Archive for March, 2011

A weekend retreat house with fish and dogs!

March 27, 2011

A weekend retreat-conference never to be forgotten

Notepad ready. So far all in the head!

We arrived early Friday evening. It was dark, cold and wet. The place stank of fish. My husband carried my case up to the small bedroom as directed by the strange overweight woman dressed in black. Before she left us, she showed me the nearest toilet on the landing. It was small with the lavatory under a sloping ceiling. She reached over to the toilet and lifted up both seat and cover.
“I keep telling them to leave the seat up,” she said crossly.
I wondered why that should be so. Usually people prefer to lower the cover to keep in smells. I came to the conclusion that with the ceiling being low, it required men to either kneel as though in prayer, or bend the knees in order to aim without head bumping on the ceiling. And if this was not done — perhaps because of infirmity — the toilet seat, if left in place, received an unexpected shower. Not nice for us ladies who have no hose to direct at the porcelain.
Back to the bedroom for my husband to wish me a good weekend and say goodbye. First, because of the freezing cold room, he tried to close the rattling window. No use, there appeared to be a permanent gap as the ancient window, with its small leaded panes, had distorted with age. (Mm, I know how that feels!)
A notice on the wall informed me of water-bottles in the kitchen that could be borrowed to make the guest’s stay more comfortable. I was beginning to wonder if we had entered Wuthering Heights by mistake.
I walked with my husband down the stairs and to the front door. I would have liked to have driven home with him. I might have been staying in an old picturesque building, but home had all the comforts.
I made my way to the sitting room through a miasma of stinking fish. I could hear the hounds of hell barking somewhere in the house. Another inmate informed me to keep clear of the two Alsatian dogs that were either tied up or inside the kitchen but occasionally escaped to other areas. The poor chap had actually been bitten by one of them and was clearly terrified of it happening again. Was that why he carried around his impressive posh walking stick? Or did he fancy himself as a proper gent. Maybe he had a medical problem that popped up from time to time.
Others arrived and joined us for a warm-up before dinner.
Like the walking stick guy, they had been there before and warned me of various matters.
On Fridays, I could expect fish pie served for dinner. Hence the stink of fish combined with a doggy smell. I was told NEVER to look inside the kitchen when the door opened while we sat at table in the dining room. If I saw inside the place where they prepared food, cooked, washed up and kept the dogs, I would prefer to go hungry.
I got a hint of what the kitchen might be like when we sat cramped together at one of the tables in the dining room. Immediately next to us, hamsters were racing round a wheel on a chest of drawers we were pushed up against. Hamster food scattered all over. The breakfast cereal boxes, kept there ready for the morning, had been chewed at the corners by mice. Some cutlery bore remnants of the last meal and plates had dirty watermarks — no rinsing there! The two devout ladies who ran the retreat house were constantly arguing. Clearly, being oversized and religious did not produce the harmony one might expect. No cheerful friars or chip-monks in that kitchen! The sounds of a hectic lifestyle, like the cooking smells, escaped the kitchen every time the door opened.
The meetings were held in a converted building across the yard. Plain, stark and uncomfortable. What did we learn? I’m sure it was appropriately erudite. Did we bond? Not a lot. Fortunately our venue changed and us with it.
It is a long time since I was on that training course, now my writing is creative rather than factual note taking, essays or sermons! Go to my Magpies Nest Publishing site for chapters, reviews and details about my books. (Some in pen names) Or my author site for extra details and a chance to comment. Having signed up with Dare Empire Media, my trilogy and The Dark Mirror are now available as inexpensive eBooks — cheap, quick to purchase and readily available on your lap top for tea breaks, odd moments, and train travel! Kindle versions available too.

June awakens to love but a fashion career is her ambition

June realises fashion can be seductive

June finds herself in a game of winner takes all

Deception, entrapment, betrayal. Can love survive in a judgmental world?

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Into The Blast

March 23, 2011

Into The Blast

Not a novel but a rather novel detective story! An intriguing pageturner that can only be compared with those modern writers who delve into history seeking answers to unsolved crimes. Only with this one, most people who knew the dead suspect were still alive to be interviewed.

Writer, Robert Blevins turns detective, and works alongside Skipp Porteous, of Sherlock Investigations.  The dynamic duo put forward what appears to be the final solution to one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of all time — the D B Cooper hijacking of an airliner in 1971 for a $200,000 ransom. We are taken step by step into this intriguing crime. Intriguing, partly because no violence ensued and the man whom Blevins and Porteous puts the finger on, was a kindly person who apparently was a bit of a Samaritan.

This mystery of ‘who was the hijacker D B Cooper?’ now appears to be solved, although the writers accept there can be no absolute certainty.  Even so, following the investigations recoded in this book, Kenneth Christianson appears to be the most likely person.

It becomes clear to the reader that the FBI were totally negligent in their failure to investigate the airline staff. One of the staff was Kenny Christianson, employed as a purser.  This man had received parachute training in the army. He knew everything necessary  for jumping from a plane. And later, he had acquired money from other sources than his low income.

The one big negative in the writing of this book is the failure to wait for the results of a chemical test on the ‘hiding place’ found in the loft of Christianson’s original house before producing the book. The test had been organised during the making of a TV programme  in 2010 concerning the hijacking event. Will the results be published in a future edition?

With or without the test result, a jolly good read, especially for those who enjoy thorough step by step investigations into unsolved mysteries. Lots of photographs too.

Into The Blast — click here, not just for ordering but to find out much more about the writing of book, and it is also possible to hear Blevins being interviewed. Wow, that should get mystery fans reading!

The book is well edited by the author Geoff Nelder.

Spring will soon be here!

March 16, 2011

Coniston Water

Lake Windermere on a sunny day mid-March

Lake Windermere from a moving car

Lake Windermere from a moving car — delightful drive!

Looking towards Lake Windermere and beyond

You don’t exactly get the sharpest photographs while on the move but sometimes it is the only way! We had a drive up to Windermere a couple of days ago and, since it was sunny with a lovely blue sky reflecting in the water, I snapped a few photos. Mostly of Lake Windermere but one looking through bare trees down Coniston Water.
It was a break from writing and book concerns, and of course, necessary household tasks. Did a bit of pruning later on too. Spring is indeed on the way. Daffodil photos next week? Well, it is Spring Day on Monday and our 58th wedding anniversary. How well I remember the cool dull day… looks like being brighter this year though.