Then there was the rain…


It has been a while since I posted here. I’m pretty sure that time does not run at a constant rate and is sensitive to diverse things such as temperature, happiness and percentage of blood in your alcohol (or vice versa).

Here in the UK we have officially had a heatwave, being 5 consecutive days of temperatures in excess of 5°C of the average for that day. Certainly one day was very hot for us, causing our dogs to almost melt. Good job they’re not chocolate*!

For inspiration, I walked around my writing office at Denmark Farm the other day, shortly after cooling rain had made it seem more like a normal British summer. The rain drops on the leaves and petals were too magnificent to ignore. So here they are…




  • If they were, I probably would have eaten them by now anyway…


Categories: camera, gardening, wildlife, Writing | Tags: , | 10 Comments

New Editor, no not Osborne

I have several excuses for not blogging more often than I do, and many of these reasons are almost entirely spurious. In my defence, although my claim that “a hundred giraffes prevented me from reaching my keyboard”, the truth is that the number was far less. Exactly a hundred less, in fact.

One thing I do find slows me down is the WordPress editor, which seems to conspire against me a lot of the time, particularly when it comes to placing pictures, or general layout considerations.











Whilst looking on the internet for substantial giraffe excluders, I came across the program I am using now – Open Live Writer, which is a free piece of software that is, essentially, Microsoft Word, but connected to your blog. Well, my blog. In theory, it should allow me to use a Word-like program, which I am extremely familiar with, to create my posts. Here goes… I am going to place some pictures of small cute animals I met last week at the Small Breeds Farm in Kington all over the page and see what happens.


I still need to publish this as a draft to my blog first because I don’t seem to be able to set up the Featured Image and the Twitter message, but it is still quicker to write and handle the pictures in Open Live Writer first. Oh, and picture captions don’t seem to be a thing either.

OK, well that seemed easier! Now, where to buy those giraffe excluders…


Open Live Writer is available as an app thingy from the Windows store – I think it only runs on Windows 10 at the moment.

Categories: General silliness, Writing | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

My Wednesday Space

Image may contain: people sitting, screen, laptop and indoor

Wednesdays’ don’t fare well in song lyrics. The best they can hope for is Freddie Mercury bicycling in their evening*; the worst must surely be Robert Smith who plans for either a broken heart or a heart attack** (he clearly isn’t a fan of Tuesday either).

Even Paul Simon decided that early on a Wednesday morning was the perfect time to ponder the recklessness of his youth and the fact he had just robbed an off-licence***.

My Wednesdays are far less eventful, and thank goodness. There are too many hills for bicycling, my heart is perfectly fine thank you very much, and I think the nearest off-licence is about twenty miles away, and possibly located in 1996. No, I choose to come here – my “office” at Denmark farm – to work on the two books I am currently writing.

Out the window there are birds squabbling over the peanuts in the bird feeder. I have a camera set up taking a picture every 15 seconds. After a few hours, I will retrieve it and put together a time lapse movie of bird shenanigans. Meanwhile, I am in an old mansion in a Scottish forest in 2083, about to fool my main character into thinking he has found his grail – a tin of baked beans.

And even better, someone has just brought me a cup of coffee.

What’s with Wednesdays? They’re great!


* I go out to work on Monday morning
Tuesday I go off to honeymoon
I’ll be back again before it’s time for sunny-down,
I’ll be lazing on a Sunday afternoon
Bicycling on every Wednesday evening
Thursday I go waltzing to the zoo (Lazing on  a Sunday Afternoon, Queen)

** Tuesday Wednesday break my heart (Friday I’m in Love, The Cure)

*** My life seems unreal,
My crime an illusion,
A scene badly written
In which I must play.
Yet I know as I gaze
At my young love beside me,
The morning is just a few hours away. (Wednesday Morning 3 a.m.)

Categories: Auguste, Writing | Tags: , , , | 10 Comments

Aberystwyth, a Lighthouse and the Knight


The Remains of a trip to the whelk-laden underbelly of Aberystwyth

You may know this feeling:trepidation and elation, of wanting to hang on to your version of something whilst wanting an open enough mind to accept that you may have bits wrong.

This is what happens when a book you love is brought to life. As an author I have never seen that happen to any of my characters but on Sunday I saw a book that I love to read made flesh, as it were. I had spent a month wondering how various parts of the story could be created on a stage, but the thing that leads to all that -ation is how the characters will look and sound, particularly the main ones.

Well, the Lighthouse Theatre Company had all the characters pretty much as I had imagined them. Herod, the PE teacher, was, if anything, rather too reminiscent of the one I remember from my school days. To avoid rugby in the cold rain required an act of at least one god and more chutzpah than any twelve year old possessed. I never managed it, even as a child with a damaged ankle. It made me the man I am today – an adult with a damaged ankle.

The main character, Louie Knight, gumshoe extra-ordinaire to the good (and not-so-good) Aberystwythites, was just as I imagined, even down to the voice. It was uncannily like watching your mind’s eye strolling around in front of you, but with a better delivery of the lines.

The perk of donating to the crowd funding that made the production feasible arrived through the post as I began writing this:


The mug was in use twenty minutes later; the pen is now my “writing pen”. And for two hours on a Sunday evening, I watched Louie Knight live and breath and walk through an Aberystwyth where there is a Canticle Street and Druids rule the roost. When I walked out into the cool Aberystwyth air, it felt like I was there. Which, given that I actually was in Aberystwyth, just added to the magic.

Don’t you just love theatre?




Categories: Theatre, Writing | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Paperback Righter


Here’s two I finished earlier…

I buy a newspaper on a Saturday. This is somewhat of an anachronism (the purchase of a paper, not Saturday), going back to a time when there was actually something on the TV that might be worth watching but no reliable TV guide (either provided by the TV itself or available via the internet). In those days, the cryptic crossword had a prize worth teasing the old brain cells for and, well, probably the summers were better, the water sweeter and you could have a three course meal, a crate of wine and a taxi home and still have change from a fiver.

Nowadays, the crossword is available on the day online for free, and even our 8 year-old TV has its own guide-thing at the press of a button, helpfully labelled “Guide”. I have always felt that it would be more useful if, on pushing it, the TV told you what the hell was happening, either with the programme showing, or maybe just life in general.

I digress. In last Saturday’s newspaper, in the Review section, there was an article where various writers and writing-teachers waxed lyrical with tips for would-be writers. They are the people in the title, trying to “Right” authors with their hints on how to be good at it.* I have to say that I am not a great fan of tips like this because IMHO what you need to do is write first and develop your writing muscle, then see about the other stuff. Once other people have read your work, then you can start the refinement of your writing style.

Of all the dozen tips, there was one that I did actually like – so I will share it with you, provided you promise to let my novel be ahead of yours in the bestseller list for the first couple of weeks.


Here are some that I haven’t started…

It is an easy one – sort of – and comes from William Boyd, who is a novelist and screenwriter (it says here):


Mr Boyd says that he sees lots of good ideas presented to him by budding authors who, when asked the question “How does it end?”, answer “No idea”. Or words to that effect.

In the case of my latest novel, I have been very, very slow at finishing it. In fact, I have known for some time how it will end, but that detail is still in my head, and not on the page, electronic or anachronistically paper. This tip from William Boyd has made me wonder whether that is part of the problem – the ending isn’t concrete, solid, has no physical existence.

Guess what I am not doing right now (because I am writing this)? The last few pages of “The Xylophone at the Gates of Dawn” are slowly coming to life on my other screen. I think the ending might just be the start…


* And in no way just a lame excuse for a pun.


Categories: BATDIG, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.