"There is just as much horse sense as ever, but the horses have most of it."


No out-and-about adventures this month, which is something of a relief, although maybe my expecting to take Wonky Donk the donkey for a quiet, gentle, stroll up the lane – and Donk deciding it was to be more akin to a 600 yard Uphill Sprint – was a tad unexpected!

I don’t do trotting, jogging or hurrying, especially not when it is up our very steep lane and being towed by an over-eager donkey! Anyone who insists that donkeys are slow old plodders hasn’t seen our Donk in ‘go faster’ mode.

We had an earthquake here one Saturday afternoon – its centre was Swansea, South Wales, but we felt it here in Devon. The rumbling noise was quite scary. 4.5 on the Richter scale I think it was. Mind you, initially I thought the loud rumble was my daughter’s washing machine going into its final over-excited spin. The machine is in said daughter’s flat situated on the other side of my study wall. I soon realised it was a different sort of rumble though. Admitted, this sort of earthquake is nothing compared to what other countries have to endure, but then we just don’t ‘do’ earthquakes here in the UK!

Alas, the last weekend of February produced a bit of gruntlement on my part. (For those of you who are not P.G. Wodehouse acquainted… “If not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled.” P.G. Wodehouse, ‘The Code of the Woosters.’

So, I found myself being far from gruntled when I was deleted as a member from a certain historical Facebook group. I was ‘removed’ as I had dared to mention in public my concerns about an issue with an apparent proposed method of reviewing indie-written novels, which would have involved putting authors seeking reviews in direct contact via email and home address with reviewers. This could open a huge can of unpleasant worms as, unfortunately, there are more than a few authors who get very disgruntled if their books are rejected or receive a poor review.

As a previous managing editor of this particular Society, and now as founder of Discovering Diamonds, I have had several nasty emails – one was even threatening - because of a rejected novel. The delete and block facilities come immediately in to play of course, but even suggesting to put reviewers - who are all volunteers - in a vulnerable situation is madness.

However, because of my concerned comment on a thread that someone else had posted, I was informed: 'You are welcome as a fan and writer of hf, but less so as a vocal critic of our policies... if you promise to keep the criticism out (there may even be things to praise in what we do?) you are warmly welcome. If not... well you will know why you get removed!"

So, I would be permitted to say "I like the way you do XXX" but not permitted to say "I'm not sure that XXX is a good idea." I made a valid - and very concerned - point on a thread that I did not initiate, yet others who commented with similar concerns were not kicked out. So obviously I, and two of my Discovering Diamonds reviewers, were singled out for this unpleasant rebuke. However, that insult aside, I do not tolerate threats and bullying. So the "I will wait for a reply before reinstating you (just ‘yes’ will be fine)" means that the sender will have a very l…o....n....g wait, as "yes" will never be forthcoming.

But on a different note, I would like to say a big ‘thank you’ to Alison Morton who has now resigned as the admin for the Historical Novel Society social media group. She did a superb job but is now going to concentrate on writing her next novel… which is a huge plus for us her fans. Hurry up Alison, we’re chomping at the bit for the next Roma Nova thriller!

Still, moving on and looking ahead not back, March is here, Spring has Sprung, we hope, and my daughter’s Taw River Show Jumping enterprise has several exciting events planned for the months ahead, in particular a Not To Be Missed horse show here in North Devon on 22nd July, where there will be show jumping, showing classes, trade stands and a fun dog show - including Doggie Dressage! I’ll be giving more information nearer the time, but for now if you are in or near Devon – Save The Date!

I have to smile to myself. I selected my 'Quote of the Month' several weeks ago – but given the content of my Journal this month, I think it is quite appropriate; the horses certainly do seem to have most of the sense where some people are concerned!

Lege feliciter (read happily).




We still have rain. We still have mud. Lots of both. With knobs on, as the (inexplicable!) saying goes.

The weird thing is, Spring has definitely Sprung, albeit a very soggy and windy one. The snowdrops are out in full bloom. There are a few catkins on the hazel trees. The elder outside my study door is coming into bud, the birds are twittering of a morning, and a pair of sparrows have been busy in the nesting box on the wall by my study windows. Plus (intake of breath indicating astonishment) … we have a daffodil in bloom. Just one, by the porch in the front garden – but a daff? In January? Like I said – weird.

The winds have been visiting, their strength varying between mildly annoying to outright keeping the household awake at night. (Well not Ron, he’s quite deaf now so sleeps through everything.) When storm Eleanor stomped over the southern horizon, totally uninvited, she hung around making a huge nuisance of herself from about 2.30 to 7.30 a.m. Apart from the windows rattling, I lay there wondering whether any loud bangs or crashes indicated something falling down, being blown off or ripped apart. The house juddered once – which considering it is stone built with walls varying from between one foot to three feet thick is quite something. I figured it has stood here in one piece since 1769, however, so wasn’t about to go anywhere.

Come morning, no damage, discounting the huge bang that rocked the house, shaking the ground and ripping through the sky. Yep. Lightning strike. Fortunately it sounded worse than it was, although I don’t know that British Telecom or our new neighbours, the ‘Up the Hills’, agree. The strike was to the box atop a telephone pole in the lower part of the main lane. Miraculously it did not affect our connection.

There has also been flooding in North Devon. We have been fine, except for one night in mid-January. Most of the flooding was caused by rivers bursting their banks, and there are rather a lot of rivers here in Devon, the main ones in our area, the Taw, the Mole and the Bray, rising on Dartmoor or Exmoor.

At South Molton, our nearest town, the River Bray decided it wanted to go walkabout (or should that be runabout? Floatabout?) Not too much of a disaster since it was a Sunday. Farm vehicles and larger cars and vans could get through the awash road, but not ordinary cars.

Problem. Ron’s car was parked in South Molton for the weekend as he had gone off on his annual trip to the Pigeon Fancier’s Show, their Event of the Year at Blackpool. He does not have a cell phone. There was no way I could warn him ‘don’t drive home. You won’t get through the floods.’

However, after tracking down someone who had someone else’s phone number I got through to the coach which was en-route home. The plan was for Ron to phone when he reached town and son-in-law Adam would go and fetch him in his higher-than-the-floods truck. As it happened Ron followed Adam home via a convoluted back lane route. Thank goodness for SatNav!

One adventure ends then another begins…

Kathy called me to request assistance to bring the ponies in. They were all being idiots (because of a blustery, cold wind) and were playing her up. Don wellies and raincoat and up the lane I trudge. What’s that noise? Sounded odd.

I judged it best, get the neds and Donk safely in then go and investigate with Kathy, my sight not being too good although my hearing makes up for it.

Something fizzing and crackling amongst the tops of our ‘Down-the-Hills’ neighbour’s trees? Good grief! Sparks! A mini-firework display from the overhead electricity cable. Yikes!

Fast forward a little over an hour. There were half-a-dozen or so big, burly fireman with their rather large fire engine parked outside our stable block, and West Country Power assessing the problem, which turned out that the pole itself had shifted, part-toppling forward and the 11,000 volt-carrying cable was having a disagreement with the trees – which, thank goodness – were so sodden from the rain that they didn’t catch alight. If they had done so, I would now be describing a very serious situation and major damage.

As it was, cups of tea were duly supplied all round by us, then the firemen left West Country Power to it, ‘it’ being the old pole removed, a new one replaced. All of which took about five hours, in a semi-gale wind and periods of pouring rain at night. Oh, and all the electricity in the vicinity of our village turned off.

Still, it was rather cosy for us, knowing there was now no danger of fire or falling cables. We sat as a family around our blazing log fire drinking red wine and bathed in the gentle glow of candle light.

So, that is my story for this month.

March is Women’s History Month – her story - but I’ve featured the Women of Arthur on the February 2018 home page for three reasons;

- I have written an article about Arthur, his women and children as pertinent to my Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy, because

- I was highly honoured to learn that a wonderful lady is writing her university thesis based around my Pendragon's Banner Trilogy, and that her very talented daughter had sketched the ‘Women of Arthur’, and lastly

- The German translation of The Kingmaking is now released. I am delighted with the cover, and sincerely hope that German readers will enjoy the novel in their own language. Parts Two and Three will be following soon.

Speak and/or read German? Here’s the link to Amazon Germany.

Lege feliciter (read happily).




I have made a discovery. Possibly it is not up there with the major discoveries by Einstein, Marie Curie or what's-his-name who 'found' the World Wide Web. but I think it is somewhat poignant. I have discovered that Christmas is not very Christmassy when it pours with rain all day and everywhere and everything is covered not in sparkly frost but in thick, wet, oozy mud.

Mincepies? No, mudpies.

Bedecked? No, bedraggled.

Add to this, I have an observation. Why on earth doesn't a flooring company invent floor tiles that have pre-printed dog's paw prints on them, then we wouldn't notice the new mud-coloured ones. And as for the pet cat… bad enough our Mab catching mice, bringing them into the bedroom and sitting there (at 3 a.m) crunching every little bit from head to tail, but jumping on the bed (also at 3 a.m) absolutely dripping wet? Oh p..l..eese!

At least our donkey, known as Wonky Donk, is happy. We moved him into a different stall, built into one half of the dairy, where he is very comfortable and highly delighted that the window and door are now at donkey height; he can stand in the warm and dry and peer at what's going on outside - and bray at it.

I have a few plans for 2018. I must get on with writing the sixth Sea Witch Voyage, Gallows Wake and I want to write my Madoc the Horseman idea as well. Plus, have you noticed that this website has changed slightly? Check out the graphics on the Home Page. I also want to produce more 'items of interest' for my main blog: Let Us Talk of Many Things. My only problem, I have to think of a few things to 'Talk' about. Any ideas? Suggestions? If you do have any thoughts you can reach me via 'Contact' on the menu bar above.

Also, I'd love suggestions and ideas for how I can make my sort-of-regular newsletter more interesting. I do not really want just a 'this is my latest book' advert page, but what would you, my readers and followers like to receive?

We also had a loss and a gain just before Christmas. The loss was our lovely 'Up-the-Hill' neighbours moving away to Salisbury - much missed as they made us so welcome when we first moved in - and friends ever since. But they were replaced by equally as nice new neighbours. I just hope the sound of Wonky Donk braying, the geese honking, the hens clucking, the ducks quacking and Eddie the dog howling at high-pitched noises doesn't put them off too much!

Incidentally, Eddie has been in my bad books. (He was threatened with Santa not bringing him any presents). Although in truth it was not, accurately-speaking, my bad 'books' that he was in.

Eddie, three-parts collie breeding, gets obsessed with things. Be it rounding up hens, ducks, tennis balls, scurrying wind-whipped leaves or running water. He recently discovered the fountain in our brick-built raised fish pond. And the fish.

All well and good him standing at the edge staring at the fountain and/or the Koi carp… We warned him to "get down". We told him to "get down". We yelled at him to "get down". He did get down, but unintentionally. He fell in. Result: One very cold and very soggy doggy.

Did it cure him? Did it heck.

I've had several people contact me to ascertain if we are alright here in Devon, whether we are snowed in. See the first paragraph above for a somewhat grumpy response. Nope, no snow here. Not even a snow-flake flutter. There is snow up on Exmoor, but aside from a few morning frosts and a bitter wind, no snow.

So this month's featured graphic is a little misleading, I'm afraid. Winter has indeed come. But not to Devon.

You can still buy a book or two though… preferably one of mine.

Happy New Year to you all!

Lege feliciter (read happily).