Port De Soller Mallorca

Port De Soller Mallorca

Monday, 31 December 2012

A Ramble

Well, 2012 is just about over and we, Ishbel and me, are ending it, the way it began,with 6 year olds Charlie and Holly, of course last year they were 5. There cousin, Mollie, 9, going on 10 is still the petite and most gorgeous creature on the planet, as are all of our grand kids. O.K. I'm biased but we were just talking about this recently, Mollie and me.

It was her, she started it,and it was about three weeks ago, the telly was on in the corner but it was just being used for music, music and books that's the big things in our extended family, sure we like certain TV shows and movies, but music and books are the main attention grabbers with all of us.

So, anyway the music was playing through the big box in the corner and after a while the picture of what is playing defaults to a random slide show of the photographs on my computer and comments were being passed to and fro about the various stages of growth when Mollie turned to me and said, "Grand dad, was I a beautiful baby?" We'll, before I can answer grandma chirps in with a, "of course you were darling, all babies are beautiful"

But Mollie knows her granddad and turns back to me with those enormous and beautiful brown eyes and says, "Well granddad, was I" Now what can one say to a 9 year old girl when asked that question, but answer truthfully.

"Off course you were my darling, you were one of the most beautiful babies ever born, well at least for the first couple of weeks, but then like most babies you turned into an ugly pumpkin, in fact one of the ugliest" Mollies reaction to this was, "Oh grandad!" And her 6 year old sister Shannon sniggered and laughed until I told her that she was even uglier and truth be told she was, she really was.....

Then of course there is Charlie and Holly separated from Shannon by a couple of weeks, they weren't too ugly when they were born and I think the fact that Holly had to be placed in an incubator with all those wires and attachments seemed to make her look so beautiful, but once again they older they got the uglier they became but as with all four of them, somewhere between pre school and school, they seemed to blossom turning into beautiful little people. People with personalities, people with thoughts of their own, able to converse and read and take on things that are happening around them.

Last Sunday, Holly and I were in the car on our own on our way to pick up grandma and as usual the gramophone needle she has been infected with just keeps going and going and she was telling me all sorts of things when suddenly she started telling me about the children who were the same age as her who had been shot in America! What! She is 6 and she wants to talk about Sandy Hook.

I have to admit I was thrown and stuttered, I don't stutter, ever. But this made me miss a beat. So I asked what she knew. She replied that her and Charlie had been in the car with mummy when it came on the news that a bad man had broken into a school like theirs and shot a lot of the children! I asked her how that made her feel. She said it made her "feel sad as Santa would probably already have their presents in his sack and they won't get them and their mummies and daddies will be sad too. Once again I have to admit to being a little thrown by the turn the in the conversation and just as I was preparing to give a profound reply, we had arrived outside the department store grandma works in and Holly says, "Where is she?"

Ah the sweet refrain, in this case, for me at least, of safety. I don't know what I would have said to Holly on that subject as I certainly couldn't repeat what I and others had been saying in the office about the person who did this and the stupidity of the laws in America that allow you to buy a gun with very little background checks, or of a country that has so many guns that even if you are not allowed to buy one, you seemingly can easily obtain one along with super magazines to hold extra bullets to allow you to kill more people or children with one squeeze of the finger, but you can't buy a kinder egg as it has been deemed unsafe and a child may choke on the small toy inside the chocolate egg! Merry Christmas to the NRA then for their continued obstinacy on gun ownership.

We had a visit in September from Julia R Barrett and Oscar from California. Friends we made on Twitter, it was a fleeting visit but highly enjoyable and cemented our friendship or at least Ishbel and I hope it did. Oscar has promised that if we ever manage to get out there to visit that he will be taking me to watch the San Francisco Giants Baseball team in action, their home team. Julia and another Twitter friend Tim, TWDitmer, seem to have a bit of a grudge fight going on over their respective teams and the conversations are funny to observe as they discuss live, the merits of their respective teams as they play bat and ball..... Bless

Twitter has brought so many people into our lives this year, far to many to mention but a few special ones are;

Wee Mickey, Michael Hicks
Julian Stockwin
ChefJohn Malik

and so many more and Marylin Warner who is not on Twitter but always has a kind word, even for an old fart like me, through the medium of her blog which can be found at:  Things I want to tell my Mother

Oh, we went up to Inverness at the beginning of December (I know, still no blog..... There is a draft in here some where) for our niece Sarah's wedding to young Mark Surherland. David and Jill, Sarah's mum and dad gave them and us, a perfect day, weather wasn't great but then it was December, but it did stay dry for the occasion and the reception and party after, just hit the right note. We wish them many happy years together as a married couple to add to the seven they have already been together.

I hit a bit of a hiatus in September too after Julia and Oscar left, nothing to do with them, work related and it can be seen in the number of blog posts I had been writing prior to that, in double figures every month up to then, and then barely in single figures. Still recovering from that but really hoping that 2013, as we do for every year, turns out to be better than the last, for all of us.

Politicians and politics have been getting right up my nose this year but I haven't really even been able to find the where with all to even berate them on my blog. In many respects I think it has been a case of, 'well, you ignore us and do what the hell you are going to do anyway, regardless of what the majority thinks, so I have been ignoring them, which is not good. But even political commentators on twitter are largely as bad as the politicians themselves bad mouthing the other party for things that they do ignoring the fact that the party they support, do the same things, but it's OK when they do, cos we support you. One guy this week was whingeing on about the number of Conservative party donors who were awarded honours in the New Years list, but what about the number of Labour Party donors who get the same honours when Labour is in power; hypocritical dick heads, all of them and they wonder why we are sickened by them all! Even one of my favs in the Labour Party Diane Abbot was having a go this week about biscuits of all things - give it a bloody rest will you ....

Oh, Got a surprise comment on one of my recent blogs from Rob McMeekin, a name from my past who hopefully will be in touch again soon.  One of the Nicest, Most Helpful, Well Mannered Men on the planet and my good fortune to have been acquainted with and I suspect the good fortune of everyone he comes into contact with #TOPMAN

So, anyway this has just been a wee ramble and I hope not too depressing and all it remains is for Ishbel and me to wish you all;

A Happy New Year 

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Book Review: Zombies take Manhattan! by Marina Bridges

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I purchased this book on a whim and because it was recommended by one of my favourite Twitter buddies JW Manus, who also just happens to be the 'Obsessanator' on the subject of ebooks and who coincidentally also happened to be the editor of the book...... Having said all that, while I am a huge fan of George Romero I have yet to actually see any other Zombie movie or TV show that has lived up to the high expectations that he gave to us all those years ago, and, I don't think I have actually read any Zombie literature, prior to this one.  So, all in all it was a leap of faith on my part.....

Was it a leap that ended in an agonising fall, no, not really. It was a leap into the unexpected that left me amused and glad that I had taken the chance.

The book, as you can see from the cover opposite is billed as, 'short stories' by Marina, but I would argue that it is one story and not 5 as billed.  Probably a minor disagreement between me, the author and editor on what is a novel and what is a a collection of short stories.  I suppose in one sense that as the 'story' progressed from it's starting point in Coney Island into the city and Manhattan and then finally back to Coney Island at it's conclusion and that new characters were introduced in 'chapters 1 through three, I would call it a novella and not a collection of shorts, but who am I to argue with the author and the editor?

I suppose, as each 'chapter' had it's own title and was therefore a 'short'  this might explain my one 'big' gripe with the book.    Wheel of Wonder Chapter one takes up 17% of the book, That's almost a quarter of it, and my gripe, well, it was just one long never ending chapter with no natural breaks or pauses to rest.   You just had to keep going and going and going and it almost seemed never ending.  I really don't care how well a book is written or how engaging the story is, you need to have natural breaks, if for no other reason than to rest your eyes, rest your mind, go to the loo, make a cup of coffee and grab a couple of digestive biscuits to dunk in said coffee; but alas there were none.  Same with Chapter 2 , 17% through to 35% no breaks, no pauses, but then we got three in chapter 3 and then no more.......  It may just be me  and I may be the only one to have picked up on this, if so, sorry, but then this is my review and I have to call it as I see it.

But, the story,  I LOVED IT!  It was quirky, it was funny, it was harrowing.

----------------some spoilers----------------

Pitkin an ex NYC Cop now a rent-a-cop on Coney Island finds trouble on his first day as a Zombie outbreak hits the amusement park. After taking refuge in the Wheel of Wonder with two of the parks finest 'attractions' the bearded lady being one it looks as if he might escape the carnage as the wheel keeps sending him up to view the carnage taking place all around.  As the operator is attacked by Zombies and the Wheel is going at a fair lick any blue hue'd Zombies getting in the way are bowled over but weight of numbers begin to tell.

As the outbreak spreads we find ourselves in Times Square   where locals and tourists are soon hemmed in by the Army and the Police and from there on in it is a roller coaster of a ride as a few hardy and disparate locals try and survive the carnage. bringing out the best and worst, as one would expect in these circumstances, in the survivors.

I don't want to give too much away and as I said it is not my usual reading fayre, and apart from my gripe about the breaks I did find it engaging. Pitkin, you wanted to see dying horribly, Chris, sweet Chris well you just want her to survive, I thought about that movie with Edward Norton and the kerb stone and the boot on the back of the neck, oh dear.   T-Bird, needed a slap a really big time slap and Parker you just knew was going to be an anti hero....  Moira, if I was her husband I would have thrown her to the Zombies at the beginning along with 'the baby' Chrissie.....   and as for that tit Steve, well what goes around comes around

This book is so cheap, it is a steal go on get it, you know you want to ...... oh and as a bonus there is a wee short story from Jaye Manus, The devil His Due, tagged on at the end about one of the Devils 'Soul Collectors' that had a twist in the tale which was funny and intriguing , so 'two' books for the price of one.....

Editing for Kindle: 4 out 5
Reading Enjoyment: 3 out of 5 see gripe above
Plot: 5 out of 5
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5
No of Pages: 143
Chapters: 5

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Standing in Another Man's Grave: A John Rebus Novel by Ian Rankin

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John Rebus, Inspector of Lothians and Borders Constabulary: Retired.... And we missed him, but Mr Rankin has saw sense and resurrected an old style copper, not one who breaks the rules, but instead bends them back on themselves if it is going to get the right result -  a 20th Century Copper who, some think, has no business in the 21st Century.

On the other hand if you are a reader of crime fiction, Rebus is. exactly what you want! A dog with a bone who won't let go, even if some of the places he ends up; no self respecting dog would want to be seen, especially when The Complaints are breathing down your collar again just waiting for the moment when they can pull the leash tight and hang you out to dry.

DI Rebus is retired but back at Lothian and Borders Police in the SCRU looking into unsolved crimes when he has a chance encounter with the mother of a missing daughter who believes that her daughter is also linked to a number of other disappearances on the A9 trunk road between Perth and Inverness (how I hate that bloody road - well not the road but the politicians who .... another blog post maybe) but none of the Police forces in Scotland have made the connection before.

This is another parent who can't and won't close the book on her daughters disappearance and move on with her life.  Rebus is, as he was in the past, non committal, but takes a look anyway and as it turns out was both bad and good for the mother - never ask for a stone to be upturned if you already know what dirt is underneath it waiting to be uncovered  .........

Is it possible that up to 5 women have been abducted and murdered, and no one has made the connection? Has Scotland got a serial killer, and can a retired dinosaur crack the case?   Rebus is back in the mix with Siobhan Clark, his old Sergeant, now a DI and working out of the station on Gayfield again.  He is up and down that A9 like a yo yo and lo and behold not only is Siobhan back, but so is Rebus's old SAAB but by the sounds of it wearing a lot better than him in semi retirement.

Rankin hasn't lost his touch with Rebus, he is his usual cynical self, but there is an underlying maturity towards Siobhan in not wanting to completely drop her in it, although at times he doesn't always manage this.  The Complaints are on his tail but especially as he still seems to be rather cosy with the Edinburgh bad boy fraternity and there is no convincing them that he is anything but dirty and doesn't belong in a Police station, unless of course he is locked up.....    

He still has issues with his daughter, but .....

This was a great re-introduction to Rebus, and with the retirement age being changed since he left, he has the papers in front of him to get back in, but will he, and, will Rankin take the chance? I for one hope that he does give us more of Rebus, even if he doesn't make it back onto the force and gets a new warrant card.... Welcome Back, John

Editing for Kindle: 5 out 5
Reading Enjoyment: 5 out of 5
Plot: 5 out of 5
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5
No of Pages: 363
Chapters: 69 

Friday, 21 December 2012

It's Christmas, enjoy!

Pre-Christmas health tips for busy people

Before Christmas is a good time to take stock of our lifestyle.
These 9 ½ questions will ensure that will make the right health choices (From a Japanese Doctor who appears an expert).

Q: Doctor, I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong
life. Is this true?

A: Heart only good for so many beats, and that it... Don't waste
on exercise. Everything wear out eventually. Speeding up heart not make
you live longer; it like saying you extend life of car by driving
faster. Want to live longer? Take nap.

Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?

A: Oh no. Wine made from fruit. Fruit very good. Brandy distilled
wine, that mean they take water out of fruity bit so you get even more
of goodness that way. Beer also made of grain. Grain good too. Bottom

Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?

A: Well, if you have body and you have fat, your ratio one to one.
If you have two body, your ratio two to one.

Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular
exercise program?

A: Can't think of one, sorry. My philosophy: No pain...good!

Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you?

A: YOU NOT LISTENING! Food fried in vegetable oil. How getting
more vegetable be bad?

Q : Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around
the middle?

A: Oh no! When you exercise muscle, it get bigger. You should only
be doing sit-up if you want bigger stomach.

Q: Is chocolate bad for me?

A: You crazy?!? HEL-LO-O!! Cocoa bean! Another vegetable! It best
feel-good food around!

Q: Is swimming good for your figure?

A: If swimming good for figure, explain whale to me.

Q: Is getting in shape important for my lifestyle?

A: Hey! 'Round' is shape!

Well... I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have
had about food and diets.

And remember:

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of
arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to
skid in sideways - Chardonnay in one hand - chocolate in the other -
body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO-HOO, what
a ride!!"


For those of you who watch what you eat, here's the final word on
nutrition and health. It's a relief to know the truth after all those
conflicting nutritional studies.

1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks
than Brits.

2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks
than Brits.

3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart
attacks than Brits.

4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart
attacks than Brits.

5. The Germans drink a lot of beer and eat lots of sausages and
fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits.

CONCLUSION: Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is
apparently what kills you

Merry Christmas


Wednesday, 19 December 2012

50 shades of ...

For Julia, Penny and Jaye as they 'loved the original so much..........

My missus bought a paperback
In Asda/Walmart Saturday,
I had a look inside the bag
T'was "Fifty Shades of Grey"
Well I just left her to it, see,
And went off up to bed
An hour later, she appeared
Oh the sight filled me with dread!
In her hand she held a rope
The other, held a whip!
She brandished them around a bit
And then began to strip?.
Well forty years or so, ago,
I might have had a peek
But Doris hasn't weathered well
She's sixty-eight next week.
Watching Doris bump and grind
Couldn't be much grimmer?
And things progressed from bad to worse
She toppled off her Zimmer !
She struggled back up to her feet,
A good half hour later,
Put her teeth back in and said
That I must dominate her !!!
Now if you knew our Doris, see,
You'd know just why I cringed.
I'd been two months in traction, cos
My hips and knees unhinged.
She stood there nude. All naked, like,
Bent forward quite a bit?. and
Jumping back in fright I went
And stood on her left tit.
Doris screamed, her teeth shot out,
My word. What HAD I done ?
She moaned and groaned then shouted out
"Step on the OTHER one !!!"
Well reader, I can tell no more
About what occurred that day.
Suffice to say, my dark brown hair,
Turned fifty shades of grey.
Black and blue, battered too,
With wanton, wild perversion,
We decided that a night of sin
Was scarce worth such exertion.
Thank Heavens she has binned the book
And peace reigns, like before.
She's head to toe in winceyette
And back to back, we snore???...

courtesy of Tony Watkins

Saturday, 15 December 2012

A woman who doesn't like to shop!

I have told you that Ishbel and I have been married for 35 years, 36 come next April, and before that we were engaged for a year or so, so all in all we have been together for a while yes, yes, I can feel your sympathies for my plight pouring in over the interweb thingy as you read this, how dreadful for poor Tom I hear you thinking,.....

Well, it hasn't been all bad and when I hear some guys moaning on about the monies their other half has spent on clothes, again; I smile inwardly and think of Ishbel....

I will be doing a post on our nieces wedding that we attended in Inverness at the beginning of the month in the next day or two, I know I promised this last week but hey I'm busy so you will just need to put on your Mr Patience coat and hang about, don't worry I'll let you know when it happens....

Anyway, a wedding a BIG OCCASION for the bride and  groom, no doubt about that but almost as big for the guests as well. It's a time to get together with family and friends, some of whom you haven't seen in ages, some of whom you have never met and so you are making up for lost time with those who you know and getting to know those you are meeting for the first time and of course being a BIG OCCASION, you want to do this in STYLE.

So what do most women do, well it's obvious isn't it they go shopping and Ishbel is no different to the rest of you women out there, she goes too, the only difference is that she goes shopping, spends half a day in the local mall and comes home with sore feet and no shopping bags!  Ridiculous I know but there you go.  It's always the same.

Me, What did you get?
Ishbel. You know what, I think I did every fashion shop in there and couldn't find a thing.
Me, Really
Ishbel, Yes, it's ridiculous, all those shops and they have nothing worth buying...
Me, But, what are you going to wear to the wedding then?
Ishbel, I'm sure there will be something in the wardrobe I can wear....

Me, thinking I am sure there is but keep my mouth shut

The thing is, it's always been the same with her and I'm not complaining but it does get me wondering that I have married a woman with a serious defect in her genes, what do you all think....

Oh, just as an aside on the Thursday before the wedding I popped into the same mall to drop Ishbel of at work in the evening.  I then went into the same mall and twenty minutes later - so that's ten minutes doing the shopping, 5 to the shop and 5 back to where Ishbel works-  I turned up at her workplace in the men's suits department of the store she works in and said would this be suitable for the wedding ...

I was walking past the Monsoon window and this caught my eye so I went in and with the help of a delightful lady inside the store I came away with a dress, a clutch bag, a bolero jacket and a scarf, the shoes I passed on as Ishbel doesn't do heels....

And another thing, over 36 years I have bought the odd bit of jewellery for her, she has diamonds and sapphires  pearls, ruby's and god knows what,  in rings, in bracelets in necklaces and in earings, all matching stuff, does she wear any of this, NO, she wears a little bracelet that one of the grandkids made her and an Energy Muse necklace gifted to her from our dearest twitter friends Julia and Oscar, who visited a few months ago from California, and which she hasn't had off from round her neck since she was given it.  Nothing against it or Jules for giving it her but what the hell am I doing buying her all that other stuff for, I ask you ......

so what do you think

How can you not find anything to buy on half a day and I can do it in 10 minutes what's going on.....

Book Review: Betrayal by Julian Stockwin

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Betrayal, 13th in the Kydd series and not at all an unlucky number and, like the previous 12, a stand alone read. I read this in hard cover format and while I do love my Kindle proper and kindle app on the iPad, it really was a delight to get back to print and doubly so when you know you are in for a great read...

Stockwin doesn't disappoint. He is not troubled by the problem some other authors suffer from in writing a series with continuing characters and in trying to keep them engaged in interesting story lines that will draw the reader in to the world the characters inhabit. Writing 'historical fiction' and drawing on real events to give us a lesson in British history. It is a history, that we may not always be proud of, but what there can be no doubt of, is that there were men of valour and bravery who went out, on behalf of their country and King, and did what was needed of them to protect and extend the 'empire' and who fitted into their time perfectly.

Kydd and the crew of HMS L'Aurore, a thirty two gun Frigate were one such band of men, men who were fiercely loyal to their Captain, their ship, their shipmates and their Country and when called upon to do their duty, would do so with guts and dorryng do....

Having won the battle to wrest the Cape from the Dutch as told in Conquest Kydd, along with the rest of the fleet and indeed the Army, find themselves in a bit of a hiatus with little to do when Commodore Popham puts to him a plan to sail to the South American continent and take the Spanish colonies from Spain.  There are no orders for this and if they embark on the mission they could face a Courts Martial for leaving their post, but, if they do and they can pull it off, the riches to be gained for the country which is still reeling from the cost of the Napoleonic wars, could save them and the country.  Can it be done or does the title of the book suggest failure....?  Do you know your history, I had no idea that we had invaded the Southern American countries , but we did and not just once, and this is the wonderful thing about Mr Stockwin, he takes our history and gives it back to us in almost, I am sure, as dramatic a fashion as it occurred at the time.  People coming up with fantastical ideas, knowing that they are going to be outnumbered and with no supply lines for material, food or reserve forces, and then leap across the world in sailing ships to put the plan into action.

This was another page turner from a Sailor who knows his craft both in terms of Sailing ships of old and in storytelling.  His introduction of characters both old and new is eloquent and enlightening, you end up checking wikipedia and other sources, not to catch him out but because he, through his story telling just ends up making you want to know more about those times, and the people who forged our history for good or for bad it is our history and brought to us in a most enjoyable way.

Editing for Kindle: Read in Hardback
Reading Enjoyment: 5 out of 5
Plot: 5 out of 5
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5
No of Pages: 365 plus 2 page Glossary*
Chapters: 16

* I note in the hardback that the Glossary is at the end of the book, which I fully understand, in print, is where it normally is, BUT, as I am forever pointing out if this is in the same place on the Kindle edition - NOT GOOD.  It should be at the front of the Kindle edition for the simple reason of, if the reader is reading it and refers to the glossary at any time the device will always revert to the Glossary if the reader loses his/her place and utilises the 'go to last page read' option to find where they left off. Irritation beyond belief then kicks in for the reader!

You can connect with Mr Stockwin at: http://www.julianstockwin.com/ and on twitter @julianstockwin

Monday, 3 December 2012

still in the Doldrums, but.......

Still in the doldrums, but just to keep you (Jules in particular) ticking over, here's another of those rubbish stories for you......

A bloke's wife goes missing while diving off the West Australian Coast .

He reports the event, searches fruitlessly and spends a terrible night
wondering what could have happened to her.

Next morning there's a knock at the door and he is confronted by a
couple of policemen, the old Sarge and a younger Constable.

The Sarge says, 'Mate, we have some news for you, unfortunately some
really bad news, but, some good news, and maybe some more good news.

'Well,' says the bloke, 'I guess I'd better have the bad news first'

The Sarge says, 'I'm really sorry mate, but your wife is dead. Young
Bill here found her lying at about five fathoms in a little cleft in
the reef. He got a line around her and we pulled her up, but she was

The bloke is naturally distressed to hear of this and has a bit of a

But after a few minutes he pulls himself together and asks what the
good news is.

The Sarge says, 'Well when we got your wife up there were quite a few
really good sized lobsters and a swag of nice crabs attached to her, so
we've brought you your share.'

He hands the bloke a bag with a couple of nice lobsters and four or
five crabs in it.

'Geez thanks. They're bloody beauties. I guess it's an ill wind and all
that... So what's the other possible good news?

'Well', the Sarge says, 'If you fancy a quick trip, me and young Bill
here get off duty at around 11 o'clock and we're gonna shoot over there
and pull her up again’