Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Not Quite Mr Prendergast's Fantastic Find

If you haven't read my new novel yet (that's it over there on the right - cheap as chips), it tells the story of a man called Dave Prendergast who makes and amazing find on eBay. We often see people on Antiques Roadshow who have made great finds at car boot sales and in charity shops but rarely on eBay. But it is possible. If you read this blog from time to time you'll know that I sometimes try my hand at spotting "sleepers".

Here's one I found last week.

I paid my £23 and awaited the arrival of my fabulous Dudson cheese dish similar to this one that recently sold.

But luck was not one my side. The parcel arrived on Saturday. It was very very well packed. But it still didn't survive a trip across the country with Yodel.

So my hopes of a decent profit were, like the cheese dish, shattered. This was one of the reasons that I gave up dabbling on eBay a couple of years ago after the profit on a similar "bargain" failed to realise. I had another Yodel delivery today. The young man said "I've delivered here five times recently and this the first time you've been in.Did you get the parcel I left over the gate on Saturday." That gate is almost 6' high. He didn't open it but dropped it over the top. I told him it was smashed and he departed very sheepishly.

My last "bargain" cheese dish.

I'll keep trying for a while though as recent tax changes mean that the first £1,000 from trading like this is not taxable. Maybe one day, like Mr Pendergast, I'll make a fantastic find that comes good.

This was my best deal this month.

We're home from Scotland now after spending a week or so in the caravan with my Mum who is doing very well for 91. She looks great and dresses well but we wish that she would eat a bit more. The week we've been catching up on the garden and I've managed to scrub the entire decking on my hands and knees. The job took me hours but I'm happy with the result . While I was scrubbing Marion was even busier digging. When she got ready for bed she realised that she was missing a precious white gold and diamond earring.

Having a detectorist husband has its occasional benefits for Marion. I got up at seven on Sunday morning and thanks to the new detector I was back in bed again twenty minutes later for a well earned lie in.

I know everybody is sick of politics at the moment and I've managed to keep them out of the blog (mostly). I've written a fair few long rants but deleted them before publishing. It was nice, however, to see the Suffolk EU Alliance, (people from all parties who are pro the EU) holding a meeting at St Michael's in Framlingham on Saturday. And it was even nicer to go inside and find the place completely full.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

A Welcome Visitor (91)

We're back in Scotland for Easter. We wanted to spend some time with my mum but she's not as agile as she used to be and, as we worried about her managing the stairs in Framlingham, the stair-free caravan in St Andrews was a better option. We drove up on Sunday after a visit to the excellent Framlingham Show on Saturday.

The grandchildren love the story of Plop the little barn owl in The Owl Who Was Afraid Of The Dark so we took this photo to show them what she might look like.

The fair was blessed with perfect conditions.  

It was good to see the Morris Men continuing the ancient tradition but judging by the average age of the dancers it's a tradition that's unlikely to see this century out. 

It really must be one of the most idyllic country fair settings in the country.

Here's another lovely setting. Kellie Castle in Fife was the site for one of the Cadbury Egg hunts that ran at National Trust and National Trust for Scotland properties over the Easter break. (Note: National Trust members can get into National Trust For Scotland properties and vice versa so if you're thinking of joining one join the Scottish one as it's about £16 cheaper for a joint senior annual membership)

Rose and Melody enjoyed searching the wonderful castle gardens for a dozen or so Humpty Dumpties holding letters that made up the solution to the hunt. I was impressed with the clues that were not too simple and challenged the children to think. Some of the Humpties were easy to find but others needed careful searching to spot them. Well done Cadburys and Kellie Castle. 

Mum joined the family in the hunt and it was great for Sarah to see her nana and Rose and Melody their great nana.

Yesterday Mum took us all for fish and chips at the excellent Tail End here in St Andrews. After lunch we came back to the caravan where Marion conducted complex experiments involving pine cones, grass and cornflour with the girls.

Mum is enjoying her break. She's 91 now but still keeps herself busy on her iPad. She's not getting as much use of it here as we're limited to linking it to 3g on the iPhone and it's not very fast. She's a bit worried that her memory is not what it was but my memory is not what it was and I'm only sixty-three. 

To try and show her that she's not as bad as she thinks she is we gave her the Times Jumbo Crossword from last week.

And with a bit of help she managed to get it finished. The Alzheimer's isn't around the corner just yet. 

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Two Five Star Reviews So Far

Ask any self published author what spurs them on and I'm sure that they will tell you that a positive response to their work is high on the list. So I am delighted to say that, after a couple of weeks since its release, Mr Pendergast's Fantastic Find now appears with a couple of five star reviews. It's early days but it is encouraging that two readers (both of whom read my first novel) have taken the time to review Mr P. 

I'm also enrolled in the scheme whereby Kindle readers can borrow my books. I can see when somebody borrows one and it is really encouraging when you see that they read the entire book in just a couple of days or, in one case above, in just one day.

I hope to start publicising the book with a vengeance over the next couple of weeks starting with a 25 book giveaway currently running on Goodreads. If you would like the chance to win a signed copy just click here and click the "enter giveaway" button.

The novel tells the story of Dave Pendergast who tries to make his fortune by finding hidden bargains on eBay. It's not a fantasy. Here are a couple of finds that I've made recently. They aren't going to make my fortune but are certainly much better than the description that the seller gave them.

This lovely Victorian majolica water lily plate circa 1890 was described as an "Unmarked Novelty Flower Plate".

And this fine Fukagawa Koransha Japanese vase from around 1900 was listed as "Pretty Ceramic Vase" which is true but unlikely to reach collectors of Japanese porcelain.

eBay and writing apart, I've been enjoying competing with my old work colleagues at Instanta in the TalkSport football predictor league. I'm top of their league at the moment with eight rounds of matches to go but, more pleasingly, I am in 260th place out of 175,000.

We've been doing a lot of gardening but had a break from that at the weekend when we headed to Rochester to visit our son Paul and our grandchildren Catherine and Teddy.

How time disappears! I can remember the days when I was the one doing the pushing and Paul was the one in the swing. 

Rochester's medieval castle and cathedral looked glorious framed by the blue sky and this magnificent magnolia tree.

Our granddaughter Catherine, like her daddy before her, loves Ghostbusters. So we went into the garage and dug out Paul's old Ghostbusters' Fire Station to pass down to her. It's nice to see our children's old toys being recycled.  

Paul looked after his toys well and everything was in good working order.

There was even the added benefit of finding Paul's own Ghostbusters' poster that he made when he was five.

My favourite field has been drilled with a crop now so I can't go detecting there at the moment. As my current detector is a fair few years old I've treated myself to a shiny new one. I've got a few friends here in Framlingham who want to give the hobby a try so now they can use my old machine before deciding if they want to take it up. It will be good to have a bit of company on my days searching (as long as they don't find better stuff than me that is).

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

No Punctures So Far This Week (Touch Wood)

After driving the five hundred miles back from St Andrews on Monday it was a busy week as we prepared for our favourite decorator Gerald Clements to come back and redecorate our lounge, kitchen, bathroom and ensuite. We've asked Gerald to do some work every year since we moved to Framlingham and he's always been extremely good. 

On Friday we emptied the rooms out so that Gerald would have the clearest of starts to the work. With an empty kitchen it was a good job that we had booked to go to a communal meal at Brandeston Village Hall that evening. 

The beautifully laid tables set the scene for the supper in aid of Suffolk Refugee Services and we enjoyed a wonderful Persian themed meal before listening to a talk on the good work done for the refugees in Ipswich.

After a relaxing day in Framlingham doing a bit of shopping and chatting with friends in The Dancing Goat it was time to get the car packed yet again to leave Gerald with an empty house.

It was Marion's birthday on Sunday and I don't think that driving another five hundred miles back to St Andrews will figure in her most memorable birthdays but our Scottish family made up for the tiring journey by welcoming us with a lovely birthday tea for Marion.

Rose and Melody were thrilled to have helped Sarah to make a birthday cake for their Nanny.

And they were so excited with the cards and presents that they showered Marion with.

With these beautiful flowers from granddaughter Catherine, Marion felt quite spoiled. The caravan is now looking very colourful with glorious floral displays.

We're having a quiet week while Gerald cracks on with the decorating. It's pretty cold up here in St Andrews this week and the caravan heating is working overtime but we've had a relaxing few days catching up on some old magazines and reading the papers in between visits to the family.

Speaking of the papers, we've been regular Times readers for a long time now but is it just me or is it dumbing down? This piece on page 3 a couple of days ago would have been more at home in Metro or The Star. I don't claim to be in any way intellectual. I hope I've got a sense of humour and I enjoy a wide range of stuff  but this just isn't what I'd expect to be reading here.

Forgive me for mentioning my book Mr Pendergast's Fantastic Find again but I've only just published it (click on the picture at the top right to buy - you can also read several chapters free of charge). I should have proof copies of the paperback waiting for me when I get back to Framlingham .To coincide with the Kindle launch I made my first book Give Me Your Tomorrow free for a five day promotion. I was pleased with the results which saw GMYT hit number one in the Holidays category (sadly it was back to number four when I took this screenshot to put on the blog). 

There are no reviews on Mr P yet - it's early days and, although it's a very quick read, I don't expect any for a while. I've got to work on promoting it as soon as we're back in Suffolk. I've got a few ideas and I hope that it will take off.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Hidden Treasure And How To Find It?

Imagine scrolling through eBay and spotting a priceless antique for sale for just a few pounds.

It's not beyond the realms of possibility as people do sometimes get things wrong. Here are a couple of things I've spotted and bought in recent months.

And here's what happened when they were re-sold with a more accurate description.

That last one didn't go quite according to plan as the pair to it turned up like this.

So, as you can see, there are bargains to be had and that's what sparked my imagination for my second novel.

Here's the blurb.

"When retired bank clerk Dave Prendergast makes the find of a lifetime on eBay with an opening bid of just a few pounds, he sees the route to a rosy future. As the auction clock runs down, all that stands between Dave and the highlife are rival bidders, his conscience ...and a big pile of ironing.

A comic adventure of middle aged strife, Mr Prendergast's Fantastic Find follows Dave on his quest for riches as it leads him and his family into a web of intrigue, romance and internet fraud."

It's (hopefully) an easy and fun read with a dash or romance, some devious internet shady dealing and a couple of serious moral dilemmas. 

It's available on Kindle now for just £1.99. I hope that you will give it a try and that, if you do, you enjoy it. If you do enjoy it a review on Amazon (however short) can work wonders for sales and I'd be extremely grateful. If you dislike it please comment on either my Facebook author page or here on my blog.

Over the next five days (ending 22nd March) to coincide with the launch of Mr Prendergast's Fantastic Find my first novel Give Me Your Tomorrow Kindle edition is on free promotion. To get your copy of either or both of these Kindle reads click the links at the top right of this blog.

The paperback version of Mr P is in progress and should be available inside two weeks. Look out for details here. 

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

A Costly Trip

Although we had a lovely time visiting our daughter Sarah and her partner Duncan and our two Scottish granddaughters last week in St Andrews, it was an unlucky week for us. 

On Tuesday morning Marion headed out in the car only to return five minutes later to report a flat rear tyre. We don't have a spare wheel (don't ask me why new cars never have spares), so the flat involved a roadside assistance call which resulted in the car being shipped to Dundee where a new tyre was fitted at the not insignificant price of £268. It was five hours later that I returned to the caravan. Bad luck but just one of those things.

It would have been just one of those things but yesterday after we drove the five hundred miles back from Scotland, the other rear tyre was flat. Another new tyre was needed. This time Fram Tyres did the job and the cost was £245.  Both tyres had pieces of metal embedded in them. We've no idea where they came from but over five hundred quid made it a very expensive week in St Andrews. While we were in Kirkby Lonsdale the previous weekend we talked about punctures and I foolishly said that I hadn't had one for years. I don't know if you believe in tempting fate but, if you do, there couldn't be a better example.


Car problems apart, it was great to see Rose and Melody growing up. Here they are enjoying a cartoon on the TV with Marion.

St Andrews is a magical place and the ancient colleges are steeped in history.

There's always plenty to do and this time we discovered the university's small natural history museum. Those enormous lobster claws would have fed a family at the local seafood restaurant.

Rose is a toddler no more and is now a real schoolgirl.  She's a keen dancer and wanted to show off her moves. She's very athletic and can leap high into the air.

We're back in Framlingham now but we've got some decorating being done next week so we're off to Scotland again at the weekend to give the decorators the run of the house. It's a bit of a trek but worth it to avoid the smell of paint and the mess.

In the few days home we've a few jobs to catch up with for a couple of elderly people we help for the Framlingham Hour Community and we've had a bit of gardening to get on top of but I managed to find time to get out with the detector for a couple of hours today. It looks like the field is going to be planted very soon so it won't be available to search again until harvest. I didn't find a great deal but there's always something interesting.

I'm not sure about this one but it may be a medieval sword pommel.
Today's medieval silver penny was minted in Canterbury but I can't say much more about it.

A fragment of a gilded medieval buckle

Large copper alloy stud - most probably medieval

Musket balls always turn up

Pot mends are also common finds. This one has fragments of terracotta pot remaining 
Although I thought that this was just a lead scrap when I found it, after  brushing away the dirt there is a clear AD impressed. I wonder if it could be a broken medieval pilgrim's badge depicting the Agnus Dei. 

I gave you a sneak preview of my new novel's cover recently and I'm delighted to say that the paperback cover has now been completed. Here it is.

In these days of rolling bad news I've attempted to write a light hearted novel that will make the reader smile. If you enjoy antiques, eBay, romance and a bit of family drama please give it a try. I'll be posting a link on the blog on publication day. If you enjoy it, a very short review on Amazon will be extremely helpful. If you don't like it please let me know - constructive criticism always welcome.