Sunday, 26 June 2016

Get your FREE eBook

Get your FREE eBook

I have released a collection of short stories, excerpts, and teasers as a FREE download for anyone who would like a copy. Hosted by bookfunnel, a version is available for all e-readers and there is also a pdf file available if you want to read it on a p.c. And they're not all science-fiction either!
If you would like a copy, just go to this page, enter your email address (so I know where to send it) and you’ll get a link to the host within 24 hours.
If you’re worried about leaving your email address and getting spam messages, I promise that I will never pass your details on, my websites privacy policy is located here
The eBook giveaway is securely hosted by Bookfunnel, who will ensure you get the appropriate file for your device.
I hope you enjoy the stories, any comments will be welcomed.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

No Words

Nothing much to say; our dog Tizer has gone to that great kennel at Rainbow Bridge. 
He loved it here in Brixham, especially at Sharkham and in the sea.

So long, old friend, I'll see you again one day.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Another kitchen gadget

And this time, it's a spiralizer!

I had a practice with a potato, just to see what the cut pieces would come out like

Then it was the turn of a courgette, courgetti time.

And here we go,

I microwaved the courgetti for 2 minutes on high and used it as a base for bolognese made with beef, mushrooms, peppers, onions and garlic in tomato passata. 


Thursday, 16 June 2016

Tales From Norlandia, Part 5

Maloney’s Arm
“Lieutenant Maloney, would you please remove your shirt for me.”
“Not Lieutenant any more, sir, beg pardon. Now I am discharged I am plain Mr. Maloney,” he replied.
A little over six feet tall and heavily built, Maloney radiated military bearing, standing rod-straight, booted feet together.
“Excuse me,” the doctor said, fiddling with the magnifying lenses he wore on a heavy frame. They made his eyes seem huge and pink-tinted, thought Maloney, who had never seen the like before. Some officers wore monocular lenses but he had never seen this contraption fixed on a man’s nose. There was some sort of clockwork, brass and silver at the outside of each lens and it clicked as he fiddled.
Maloney unpinned his left sleeve and let it fall. Taking off his high collar he unbuttoned his shirt with dexterity, before shrugging it off of his shoulders. Clad in a white singlet his proportions were revealed. Massive shoulders and a right arm that was well muscled contrasted with a shrunken left arm, the elbow was present but about an inch below the limb ended in a stump.
The doctor, white coated and greying, was thorough in his examination. He poked and prodded at the stump of the man’s arm with a small metal spike. Occasionally he stopped his prodding and altered something on his lenses. A wire led from this spike to a brass gauge, with numbers behind a thin needle. Each time he jabbed, Maloney winced and the needle jumped. The doctor scribbled some notes and removed the headgear.
“Well!” he said, “The nerves are in good order.”
“I agree,” said Maloney. “I felt each stab of that thing.”
“I’m afraid that was the idea,” the doctor smiled thinly. “It tells me, along with the special filtering in my lenses, that you are an ideal candidate for our latest mechanism.”
Maloney had seen false arms before, ugly things of wood with interchangeable hands for gripping or other tasks. They had leather braces and took hours to fit. He had always thought that he would never wish to be encumbered with one of them. But the man had said ‘latest mechanism,’ maybe it would not be so bad. After all, he had been away for two years, who knew what had been devised.
“Tell me your tale then,” said the doctor. “How did you come to lose the limb?”
Maloney paused, remembering that day; how could he describe it, the heat and the smell of fetid jungle mixed with sweat. And the fear, both his and his men’s, amplified by their togetherness.
“It was in the wars; we were in the Western Isles and were ambushed by wily tribesman. One cut at my pistol arm,” he waved his stump, “my left as it happened.”
The doctor showed interest; in his limited knowledge pistols were a right hand weapon. “Why so?”
The words betrayed his lack of military training, in a world with nearly universal conscription he must have been deferred because of his medical skills. Or perhaps he had family connections.
“Well, I was on the left end of the skirmish line so my right side was blocked by my mate Sapper.”
“Ah, I’m not a military man but I understand.”
“Anyways,” Maloney continued, “the man ran at us with a scream, as they all did. It was meant to unnerve us but after a year of hearing it, we barely noticed. He lopped off my arm and I fell. Sapper raised his pistol and put darts between his eyes which ended his interest in events.” Maloney paused for breath.
The doctor shuddered at the casual description of death and maiming. “Go on,” he prompted.
“Sapper grabbed my arm, what was left of it, and applied pressure. I was fainting but remember his strong grip, ‘We’ll get you out of this,’ he said and whilst he held the vessels closed my mates put a tourniquet on. I fell asleep at that point and when I woke, I was on a hospital ship.”
“So Sapper saved your life then.” The doctor’s voice was admiring. Maloney shrugged his shoulders.
“I had done the same for him more than once and we were comrades; that’s what we all did for each other,” Maloney’s face turned sombre. “It was a grim war, in the shadows and stinking jungles. And all for a few coffee beans.”
The doctor nodded, the news-sheets had been full of the horrors of jungle war and he had seen enough of its wreckage come through his door. But it had given him much valuable experience.
“It sounds trite,” he said, “but the war has been a blessing in a way.”
Maloney turned on him and rose, sarcasm heavy in his voice, “I could have put that in all the letters I used to write, ‘Madam, your son was hacked to pieces today, I’m sorry but it was a blessing.’
“No,” said the doctor, quailing under Maloney’s rage, “you misunderstand me, I abhor the waste of humanity but in the futility of the carnage our knowledge of the human body has advanced. We are able to treat the afflicted so much better because of it. My words are clumsy.”
Maloney had calmed, the man was a civilian so could never understand, but he meant well and was helping in his way. He sat back down.
“I should not lecture you,” he admitted. “I apologise.”
“No need, it was a testing time that civilians cannot understand, all we can do is be grateful and help those who did it for us. And the sharpness of the cut has done you a great service.”
Despite himself and his contempt for the doctor’s attitude Maloney was interested by that comment. “How might that be?” he asked.
“The wound was not left ragged, the nerve ends are clean.” He said no more but turned to his desk, rummaging around in the piles of paper and oddly shaped things.
“Aha, here it is.” He held up a leather hemisphere, polished and studded with brass contacts on the outside. It looked like the bowl of a drinking cup that had been studded with copper nails. Maloney had to ask, “And what would that be?”
“Your future,” said the doctor.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

White Bloomers

I haven't posted on here about bread making for a while, since the unfortunate demise of Well Bread! I have been baking for us but not actually posting it.

I have kept my sourdough starters in the fridge and feed them weekly, this creates about 400g of starter that would otherwise be wasted every time I feed them.

I have used this for battered onion rings,

and for biscuits but this week I put it into the bread I was making to add flavour, not for any raising power as I used instant yeast as well. So here it is a mixture of White, Wholemeal Wheat, Wholemeal Spelt, and Rye starters.

weighing in at 360g that gave me 180g each of flour and water.

I simply made my dough reducing the flour and water by these amounts, to keep the same proportions.

Total Ingredients were 1500g flour (180g from starters), 975g water (180g from starters), 75g Olive Oil and 30g each salt and Instant yeast.

After kneading, I left it to prove in my proving oven, where it got a bit enthusiastic,

you can see the marks made by the top shelf where it rose more than expected.

I divided and shaped it into two loaves and left to rise again while the oven heated up. There was good aeration in the dough.

Then I slashed and baked for 30 minutes at 230°C with steam.

The result was a good loaf, and the crumb was perfect for sandwiches and toast.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Quick update

"The Rocks of Aserol," my next novel will be published on September 1st this year. In advance of that, I sent out a few review copies to gauge the response and also to get some feedback for marketing.

And I'm pleased to say that I have my first independent opinion of the story. You may have seen the full review on my website, but if not, here is the last paragraph, written by a guy called Chris Solaas.

"The Rocks of Aserol is an entertaining read, full of intrigue, action, and a liberal dose of steampunk. It is well-written and immersive, with a love story full of romance and rescue. Five Stars."

I'm so pleased with that, it makes the three years since I started writing the story seem like it was worth it. And it makes me want to push on with the sequel.

You can also catch up with the Flash Fiction vignettes from the world of Aserol, three of which have already been published here. The fourth will be posted on June 16th, and then they will appear fortnightly until publication day on September 1st.

There will be more news on pre-orders as soon as the links are established. And of the launch, which I hope to do 'live' on social media if I can.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Badgers Holt, (Mostly) wordless.

A rather nice place on Dartmoor, where the  east and west tributaries of the River Dart meet.
They have a few Peacocks,

Some Chickens,

Goats and Donkeys  

and some glorious scenery.