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.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

A Reunion In Kirkby Lonsdale

We're back in St Andrews visiting the Scottish branch of the family for a week. The caravan site is deserted so we've got it all to ourselves which makes it nice and peaceful. It will, no doubt, fill up on Friday but until then we'll make the most of the solitude. Instead of the usual five hundred mile journey we headed up north on Friday and stopped at Kirkby Lonsdale for another of our now biannual reunions with old North West friends. 

It wasn't practical to organise the usual self catering break this time so we opted for a pub. Here's the view from the window of our room in the Sun Inn. 

We'd been disappointed that friends Dave and Jane from Ormskirk weren't able to join us for the weekend this time but, due to an unfortunate chain of events for another couple in the party, they raced up on Friday evening and joined us to take their place for one night.

We were very impressed with the Sun Inn - nice rooms with good touches, friendly service and excellent food. Here's Mark and Nita just outside. 

It's right next to the church so there's no problem in knowing the time with the bell chiming regularly throughout the night. The inn thoughtfully provides ear plugs!

The weather was kind to us on Saturday so we headed for our old stomping ground of Ingleton. We spent many happy days here with the children when my parents owned a caravan and the popular waterfalls trail was always a firm favourite. The falls were spectacular after recent heavy rainfall.  

Crisis over, our friends Dave and Janet drove up early on Saturday in time to join us on the walk.

Nita, Marion and Janet

After dinner at the Sun Inn on Friday we walked around the corner to the lively Avanti on Saturday night. This bar/restaurant was packed and, whilst we were a good twenty years older than the average reveller we were seated at a quiet(ish) table in the corner and enjoyed a very tasty Italian style meal.

I say Italian "style" as I'm not sure that you'd find a black pudding and Garstang Blue pizza in Italy.

The weather was fine again on Sunday morning so we went on another short walk nearby before driving to Newton-In-Bowland to the wonderful Parkers Arms.

It was recently given the accolade of being one of the top fifty gastropubs in the country.

It's an accolade that is thoroughly deserved. The forty day Himalayan Salt Chamber rib of beef that three of us shared was absolutely delicious. The service was great and it was three hours before we left after a long, slightly boozy and thoroughly enjoyable lunch. Poor Marion drank only water and then drove the five hours up to St Andrews - she's really good to me.

Stop Press. Here's a sneak preview of the cover for my new novel Mr Pendergast's Fantastic Find. It's going to be available soon and I'll be telling you more in the next week or two.

Thursday, 2 March 2017


In these days of mega hype when everything is "fantastic" and Donald Trump even describes a meatloaf as "great" I chose my headline for today's blog very carefully. FramSoc's Tony Lawrence said that Eva Clarke's story was remarkable when he introduced her and writer Wendy Holden to a packed house (the biggest FramSoc attendance by far) on Tuesday but it turned out that her story was not only remarkable, it was incredible.

Eva was born en route to a Nazi concentration camp and Born Survivors, Wendy Holden's non fiction account of Eva's and two others' Jewish mothers' experiences in concentration camps, ghettoes and military factories, tells a story like no other. In a wonderful presentation Wendy described how she discovered Eva and how she went on to find the other two survivors who were all born just before the Americans liberated the concentration camps. Eva told her own mother's story. Being pregnant in a Nazi camp or factory was normally a death sentence and each pregnant woman strove to hide their condition. Were they found out there was every likelihood of becoming guinea pigs for one of Joseph Mengele's horrific experiments. 

It was a moving talk and we both felt uplifted by it. Eva's attitude to her mother's torturers was, whilst not forgiving, very understanding and her attitude to Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Migrants was warm and positive and , I am delighted to say, extremely well received by her Framlingham audience. After all, she said, she was once all three of those.

At the moment, my second novel is being fine tuned by the wonderful Caroline Goldsmith Publishing Consultancy who are preparing the files in both Kindle and paperback formats. Spiffing Covers, who did such a good job with Give Me Your Tomorrow, are working on the new cover and I'm very pleased with the first draft.

The novel tells the story of a man who looks for bargains on eBay and, while I've been waiting for the book, I've had a go at bargain hunting on eBay myself.


I was delighted to find this wonderful French vase c1880.

And this fabulous Art Nouveau vase made by SA Majolique Bruxelles in 1900. But not everything has run smoothly.

A pair of these fabulous Paris porcelain vases by Le Tallec and dating to 1964.

Is no longer a pair. Never mind, it's a huge pity but the one remaining should still bring more than I paid.

In other news I had a few hours out with the detector yesterday. Here's what turned up.

Lots of lead as always - the lead scrap box is starting to refill
The usual array of buttons
A couple more musket balls
A nice little military badge.

A Tudor period spectacle buckle sadly broken but unusually with the pin remaining
The best find of the day was this silver Medieval penny minted in London by ILGER for Henry III. The line across indicates that its owner was about to cut it into a half penny when it was lost
The legend "Henricus Rex is clear but the portrait is terrible.

We're both over the colds that plagued us last week and we're now looking forward to travelling up to Kirkby Lonsdale for a weekend with friends before travelling on to St Andrews to visit our daughter Sarah and her family for a week.