealt with things. I am a soldier through and through and it’s been about 22 years since the 1st Gulf War: I don’t want the memories, but I get them anyway: memories of legging it across the desert, tripping over burnt, shot, mutilated bodies, then reaching the Basra Highway to find more dead, burnt, shot soldiers and civilians. I deal with the memories, and in the past have tried to drown them in booze: not the ideal way to deal with things though. Below is a photo of my 13 year old son – perhaps the next generation of soldiers. One day he may be following in my footsteps, and if that is what he wants to do then I will not discourage him. The ties that bind us ex-soldiers together remain with us all our lives. I shall always remember them. “

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A LIFE ONCE HAD.

A Life Once Had Cover

This is the novel that won me third place in a novel writing competition years ago and is the first book in a series of two.

It’s a story of one man’s struggle to come to terms with what is happening to himself and to his country during WWII: the people he meets on the way, and finding love in a place he least expected to find it.

I cannot begin to explain the angst this third novel has given me. Not only the title and book cover, but the setting. The work was originally called Am Beggar-poor Again, but after my ‘agent’ asked what it meant, I reluctantly agreed to change it. It is the last line of a poem by Heinrich Heine; one of my favourite poets. But if it wasn’t for my son – ‘agent’ – who very gently told me both the original cover and the title didn’t say anything about the book, and the fact a fellow author said I wasn’t marketing my work properly, I wouldn’t have arrived at this point without their input. Therefore, I can finally say, my third novel will be released at the weekend and from Saturday 2nd August, 2014, will be FREE FOR TWO DAYS on Amazon.

Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I loved writing it. I look forward to your comments and give a big thank you for your support.

NB. Although I put the novel on Amazon this morning, Saturday, 2nd August, I am still waiting for it to update so I can put it on FREE for two days. Those of you who wish to update the free novel should be able to do so some time this afternoon. Once again thanks for your support. Enjoy the read.