Silly Saturday – How To Cheat at Being a World Leader

Be ambitious, if there is a local vacancy for a new minister, because one has resigned or been sent to prison or even if Prime Minister is up for grabs, what’s to stop you having a go? You know how to run the country because you have been telling your family, colleagues and everyone down at The Red Lion for years how it should be done. That’s the simple part, now all you need to learn is how to act in public.


1 What to wear If you are a chap this is easy, a suit and tie. You must either look smart or intentionally scruffy with shirt untucked and hair uncombed; a third option is smart casual, take your jacket off and roll up your sleeves to show you mean business.

Ladies, I’m afraid you can’t win; everyone is looking to see what you wear and whatever you wear will be criticised. The trick is to appear confident and wear red. Also choose attire that will not encumber you walking, standing or sitting (see no. 2 ). The comfort rule does not apply to shoes, do not wear trainers. Slip your feet into the most lethal heels you can walk in.

Handy Tip.  If you identify as transgender you can wear whatever you like and nobody will dare criticize you for fear of being called transphobic.

2 How To Walk This is even harder than when you were a baby. You must be able to stride confidently, head in the air without tripping over cameramen, protesters, or paving stones, while at the same time giving intelligent answers to idiotic questions from reporters who are two feet taller or shorter than you. Can you also descend a flight of worn stone steps at a smart trot or get in the back seat of the right ministerial car? Good, but your ordeal is not over  yet…

3 Leisure Time  There is no such thing as me time now you are in the public eye. Prepare to be filmed leaving home in your jogging shorts and returning in your sweaty leggings and T shirt. If you are really unlucky you will be accosted by that television presenter who runs marathons; try to talk and breathe at the same time as she runs alongside you and asks about policies. Avoid the path beside the lake in case you fall in.

4 Caring for the Environment Learn to ride a bike and practise mounting and dismounting while negotiating a crowd of amused observers.


5 Make your country proud of you.  Finally you have made it to the International Summit in A Nother country and the whole world is watching you. This is not like your holiday flight, there will be no jetty attached to your aeroplane; the door will open to bright sunshine or driving rain and an impossibly steep set of stairs; pause at the top of these to work out your choreography. Wave and smile then descend without falling or gouging your eye out on the huge umbrella being held to shield you from the sun or rain. Behind you will be someone very important in your life. See no. 6

6 Choose a Partner For the ceremonial bits it is polite to have a spouse who can engage in conversation with other world leaders while you are talking to their spouses, they will also need to know how to use the right cutlery at the inevitable dinner.

7 The Speech This is what it’s all about so don’t leave it till the last moment. It is okay to read from your notes, as long as they are not written on a paper napkin.

Handy hints: Remember which country you’re in, the name of their leader and why you are there. Recall happy historical links and if there aren’t any talk optimistically of future happy links. And finally, do you recall those ‘friends’ you met on holiday? Do not issue any invitations to visit that you may regret later.




Friday Flash Fiction 369 – Little Weed



The old gardener’s hands trembled as he picked up the newspaper from the door mat. He slipped out to his potting shed as he heard Mrs. Gardener coming down the stairs.

He laid the paper on the old bench, sunlight barely filtered through the cobwebbed windows, but it was enough to read the main article.

Detectives from Operation Motherwatch are investigating claims that Little Weed was abused for years by one or more flowerpot men. The identity of the flowerpot men is not known, but they have been named locally as Bill and Ben.

The shock allegations follow on from last week’s claims that Looby Loo was abused by both Andy Pandy and Teddy. If Little Weed’s claims are true it will be the first time a plant has made such a serious allegation.


The gardener had never believed people who said they did not know what was going on, now he had to come to terms with the fact that he knew nothing about what was going on at the bottom of his own garden. But surely Bill and Ben were innocent, perhaps it was some other flowerpot men… Little Weed could be vindictive, she was not the shrinking violet people thought. If only he knew where she was now. It was all Alan Titchmarsh’s fault. The Gardener had come back from recording Gardeners’ Question Time to discover his wife had arranged for Titchmarsh to do a garden makeover for his television programme. If the camera crew were hoping to capture the look of surprise on The Gardener’s face they succeeded, only the potting shed remained. Gone were the greenhouse, vegetable beds, earthenware pots; all replaced by decking. And gone too was Little Weed. Mrs. Gardener was always jealous of the plant, said he talked to her more than his own wife… perhaps that was true… she was no ordinary weed, the first weed to appear on BBC Television and there had been none like her since… She was tough, a survivor, he was thankful she was still alive, but why now, why such allegations now, after all this time? And if it was true, was it Bill or was it Ben?





Windows Ten and a Half

The words double glazing and salesman are inseparable, though there was a time when most folk had not heard of double glazing and salesmen had to go door to door selling vacuum cleaners. Perhaps long ago, glazing salesmen went round to castles and peasant huts trying to sell them the advantage of having panes in their windows instead of wooden shutters or pieces of old hessian.


In Victorian times householders in Scotland tried adding extra panes of glass to keep out the harsh winters, but modern double glazing started in the USA in the 1940s as ‘thermopane’ . Manufacturers began to use a vacuum between the two panes to improve insulation.

In the 1970’s it became popular for the domestic market in Britain and heralded the arrival of the double glazing salesman.


Meanwhile in Perth, Western Australia windows meant the necessity of fly screens. As new migrants with a new house my father made them himself and instead of closing the door to keep the cold out we children were always being reminded to close the fly screen door.


When I returned to England in the 1970’s for my working holiday ( the one I’m still on) it was to a country of three day weeks, power cuts and general mayhem. Pommies in Australia were congratulating themselves and vowing never to go back to ‘the cold’. When we left in 1964 fitted carpets were something posh people had, heating was something you lit and bedroom windows were covered in ice in the morning; beautiful patterns created by Jack Frost.

On Christmas morning I found myself in mild weather in the cosy little terraced house of my aunt and uncle. No one was cold, friends and relatives had central heating powered by North Sea Gas, carpet in every room and the cold kept out with double glazing. A popular topic of conversation was patio doors and porches; pretty French windows had been replaced by sliding doors and front doors were sheltered by tiny porches. I vowed never to turn into the sort of person who talked endlessly about porches and patio doors, or for that matter to ever be impoverished with a mortgage.

Not everyone had these home improvements. Our first flat had no heating, condensation running down the bathroom walls and washing  and baby drying in front of the gas fire. But when we bought our first place, a tiny modern flat, our first Christmas was white and we were delighted with the central heating and double glazing.


When we bought an actual house it was the typical 1930’s  tiny terrace that my parents had left England to escape. It did have that other popular home improvement, an extension across the back of the house, but this space was rendered useless in winter with cold draughts coming through the rattling doors and windows. We took out an impoverishing extension on our mortgage to get the whole house double glazed, but first had to decide which company. We set a record by having eleven companies come round to give a quote. The worst salesman asked if he could smoke (afterwards we asked ourselves why on earth we said yes) and sat there with sweaty armpits. We didn’t choose him.

But sealed double glazed units don’t last forever, if the seal ‘goes’ you can be left with windows that look like it’s always raining. Friends had the original aluminium picture window in their front room and for years you could not see out of it, there was a permanent mist.

Fast forward to the present; this is the longest we have lived in one house and we have gradually done some improvements and window replacements. The most recent being two back bedroom windows, a new porch and the living room window all scheduled to be completed in less than a week. We chose the local company everyone uses who had previously built our little conservatory, a blissful sun trap.


The two chaps who came out were loud and rude; I wasn’t sure if they were swearing at the windows or each other. When they said there was bad news, the front window was the wrong size, I thought they were joking, they weren’t.

With a holiday coming up and then seven visitors staying, the process has been drawn out. A different chap came out with the new window.

‘Are you on your own?’ we asked.

‘Yes, I’d rather work by myself, you wouldn’t believe some of the blokes I’ve had to work with.’

‘Yes, I think we would…’

He had hardly sipped the cup of coffee we gave him than he realised the windows were still the wrong size!

It has taken a while, but on Saturday at the third attempt we have a good window, nicely finished off by a chap and his son-in-law. Chatting with them we heard the first two blokes have been sacked as they didn’t get on!

We haven’t parted with any money yet, there is still a finishing strip missing from the porch, to be fixed tomorrow… I did suggest we say we can’t pay them as there has been a mistake with the money…


Silly Saturday – Summer Solstice Sunday


Don’t worry if you think you missed the Summer Solstice, it has been moved to Sunday. Every year there is confusion as to the date it will occur, 20th, 21st or 22nd of June; so from now on the Summer Solstice will take place on the Sunday nearest those dates, which this year is the 23rd. This will also make it easier for people who wish to greet the dawn at special places and don’t want to bother having to go to work afterwards.

The solstice also marks the first day of astronomical summer, so if the meteorological summer has been a  disappointment so far there is a new summer to look forward to.


And there is still time to order your ‘Make your own Stonehenge kit.’ Parents of young children are advised it may contain small parts that are a choking hazard.




Friday Flash Fiction – Holiday Cottage Part Two

What did happen next in last week’s Friday Flash Fiction?

You can read Part One here

Thanks to Kevin, Julie, Libre and Penny for their suggestions.

At the end of last week’s story Tony was cooking a breakfast that would never be eaten…


Tony didn’t need to call up the stairs that it was ready, there was a smell of burning bacon. I rushed down.

‘Hey we don’t want to set off the smoke alarm.’

I threw open the door, then staggered back. Whatever sound issued from my throat brought Tony rushing to my side. A dark pool of blood on the doorstep and a trail of gore leading to the cottage, he slammed the door shut, bolted it, then grabbed his phone.


‘No wait,’ I said ‘we could be prime suspects, we should just leave, right this minute.’

Tony was still peering at his phone. ‘There must be someone else they could blame… phone’s dead, I forgot to charge it up. Hey, why don’t I just go and look in the cottage…’

‘Not by yourself… let’s jump in the car and go to the nearest town, find the police station.’

‘Very tempting, but I’m sure there’s a rational explanation, an accident, maybe Celeste needs urgent help, there must be a landline in the cottage and we should call an ambulance.’


I pulled myself together; there were no further signs of danger. We tiptoed around the front garden of Celeste’s cottage, avoiding the trail of darkening blood that led to the open front door. We could soon see the back door was also open. As the morning sun began to filter into the cottage it revealed a smeared trail of blood along the flagstones straight to the back door, but also something else; rows and rows of shoes in neat pairs, too many for one family, too neat for any family.

‘Must be other guests’ I found myself whispering as Tony opened a door.

‘Bloody Hell…’

I looked round his shoulder, a room full of suitcases and backpacks, there couldn’t be that many guests.

‘Helloo…’ Tony called out ‘anyone there?’

No answer, or did I hear a muffled murmur.

‘Come on, let’s search the whole cottage first’ said Tony.

I nodded, relieved to avoid following the trail of blood.

‘This door’s open… OW’ I recoiled with shock as my nose encountered painful resistance. The door was open but the doorway was sealed with a solid pane of glass. Peering through we could just make out several guests seated at a breakfast table. Tony rapped on the glass but they did not stir.

‘Oh, it’s a museum, what a clever idea’ laughter rose in my throat at the absurdity of everything that was happening.

‘Odd, we’d better go upstairs and look for real people, Ce..le..ste?’


The narrow staircase led to low ceilings and an odd shaped corridor, the cottage went back further than we imagined. Nervously I pushed open the first door and stepped back. ‘Oops, sorry.’ I saw a lady in a Victorian bath, but my hand touched glass, it was another model, a wonderfully realistic set.

I let Tony open the next door, his hand raised to check for glass. Through the door shaped window we saw an old lady eating breakfast in bed. I almost expected her to look up at us, but like the other models she was motionless. As I stared, fascinated, I heard a muffled cry.

Tony must also have heard it, before I could utter a word he set off round the bend in the corridor.

‘Don’t come any further Merryn, broken glass.’

I looked round the corner to see a whole wall had been replaced by glass, but in the middle of the large pane was a person shaped hole, like something out of a cartoon. As our eyes adjusted to this gloomier part of the house we made out a room with a bed and table and in the corner a crouched figure.

‘Are you the police,’ the figure called out in a croaky woman’s voice ‘John told me to wait here while he went for help.’

‘No love, who are you, where’s Celeste?’

‘I don’t know, I think something terrible has happened’ the woman confirmed my worst fears.

‘Now don’t worry, I’m sure everything is fine’ said Tony, sounding like one of his favourite cop dramas, when nothing is ever fine. ‘We need to fetch help to get you out, the broken glass is too dangerous.’

‘I need to find John.’

‘Don’t worry, the police will find John.’

‘The police won’t get here in time, the best thing you can do is get out before you end up like the others.’

‘What others, we haven’t found anyone else, what is this place, a museum?’

‘You could say that’ her voice was tinged with an insane laugh now. ‘Go and look for yourselves, they were all holidaymakers, bed and breakfast guests once.’

‘Come on Merryn, she’s obviously mad, we have to go…’

But I was already further down the corridor, opening each door to more guest house scenes, people getting dressed, looking out the window, all so real, yet…

‘Tony, what does she mean?’


The police put us up at a hotel, with no promise that we would ever be reunited with our belongings at the holiday cottage, the only certainty that we could not go home yet, we faced hours of questioning with none of our questions being answered.

We woke up to an even stranger day; our car was virtually impounded, stuck at the sealed off property, we were not allowed to go home yet, even if we could. But we were not under arrest and glad to get out in the fresh air, a stroll past the local shops revealed that somehow the Sunday tabloids had already got hold of the story.

Holiday Horror Cottage – Guests Plasticized.


If you enjoy dark stories try Dark and Milk, only 99 pence to download.










Jurassic Holiday

How to take your family to Jurassic Park without the children being eaten by dinosaurs? Enjoy a holiday on the Jurassic Coast.

‘The Jurassic Coast is a World Heritage Site on the English Channel coast of southern England. It stretches from Exmouth in East Devon to Studland Bay in Dorset, a distance of about 96 miles, and was inscribed on the World Heritage List in mid-December 2001.’

Obviously you won’t see it all on a week’s holiday or a day out, but whether you enjoy beautiful scenery, geology, fossil hunting or relaxing at the seaside, any part of this coast is worth visiting.

Adults don’t like talking to young children about death if they can avoid it, or scaring them with tales of monsters, but most young children love dinosaurs; they know they are long dead and yet they are full of life to the child. They love their plastic dinosaurs as much as their cuddly teddy and adore the fact that they were huge and scary.


For our half term holiday with Team H we stayed in two cottages in a village where the borders of Dorset, Devon and Somerset meet. On any English holiday it will rain, but it will also stop raining at some point so it is always worth setting out. Fossil hunting was the main aim and the beach to head for was Charmouth.


Charmouth, Dorset is one place where everyone is looking down, but not at their phones, they are all looking for fossils. There is a pleasant village with the river Char running gently out to sea; you can step over it at low tide or walk across the little bridge. The row of beach huts is deceptive, walk a little further and this is not a normal seaside beach. Gaze up at black layered cliffs. Don’t go too close, there are regular mud slides and crumbling of the cliff edge. This is why fossil hunting is so popular, new fossils end up on the beach and people are welcome to collect them as they would otherwise be washed out to sea. You can also book a guided walk. At the free Charmouth Heritage Centre you can learn about prehistoric times and volunteers will identify your fossils. The grassy hill is in contrast to the beach and a pleasant walk, but don’t go near the edge. The beach has a lovely heritage centre and a cafe, but the rest is unspoilt coast. When we set off to walk along the beach the first thing we saw was a father and son climbing up the cliff chipping away with their hammers; there is always someone who has not read the boards about dangerous cliff falls!


The second full day of our holiday brought the torrential rain the weatherman had forecast. We went into Seaton, a seaside town with an electric tramway that runs along the estuary of the River Axe to Colyford and the village of Colyton. Fortunately lots had changed since the last time we were there and next to the tram station was the new Seaton Jurassic, an excellent centre to escape the rain. Visitors are escorted in and the children given passports for the time machine. It’s all very interactive and older children can stamp their passports and answer clues. It is also quite dark and mysterious with lots of turns and tunnels, so make sure you don’t lose little ones. The final part takes you outside to gardens. Most importantly there is a good restaurant. We had lunch and by that time it had stopped raining and we went on the tramway. The little ones loved being on the open topped tram, the day remained grey, but it was still a pleasant gentle ride with a lovely little station and playground in Colyton.


The next day was fine and Team H decided to get up very early and catch low tide at Charmouth for more fossil hunting, followed by cooked breakfast at the cafe. We followed them, but not quite so early.

Yes you can find fossils, not necessarily big ones, but if you are sharp eyed you should find some ammonites and children can take anything they find into the heritage centre to show the volunteers, who will tell them how old it is and you can also put your fossils under a microscope.




The Game of Life – A Game of Sevens


A real game of life is played out on a television documentary every seven years.

Seven Up! was commissioned by Granada Television as a programme in the World in Action series broadcast in 1964. From 7 Plus Seven onward the films have been directed by Michael Apted a researcher on Seven Up! who helped choose the original children. The premise of the film was taken from the Jesuit motto “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man”.

This has been proved and not proved; the rich children, who already knew at seven the private education mapped out for them, have indeed been successful in predictable careers, but some of the ordinary kids have achieved a lot. Would we have guessed a Yorkshire farm lad would become a nuclear physicist in the USA?

I have followed much of this series and most of the participants have stuck with it, what an opportunity to create an historic record of society and your life. The interviews seem dignified, but candid. The most interesting has been Neil, at seven funny and full of life, but by 21 finding life difficult and over the years he has had ups and downs. It may be fashionable now to talk of mental health issues, but Neil has always faced the camera when he could easily have dropped out.

Does the taking part in such a programme influence what you do in your life? How many of us would want our lives exposed. I guess seven years is long enough to get on with your life unobserved before the next episode. How would the rest of us fare under the seven year spotlight? At seven I was in a Church of England junior school and life was pretty simple and good; I would never have guessed that at fourteen I would be living on the other side of the world. We emigrated to Australia when I was eleven.


I can imagine sitting giggling with my best friend and being interviewed like the three girls at their comprehensive school. However I do not think I would have liked my gauche pimply self filmed for posterity. At fourteen I would never have guessed I would be back in England just before my twenty first birthday; ostensibly on a working holiday, but with absolutely no idea what to do next. I wouldn’t have wanted Michael Apted probing into my ‘life is something that happens to other people ( quote from Alan Bennett ) period.’ At twenty eight, married with a toddler and over extending ourselves to buy a little flat, I could have put in a reasonable appearance, with career failures pushed into the background…

The ‘seven uppers’ have a unique record of their lives, with 63 the latest episode shown recently. Will the director Michael Apted still be around to make 70 Up? In the twenty first century bloggers can write about their lives in minute detail for everyone to see, will young bloggers keep blogging for their whole lives?


Meanwhile in real life Cyberspouse finished his chemotherapy course, followed a few weeks later by a scan and last week we saw the oncologist to hear the results; everything still stable, nothing changed since the last scan, report back for check up in six weeks. Take an extra throw of the dice.

But a visiting in-law heard her relative had just died, four years after being given six months to live.   The Game of Life has no rules, or at least not rules the medical profession can understand for sure.

Silly Saturday – Don’t Do It Yourself

DIY is fun and cheaper, unless it all goes horribly wrong.

Reasons not to Do It Yourself

1. If it goes wrong you will have to pay someone to fix it.

2. Most accidents happen at home and all accidents that happen at home involve DIY; either the person doing it or innocent bystanders. Hazards include…

A. Electrocution

B. Severing of limbs

C. Falling from heights



There are many big tasks that you cannot Do I Yourself – depending on which part of the world you live in these include…

1. Reroofing your house

2. Putting in new double glazing

3. Building an extension

4. Putting in a swimming pool / fish pond

5. Rewiring

6. New bathroom / kitchen

7. Digging a basement.

8. Felling Trees

Once you decide to go ahead with a project here are some handy points to remember.

Working out which company to use, or whether to call on that bloke you know from the Bottle and Brew, will take as long as the project itself so let’s skip that stage.

1. The arrival. Whatever time they have said they will come they will either arrive half an hour early while you are still in your dressing gown or two hours late… at the very moment you are taking an important phone call or visiting the bathroom.

2. Refreshments. Always offer tea, coffee or water in case they take revenge on mean customers… how often is tricky and depends on the weather – do they need warming up or cooling down and do you want to avoid them monopolising your toilet?

3. Mobile phones. Very useful, especially if they need to call their boss/base/office/factory ( see 4 ). It is a time wasting call if you hear them say ‘Okay Darling, can you put Mummy on the phone’ or ‘Okay Darls, see you tonight, love you… me too… ’

4. The Problem. There will always be a problem. Expect to be summoned before lunchtime with sucking in of teeth and shaking of head. They have forgotten a part, something is the wrong size or the ground is much harder than expected. More rare is the totally unexpected – see 6.

5. The Noise. Scaffold being put up, walls being demolished, trees being sawed… there is no project that will not annoy the neighbours and their dogs, but it helps if they have subjected you to noise, dust and inconvenience previously and you have not complained.

6. Major Delay. This usually involves a body or unexploded bomb in the back garden, great if you are a writer, not so good if you have no other home to go to. You will be evacuated and your property sealed off for the foreseeable future.

7. Normal Delay. Be thankful 6 hasn’t happened to you and be resigned to the fact the project will always take far longer than predicted due to the weather or The Problems.

But when the work is complete it will all have been worth it as you sit in your pool/ conservatory/designer garden  – unless of course it has all gone horribly wrong and you have to take them to court…


Friday Flash Fiction – 975 – Holiday Cottage

The car wheels crunched on the gravel, but the noise did not seem to draw attention to our arrival. I turned the engine off and picked up my phone to check the email again.

If I’m out, key under flower pot by the seashell.

‘Which one’s ours?’ said Tony.

‘Hopefully not that dilapidated cottage.’ Already I was regretting my spontaneous idea that we should get away from it all for the long weekend. ‘It’s called Owl Barn, I suppose that’s it; smarter than the cottage, but looks like it was a barn once.’

‘Neither building looks like the pictures on the website’ frowned Tony.

I decided not to mention that after I had already booked, I noticed the newest post on the website was October 2011.

‘Come on, let’s see what it looks like inside.’

Along the wall of the barn were numerous plant pots and exotic seashells, the ones nearest the door revealed nothing.

‘We may as well check if anyone’s home at the cottage’ said Tony.

The cottage faced the barn, the small dusty windows gave no clue if anyone was home or looking out of them. We ducked under a creeper covered archway, I let Tony lead the way down the narrow path.

‘Good afternoon, I was just feeding the goats.’

I was startled by the voice and almost bumped into the tall woman standing right behind me. She held out her hand. ‘Mr and Mrs. Conway? I’m Celeste, welcome to the village and welcome to Owl Barn.’

The name didn’t really go with her appearance, I tried to suppress a smile, relieved that at least we were in the right place. ‘Thanks, Merryn and Tony.’



‘…and if you need anything else don’t hesitate to knock.’

‘Thank you, it’s lovely.’

‘What was the name of the pub?’ said Tony.

‘The Haunted Barn, but don’t worry, it doesn’t refer to our barn. They do good meals if you don’t want anything fancy.’



It was a good meal; a country walk round the village, only getting a bit lost, had given us a good appetite and we strolled back ‘home’ looking forward to the weekend. We wondered what the inside of Celeste’s cottage was like, she said they had converted the barn first to fund the renovation of their home, it made sense. We almost missed the narrow turning now it was dark and expected a security light of some sort to come on as we stumbled across the gravel to our door. Something brushed my leg, I grabbed  Tony’s arm and caught a flash of white.

‘Sorry…  here Angus you naughty boy.’ The pale face of Celeste loomed out of the dark. ‘You enjoyed your meal then?  Goodnight.’

Safely indoors I wondered how she knew, but Tony said of course she knew we were going to the pub for a meal.


The country air had sent Tony straight off to sleep, but above his snoring I thought I heard a noise, a crunch on gravel, heavy feet. I looked out of the window; the moon had appeared, but I could see no one. Across at the cottage several upstairs windows glimmered with a faint yellow light.  I wondered how many people lived there, family or friends; Celeste had given no indication.

‘Is everything alright?’ A harsh whisper from below the window, was it Celeste or someone else?

Like a naughty child caught out of bed, I backed away and slipped gratefully into bed beside Tony, the alarm clock said 1.30a.m.

‘What’s the matter Merryn?’

‘Sorry, did I wake you, I heard noises, I think Celeste is prowling round.’

He yawned ‘Maybe she lost the cat or…’

Tony was asleep again before he finished the sentence. But for me sleep wouldn’t come. I crept out to the bathroom, then downstairs to fetch a drink of water. Out of the kitchen window I thought I saw movement at one of the lighted windows, then at the end of the cottage a window was flung open and a head popped out; it didn’t look like Celeste. He or she was staring at me. Didn’t anyone go to sleep in that house? I rushed back up the narrow stairs, stubbing my toe.

Hiding under the covers I tried to be rational. It was their home, they could stay up as late as they liked, stroll around in the dark…

I felt myself drifting off, only to be woken by a piercing scream.

‘TONY… did you hear that?’

‘What… what time is it now?’

‘Two thirty, did you hear that scream.’

‘No I was asleep, it was just a fox.’

‘Tony, how could you just go back to sleep, it wasn’t a fox… TONY… there it is again..’

‘Owl’ he mumbled.


I thought morning would never come, but somehow the sun was shining in through the window and there was my long suffering husband standing by the bed with a cup of tea, smiling.

‘So much for our peaceful weekend, do you remember having a nightmare?’

‘It wasn’t, I heard the most awful cries… do you think we should check if everything’s alright at the cottage?’

‘What, just knocking to see if you’ve been murdered? I didn’t hear a sound love. We’ll have that cooked breakfast I promised you then go and walk up that hill we saw yesterday.’

Tony didn’t need to call up the stairs that it was ready, there was a smell of burning bacon. I rushed down.

‘Hey we don’t want to set off the smoke alarm.’

I threw open the door, then staggered back. Whatever sound issued from my throat brought Tony rushing to my side. A dark pool of blood on the doorstep and a trail of gore leading to the cottage, he slammed the door shut, bolted it, then grabbed his phone…


What would you do, who would you call?

Write the next line in the comments and see what happens next week…












The Blog of Many Colours

Times and Tides of a Beachwriter is brought to you today by the colour orange. We round off the last blog of many colours with a round colour. Which came first, the colour or the fruit? The fruit.

It wasn’t until these citrus fruits were introduced to the west in the late 15th century, by Portuguese merchants coming from Asia, that the Sanskrit word nāraṅga was coined. It eventually made its way through the romance languages and became orange in English.

Thanks to Brigid of Watching the Daisies for suggesting Coral. You can enjoy her lovely colourful garden here.

Coral is a reddish or pinkish shade of orange. The colour is named after the sea animal coral. Under the sea, or in a fish tank, orange is a popular colour, from the exotic to common goldfish. Every now and then I feel like dyeing ( no not dying ) and one day decided to dye some throws orange; the colour was called gold fish orange. If it’s a very dreek day, watching bright orange dye go round and round in your front loader washing machine is recommended to cheer you up.


In the garden orange is one of my favourite colours; gazanias and cape daisies open up only in sunlight, but nasturtiums add zing to the dullest days. In winter pansies brighten tubs and window boxes and there is always an orange option.



Orange is popular for making a brand statement, but in fashion and interior design I think orange comes and goes. My father brought little of interest home from the plastics factory where he was manager, in the days when plastic was fantastic. There was the Velcro strip he was excited about, but more fun for me was a piece of plastic fabric in psychedelic orange from which I made a mini skirt. Fortunately no picture exists.


Orange is the second colour of the rainbow, the colour of alpha and omega; the beginning and the end, sunrise and sunset. A good colour to end the blogs of many colours.