Meanwhile, over in Spain

Daughter reports…

She’s going to Cadiz.


To a very special water park.

Is it the one where they film the children’s television programme La Banda? I ask.

Oh, Dad!



And she’s going to try out as a Majorette, just as soon as they’ve tracked down where this thing occurs – Juviles or Cadiar or maybe somewhere else.

She’s enjoying her school holidays – and thinks she’s done well in her examinations.

I’m sure she has, she’s bright.

I’d love to get over there to see her but there’s two chances of that happening right now; slim and no – and slim’s just left town.

Oh well.

Soon as I can then.


Monday evening blues

The Lovely S.


And I can’t be there – in Worcestershire – to give her the support and comfort that she needs.

This sucks.

It’s official.

You can quote me.

My poor girl, she sounded so… cast away, isolated.

And there’s other stuff…

I discovered this evening (I’ve been doing my books – break out the rum rations!) that the agency I’m working for down here has been paying me Net of VAT.

So I’m going to have to ring them tomorrow and sort it out.

I hate talking about money, but…

If these people don’t cough up my VAT I’m probably going to have to hand in my notice; there’s no way I can sustain paying 17.5% tax on a Net earning on what is the lowest rate I’ve ever accepted.

So all in all I’m feeling a little subdued too.

Wish I could just get in the car and go home.

We’ll see how I feel tomorrow.


Last night…


I woke up this morning – ten minutes before the alarm – feeling as though I’d run a hard road race yesterday.

Except I hadn’t.

My calves ache, my legs are a little stiff and I have that tightness across the small of my back that I usually get the day after five miles of roadwork.

But the most strenuous thing I did yesterday was, erm…


I wish I knew what my psyche put my body through while I’m asleep.

I’d really like to know how I can feel this ropey after a good night’s rest!


Book review: Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

In many ways this is the ultimate children’s adventure:

Pirates, natives, exploration, tension, scary scenes, humiliation, exhilaration, excitement, battle, peace-making, new enemies, new friends and above all…


Freedom from the normal world.

In Swallows and Amazons the protagonists inhabit two worlds.

In the first they are family members bound by the usual restrictions that brothers and sisters – on holiday in the Lake District with their mother and not-yet-toddler sister – have.

And then they discover Swallow, a small sailing dingy ocean-going schooner in which they sail on to Wild Cat Island and set up base.

With their island base established, the adventures come thick and fast.

Excellently told, though some might say this book could be a little clumsy and that the use of sailing slang might be a barrier.

Some might try Swallows and Amazons and say that the terminology would be an obstacle to young readers.

I would argue otherwise, for surely even the widely-read (and much inferior) Harry Potter has introduced children to a world of muggles, quidditch, etc…

Which makes me wonder what the many Harry Potter readers would think of Swallows and Amazons?

Given the age of the book – published before the 1939-45 war – it has aged very kindly.

Arthur Ransome’s conversational style doesn’t feel like a clunky old black and white movie that some books of this time have.

The writing is a little ‘old’ in one or two places but these few patches don’t spoil the overall delivery.

Nor do they interfere with the pace.

And I’d forgotten what a major influence this book had been on my childhood; because of this book I saved my summer holiday pay and bought a dingy and in later life learned to sail.

Swallows and Amazons, much better than Harry Potter.


Food glorious food?

I just don’t get this…

Müller Light Yoghurts.

I can’t eat them, being a vegetarian.

Because Müller Light Yoghurts contain gelatine.

A yoghurt product?

Containing gelatine?


Is it any wonder that our food chain is so screwed up if a natural food like yoghurt contains animal parts?



To the theatre…

On Thursday The Lovely S and I had an evening in the West End.

A meal at Bertorolli’s followed by…

Monty Python’s Spamalot!

What can I say?

OK, I’ll do the obvious.

If you’re thinking of going to see this piece of musical theatre…

Don’t go.

Don’t go unless you expect to laugh so much you are willing to be considered to be a total embarrassment by the person sitting next to you

But you won’t be because the person sitting next to you will also be laughing loud, hard and long.

No, don’t go.

Not unless you expect to see a wonderfully sung, acted and staged piece of work.




The definition of purgatory is…


In Worcester.

On a Saturday.

On a wet Saturday.

When every chav in the county under the age of 16 is also there.

With his/her kids (really!).

Mission accomplished in part though: stuff needed was bought.

But what an awful place the centre of Worcester can be.


A flying visit to the yard…

Dodging the many thunderstorms The Lovely S and I stopped off at the yard on the way back from shopping in Worcester yesterday.

Unsurprisingly we were the only ones there.

Beech – as soon as he saw me – called out as if I was his long lost friend.

Perhaps he knew I had apples for him.

Surprisingly he doesn’t look in bad nick.

Beech drops weight worryingly easily, he gets stressed and he’s never been the world’s best eater.

At this time of year he’s usually looking his best but a couple of months of enforced box rest has left his coat looking scurfy and slightly dull.

His eyes are clear though; he’s as alert and interested in everything that’s going on around him as Beech usually is.

But he looks fed up; let’s face it, enforced box rest for months on end during the peak grass season…

Poor love.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on the yard…

The lorry has had a visit from the signwriter.

The url for the main website ( is now blocked out in six-inch-high letters on the rear and both sides of the horsebox.

As anyone who has achieved publication will tell you, an author is expected to undertake a programme of self-promotion.

My cunning plan (Baldrick) is that the lorry will act as a mobile advertising bulletin board,

As we travel around people will see the website address and (hopefully) check out what it’s all about.

I’m not really aiming to increase book sales for Crossing The Line.

All I’d like to achieve is to get the ‘brand name’ (to use the marketing cliché) further out in to the potential market-place.


Holding out for a Hero

there’s been so much going on I’ll have to do a piece-meal catch-up

We spent yesterday evening at Stafford (not Stratford!) Castle, Staffordshire.

First we stopped off for an early evening meal at the Yew Tree Inn, a brilliant little ‘find’ tucked away in the countryside.

Sadly the options available to me lacked choice but the one vegetarian dish on the menu was absolutely brilliant.

After the meal we drove to the Castle where we enjoyed an open air production of ‘Much Ado About Nothing‘.

I’m not going to review the play, I’m not as qualified as The Lovely S.

I will say that I enjoyed it; the front- and back-of-house team made the comedy come alive.

The worst of the rainy/windy weather held off, and we drove home full of comment and conversation about the wonderful evening we’d just enjoyed.


Although I enjoyed the play…

I feel as though Shakespeare could have done with a bloody good editor.

Some of the scenes were overlong, too wordy and not particularly focussed on the plot.

But it wasn’t a bad Saturday evening.

I feel very sanctimonious having not spent the evening lounging about in front of the television!


Five and a half hours…

No, not a title for a rude film.

It’s the amount of time that it took to drive from Docklands to our home in Worcestershire yesterday.

Or, to put it another way, we travelled for five and a half hours at an average speed that was a fraction over 27 miles per hour.

Welcome to the 21st century…

It’s just such a shame that this 21st century doesn’t have any of the swooshing about in unbeleivably fast transport capsules that I was promised when I was a boy.

In our 21st century it takes three hours to get from east London to Oxford.

Dick Turpin did it quicker on Black Bess!