What A Week

Normally there are so many things going on that my head seems to be constantly spinning, but this week (and it’s only Wednesday) has been something else. Here are the two that stick out.

Salisbury Charter Fair

Every year at this time, the market place in Salisbury is taken over by the brilliant Charter Fair. Starting in 1227, seven years after the building of Salisbury Cathedral started, it’s still going strong. I’ve been going for as long as I can remember. Many decades. And for me, the last few years have given it a new lease of life. While it was terrific going as a teenager, and then going throughout the years with my hockey mates, it’s much more satisfying going now with both of my children, fourteen and eleven respectively. While the younger of the two doesn’t fancy the scarier rides (just like her mother) her sister has started to get a bit braver. So we ventured onto some of the faster rides, (not the two scariest) and had a little fun. Check out the pics.





























































Odd Weather Conditions

Driving home mid-morning on Monday, out of nowhere, the sun suddenly became extremely red, and the clouds took on a deep yellow hue. Immediately I grabbed my camera on returning home and took some pictures from just outside my front door. Take a look.


The Faerie Review

Check out the latest review of Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Threat From The Past (Book 1 in the Series) on the stunning The Faerie Review Book Blog.





Bristol Balloon Fiesta

Well…..eventually the sun came out (actually, more like it stopped raining) and the kids and I finally got to go out, on a planned trip to the Bristol Balloon Fiesta. Having never been before, we didn’t know what to expect. But it was a great day out and all three of us were very glad we went. More importantly, I’m sure all four of us will be going back again next year. The balloons were brilliant (although we had to leave early, which meant we missed the night time burn…..something we all would have liked to see), and wandering around the stalls and the fairground attractions was a real buzz. There was a great atmosphere and it was incredibly child friendly. Luckily the weather was okay, with the sun poking its head through the clouds for the most part and, more importantly, it stayed dry.

With almost every food imaginable on display, my children were salivating from the moment we arrived. I’m not sure I’ve seen such a diverse offering on quite that scale.

The biggest surprise for me was the live music. It was all incredibly entertaining, and non more so than a very talented artist by the name of Jasper Storey. Ed Sheeranesque is how my children would describe him, with my oldest so hooked that the first thing she did the next day was to download all of his music. With both of them sat next to me, mouths agog at just how good he was, it occurred to me that I should try and record at least one of his songs. So you can take a look below.

So if you get the chance next year to go along to the Bristol Balloon Fiesta, we would all thoroughly recommend it as a wonderful family day out. But if there’s one lesson that we learned, it was not to turn up too early.

Having arrived when it opened at 12pm, we had an awfully long time to wait for the balloons to take flight somewhere towards 7pm. And with the night burn not starting until 9pm, it was just too long for us to stay. Most of the visitors seem to know all this, almost certainly from previous visits, and rocked up from late afternoon onwards. That would seem to be the way to go.

Off now to wait for the sunshine to make another appearance, in the hope that we can head to the Dorset coastline somewhere and make the most of the rapidly diminishing school summer holidays.






All Change

Well…..it’s been a while, and it’s hard to know where to start. Life would seem to be a constant whirlwind at the moment, without even the vaguest of let ups.

Since moving house at the end of last year, something that’s had a radical effect for good on the entire family, there hardly seems time to take a breath, sit back and relax. For the most part I feel trapped on a rollercoaster with no way off, experiencing the highs and lows over and over again, only ever escaping in the midst of sleep, which doesn’t last nearly long enough.

Where to start?

My beautiful younger daughter, Poppy, who, like her sister I always think of as my baby, has had her last days at primary school and in September will be going to join her sister at secondary school. Where on Earth has all the time gone? It seems like only yesterday that I could carry her around on my shoulders, with her cooing at everything. IMG_3913But now, here she is, almost a grown up, even though she’s only 11. For the most part, it blows my mind. Of course I’m a proud father, of everything that she does. Her school work is excellent; she constantly reads…..which makes me so happy. I listen to her sing and play the guitar when she doesn’t know I’m there…..and it sounds fantastic. As well, her attitude to others almost brings a tear to my eye. She’s so caring and considerate, as well as being unbelievably…..CHEEKY!!! I’m not quite sure where she gets that from (I know really……it can only be the adult responsible for looking after her all the time) but quite often she can have me in stitches of laughter.

As well, I can no longer get away with saying something rude to my wife, in the company of my children, because however subtle I am, they both….BOTH!, fully understand exactly what’s going on, and always laugh in exactly the right places.


How is that even possible?

Anyhow, a big move to big school is imminent, something that she is incredibly excited about and has been for over a year now, even back then trying to choose her enrichment activities from the list her sister had been sent home with for her own choices. I would imagine that not all children would look forward to a change of schools, with some at the very least being off the scale nervous. But not her: she is relishing the challenge and can’t wait to get started – something else that makes me ever so proud.


My elder daughter is still battling the underlying neurological condition that she suffers from, presenting itself mainly as a headache that never goes away, staying with her from the moment she opens her eyes in the morning, to drifting off to sleep at night. It drives me mad. But there’s nothing doing on that front with regards to sorting it out. The neurologists at Southampton hospital have washed their hands of us. Thankfully she’s still under the care of the paediatricians at Salisbury District Hospital, which is some comfort, especially given how professional they are. Another hard worker at school, even with the condition that continues to blight her, she’s managed a full school year without any time off – a considerable achievement given everything she goes through. Not only that, but she continues to sing in the school choir to a very high standard, has passed her next singing exam with flying colours and…..has spent a full season training and playing hockey for Salisbury ladies 5th team. Proud doesn’t begin to cover it. I’ve been lucky enough to play on the same pitch as her over the summer, sometimes alongside, sometimes against, and it’s been an immense pleasure for me to do so. Watching her chase back, tackle, and attempt to beat a player, as well as scoring some fantastic goals, has been one of the highlights of the summer for me. Long may her interest in hockey continue.

What else?

My gorgeous wife has a new job. How cool is that? Not only that, but it’s one that she enjoys and is surrounded by consummate professionals. So not only proud of my daughters, but of my wonderful wife as well.

As for me, as I’ve described before, things never seem to stop. I spent all of last year rewriting all of my books. Well over half a million words. And I don’t mean re-editing. No! Rewriting the whole lot. It was the only way that I could do it. As if that wasn’t enough, the first three books in the series are all sporting new covers, something that I think adds to their appeal. Best of all, the cover for the fourth book is in my possession and it looks fabulous, even though currently I’m only 50,000 words into it. All 3 Books For Website_edited-1Probably only about a fifth of the way through. But having the cover…..knowing that it’s there and ready to go, will no doubt spur me on in the writing department. So while the social media side of things as always takes up too much time, it’s back to writing in an effort to get what has already been planned out, into words on the page. Difficult at the best of times, harder now that the kids are stuck with their grumpy daddy during the long summer holiday. It’s hard to know which of us will go insane first, them or me. My money’s on them…..undoubtedly their patience will be tried. But in the meantime we’ll try and get some days out if, of course, the weather improves. Currently the sun seems to have gone missing. If Gibbs were here, I’m sure he’d put out a BOLO for it.

New Year…..New Resolutions. Starting With…..A Book Promotion

After a poor 2016 with a significant family loss, and what at times felt like being plagued by illness, it was at least notable for two things. Firstly, moving house, after 17 years in the old place, something that although we’ve only been in our new place a matter of weeks, I feel will significantly benefit us all as a family, in oh so many ways. And then for me, the rewriting of all four of my books over the course of the year. A Twisted Prophecy is still in the editing process, but the others have all been rewritten, not just edited. And that means that I’ve written over half a million words during 2016, in the tiny gaps where life hasn’t been kicking our collective ass. On a personal note, that’s what I will take out of what I consider quite a poor year, for me and pretty much everyone else. So just to brighten things up a little, here is one of my favourite pictures that I snapped, of Salisbury Cathedral, early one September morning.


Salisbury Cathedral

So…..New Year’s Resolutions. All the normal ones of course: eat better, do more exercise, try and live a better life. On that front, my fourteen year old daughter has already taken me for a run. When we got home, it was hard to tell which of our bodies was in the greater shock. Oh well…..more of that to come I suppose. I will say at least it’s nice to have someone to run with. It certainly helps from a motivational point of view.

More writing this year would certainly be another goal. After all the rewriting last year, Book 4 has been on hold for quite some time, and only stands at 33,000 words, although it has been mapped out in quite a detailed way…..something I’ve never really done before. So I will be pounding the keys to see if I can get it finished by the end of the year. That’s probably slightly optimistic given that I would suggest it will be the longest book yet, and my guess is that it will exceed 300,000 words in total.

So to kick things off going into the New Year, I’m starting with a book promotion, offering up Book 1 in my series, Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Threat From The Past, on Amazon Kindle for 99 cents on Amazon.com and 99 pence on Amazon.co.uk starting on Monday January 2nd, heading right on through to Sunday January 15th. If you love fantasy, dragons, hockey, lacrosse, rugby or any other team sport, please take a chance and download my book. What have you got to lose? I’m convinced that you’ll love it…..plot, characters, twists and turns and of course my warped sense of humour. An honest review would also be much appreciated. While you’re at it, why not check out my interview on The Dragons’ Geas, your stop for all things fantastical and fun!


Wishing each and every one of you a Happy New Year.

Paul Cude

New Year, Oh Dear

You always hope that the New Year will freshen things up, from New Year’s resolutions, to just generally cleaning up your act, getting fitter, working harder and doing those jobs that have been put off. Two years ago, the start of 2014 was undoubtedly the worst time of my life, with my elder daughter’s illness consuming the whole family, and almost living in Southampton hospital for weeks at a time.


Part Of My Voodoo Doll Impression

You can read about that here

This year seems to have thrown us another dozy. As well as what I would describe as a major setback to what I hoped would be the ongoing recovery of my daughter from her rare illness, I’ve been admitted to hospital twice in a week for unexpected and unrelated reasons, as well as a sudden death in the family shattering everything around us. It’s been what can only be described as a living nightmare.

I was ordered to the ENT department by my GP late on a Friday morning at the start of February, as a medical emergency because of my continued sinus problems which have lasted over six years now. The concerned consultants there took one look at me and immediately admitted me to stay over for the entire weekend so that I could be pumped full of antibiotics.

A Rare Day Out

A Rare Day Out

Something of an unusual case for them, I gathered. On managing to escape from my hospital bed late on the Sunday, we as a family headed north for the funeral and all the preparations that entailed. Tuesday evening came around, just over 48 hours after being discharged from the ward in Salisbury, before the most amazing pain started to consume me. First a paramedic, and then an ambulance arrived, by which time I was diagnosed as having a kidney stone. I can’t tell you the pain I was in as I was carted off to hospital. The medical professionals were all fantastic, especially the nurses who seemed to be the only ones to be able to find one of my veins to put in a cannula so that I could have some pain relief. As you can see from the picture, the two short stays gave me something of the voodoo doll look. Apparently I have tricky veins…..no, I’m not joking. Not a pretty picture.

I managed to make the funeral; it was a close run thing, but one way or another I would have attended.

The Stunning New Forest

The Stunning New Forest

But with more scans planned for when I returned south, life by then had been well and truly turned upside down.

Sitting here I long for the return of normality, the humdrum routine of our everyday life, but currently it seems a million miles away. Odd that you could yearn for something so normal that you almost always take it for granted. Nothing special, head down, working hard, writing, looking after the kids, social media, household chores, DIY, etc, etc. It couldn’t ever really be classed as exciting, or even slightly satisfactory. But I miss it now more than I could have ever realised I would. Not weeks, more like months to get back to what I would regard as our family’s routine, that’s how I see it.

I Love The Sea

I Love The Sea

Disappointed doesn’t begin to cover it. We’ve managed to grab a handful of days out as a family since the year started, but they’ve been few and far between. For over a month I went without seeing the sea. I can’t tell you how much I didn’t like that. So there it is. Our continuing struggle with the New Year. I truly hope all of you are faring better.

Oh How I Love The Cold

SAMSUNG CSCIt’s back, thank goodness. The cold. I love it. Like a long lost friend that you haven’t seen for years, it’s been great to catch up over the weekend. It reminds me of so many good things. Hockey, first and foremost I suppose. All those games, running around to keep warm (yes, me…..running), breath freezing deliciously, fingers so numb it’s nearly impossible to hold the stick, either that or choosing gloves, making it nearly impossible to hold the stick. Numb fingers for me every time…..thanks. It brings back so many memories. That plus the fact that my birthday (December), my eldest daughter’s birthday (November) and of course Christmas, all magical times, fall within that chilly part of the calendar. The mild, moist kind of weather does absolutely nothing for me, as I suspect is the way for most people. Yesterday we had a fabulous walk at one of our favourite places…..Hengistbury Head on the Dorset coastline. Arriving at stupid o’clock, just after sunrise, it was cold. Not as cold as some of our previous visits, but cold enough. SAMSUNG CSCThe plants, all wrapped in white, spiky coats looked magnificent. My camera was constantly on the go. Even the sand was frozen, significantly in some places. And with few people stupid, or brave enough to be out at that time, a sense of calmness and serenity drifted over the whole place. Needless to say there was running, jumping, building, bounding…..you name it, we were up to it at the beach, without of course the swimming.(a little chilly for that. I mean we’re mad, but not quite that mad) So that was yesterday. Brilliant. And having missed it so much, I do hope it continues for the next month or so. Not only so I can practice my photography skills, but so I can relive so many of those wonderful memories.

Having spoken previously about my work of fan fiction, that’s currently been put to one side. Since having seen Star Wars The Force Awakens, I’ve most definitely fallen out of love with everything Star Wars. It’s not something that’s happened consciously, and I can’t tell you how disappointed I am about it. But that’s just how I feel at the moment. SAMSUNG CSCI can’t even look at the massive collection of Star Wars books I have when I walk past them. That’s how bad it is. Maybe I’ll pick it up in the future at some point. Given how I planned it all out, and have written quite a large chunk of it, I do hope that will be the case. So with that put on the back burner, I have, in what little free time I’ve had, been cracking on with book 4 in the Bentwhistle the Dragon series. Having planned it out to within an inch of its life has certainly made things better, and I’m more focused than ever. It’s still going to be some time before it’s ready, but hopefully with every month that passes, significant progress will be made.



The Force Awakens

Last night we finally managed to surprise the children and take them to watch The Force Awakens at the cinema. Read on for my impressions of the film as an avid Star Wars fan.

*****There will be SPOILERS ahead*****


I’ve had my doubts for a long time now, and that’s probably why I wasn’t queuing at midnight on the day the film came out. That’s certainly something that part of me would consider doing. But ever since they announced that the Expanded Universe (EU) was no longer anything to do with the official Star Wars timeline, I’ve found myself emotionally distancing myself from the release of this film. My kids have been going mad. “When are we going to see it? When are we going to see it?” is all I’ve heard for the past few weeks. If it was up to me, I’d probably wait until the DVD came out. But that would be more than a little unfair, as I’ve shaped them into the Star Wars fans that they are…..you know what I mean. Action figures, Star Wars lego (by the ton), books, games, DVDs: you name it, they’ve almost certainly got it. So last night, off we went. Their little faces when we turned into the cinema, after pretending we were going shopping, were an absolute picture as you can well imagine. Not long afterwards…..it started!


Calmly sitting back watching the film open, I was reminded of going to see the first Star Wars film with my grandfather in 1977. I can recall clearly both of us giving each other looks of absolute amazement throughout the film, and him and I being blown away by it on leaving. I was only nine at the time, but it always seemed to me from that day forth we shared an unspoken bond. That played on my mind a lot last night. The introduction, music and writing scrolling down the screen certainly evoked the right emotions. Perhaps all of my worries had been for nothing? Perhaps these were the right people to safeguard the legacy?

Watching expectantly in hope that all of my dreams would be delivered, it felt for me as though things were on a knife edge. I couldn’t possibly predict which way it would go. Just as a feeling of ‘it isn’t going to go well, because it all looks rather sandy and a lot like Luke Skywalker’s home planet’ started to swirl about in my stomach, the Millenium Falcon appeared as a complete surprise, totally out of nowhere. I inched forward on the edge of my seat. My favourite spacecraft flying again brought renewed hope, despite the fact that the pilots weren’t who I’d hoped they would be. But it didn’t take long for Han and Chewie to make their entrance, one that would have had so much more impact had I not already seen it strewn across the internet. That would have been the emotional impact, the goose bumps up my arm, had I not already seen it. Why on earth didn’t they save it for the film? To make everybody go…..of course. Things moved on at pace, but I wanted to know more about my favourite characters. There was of course no time for that. But a couple of questions immediately dropped into my mind. Finn and Rey thought the Falcon was being boarded by stormtroopers and were unleashing a poison gas. You never see them stop unleashing the gas. They didn’t know it was Han and Chewie. What was that all about? As well, Han and Chewie were transporting very dangerous creatures for money, something that becomes apparent. You don’t learn much more than that, but to me it seemed out of place. Looking a little like slavery, but maybe not, it doesn’t seem like something that either would do. Han despises slavery, having set Chewie free from the Empire’s grip, hence Chewbacca’s life debt to him, while Chewie would never have let Han become involved in something like that. Of all the things the two of them could be doing when they came across the Falcon, this really shouldn’t have been it. Not very well thought out, methinks.


Quickly the action moves on to a noisy bar full of aliens, music playing in the background. So we’ve had the sandy planet, and now we have the bar. I’m having more than a little deja vu. Not for the last time. Luke’s lightsaber appears out of nowhere, without any explanation, before the enemy arrives hunting for the new band of heroes. Cue action, explosions, fire fights, a very brief lightsaber sparring session, before the rebels arrive, albeit just a fraction too late. It seemed a little hasty, and Han using Chewbacca’s bowcaster seemed totally wrong. It isn’t something he would, should, or could do. He should be barely able to lift it, but that definitely isn’t the case. Wrong! Just wrong. I thought so at the time, and then amazingly, he goes on to use it later on in the film. For goodness’ sake. But we move on. To something I was rather looking forward to, and something which the film was building up to: Han and Leia meeting up again. Given their relationship throughout the previous films, and as we go on to learn, the fact that they have a son together, you can assume that they might even have been married, but their reunion after so much time is just little in the way of anything. No emotions, no nothing. If you ever come across the expanded universe books, you should read them for many reasons, one being the relationship between these two. I’ll say no more. But we do go on to learn that the evil Jedi (no mention of Sith) is none other than Han and Leia’s son. Now to most who didn’t know this (and I’ve tried hard to stay away from any spoilers over the last few weeks, so I didn’t know) it might well have had the same kind of impact as finding out that Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker’s father. Perhaps that was the intention. But Han and Leia’s son turning into an out of control evil Jedi is straight out of the expanded universe. Talk about taking the mickey. The writers must have worked really hard to come up with that one. Where on earth do they get such fabulous ideas?

So what’s the threat from the ex-Empire that the so called rebels have to stop? Oh that’s right, a planet sized machine that can destroy multiple planets. Funny….sounds familiar. You kind of mean like a Death Star Mk3, only it harnesses the power of a sun. Again, it must have taken ages to come up with that. So back to base for the heroes for a quick conflab about what to do. Low and behold there’s a weakness in the planet destroying machine…..REALLY! I didn’t see that one coming. But the shields need taking down. NO! By a small assault team. It’s beyond my wildest imagination. I don’t suppose there will be any Ewoks will there? So yes, basically the plot of Return of the Jedi. BRILLIANT!


So off go the small assault team, lead familiarly by Han Solo. They blow up the shields, but not before Han dies by his son’s lightsaber. All Chewie does is howl, and fire a couple of shots in the son’s direction. I’m really sorry, but Chewie owes Han a life debt. If you knew anything at all about Wookies, you’d bloody well know that he’d do a damn sight more than that. Pathetic! As Han dies, it cuts back to Leia, who I suppose is feeling his death through the force…..it’s not very clear. You’d think there might be a bit more feeling, (falling to her knees, crying, yelling…..that kind of thing), but it looks as though she’s suffering from a severe bout of wind, or has had the seafood for dinner. Poor doesn’t begin to cover it.

Back to the action: the explosives are set off, the heroes flee into the snowy forest, the shields come down, the X-wings attack, and just to add insult to injury, out of nowhere, there appears a trench for them to attack the weakness in the weapon, one that wasn’t there before when they were attacking it from the air. A trench? I’m sure I’ve seen something like that before. But where? Oh yes…..more deja vu. Muppets! By this time I’m long since ready to walk out, and if my kids weren’t there, I would have. Oh well, nearly over. What on earth could make it any worse? The battle continues into the forest, with Han’s son chasing down Finn and Rey. Finn gets knocked unconscious with Luke’s lightsaber ending up buried, with just its tip showing in the snow. HANG ON! The lightsaber quivers and shakes gently, about to leap out of the snow. Uhhhh…..are there any Wampas about to show up? Seriously…..you just can’t make it up. So of course the lightsaber flies through the air to the hero…..cue fight, Chewie rescues them both in the Falcon, and they all fly away with the X-wings from the great big explosion. Totally original. NOT!


R2-D2 wakes up for no reason from a self imposed exile and they then have the complete map to find Luke’s location. Rey, Chewie and the droids all head off to find him. No ceremony for Han, not really so much as a mention.

So there you have it, a few hours of my life wasted in a cinema last night. A few more random thoughts in no particular order.

  • Where the hell were Wedge and Lando? They should have been there. Wedge most certainly would have been.
  • BB8 is almost certainly the star.
  • The best line in the whole thing was C-3P0 saying “Princesses”.
  • Han most certainly wouldn’t have died that way. I’m trying to write my version of how he died (in the expanded universe) but it certainly wouldn’t have been like that, and he certainly wouldn’t have been mourned like that.
  • It looks to me as though they convinced Harrison Ford (who always said that he hated Han Solo and would never play him again) to come back just for one film so that they could kill him off and he’d never have to hear the words Star Wars ever again. What’s that all about?
  • It was basically a ‘Now That’s What I Call Star Wars’ best of, taking tiny snippets from each film and rushing them stupidly together. Whoever wrote all that rubbish, should really be strung up by their coralskippers.
  • I have to say out of the four of us watching the film, my youngest daughter loved it, my wife was indifferent (not really a Star Wars fan), my eldest daughter was not particularly impressed, while I, as you can probably tell, was hugely disappointed. This was not unexpected to me, but what I was surprised to find, was a lot of other people coming out of the cinema, moaning about just how bad it had been. That’s not the impression you get in the press since it’s been out. There’s a surprise.
  • As for all the five star reviews the film’s been getting, I have to wonder exactly who’s been writing them. Yes the effects are great, and I for one could sit and watch the Millenium Falcon fly around on the screen for a couple of hours (if only that had been it), but the plot with all of its borrowed bits and pieces was weak, with no real connection to the characters, old or new. And getting rid of Han Solo in that manner was just appalling. Even Darth Vader got a send off. Even as a one off film, did it really merit five stars? You’ve got to wonder.

Anyhow, I’m off now to reread some of the expanded universe, and see if I can complete my fan fiction on how Han really dies.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.





FREE Christmas Gift

All three of my books in all formats free on Smashwords with the coupon codes below in the hope of some honest reviews in return. Offer up to and including 26th December.

A Threat From The Past      FREE

A Chilling Revelation     KT75T

A Twisted Prophecy     YB86F

Happy Christmas!

Paul Cude

Christmas Giveaway 1_edited-2


Life seems to be flying by at the moment, a non stop rollercoaster whirlwind. Half term, baking cakes, children’s birthdays, DIY, wife working away, all the normal household chores, etc. Everything is so full on.

The kids made this birthday cake. Unfortunately they were hindered by me!

The kids made this birthday cake. Unfortunately they were hindered by me!

I spend almost every hour of every waking day, working.

At the moment, I’m currently writing the fourth instalment of the Bentwhistle The Dragon series. Book 4 is called Bentwhistle The Dragon in Earth’s Custodians.

Just over 25,000 words done, it will be sometime before it’s ready to go.

Currently though, something else has all my attention, something that has haunted my dreams, much like the Bentwhistle series normally does. Fan Fiction. I’ve never written fan fiction before,  and I’m not going to tell you exactly what it is, but I’ll post it here when it’s finished. I’ve felt compelled to write it.

Birthday Sparklers

Birthday Sparklers

It won’t be short either, by the look of things. I’m quite excited, but as per usual, it’s tough finding the time in my day to write for any length of time. But I am working hard on it, and hopefully it will be something that everyone will love. Update over. Take care.