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.


All Change

Well…’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 and 99 pence on 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…, 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… 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… 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… 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…’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… 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.






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.

Half-Term Mayhem

Writing duties are mostly put to one side as the job of dad/entertainer takes over this week. Luckily I’m not getting any sort of rating from the kids (that might be a bit depressing, and a bit on the low side).


Our first trip was to Splashdown in Poole. Not entirely sure what to expect, I did regale the kids with tales from when I went there with a friend, pretty much when it first opened (I won’t mention how many decades ago that was), and told them about my most vivid memory. My friend had been before, and knew all about all of the slides. Taking me to the start of one up what seemed like a million flights of stairs (there was even a lift, I seem to recall…..that should have given me a clue), we both stood alone at the start of a very darkened tunnel, with only the rushing sound of water for company.

He’d told me this one was tame, and just a long winding ride down to the bottom. Gullibly I believed him, and with him insisting I go first, I duly jumped in. FLIPPIN’ HECK! When we met up at the bottom, he was beside himself with laughter. SAMSUNG CSCHe said, “I knew when you’d got to that bit, because all I could hear coming up the slide was, ‘Aaaaaahhhhhhh!!!'” VERY FUNNY! The bit that he was referring to was a straight down, vertical, sheer drop, and given that the tunnel was entirely black, shrouded in total darkness, there was no way I could have even known that was going to happen. It was more the surprise than anything that had me screaming. Well at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

The park had changed somewhat since I was last there (no surprise there given how long it’s been), and it took a while to get the hang of where everything was. The outside rides (the really, really fast ones) weren’t open due to the weather, so we were confined to the inside. No bad thing really given that I really had to keep an eye on both kids. But we explored pretty much everything. I was shocked, in pretty much the same way as my first visit, by a ride called the Space Bowl. It’s a leisurely slide down to an open bowl where you whizz round and round before unceremoniously being plonked through a great big hole in the middle, which I mistakenly thought would lead to another slide, but instead dumps you into a two metre tank full of water. SAMSUNG CSCAgain, more the surprise than anything else. Both kids followed me down, with them both being surprised like me. My youngest and I decided we didn’t much care for that one, while my eldest went on again, straight away.

We all had a great time on the rapids with our blow up rings. That was a hoot, despite how many times we all came out of the rings, and the best ride by far that we encountered, in my opinion anyway. The rest of the slides were quite mild, with only the Baron’s Revenge causing a little angst, and making my youngest scream for all she was worth. Given that it’s under six seconds from top to bottom, something of an achievement I think you’ll agree.

All crammed into two, what seemed to me, like very long hours. A good time, despite all of the bumps and bruises, and boy do I have a badly bruised knee.

Hengistbury Head was next, one of our usual haunts. SAMSUNG CSCMuch skate boarding (not me…..WAYYYY TOO OLD) and mucking around on the beach, lots of photography,(me) and given that it’s the end of October, we were all in tee shirts by mid-morning. MAD!

Another familiar haunt in the shape of Swanage followed. We did manage a brief walk along the beach, but for the most part, it was a bit too blowy. Taking in the shops and the fabulous steam railway, you can take a look at our journey back on the train from Norden to Swanage on my YouTube channel.

Gunwharf Quays was our next destination, with both of them excited at the thought of looking around the shops, the eldest more so. Trainers were the main objective for both of them, and had been sorted after the shops had been open for only twenty minutes. RESULT! SAMSUNG CSCAfter that, a leisurely stroll around, interrupted by a family game of bowling at the Bowlplex. I’d not been in there before, and would have thought with the kids being on holiday it would have been packed, but no. It was relatively quiet, and very enjoyable. A great way to break up a shopping trip.

So there you are, dad duties so far. Back to the writing and social media soon.



Booking Ecstasy

My love of all things fantasy and comic books seemed to go up and down throughout my teenage years. At one time there was a fabulous comic book store in Salisbury (think Stuart’s store from The Big Bang Theory, only smaller) just a few moments’ walk from where I currently live. It was heaven, and I could often be found in there, spending what little money I had on Superman, Batman, Green Lantern and Justice League comics.

My tattered and worn old copy

My tattered and worn old copy

Unfortunately it didn’t last more than a few years, which wasn’t surprising really given the distinct lack of trade. So with my life revolving around playing hockey, all thoughts of strange new worlds and the events unfolding within them, drifted to the back of my mind. Until, that is, the day I had to go and fix a fax machine in a very large bookshop in the middle of Southampton. Tool case in one hand, paperwork in the other, I remember trudging through the store, only focused on getting the job done and getting out. It didn’t take long, and the manager was very grateful. After getting him to sign the paperwork, I weaved my way in and out of the bountiful bookshelves, heading towards the huge glass framed exit. It was then that it caught my eye. Unbelievably, I’d nearly walked straight past it, or rather… them. A whole display advertising one book. I was stunned, that is until I dumped my tool case on the floor and picked one up. The cover was intoxicating. thrawnMy favourite characters were looking out on me in all their glory. It was one of those moments when time stands still. I can recall it as if it were only yesterday and not 1991. Taking in the droids on the spine as I turned it over in my hands, I stood lost in another world, reading the blurb on the back. Short but sweet would be how you’d describe it, but I was long since hooked. I had to have it… NOW! Struggling back to the front desk of the store with my tool case, paperwork, and my precious purchase, the staff, who I’d just been working amongst, all looked bemused. I didn’t care. After paying I rushed to the car, and made the fatal mistake of starting to read it. I should have been working. I had other jobs to do. I must have read for about half an hour, just until my parking ran out. Star Wars novel Heir to the Empire Timothy ZahnAfter that I had to get on and do the rest of my calls, but all I could think about for the rest of the afternoon was that book, sitting on the floor of the passenger side of my car. My evening had just been booked up. It wouldn’t of course be difficult for you to guess that I stayed up nearly all night. Yes it was that good. I couldn’t put it down, and the weariness that I felt the next day was well worth it. And more momentous than all of that, was the fact that the book in question had started me off on a journey that would last with me for a lifetime. Numerous other books in the saga have been bought, read all in one go despite everything going on around me, and nearly all have given me the same sort of satisfaction as that one.

Ahh… so now you’d like me to tell you the name of the book. It was Star Wars Volume 1 Heir To The Empire by Timothy Zahn. And it was nothing short of fantastic, especially to this huge Star Wars fan. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read my battered and tattered copy… but who cares? Each time it sends shivers down my arms, even though I know what happens. For me it’s a classic and that’s without the fact that it has led me deep into the Star Wars expanded universe. As well as this three book cycle, the second and third instalment of both of which I had to buy on the day they came out in hardback, reading them both the said same day, Timothy Zahn has written many other great expanded universe titles.  He is definitely an author I would love to meet and get to know better. I only hope that Disney in all their wisdom do justice to the new film coming out. The books of the expanded universe have meant, and still do, a great deal to me. While I understand the reason for the changes, I’m not entirely sure I agree with them. Only time will tell. Here’s hoping.

Booking Marvellous

For almost as long as I can remember, one of my favourite things to do has been to read. Getting lost in a book is a magical experience and one that I’m always happy to lend my free time to. Recently for me though, it’s become harder and harder to find that free time to give over, not only because I seem to work almost every hour of the waking day currently, but because what I’m doing now is…..EDITING!


Polishing up the third book in my series is as hard as anything I’ve done, and seems to be taking its toll on me. Just the thought of reading for pleasure at the moment makes me feel physically sick, given how long this process has been going on, and just how hard I’m working to getting the book just right. I say just right, I suppose I mean PERFECT, well, in my mind anyway. Can anything be perfect? I suppose it’s a very subjective point of view. Each time I go back through the book, I always spot something. I suppose that’s to be expected, given everything that’s been going on in the storyline of the last two books; bringing it altogether and adding to the excitement is bound to offer up the odd challenge or two. It certainly has, and it seems hard for me to reach a point where I’m one hundred percent happy with it. Hopefully that point will be any day now. With that in mind, and the fact that something as important to me as the pleasure of reading has been temporarily taken away from me, I’ve decided to write about some of the most important books that I’ve read. While they may not seem important to you in a literary context, they have had a deep impact on not only my reading habits, but on the way in which I write and develop my stories. Hopefully over a period of time, I can tell the stories of the stories that have led me to being where I am today. Your thoughts are most appreciated.

A Debt I Can Never Repay

I hark back to the heavy days of 1994, and having long since been bitten by the book bug, admit that I was ever so slightly stupid in the way in which I fed my addiction. Instead of just wandering into a bookshop and browsing until I’d found something to quell my hunger (of course I did do this as well) I was, for a time at least, a sucker for all of those mail order book clubs. You know the ones I mean. I did, some years later as a service engineer, have to go to said book club’s head office, long after I’d realised just what a sucker I’d been. That was something of a revelation. I digress. Anyhow, having ordered my five books at fifty pence each, or whatever it was, I was delighted when the huge box of books finally arrived, with all thoughts of having to buy one book a month at full price for at least the next twelve months, soon forgotten. Upon opening said box, I pulled out all the lovely tomes, and soon set about slavering over them. They were all fantasy and science fiction, both at the time my preferred genre, all with the exception of one. One was a thriller, and hadn’t been a book that I had ordered. How odd. Stupidly, I couldn’t even remember the book that was supposed to have arrived. Must have been good. So being the lazy twenty something that I was, instead of sending the mistaken book back (far too much like hard work), I just left it lying there on my bedside table, gathering dust. At the time, I read every night, as well as a great deal at the weekends. I suppose a couple of months must have gone by before I found myself without anything to read. Looking at the hulking great hardback that I had been too lazy to return, I can remember being quite unenthusiastic as I picked it up early one evening. What stands out in my mind from that relatively innocuous event, is how tired I was the next day at work, having stayed up reading until well gone 3am. What a book addicted muppet I am. So perhaps now you’re wondering what the book was? I’ll tell you. Debt Of Honour by Tom Clancy, one of the most eye opening and addictive books that I’ve ever read. Needless to say, I rushed home from work the following evening and stayed up again into the small hours to finish it, no mean feat I assure you. 174777As well, and I’m sure this will come as no surprise to those of you with the same addiction, I had to go out and hunt down the rest of the books in the series, and then read them all in order. I wasn’t disappointed. They were, and still are GREAT! Everything about them just sends goose bumps up my arms, from the level of detail to the naval knowledge, from the characters to the way tiny, almost insignificant little bits of storyline weave their way seamlessly into the whole of the plot, something that I’d never seen in quite such a way before, and something that I think has influenced me as a writer, more than a little. The character of Jack Ryan is brilliantly thought out and brought to life, and a wonderful hero. But it is perhaps not him that had me hooked. John Clark for me was the one…..the one that stood out, the one that had that almost Han Solo appeal. A good man with a dark side. Partnered with Chavez, they made quite a team. The staying up late was well worth it for me, especially considering the book’s end, something which I’m not going to spoil for you if you haven’t already read it. Those couple of days, and the fluke with which left me with the book in the first place, play a pivotal role in my reading habits and the way in which I write. I always wished to meet Tom Clancy, I mean who doesn’t wish to meet their writing heroes…? I know I certainly have always wanted to. It always makes me wonder what I would have asked him. Would it have been about his intricate naval and military knowledge? About his inspiration for the well defined characters? Did he start from the end and work his way backwards when figuring out the plots of his books? Or just how it was he learnt to incorporate such insignificant pieces of text, that, like tiny pieces of a puzzle, all fit together in a much larger picture, perfectly at the end? I suspect the latter.

Thanks for reading.