Saturday, 13 December 2014

Nobody knows who Shaklock Holmes is lol

Today I made a new twitter friend. He didn't follow or say hello, but he appeared to have written a book and he introduced himself by sending me a link to his book on Amazon.
Now obviously, this is an unusual way to say hello on twitter, but surely, he wasn't trying to flog me his book, was he?

Then I got another notification. Maybe Trev has actually  followed me. Maybe Trev does want to be twitter friends and we can chat about X-factor and TOWIE.  No..

I think someone needs to buy a copy of Self Publishing With Integrity by Dan Holloway - a truly  excellent book with seriously good tips on how to market your work. There are chapters on

1. The Pressure to “Succeed” 
2. Why Do You Write? 
3. Is Self-publishing Right for You? 
4. Never be afraid to be you 
5. Dealing With Self-Doubt 
6. Dealing With Self-Belief 
7. Handling Praise 
8. Producing Your Book: Picking the Right Partners 
9. Building a community 
10. The Whites of Their Eyes: Giving Great Readings 
11. The Long Haul 
You can read the first part of it by clicking here 

By the way, if you are an author and have something you would like to share, I'm always looking for guest bloggers to take part in the My Favourite Vintage Things series. You can find the guidelines and some examples here

Finally, if you do fancy reading The Death of Sherlock Holmes, you can buy it here 

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Two go to Somerset

I was going to write a really grown up "travel writing" blog post about Somerset but it's mainly a post about dogs I met on holiday- and let's be honest, that's loads better isn't it?

It was September when we went to Somerset. It was really warm and lovely lying on the beach near Brean Down, but it was quite cloudy a lot of the time. There was quite a bit of litter on the beach compared to when we visited last year- I was going to say this is probably due to council cuts- but it's not really is it? It's because of people leaving litter.

We tried to work out what this little hatch was for. Any ideas?

I love it here. 

So many dogs choose to go to Somerset on their holidays. People pay for expensive "Swimming with Dolphins" experiences, but I reckon "Paddling With Dogs" is just as good. 

More muddy dogs. 

Hard to pick favourites, but I love this dog above  and I didn't get a good photo of Jack (below) . But he came to try and steal our sandwiches and even returned his ball to us which his owner had thrown. Here he is taking a selfie. 

We stayed in a holiday park in Brean but on the Saturday took a trip out to Watchet which was lovely. The journey there was very picturesque and pretty spectacular. However, we experienced an assault on our senses we had not experienced before. 

In the car, on the way to Watchet, there was a faint smell of - I don't know what to call it- manure? muck? So we wound the windows  up sharpish. It was really unpleasant. I know farmers have to do their thing, but I wasn't quite prepared for the acidic burning smell and the overwhelming horrendous odour. It was almost like you could taste it. Jeez, it was pretty disgusting. There was a bit a gagging and I took a bottle of water out and drank from it, in attempt to - oh I don't know what- clean myself? Lord almighty it was disgusting. 

But it only lasted a while and we drove on towards Watchet. We were about fifteen minutes from our destination when I saw it. A huge beast of a machine in a field by the side of the road. I've never seen anyone doing it before, you know, actual muck spreading. We thought the worst was was over with the earlier onslaught and we'd open the windows to let the fresh air in. 

Yeah, we had opened the windows to let the fresh air in. Such idiots. 
As soon as I saw the machine  spluttering  the black filth over the fields, everything started happening in slow motion. I am not joking. The stench, the vile, bitter sulfurous blackness hit the nose first but within milliseconds it hit the tastebuds. It made it's way from the nose to the mouth within seconds and then it ninja kicked the nervous system. Jesus. I've never known anything like it. I felt fear, anxiety and panic. I experienced every primordial sensation I had ever had, along with some I hadn't. And inexpicably, inexplicably,   I felt ashamed! I could taste it in my mouth and it made me feel SHAME . Why did I feel ashamed? It was so horrendous, tasting manure in your mouth like that. 

Some of the things I said to Mr. Tip during this time were "Help Me! For the love of God, help me!" and I said "Pass the water, I need to rinse my mouth" and I said "Oh my Christ, I feel ashamed" and he said " I know, I do too". Actually he didn't say that at all, he just started laughing at me which was bad because he was choking on the smell and trying to drive the car and trying to drink water and laughing at me because I said I felt ashamed. 

So yeah, there was that. 

But we made it to Watchet. And it was lovely. 

Someone's cottage

There was tiny little museum which was really,actually awesome- this part of it was previously a jail. It had LOADS of cool stuff in there like 2000 year old coins and fossils and war letters and postcards.  

I liked the boating pool, even if it didn't look like the illustration. 

We went back to Brean, to the holiday camp that night and something magical happened. It was almost like we knew nothing as bad as the muck spreader could ever happen again. Everything was going to be okay. 

We strolled around the resort, had a pint in a lovely pub which had a beer garden in the sand dunes and went to the amusement arcade. That's when I won this. 

Just one 50p in the machine won me this bear with a Recommended Retail Price of £75. 
Walking around with this was like being a celebrity- admiring glances, envy, wonder and awe all came my way. To be honest, I don't think the celebrity lifestyle is for me as all the interest got a litttle bit too much. So we made our way back to the chalet. Stopped for a quick pint on the way in the holiday camp. There was a drunk woman there ranting about - actually I don't know what- she hated homeless people and she hated rich people and something about - I don't know,  I think she just hated everyone. She finished her rant and took a swig of her drink and then sat down on a bench made of fresh air. 

It was the best day of my life. 

So much so, we went back to Somerset again this weekend! I'll post about that soon! 

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Two Go Camping - Part Two : Dogs on Holiday

So, Tenby was lovely, as was Saundersfoot where I made this. 

"I know this sounds crazy, but ever since yesterday on the road, I've been seeing this shape. Shaving cream, pillows... Dammit! I know this. I know what this is! This means something. This is important."

And I noticed that a lot of animals go on holiday to Wales too. 
Like this seagull

and this dog 

and THIS puppy  who everyone fell in love with. I've never seen such a fluffy dog

But soon it was time to leave Tenby. We made our way to Ogmore. 

We took a picnic to the beach. We'd just finished when we met Molly the Beagle who made off with an empty carton of orange juice when we weren't looking. We went to retrieve it. 

There she is, stashing it in a rockpool for later. She came back for a second course. We'd just finished our lunch of tuna and pasta salad and Molly made off with two of  the empty bowls. Molly's owner came over to apologise . He said Molly is "very sweet, but very naughty". 
She so is. Here she is back for more, licking her lips. 

There were loads of other dogs on their holidays too. 

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Two Go Camping- Part One

Me and Mr.Tip had a lovely weekend away in our holiday home. It's so cool. It's a one minute tent and it really does go up in 60 seconds. After a bit messing around with the ropes etc. I'd say it takes about five minutes altogether. 

We were camped  just a short walk from the South Beach in Tenby which was stunning. 

Tenby is a walled medieval town, built by the Normans

There's a pub in the walls now. Wonder what the Normans would make of that. 

I didn't go to the pub, I went and stood in a cave thing instead

And picked up these. They are called Sea Bollocks* 
(*they are not called sea bollocks) 

The shops in Tenby are so nice. This shop sold hats for £3.99 and they also sold babies for £2.99.
"I'll take a couple of your hats and three of your babies please, shopkeeper."  

I'll upload Two Go Camping Part Two tomorrow when you can meet Molly the Beagle and find out why she is licking her lips. 

Monday, 28 July 2014

My Favourite Vintage Thing with Annabel Watkinson

I am absolutely ecstatic about sharing this My Favourite Vintage Thing  guest post from Annabel!  

Annabel is an Australian lawyer and policy officer who writes in her spare time and is one of my lovely internet writing pals. We're sharing  a virtual CampNanoWriMo cabin together at the moment which is lovely, but I would prefer  to move into her actual house. Please.  

Wouldn't you? 

I've chosen my whole house as my favorite vintage thing. I guess that's cheating a bit, because there are many things – smaller things – inside it that I could have chosen. But the fact is, I do love the whole house and it is most definitely vintage.
I've only been in it for a few weeks, but I fell in love with it instantly.
At a glance, it's nothing spectacular, although the semi-circular bay window with the crenelations round the top is cute. But it's much older than it looks – built in the 1850s, which is very old by Australian standards. It was originally the gatehouse for a large manor, which is still standing down the road a bit, albeit with much-reduced grounds. 
The same family lived in my house for many years before I moved in. They renovated it in the sixties, and it's been stuck in that era ever since. That's a good thing, as far as I'm concerned. 

There are lots of sweet touches all over the place, but my favorite room is the kitchen. It's pink and blue and completely frozen in time. It even has an original sixties stove that shines like it's never been used. Pink, of course, because everything matches. I'm terrified I'm going to make it dirty or damage it. As it happens, I'm not much of a cook, so maybe it will be safe. I do like to look at it though.

This house makes me happy. I love to think that it's got a story, and that I might be another chapter in its story – or, depending on how long I'm here, maybe just a paragraph.
Sooner or later, I will have to leave, because sadly, none of this is actually mine. I'm only renting. I do hope that the owners love it as much as I do, and that the pretty pink and blue kitchen doesn't get replaced too soon with something from IKEA.
But it's temporarily mine at least. And for now, I'm just delighted to be here, and to revel in its gorgeousness.

You can read Annabel's  blog here:
and say hello on twitter here

Thank you for sharing, Annabel! 

If you'd like to share your favourite vintage things, get in touch, the guidelines are here

Thursday, 24 July 2014

My Favourite Vintage Thing with Dave Olner

Today's guest post is from Dave Olner.

This is my zoetrope. It isn’t even vintage, really. I always wanted one and when my mum was working on the antique fairs she met a bloke who still made them. That was over twenty years ago, though, so maybe it’s a bit vintage.

The bloke would make them by hand and then another would paint all the animation cells individually. I like things that are handmade. The only things I can make effectively with my hands are sandwiches. Or I can put some of my fingers in my mouth and whistle fairly well. I do that when I want someone else to make me a sandwich.

I wish I could say that it’s brought me pleasure every day. The sad fact is I sweated my knackers off looking for it in a ripe, manky attic today. I had to pull it out of the back of a cupboard and dust it down for the photo-shoot. I knew it was somewhere in the house. I like knowing that it’s always somewhere in the house, like knowing I’ll eventually find it. I like saying the word “zoetrope” and I like writing it. I like being a person who owns one, even if I don’t look after it as well as I should. I like how zoetropes still exist and I like how maybe if I tell someone I have one they might not know what it is. I like my zoetrope. It’s my very favourite thing I don’t need and still have.

You can say hello to Dave on twitter here

Monday, 21 July 2014

There's nothing quite like a camper van by Jane Linfoot

Here's a guest post from Jane Linfoot. 
Jane's new book High Heels and Bicycle Wheels is out now. 

There’s nothing quite like a VW camper van... the view of the road as you sit high up, the characteristic chugging whir of the engine, the leisurely pace, and the camaraderie of other owners you meet on the road. Cue the hang loose wave. Somehow, heading off with your own self-contained accommodation, gives a fabulous sense of freedom. We travelled far and wide in our VW van back in the day, and it doubled as a builders van for the house renovations too, until finally there were too many children to tie them all in safely, and we sold it.

When I began to write High Heels & Bicycle Wheels, I knew I was going to have to send Bryony and Jackson off on a road trip together, and I knew they were going to have to go in a VW camper.

Retro chic has brought with it a big resurgence of interest in the humble camper van. Some owners pimp them within an inch of their lives, others restore with meticulous attention to vintage detail, there are even brand new Mexican import versions available. And there’s nothing like a VW show to give owners the opportunity to share ideas, show off their prize vehicles, pick up their spare parts, and to tempt dreamers like me.

Jackson’s camper van has lovingly prepared rat-look paintwork and a guys’ taste sombre interior. No wonder Bryony insists on decking it out with bunting. Here are a few pics I’ve taken at shows to give you a taster...

Jane Linfoot’s book High Heels & Bicycle Wheels is out as an ebook on 17th July, and available in pod paperback from 25th September.

HarperImpulse (all buy links)

If you’d like to see more camper van love, here’s a couple of VW shows that are worth checking out...

Tatton Park VW Show, VWNW, is in Knutsford, Cheshire, on Sunday 3rd August 2014.
Stanford Hall VW Show, Leicestershire, is held annually on the Sunday before May Bank Holiday, and if you want to see close to two hundred split screen buses, that’s the place to go.

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