"I THINK it was Watch the Wall My Darling. but can you check."


I can't say that 2019 started out quite as I had expected, hoped or planned. Son-in-law wasn't well. Then I wasn't well, then my email wasn't well. A power cut hijacked my email inbox.

I had struggled downstairs to do the essential 'daily' tasks online, like ensuring the daily Discovering Diamonds review had published properly, and checking that there were no urgent or essential emails in my inbox (like a Hollywood director emailing about an option on the Sea Witch Voyages… okay, one can dream) when phut - blank screen. Power cut. It happens occasionally - it's the only downside of living in the middle of nowhere in the Devon countryside.

As I'd more or less finished what I was doing, I turned the main power switch off and went back to bed. I was engaged in binge-watching the entire David Tennant Doctor Who TV series.?

Next day. Booted the computer up - and I could have well and truly really booted it into the neighbour's lake next door!

No email. Gone. Vanished, zapped by Cybermen, or the Daleks, or those statues that get you when you blink. My fault, evidently, I blinked.? With apologies to non-Doctor Who fans, who won't understand a word of that.

I tried a few timey-wimey, wibbly-wobbly type things (Doctor Who quote again). Pressed several keys. Turned off. Turned on again. Still nothing. Went to the email back-up system I maintain - where, relief, nearly everything was there, neatly saved away. However, I don't find the back-up version to be very user friendly, which is why I only use it as a back-up.

After several days of swearing, cursing, screaming - yes, if you heard a scream, and quite a few choice words, bad enough to make a pirate blush, that would have been me - my Webmaster managed to get me going again with a new setup using Gmail. Thank you Webmaster.

But trying to fathom the quirks of a new system. it would be easier to defeat the Daleks!

I mean, just how do you transfer the email addresses I need from the 1,500 imported list of Contacts into the Gmail 'other contacts' folder, so that the name and address auto-fills in when sending mail? And just where is the 'request read receipt' button? Has Gmail even got one?

To counter all that, however, there was some good things during January, one being I had a wonderful batch of emails after the original Escape To The Country TV show, where we found our house here in Devon, had been broadcast in Canada. Several utterly delightful people who had watched the episode e-mailed me to say how much they had enjoyed the show, how pleased they were that we'd chosen the first house - and even more wonderful - that they'd ordered one or more of my books. I'm thrilled at the contact from these new friends - thank you!

Despite the trials and tribulations of the Interweb, at least I do now have e-mail - even if I am still trying to figure it out. Which is a relief because early in February my Italian publisher, Catnip Edizioni, is doing a massive blog tour for the publication in Italian translation of Bring It Close - or In Tempesta as it is titled in Italian.

I've had great fun writing several interview answers for it - I'll copy them all to my own blog, the English pre-translation versions that is - later in February, and to this website, keep an eye on the News Update on this website's homepage.

Oh, that was another thing - the news feed was hijacked by pirates as well. Thank you again Mr Webmaster for rescuing it.

And the excitement doesn't end there…

My new book about smugglers will be released on 31st January! Although I am somewhat anxious as, on the date of writing this update, 26th January, I still haven't seen the final published version. I'm somewhat anxious about how it looks in print… I've a short piece on my blog about the book.

If you enjoyed my Pirates Truth And Tales, I think you'll also enjoy Smugglers in Fact and Fiction. so please take a look at that then hop across to Amazon to pre-order a copy.

Oh, and "Watch the wall my darlings while the Gentlemen go by…"?

Lege feliciter (read happily).




I hope you all had a relaxing, stress-free Christmas - although I admit that I get stressed wrapping presents: it is unbelievably hard to use clear sticky tape when you can't see very well. I end up missing the two bits of paper I'm supposed to be sticking together and the wretched stuff gets wound round my fingers instead. I also struggle with addressing Christmas cards, which is why I tend to use the wonderful Jacquie Lawson e-cards online. If I know you personally, check your inbox, you might have received one. Or if you would like to be put on my Christmas Card list - Contact me and I'll consider adding you.

Did you see the fantastic short story series we ran on Discovering Diamonds throughout December? A wide variety of authors contributed a wide variety of short stories inspired by a song: the idea being, Read The Story - Guess The Song.

Don't worry if you missed them, you can start here with the first story-song, then follow on by clicking 'Next' - below the story.

It was hard work organising the stories, finding suitable images and the original (official) versions of the songs on YouTube, but well worth it. Just a quick reminder to all authors though; Lyrics in songs are governed by a very strict copyright, so do not be tempted to use even a few distinctive words in a novel or story - don't risk being sued for thousands of pounds or dollars! However, there is no copyright on titles or ideas - hence our stories.

We've had a bit of a change-round here at Windfall Farm regarding the housing of ducks, geese and hens. The problem has been rats. They can chew through anything and have a keen desire to eat duck - fortunately not the adult ones, but the nasty creatures did kill most of ducklings back in the summer. (We got our own back by 'removing' quite a few of the vermin.) However the wretched things have been disturbing the ducks and geese at night, so we have moved the geese into a different shed, put the ferrets where the geese were, and the ducks will be moved to where the ferrets lived. Rats do not like the smell of ferrets, so maybe this will have some effect. Our two ferrets are called Piper and Hamelin, and they are both rather fat roly-poly ferrets!

Squirrels are in fact fluffy rats but much cuter, although they do as much damage to wildlife. We have a regular squirrel visitor which has white ears - it looks like he has been dipped in a pot of paint. Our old gander, which we sadly had to have put down a few months ago as he fell ill, hated the squirrels. He used to chase them if they ever dared to set paw on the ground. Woe betide if he ever caught one!

We are also using the field next door to the house, which is owned by our nice new 'down-the-hill' neighbours. (I still say 'new' , even though they have lived here a year now.) One of my dream ambitions was to have a home where I could look out of a window and see the horses grazing. Alas, here at Windfall, although I can, just about, see the stables from the house, the fields are at the end of the lane. So it is with a sense of achievement of a morning that I can look out of my bedroom window and see Lexie, Saffie, Franc and Wonky Donk grazing in 'Stable Field'. Except it is also somewhat alarming. Lexie is a BIG horse she can't quite reach the window from the other side of the hedge, but she's not far off it.

We also have three new chickens; two hens and a cockerel. They reside in the front garden and are so sweet. They are about one foot high, somewhat 'fluffy' and have highly feathered feet. They are no trouble and do no damage to the garden - in fact they gobble up the slugs and gently scratch over the flower beds.

But His Lordship the cockerel - oh, he is funny! Like I said, knee-high to a grasshopper, he regularly chases the dogs off, guards his two 'ladies' with immense pride and crows to tell everyone that He Is In Charge. Except his crowing sounds more like a dog's squeaky toy. It really doesn't have the desired effect.

Oh, a quick reminder, my Smuggler's book will be published at the end of January. You can pre-order here, but more information about this book next month.

For now, may I wish you all a very Happy New Year.

Lege feliciter (read happily).