Friday 31 January 2014

NEW EBOOK - Langford Mud

NEW EBOOK - Langford Mud

A humorous novel about life in the small coastal village of Langford Quay in the nineteen fifties. The book is by turns charming, witty and bitingly astute.

Gordon Drake wields considerable influence for a man whose lifestyle includes beachcombing, cockling, fishing, boat repairs and being honorary steward of the lake.
Not everyone likes Gordon. Some villagers think him a rogue, of no breeding, a despicable little duck man. However he has friends. Commander Reggie Frogmore RN retired, the Rev Hector Chorley and his next door neighbour Miss Felicity Trimble. She, the secret writer of steamy fiction, is often responsible for the ideas behind much of the mischief.
Between them, this little group of friends manage to spice up the harvest supper, discover the burial cask of Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine’s lap dog, arrange a grand Mud Race to save the village shop, organise an undercover surveillance to trap a criminal and save the village from a marina and much more.

About the Author
Derek Hayes writes about the village of Langford Quay on the South coast as if it was a reality. In fact he readily admits it is based on a favourite place of his childhood. He confesses to being a child in the fifties, adding quickly, a very small child. The characters he writes about come from a lifetime of people-watching. He says they are all true to life characters just not necessarily the same life. Derek spent over forty years with the NHS and presently lives in Wiltshire with his wife Jenny.

Get your copy HERE

Wednesday 29 January 2014

Queen of the Half-Wits

It was a copy of The Guardian that did it. Delivered one morning in place of our usual Telegraph, I'd idly skimmed through part of the Educational section and spotted  an ad., to which, having first dug out a C.V. - I replied; more out of curiosity than real expectancy. Despite my lack of a degree, or even 'A' Levels (always pointless to be creative at such times, particularly as Americans are renown for checking) following a lengthy interview, I was amazed (and dazed!) some three weeks later to find myself on the staff of what was referred to as 'The London Programme' - a branch of America's Boston University - in charge of 'Student Affairs' (a title which fast became the butt of unlimited ribald remarks).  The 'Programme' offered one 'Semester' ('Term' to us) of study in London for between 250-380 students (some already Graduates, some not) who, after their first five weeks of study were placed for the remainder of their stay in a Company Internship appropriate to their choice of future career.
Before accepting my new job, fearing any repercussion, I'd sought G's opinion, prepared only to 'join up' if offered his full approval. Remarkably sanguine, he'd - unpredictably - appeared totally in favour, offering a thoughtful 'I think it will do you good.',  more like his old self. These odd  patches of reasonableness were increasing  but  for  very brief periods,  often catching me out: particularly as he also seemed to have developed a talent for acting. Confusing? Very - bringing to mind the words 'A--e and Elbow'. But soon, a form of pattern emerged, with each 'difficult' period 'flattening-out' to an easier, pre.- illness time: the phrase 'The same but different' somehow summed it up. I understand that any form of brain-damage or disturbance - whether the result of accident, injury,disease, tumour or stroke - may result in strange and alarming symptoms - altering personalities in a second and  producing dismay and disbelief in the onlooker, especially when experienced for the first time. But, in reality, any improvement had to be for the better.
And the children? What of their feelings regarding 'the job'? Disapproval? Maybe: but whilst direct accusations were never actually voiced, their silence, I felt, said it all. Feeling like a deserter - praying that neither G. nor I would regret what had  essentially been  my choice, also full of guilt at my selfishness, I immediately began to think of reasons to turn it down. Incredibly however, B.U.(Boston University) and I were to remain together for almost six years. 
Based in Kensington, B.U. was an easy, thirty-five minute journey from Stockwell, our nearest tube, and On Day 1. I arrived in good time, having spent the entire trip wondering if I'd made the right decision. At least G. was safely at work and as both sets of car keys were stowed safely in my bag, there was no chance of his taking off  again if he happened to be first home (in the early days, he'd twice liberated a set and whizzed off for an evening paper: my desperate 'You are not insured; please try to understand' on his return had meant another frantic call to the hospital).
What's the phrase 'Separated by a common language'? At times, certainly - but on the whole, working for B.U. made for a fascinating, memorable time - with more than a few highlyamusing, as well as tricky, moments. Almost on arrival I was met by Jill, my boss, who,  before introducing the other members of staff, pushed open the door to my office, revealing a light, good-sized room, complete with sofa and tissues  - plus the largest safe I'd ever seen 'For student valuables, hard-to-get films for the Media class and extra cash...And there's only one key and you have to keep it'...Next, up on the first floor I was introduced  to the other staff as they arrived, before being left left with Doug, a startlingly bright and cheerful ex-Cornell University Psychology Graduate, recently employed for a year as a 'General Assistant'. His words of  'Right, I'll now go and get you the Mac' left me puzzled, asking 'Er. What's a Mac?'(my knowledge of technology beyond the simple electric typewriter amounted to nil). His face said at all.'You know? The Mac? The computor'. Disbelieving, but finally aware that I hadn't the faintest notion as to what he meant, his slow, baffled reply has to this day remained  etched  firmly upon my memory 'You mean you don't know what a computor is'?
This was only 1988, but quite obviously I had immediately qualified as 'Queen of the Half -Witted' (even more so in '89 when the students were requesting directions to the 'nearest Internet cafe).' Whilst the first of a few surprises 'the Mac' was perhaps scariest of all, with part of the job involving the creation of an informative, interesting and chatty student  newsletter  - 20-24 pages, produced weekly on 'The Mac'. Once again 'Fear concentrates the mind' as super-technocrat, Doug, put me through my paces.  The first edition, or rather, my first edition, featured, among other riveting pieces, a 'mini-biog. ('You must include a one-page profile of yourself' ) the execution of which had probably involved more energy, bad language and angst, than expended upon the entire construction of the Empire State Building. But after actually getting the thing together, it needed to be printed: one for each student and one for each member of staff: (around 300 that first term). More technology. This time 'A very simple piece of equipment' - a photo-copier - presided over by Pauline, a young Australian girl, from Sydney, whose dry sense of humour often saved the day. Intimately acquainted with all office machinery, Pauline could scarcely believe my effect on 'her' photo-copier (anyone familiar with the Fonda-Parton  film 'Nine-to-Five' will know what I mean) and before long - 'St. Pauline'  would often volunteer her services. But as a complete change from the previous months, no set-up could have served its purpose better.


Get your copy HERE

Tuesday 28 January 2014

NOW IN PAPERBACK - The King's Chalice historical novel

Author: Janet K.L. Seal

After the death of King Alfred, a small town in Wessex is plunged into conflict and kinship rivalry. A royal prince flees leaving his slave behind. Udda lives in hiding but renders a service to a noble.
From slavery to owning land, the Saxon descendants of Udda are involved in murder and conflict in order to keep what is theirs.
Brutal Danish raids threaten the very existence of the family and the town; tales of brutality and cruelty lingering in the memories and sagas of the times. Each successive ruler struggles to impose his will on the people to whom survival is more important than allegiance. Love and duty collide in the brief lifetime of the Saxon people when invasion, plague and hunger are everyday hazards.
Remarkable events follow the owners of the farm, whose loyalty to their King brings riches and tragedy in equal measure.

About the Author
Brought up in Lancashire, followed by boarding school, language school in Switzerland and a secretarial course in London, Janet Seal now lives on the outskirts of Wimborne in East Dorset with her husband. Most of her time is spent writing, researching, gardening or looking after her elderly horse. She leads a U3A debating group and attends a Creative Writing course with the same organisation.

Buy your copy HERE

Monday 27 January 2014

NEW BOOK - Leopardkill

NEW BOOK - Leopardkill
A thrilling war novel set against the dramatic backdrop of the Peninsular War that saw a small British force pitched against Napoleon’s Grande Armee.

It is Autumn 1808. The French army is gone from Portugal...except for one man. And what he has stolen is deadly secret.

Sergeant Joshua Lock and Captain the Honourable John Killen pursue the spy deep into Spain ahead of Sir John Moore’s British army - a force now ordered to fight the French alongside native troops. But instead of helping their new allies, the Spaniards seem to have turned against them.

Their quarry still free, Killen’s discovery of Lock’s affair with a fellow officer’s wife drives the childhood friends apart as savage winter storms grip the Galician mountains. With discipline breaking down, and Spain’s armies in disarray, every man must decide for himself - who is friend and who is foe? Should the outnumbered, starving British stand and fight, or run for the sea, and home?

Whilst unbeknown to the bickering allies, Bonaparte himself is storming through Spain with but a single destroy every ‘mangy English leopard.’

Meticulously researched to be historically and militarily accurate, this dashing novel of cavalrymen at war is written by an expert horseman.

About the Author
Jonathan Hopkins has worked in occupations as diverse as bulk tanker loader and kitchen designer, but since 2001 has fitted and repaired saddles professionally.
A lifelong horse-keeper and long term chair of an affiliated riding club close to his home in South Wales, his interest in the cavalrymen who served under the Duke of Wellington originally grew out of research into saddlery worn by troop horses, for which there are no surviving patterns.
Leopardkill is his second published novel.


Tenderloin of Pork with Apples and Calvados (serves 4)

Tenderloin of Pork with Apples and Calvados (serves 4)
500grm pork tenderloin trimmed and sliced downwards into 6 pieces. Batten until thin.
100grm unsalted butter
250mls double cream
3 tabsp. Calvados
3 large Golden Delicious apples – peeled, cored, quartered and thickly sliced,extra butter for cooking. Fry over low heat until soft: reserve.
Season pork slices and flour lightly. Melt butter and saute pork over fairly high heat -3mins each side. Pour over Calvados or Brandy and flambe. Pour over cream. Reduce heat and leave for 5/10 mins.  Lift out pork  onto hot serving dish – spoon sauce over and garnish with apple slices.  


Friday 24 January 2014

The King's Chalice - Reading Notes

A list of fictional characters in the historical novel, The King's Chalice.



Udda – First owner of Uddings

Udric – son of Udda and late wife Galena

Edith – Udric’s wife, granddaughter of Thegn Algar

Odda – son of Udric + Edith

Aelfred – second son of Udric + Edith

*Aeflaed– Udric’s sister, married Coran from the Danelands

*Gerhard – Father of Galena

*Bata -   Priest at Sexpenna Hanlega

Owen – slave then Steward of Uddings

Alana – Owen’s wife

Owenson – son of Owen + Alana

*Garth – new owner of forfeited Woodcutts farm

*Edwin of Wymburne – trader

Aethelflaed – Udric + Edith’s daughter married Hal

Hal – of Danish descent, a younger son of Vann marries Aethelflaed

Udda – son of Hal and Aethelflaed

Edith – daughter of Hal and Aethelflaed

*Vann of Woodcutts, Hal’s father

*Dicon, Vann’s eldest son

*Richard – neighbouring farmer

Udric – son of Brith and Aelfric of Uddings

Brith – daughter of Brithric, Keeper of Cranborne Forest

William of Chalberie

Brithricson, son of Brithric

*Serian – leader of King Edward’s guards

Wain – ox driver on Corfe lands

Emma – Wain’s daughter, marries Udric of Uddings

Young Owen, descendant of Owenson

Alfan – daughter of Udric and Emma, marries Edwin a clerk

*Cynric – King’s stableman at Kingston

*Olaf, a skilled Danish metal worker in Wimborne

Gilda - an orphan, married Thegn Aelfred of Uddings

Edward – son of Aelfred + Gilda

Wulfsiga – daughter of Aelfred + Gilda

*Thoredson, A Danish noble’s son forced to marry Wulfsiga

*Thurkil – a Danish noble

*Master Catchpole – a fisherman of Wimborne

William – ward of Wulfwen of Canford, brother of Gilda

Owenson – descendant of Steward’s of Uddings

Owain – son of Owenson, marries Aila

Eadwine – younger son of Owenson

Dai – son of Owain

Aluric – younger son of Owain of Uddings

Elida – sister of William of Hame, handfast to Aluric

After the death of King Alfred, a small town in Wessex is plunged into conflict and kinship rivalry. A royal prince flees leaving his slave behind. Udda lives in hiding but renders a service to a noble.
From slavery to owning land, the Saxon descendants of Udda are involved in murder and conflict in order to keep what is theirs.
Brutal Danish raids threaten the very existence of the family and the town; tales of brutality and cruelty lingering in the memories and sagas of the times. Each successive ruler struggles to impose his will on the people to whom survival is more important than allegiance. Love and duty collide in the brief lifetime of the Saxon people when invasion, plague and hunger are everyday hazards.
Remarkable events follow the owners of the farm, whose loyalty to their King brings riches and tragedy in equal measure.

About the Author
Brought up in Lancashire, followed by boarding school, language school in Switzerland and a secretarial course in London, Janet Seal now lives on the outskirts of Wimborne in East Dorset with her husband. Most of her time is spent writing, researching, gardening or looking after her elderly horse. She leads a U3A debating group and attends a Creative Writing course with the same organisation.

Buy your copy HERE

Thursday 23 January 2014

Xmas 1981 and the Goldfish

With us, Mother plus friend and children plus friends, we'd be ten for Christmas. It might well have been more but due to limitations (builders, plumbers, plasterer and unfinished kitchen) we stopped there.
Our jolly boys, the builders, moved in to No. 2 shortly after we'd stacked the final suitcase; and promptly took over the kitchen. We subsequently operated from the extension bedroom, which for reasons unknown housed a stainless-steel sink and draining-board. The previous owner, in reply to my puzzled 'Oh. A sink. And draining-board?'  had simply replied  'I always feel it's rather useful to have a sink in a bedroom, don't you ?..'And at that time it suited us well as with a small kitchen table, the chairs and the elderly gas cooker 'left' in the original kitchen and soon re-sited,  we were able to  muddle along until downstairs was workable.
November-and with energy and staying power in short supply, having promised ourselves to 'Make up for it next year,' our 25th  wedding anniversary was celebrated quietly, No party - just a meal for two and a trip to the theatre : the words 'Harvest Supper' strike a limited chord ...obviously not very memorable. But what a hurdle...
Christmas '81 promised to be white, the first spread of pristine, snowy loveliness appearing overnight, sometime in late November. Yesterday's grassy rectangle, as yet unmarked bar a few bird tracks, now sparkled brilliantly in the rays of bright morning sun streaming through the branches of the tall  Plane trees, apparently one of the few arboreal specimens sufficiently hardy to survive the pollutants of the Industrial Revolution. In a rare moment of inactivity, I stood gazing through our grimy study window, speculating the future.
Admiration for the Christmas card  vision however, rapidly disappeared  as, despite the delights of a super-efficient central heating system, the increasing snowfalls led to more and more inconvenience. The builders were  - well builders - and as is their wont, liable to vanishfor hours 'For supplies'  leaving, if I was lucky, one lone worker (always 'I' as G., relishing his new job,disappeared promptly at 8:30am to his palatial office at the Tower (what I wouldn't have given, then, for an office). But by week 3, desperate for a workable kitchen for Christmas, my ultimatum finally sank in. 'No worker leaves this house accompanied or all teas, coffees, bacon butties, or Friday bottle of vino will cease .OK?...' In reality they were good boys and fun, but the kitchen and downstairs loo had to be operational by Christmas and the present arrangement, useful though it was at the time, replaced.
With various rooms re-carpeted, our remaining boxes and furniture appeared on 18th December at 7pm, delivered by two large vans from the Brighton repository, both vehicles having broken down en route, along with one of the van heaters. The shivering, but stoic crew, thawed out with hot soup, had gratefully accepted our offers of a hand with the unloading and two hours later were back on the road. They'd done a great job, never once complaining when G. returned several items 'For the next house auction' with a puzzled
'Why on earth did we store this?' Amongst the returns were four lawn mowers...Four mowers. To this day, one of life's little mysteries
With the certainty increasing by the hour, that our lives were fast approaching their end, No.2 gradually took on one of its own, lending itself to the red bows and mass of greenery I'd thrown up everywhere. By 22 December, G's birthday, having dressed the tree, we wandered off to celebrate in a friendly local restaurant, joined by Dom and Charlotte, now working in London and Simon, further afield in Brighton where he beavered for a publisher. The festivities loomed and in less than forty-eight hours there would be ten of us... Short of turning  into the Christmas fairy, I'd no idea how - or indeed if - it would all gel. But with chimneys swept and the thermostats lowered, we lit our first real fire, switched on the tree lights and after a king-sized fish-pie in the as-yet-undecorated-but-heaped-with-candles dining-room,  managed to make the Tower by 11:30 for the first of many moving and soothing Christmas Eve midnight services.

Get your copy HERE

Tuesday 21 January 2014

NEW BOOK - The Battle of Bosworth and teh Burial of King Richard III

NEW BOOK - The Battle of Bosworth and teh Burial of King Richard III

A book dedicated to the Battle of Bosworth, the key turning point in the closing stages of the Wars of the Roses, together with the burial and rediscovery of the body of King Richard III.
The Wars of the Roses had torn England apart for 25 years when they came to a bloody and decisive ending at Bosworth in Leicestershire in 1485. Kings, dukes, earls and thousands of men had been slaughtered on the battlefield, executed after brief trials or butchered out of hand. Some of the greatest families in the land had been wiped out. It all came to a mighty climax in August 1485 in the countryside of Leicestershire.
Now five centuries later, interest in the battle has been revived by the surprise discovery of the body of King Richard III in a Leicester car park.
This book brings an exciting new look to the Wars of the Roses. The course of the war is given, but the emphasis is on the battle and the men who fought there. The course of the battle is followed with the aid of maps, relating to the ground today. The aftermath of the battle, its effects and importance to the progress of the war are then described.


Chapter 1     The Wars of the Roses   
Chapter 2     The March to Bosworth   
Chapter 3     Men, Weapons and Tactics   
Chapter 4     Commanders at Bosworth   
Chapter 5     The Battle of Bosworth   
Chapter 6    The Burial and Discovery of King Richard III   

Get your copy HERE

Monday 20 January 2014

Masala Prawns

Masala Prawns (for 4)
28 raw prawns, cleaned and de-veined,  larger than our natives, but not huge!
2 med-sized minced onions
1tin chopped tomatoes
2 t.sp. Dried coriander
1 t.sp. Garam Masala spice
Half tsp. Chilli powder + 4 garlic cloves & piece fresh ginger minced or grated finely
Salt to taste.
Mix coriander, garam masala spice, chilli, salt and prawns and leave in fridge for 1 hr.
Fry onions, ginger and garlic gently together until just brown. Add prawns/spice mix, then tomatoes and pinch of sugar. Add cup of water and heat gently until prawns cooked.
Serve with plain boiled rice.


Buy your copy HERE

NEW EBOOK - Does microwaved water damage plants? - Part of the Dr Duncan’s Fun Lab Series

Author: Duncan Westland

Dr Duncan’s Fun Lab is a series of ebooks, each of which features a fun and educational science experiment to do at home.
It is well known that powerful microwaves can be dangerous in some circumstances. It is for this reason that microwave ovens that have been damaged, perhaps by dropping them, should be disposed of.
There have been some concerns raised that water or other materials that have been heated in a microwave oven may have suffered damage. It has been suggested that the chemical composition of the object may have been permanently damaged, with harmful effects to anyone who then eats that food.
Scientists do experiments to answer questions like this.  This experiment has been designed to try and answer the question “Does watering plants with microwaved water stunt their growth?”
Series consultant: Dr Duncan Westland MBCS, MBA, MA, D.Phil.

Buy your kindle version HERE

Friday 17 January 2014

Spinach, Cream Cheese and Prawn - or Smoked Salmon - Roulade,

Spinach, Cream Cheese and Prawn - or Smoked Salmon - Roulade,
Serve as Starter, or part of a Summer buffet.
Heat oven to 190c and line a 12x8 swiss-roll tin with lightly greased Bakewell paper.
Four separated eggs.2 level tabsp. grated parmesan cheese. 1 med tub cream cheese + 200grm.drained Prawns ('Maine' are best' from 'best' supermkt.) or 200grms.smoked salmon.200grm cooked, chopped spinach.
175grm drained weight cottage cheese.30grm each of butter and plain flour and a little milk. I med-sized finely chopped onion, softened in a little oil
Melt butter, stir in flour and then milk to make small quantity of  thick-ish sauce. Season well and set aside. Blend spinach with one generous tabsp. sauce and the egg yolks and onion - season with pepper and grated nutmeg and fold in parmesan and cottage cheese.
Fold in stiffly beaten egg-whites. Spread mixture evenly into tin and bake for 15 mins. Remove and cover with clean T towel  - cool, and invert onto a table: T towel at bottom.
When cold, trim edges. spread over cream cheese and prawns or smoked  salmon. Make a nick about 4cm along roll-up edge and roll roulade. with help of t. towel
Decorate as desired and serve in slices.


Thursday 16 January 2014

Army Posting to Yorkshire

As the train pulled into Darlington station, both children and I decided we rather liked the look of Yorkshire. Met by G., already installed and unloaded, we caught up on the previous couple of days whilst taking in the scenery on the drive to Rawlinson Road. Although still a Captain, G had been allocated a Major's quarter. At the end of the short, cherry-tree lined drive, stood a low, two-storied, red-brick semi, separated from our neighbour by a high hedge and fronted by a thriving rockery and lawn, prompting a 'Great' from Simon. 'Space for a Badminton net.'
Apart from a double-aspect sitting-room, a utility-room and a fourth bedroom,' G had replied, when quizzed on the homeward journey 'The house follows the usual pattern... Sorry. No central heating. But it's on the cards...' Ah. 'And I've made up all our beds. But before we go in I'll just mention that decorators have been promised. Due in about three weeks.' Ah, again...But it had a friendly look. At least from the outside. Once inside however the hands of friendship remained firmly clenched as we surveyed our new living quarters, succinctly cursing the previous occupants whose two, perhaps three years worth, of accumulated dirt and dross was all too evident.
A year of real change. In less than a month, with Dom at the local school, and Simon in his last but one term at St. D's. late September found G. preparing for the first of the regiment's Belfast tours. I suspected he'd been warned sometime prior to us leaving Berlin - such moves being planned well in advance - but considerately, had said nothing. And so began the start of the soon to become familiar pattern of what the family referred to as 'Bog-Trotting'. The regiment would remain in Catterick for almost four years, although we were posted  - a Staff job for G - after three and a half. During this time, six tours in Northern Ireland would have been completed, plus exercises in Denmark and Canada.
As several of these tours turned out to be closer together than one might have expected, welfare problems grew rapidly. That first year, with the men away for both Christmas and Easter, some families, having bravely arranged short summer holidays, were forced to cancel as, after just weeks back in England, the men were again en route to N.I. for an 'Emergency  three weeks, or so' - the 'Or so' turning out to be another full four months.
With the house scoured, painted and boasting the novelty of carpets and curtains which for once, failed to clash, our limited spare time before G. left, was spent exploring. Close by, situated at the edge of the beautiful N. Yorks Dales,was Richmond, a small, ancient, friendly market town, whose famous bridge spans the picturesque river Swale. After two years of big-city life we appreciated the change, immediately falling for the broad, surrounding stretches of wild countryside, delightful small towns and villages, and exquisite ruins, all of which oozed history.

from SINGING TO THE GOLDFISH by Bev Pettifar

Get your copy HERE

Wednesday 15 January 2014

NEW BOOK - The Roman Gladiator Referee’s Handbook

"Ave Caesar. We who are about to die salute you".  Or maybe not.
Gladiators, lions, tigers, chariot racing, wrestlers, executioners, dancing girls, musicians, comedians, emperors and slaves, the Games had it all. And the referee had to keep them all in order - somehow.
Being a Gladiator Referee was not an easy job what with angry bears, irate emperors and dishonest ticket salesmen. Thank Jupiter for this handbook to help out the novice referee. The reader will be left entertained and enlightened.
Written as if this were the genuine Referee Handbook (the real one was lost centuries ago) this book includes all the rules and helpful hints a referee would need - plus acerbic asides, comments and cartoons by the referee who used it.
The text and illustrations are in an amusing style and will feature plenty of jokey asides, humorous anecdotes and amazing facts, the book is also historically accurate and checked over by an experienced consultant.
Illustrations are by Ken Wilkins, recently retired from the Beano.


1 Good Luck
2 Getting a Job
3 The Munus
4 Gladiators
5 Wild Animal Hunts
6 Chariot Racing
7 Festivals
8 Free Food for All
9 Executions

About the Author

Oliver Hayes is an active historian who has not only written a number of books on military history but also handles and practices with replica weapons and armour - including those of ancient Rome. He also has two children, both fascinated by history. He is therefore uniquely placed to produce a book of this type.

Buy your copy HERE

Choccie Cake Recipe

Best Choccie Cake for Boys (2 loose-bottom cake tins 3cm deep)
30grm.cocoa, 100grm. golden syrup, 75g light muscovado sugar, 1 teasp. Bi-carbonate-of-soda, 100grm dark choc, melted in bowl over simmering water and cooled,125grm diced unsalted butter, plus some for greasing tins, 2 separated eggs, 1 teasp. vanilla essence, 150 grm. plain flour, pinch salt. Preheat oven to 170c(fan) and grease cake tins.
Place cocoa, syrup, sugar and 50ml water & bring to boil, whisking till smooth, stir in bi-carb. Mixture will froth up :leave to cool, maybe 30 mins. Blend butter with egg yolks until pale then blend in melted chocolate followed by cocoa mixture and vanilla. Blend in flour and salt. Transfer to larger bowl and fold in stiffly beaten egg-whites. Divide evenly into tins, smooth surface and cook until just shrinking from sides of time 20 or so mins.  FROSTING: Melt 200grm dark choc.with 30 grm. unsalted butter over pan of simmering water, stir until smooth. Combine 50grm cocoa with 2 tabsp. golden syrup and 100mls water  heat to almost boiling point, whisking constantly. Combine with  melted choc and slowly whisk in 90mls double cream. Sandwich cooled cakes together, then spread on top and sides.


Get your copy HERE

Tuesday 14 January 2014

Leave Interrupted - Singing to the Goldfish

Now old hands at the game, we arrived without incident, in Watchet, on a sunny day in late August. Our quarter, the usual three-bed, red-brick, metal window-framed (another freezing winter) slightly larger estate-type house, was sparklingly clean; such a bonus meaning we could start on the boxes almost immediately. Once unpacked, despite noticing that we were sorely in need of a visit from the decorators, overall, we decided, everything could have been far worse. In Sutton, we'd acquired a little furniture of our own, at country auctions, and Mother, having once again moved house, during our trips South had been kind enough to hand on not only unwanted goodies of her own but others, gathered from the mass of antique shops and stalls in Brighton and Hove, no doubt flirting madly whilst beating down any hapless male dealers. No one drove a harder bargain with more wit and style.
The previous occupants of our new home now lived - following promotion - immediately opposite, in a similar house but with four-beds and a larger garden. Soon after our arrival, they popped across to introduce themselves and having thanked them for not having to scrub before unpacking (nowhere near as uncommon as one would imagine) daringly mentioned how startled we'd been upon finding a series of deep holes in both front and rear gardens. Somewhat shamefacedly, they admitted to digging up their recently planted new rose-bushes. 'We were damned if we were going to leave them'. Fair enough.
G. was now, officially, on leave. Something of a rarity in our lives. In my entire time as an army wife - twenty four years - he never once, not ever, took his full entitlement. However, within eight days of our settling in, he announced one morning 'What about a holiday'. Just like that. The final decision was coastal West Wales, a favourite with us both and where I'd spent time as a child. Within 24hrs. Mr. Fixit had booked us into what sounded like excellent farmhouse accommodation, which as well as being close to several lovely beaches and the small town of Cardigan - home to several family friends - was less than  a three hour drive away.
And so began the first of a series of visits to Penrallt Ceibwr Farm, a great establishment held together by the hospitable Fletcher family, for many years uncomplaining hosts to children and pets, young and old, and providers of homely surroundings, comfortable beds and fabulous food.
On day four, installed happily on a beach, digesting our delicious packed lunch, I spotted a lone figure in a blue uniform carrying, what appeared to be a large pair of black boots. Every few yards, the figure would stop and bend to speak to various people who all appeared to reply with a shake of their heads. Alarm-bell time again. Hadn't there been something on the car radio concerning Gen. Franco of Spain, threatening to invade Gibral- tar... I sighed. It had been good while it lasted. As the figure came closer, I nudged G.
'There's a man in blue on the horizon and I think he's after you'.
'Rubbish' he said, easing himself up onto his elbows.
We listened as he addressed the male half of a nearby couple  'Are you Captain Pettifar'?
'There you go' I said brightly, seeing the remnants of our holiday float slowly off into the hinterland. G. rose to his feet.
Delighted to have found us, our policeman smiled, before saying slowly and gravely, as if about to announce Armageddon. 'I've notice, from the War Office. You've got to get back to barracks as soon as you can. They didn't say why... Must be serious though'. Upset for us all, but mostly for the children, my own reaction was far less restrained. 'Oh, bugger bloody Franco'. G. looking puzzled, turned to me, saying 'Who mentioned Franco?


Get your copy HERE

Monday 13 January 2014


Our book "Para-News" now has its own website

Most people will have heard of UFOs, ghosts and yetis, but what about the wilder shores of the paranormal, the conspiracy theorists and down right bizarre? In this book, one of the world’s leading and most prolific paranormal bloggers takes readers on a voyage of discovery like no other ever written.

The key players are interviewed, explaining their views on the JFK assassination, the shadowy and sinister Illuminati, the influential Bilderberg Group, allegations of an incipient New World Order, cover ups and how hidden messages can be found in Hollywood movies such as Blade Runner and TV shows including the X-Files. Dean Haglund, Richard Dolan, Steve Watson, Richard Holland, Nick Pope, Timucin Leflef, Bryce Zabel, Christopher Knowles and Nick Redfern are all here.

The book takes a critical look at timeslips, ghosts, UFOs, cryptids, mind control, aliens, disinformation, black-ops, the Bermuda Triangle and a host of other paranormal phenomena.

“If your interests include (A) strange and ominous beasts of a type that science says cannot, and do not exist, but that cryptozoologists say otherwise; (B) weird and enigmatic outer-space conspiracies; (C) the intricacies of time-travel; (D) spooks and spectres from the other side; (E) the way in which science-fiction and science-fact often cross paths to truly astonishing degrees; and (F) and the ominous Orwellian road that our society seems to be evermore traveling down, then this is most certainly the book for you!”
– Nick Redfern, author of The Real Men in Black and Space Girl Dead on Spaghetti Junction.

About the Author
RICHARD THOMAS is a freelance feature writer specialising in Fortean subjects. Richard has written for high street magazines, including Alien Worlds Magazine, Paranormal Magazine and UFO Matrix Magazine. He is also a blogger for UFOMystic and Binnall of America. In addition to writing about the paranormal and unexplained, Richard also writes a column entitled “Big Day Out” for the South Wales Evening Post, Wales’ largest circulation newspaper. His website is at

Oxtail Casserole

Oxtail Casserole (for 4)
3 large onions  + 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced +1 large red pepper, thinly sliced and de-seeded.
2 tabsp. Olive oil
Heat oil and add 1kilo oxtail - brown all over  - remove; then add onions, garlicand pepper to oil - cook until soft and browned. Transfer to casserole dish. Then stir in  the following and season :
Juice and grated rind of an orange
120g pitted prunes – halved
3 bay leaves
260mls dry cider
Teasp. Juniper berries
I tin chopped tomatoes.
Heat oven to 230c. Put covered casserole on shelf and cook for about 20 mins, till liquid just bubbling. Then turn down heat to 135c and continue cooking for 2 and a half hrs, or longer if oxtail tough. Test with a fork.


Get your copy HERE

Sunday 12 January 2014

NEW WEBSITE - SciFi Worlds

Author Richard Thomas has a new website about SciFi Worlds. Visit it here:

G' Bonus - Singing to Goldfish

At the time it never occurred to either of us that part of G's bonus might have bought a decent dinner service or some rugs, or bed linen. We simply took advantage of the fact that everything was 'issued' from floor-cloths upwards, and were prepared to survive on it all for a while. However, our quiet nuptials, attended by just a handful of family and one good friend (the regiment being otherwise engaged in Egypt) meant few gifts; although the girls at work had sweetly clubbed together and presented me with a green-faced, wooden clock which ticked away noisily for years. Not that any of it mattered and the small cheque, rather reluctantly handed over with a sigh, by Mother, and which I  (ungraciously) almost refused, still sat untouched in our account. Having enjoyed a seven day honeymoon at a small hotel we simply consid­ered ourselves lucky, especially when Mother-in-law kindly donated a lovely silver tea-caddy, as well as an antique china tea-service, both of which had once belonged to G's paternal grandmother.
With so few possessions, our No.1 move was uneventful, but wishing to get it over with, G. hired a car. As our allocated quarter in the Tower was being re-decorated (another bonus), for a few weeks we'd be renting a "Hiring" in, amazingly, Clapham Common. This small furnished flat, one of several privately-owned properties rented by the Military to offset a shortage of army housing, consisted of three rooms in the top of a private house, plus bath. There, our shared hot tubs took on pantomime proportions as we peered at each other through the moist clouds of hot fog belching from the ancient gas geyser. Both guardian angels must have been on extra-special duty as we finally managed to exit without the wretched thing actually exploding. For years I expected to come across the headline 'Vintage Geyser Wrecks London Flat.' Not that anything really mattered. We loved it, and for the first week or so I rose with my bemused husband at six, presenting him with a cooked breakfast, until one morning he said  'Please go back to bed, I'm fine with toast'. Oh joy.
Time passed uneventfully. Having first cleaned through (happily polishing the kitchen floor on my hands and knees to which Mother's answer was 'You quite obviously need a psychiatrist') I'd take off, with a friend, to the launderette or to Brixton Market, where, feeling very grown up, we'd root around for hours. It was then back to the kitchen for supper preparations and (yes!) Mrs Dale's Diary.
One of G's supper favourites (then) was a bacon and onion pudding - a mix of bacon, sliced onions and tomatoes, encased in a suet roll and boiled/steamed for about two hours; a recipe from his Mother and described by mine as 'That bacon house-brick thing.' I soon learned to jazz it up with extra everything, plus a few herbs and lighter pastry, but it didn't appear on our menu often, although I was fast becoming an expert on thrifty meals.


Thursday 9 January 2014

Becoming an Army Wife

But outside of work, life was moving on. Soon after the Suez crisis began, sometime in late summer, the regiment was warned for standby. Should either sickness or welfare problems affect any of the senior N.C.O's - Non-Commisioned-Officers - thus keeping them behind, G. would be called forward as a replacement: selfishly, we kept all fingers and toes tightly crossed - although the possibility of us ever actually getting to either Registry Office or altar was becoming increasingly unlikely.
Then G. was told that shortly, a two-bed, centrally-heated (in 1956!) fully-furnished quarter, in the Tower of London could be ours, provided we were spliced. And  rules were rules. We decided that once again, I should seek permission; or lose the flat. Following several brief, frosty phone calls, Mama and I met up at a London restaurant where, that particular evening, words, as well as food consumption, were limited and after a scant glance at the consent form  and a -'I've no intention of signing that so you may as well put it away. I"11 have you made a Ward of Court first' - we parted. Miserably, I caught the bus and sat alone, on top, quietly grizzling my way through the journey home.
Later, after talking things through we decided to present our case at the Magistrates Court: a difficult and reluctant decision but Mother and I shared the same stubborn streak. How- ever, needing advice, the following morning I rang a family friend - Mother's solicitor - an elegant, urbane Welshman who immediately invited us to his home for supper. There, having first calmly and 'Sorry darling' questioned me at length, he smiled at my 'No, I'm truly not pregnant, not even a teeny bit' before turning to George. Some­where around eleven, we left, feeling grateful and even a little hopeful.
Some two months later, all was resolved - out of court - and with the form signed, we settled for 10am, Monday, 5th November (negating all future cries of 'Sorry I forgot our  wedding anniversary') at St Pancras Town Hall, before going off to celebrate with a Spag. Bol. at the Bamboo Bar, in Goodge St.: renamed, but amazingly,still there. Deciding to keep things simple, my-never-to-be-described-as-frivolous wedding outfit, consisted of a grey suit and gloves, gunmetal stilettos and clutch bag, and a fuschia hat. The friend who'd promised to bring a camera forgot, so we have absolutely no record of the happy event. My battle-weary Mother - complete with equally dazed-looking friend, along with my younger sister, had - against all odds - appeared for our brief ceremony, doubtless wishing they hadn't, as to Mother's horror, the wedding break­fast amounted to six cups of coffee in a nearby ABC Tearooms. Weakly, she'd announced that 'I really could have done with a large brandy' (seldom can the desire for the soothing qualities of alcohol have been exceeded ) so we suggested they share our cab to Paddington and the joys of the station buffet. Once there and suitably fortified, they waved us off to Penzance, where, thanks to G. having signed on for further military service, a gesture which earned him a bounty of £100:00, we were to spend a week's honeymoon.
I was now an army wife.

from SINGING TO THE GOLDFISH by Bev Pettifar

Buy your copy HERE