Port De Soller Mallorca

Port De Soller Mallorca

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Book Review: Death of Kings by Bernard Cornwell

Look inside Amazon UK here
Look inside Amazon US here
Bernard Cornwell must be known to many even if not from his books but from the book inspired TV show "Sharp" , I have read all of them too.

Death of Kings is the 6th novel in his 'The Making of England' series the previous books being:

The Last Kingdom
The Pale Horseman
The Lords of the North
Sword Song
The Burning Land

They tell the story of Alfred the Great the King with a vision to unite England into one country under the English. It doesn't matter today what your own provenance is, particularly at this time when some Scots are attempting to reclaim their nation for themselves away from the English; these are tales of a beginning, tales of honour and glory, tales of battle and honour and tales of men dying in bloody battlefields terrified of the oncoming shield walls but bravely standing, fighting and dying for the birth of their Country and their King.

'Go, go!' Broga had charged two men. One swung his sword at Broga's mouth, but he was trained well and reared up, hooves flailing, and the man ducked away. I clung to him, waited until he came down and brought Serpent-Breath hard down onto the second man's head, splitting helmet and skull. I heard a scream and saw that Broga had bitten of the first man's face. I spurred on. Dogs were howling, children screaming, and Serpent-Breath was feeding.'

These are the tales as told by Uhtred of Babbenburg a Pagan from Northumbria who is brought up to despise Wessex, Mercia, The Danes and anyone else not from Northumbria but who ends up becoming Alfred's Sword and Shield against the Danes.

The tale starts in the Last Kingdom when Uhtred is a boy in Babbenburg and we follow him through the years to this book and Alfred's death and his succession by Edward. The books are based on real events and so not only are we getting an exciting tale of our first Great King and the Birth of England but we are getting a master class in storytelling.

Uhtred, on the face of it, has a miserable life, constantly fighting for his life and so, has to be that much better at taking life than his contemporaries, and he should be and is, a foul tempered man at times. But he is not always like that and all of the books are sprinkled with his really funny humour.

Cornwell's writing through all his books improves and becomes better with each new book. The stories flow along; like soldiers marching along a Roman road without deviation, the prose is sharp and precise. You do tend to stumble a little at the pronunciations of the original place names he uses, but that is not a criticism as they give added authenticity to the story and the books do not suffer for that.

While this series of novels is telling us of the 'Making of England' they are stories of the birth of Uhtred, following his life's, his loves, his losses of the women he loved, and his ongoing fight to reconcile his Pagan beliefs with that of giving his oath to a Christian King and then to keeping that King and his successors on the throne while trying to find his way back to and reclaiming Babbenburg in the north.

These stories are truly engaging and exciting reads and I can't recommend them enough.

As I have all of the previous books in the series in hardback I continued in that theme with this one; and it was good to get back to holding a 'book' again (although I have to confess it did feel a bit unwieldy to begin with)

Editing for Kindle:
Reading Enjoyment: 5 out of 5
Plot: 5 out of 5
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5
Chapters: 13
Page length: 330 story, 5 Historical note

Sunday, 21 October 2012

One Pan Leg of Lamb and Veg

Family here today, so another quick recipe for you.

Whole leg of Lamb
Whole pack of Chantenay carrots washed and trimmed
4 Leaks washed trimmed and sliced
4 baby swede washed pealed and quartered
4 Parsnips washed and pealed
1Bunch of celery chopped into pieces and don't forget to shred and add the celery leaves too
As many (as large) boiling potatoes as you want
couple of shallots peeled and cut in two
1 Bottle of white wine

Brown the leg of lamb of in a roasting dish on all sides
Add the bottle of wine and burn of the alcohol.  Using the wine bottle add 1 btl of water and same again in good chicken stock.
Add all the vegetables and bring to the boil on the hob turn off immediately
Cover with oven foil and place in the oven at 100 - 130 degrees for 2 1/2 hours

Remove foil from  roasting dish and return to oven turning oven up to 150-180.

place in centre of table and let the family dig in, the meat just falls from the bone and the veg are lovely and tender.  Serve with fresh crusty bread to mop up the liquor.

Shannon preparing the veg

Ready for you Grand Dad

Ready to go in the oven 

Where's my dinner


Ready to serve

Doesn't last long 

I'm just too pretty 

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Chicken Pomodoro

Had the girls, Mollie, Shannon and Lacey Mae over Saturday and Sunday. Dad Steve and Mum Jennifer were going out to do a bit of shopping and then going for a meal Saturday night so, meal time for me and the four other ladies, 


4 Chicken Breasts  - I pre grill these with a bit of spice 
1/2 Large Chorizo sausage thinly sliced
Good Handful of small potato wedges, parboiled
1 Red Pepper diced
1/2 dozen sliced tomoatoes
Good quantity of cherry and plum tomatoes cut in half
2 Tbls Fresh cream
500 g of good quality sieved tomato sauce Pomodoro  
Handful of fresh basil

Sorry, forgot to take photo's of everything.

Take the chicken and pre grille them, setting them aside

Take the potatoes cut into quarters, simmer for about 10 - 12 minutes drain and set aside 

Par boiled wedgies

Sweat down the peppers and mushrooms in a little butter or virgin olive oil 

Diced peppers and sliced mushrooms

Cut in half the tomatoes and shred in some basil  

Mix together the pomodoro and cream in a dish and then add the other ingredients and place in an oven preheated to 220 degrees for 35 - 40 mins 


Just before serving break up a buffalo mozzarella cheese across the dish and put back in the oven for five minutes, remove and serve with some sprinkled basil


Lacey Mae

Mollie and Shannon

lacey Mae after two plates of Dinner and Chocolate pudding 

No More Freedom

I was sitting watching the news on BBC 1 last night (Friday 19th October) and there was an article on the SNP  and of course Independence and Scotland's continued affiliation to NATO, should they indeed win their 'freedom' from the remainder of the the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland?

The SNP are a few years older than NATO, the former born in 1934, the latter born out of the ashes of WWII in 1949 and I think I am correct in thinking that the SNP have been totally opposed to them since their inception.  The only reason I mention that little fact is that now with the referendum set to go ahead in a couple of years,  yesterday, the SNP conference voted to elect to remain a member of that august body, but hopefully (for them - me I'm indifferent to the whole question) without allowing the nuclear deterrent to also remain within Scottish borders!  I just mention it to highlight the fact that once again another political party has without one iota of embarrassment discarded one of the main planks of its policy with no shame and as they have never been able to get a majority in the opinion polls over 39% (I think it was sitting at that at the beginning of this year, but it's now down around 30% at the moment) they are also informing Scottish voters that every single one of them will get a £500 cash payment for voting yes to FREEDOM from the ENGLISH, WELSH and NORTHERN IRISH! Incidentally, apparently there is also a poll out at the moment which says that £500 is precisely the amount it would take for Scottish individuals to be given, and accept, as the Judas Silver, to break up the Union!

So, anyway as I watched and listened to the article they started to do a segment of snap interviews after the vote was taken and agreed and a really old chap attending the conference was asked his opinion.

I have no idea what his response was as I suddenly started thinking about an other article I had read on line from The Telegraph  about a debate on the freedom of speech, you can read the whole article here  , but here are a couple of snippets;

The Blackadder and Mr Bean star attacked the "creeping culture of censoriousness" which has resulted in the arrest of a Christian preacher, a critic of Scientology and even a student making a joke, it was reported.
 a 16-year-old boy being held for peacefully holding a placard reading "Scientology is a dangerous cult", and gay rights campaigners from the group Outrage! detained when they protested against Islamic fundamentalist group Hizb ut-Tahrir over its stance on gays, Jews and women.

We are told that Section 5, of the Public Order Act, which outlaws threatening, abusive and insulting words or behaviour is having a "chilling effect on free expression and free protest". And, clearly from these instances above, so it seems.  Every day we hear stories of people being arrested, charged, fined and imprisoned for saying things that someone sitting in an office or indeed someone sitting anywhere can hear someone say something first or second hand, phone their local police office, complain and sooner than you can say or think 'all politicians are tossers', you'll have a copper on you door.

Andrew Mitchell MP, of Plebgate fame who has just resigned, why? Because he allegedly called a cop on a gate a pleb! For Christ's sake, he probably is.  It's a word for the love of God, other deity's are available.....

In the words of Mr Atkinson: "The clear problem of the outlawing of insult is that too many things can be interpreted as such. Criticism, ridicule, sarcasm, merely stating an alternative point of view to the orthodoxy, can be interpreted as insult."

and all of the above because as I was sitting watching the report and seeing the aforementioned really, really old chap I was thinking, "What the hell is he doing in the SNP looking for independence, for gods sake,surely he won't be around long enough to see it" , as you do, but, then I thought can I actually put that out there on the Twitter-verse or will the police turn up on my doorstep to charge me for causing offence to all elderly gentleman in Scotland and in the SNP?

So, you have been warned, choose your words carefully out there.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Book Review: A Game of Proof by Tim Vicary

Look inside Amazon UK here
Look inside Amazon US here
A Game of Proof, the first outing for Mr Vicary's Sarah Newby, a High Court counsel. Sarah Newby leaves school at 16 has a relationship with a lad who is slightly older than her and they have a son. They get a council house but, as is the way with so many of these relationships, it goes the wrong way. 

Having no money and family life is not, after all, what he wants. He begins to hit her, and leaves. She turns back to School, then college and finally University and law school.

While learning to become a lawyer she marries someone else, Bob, he is educated and a teacher. They have a daughter but Sarah is to busy becoming the best at what she does to spend to much time with her children and Bob is rising up the ladder as a teacher on his way to being a head teacher! 

The setting is York, England and Sarah is defending a  rapist. In fact, DI Terry Bateson who arrested Gary Harker believes that he is responsible for a series of rapes in the city and involved in one murder.  The rape victim Sharon Gilbert is a mother and prostitute and is accusing her ex-lover, Harker, a brute of a bully, of breaking in to her home and raping her in front of her children ending by then stealing her jewellery.

In between defending this detestable human being Sarah's marriage appears to be on shaky ground, Simon her son from her first relationship is estranged from her Bob and Emily, her daughter with Bob and to cap it all there is an undercurrent between her and Terry Bateson too.  Terry  Bateson is a widower with two young daughters and a drop dead gorgeous Norwegian nanny.  He was heading for promotion until his wife died at the hands of joy riders and now answers to a DCI Churchill whom he hates. 

A Game of Proof begins as a complex chain of links between this group which looks as if nothing can keep them together other than the tangled lives they are drawn into as bit players in a tacky piece of theatre only for it to become more degrading, tacky and hurtful as one bit player after another gets the upper hand in the too-ing and fro-ing against the other in court and on the streets of York.  Against the odds one man who you are sure is guilty, is found innocent, someone else is murdered and a family member is accused of murder and rape!

Again, like The Blood Upon The Rose, the first book I read from Vicary, this too was good, the pace was just right for a convoluted crime investigation and court room drama; dead ends in the investigations and the unique reason for the lack of clues in the rapes was pretty intriguing. 

I was slightly disappointed with this one in that a number of easy spelling and grammatical errors were thrown throughout the book and in the Kindle store when you purchase it, it tells you it is 400 pages long; There are no page numbers on the Kindle itself and on the iPad it is 12520 pages long but only goes to 12518.  Minor but irritating little things it has to be said.  The plot and the pace were thoroughly enjoyable but marking it down on the presentation.

Editing for Kindle: 4 out of 5
Reading Enjoyment: 4 out of 5
Plot: 5 out of 5
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5
Chapters: 44  


Friday, 12 October 2012

Hi, Hello and Good Day......

I may have been noticeable by my absence from blogging and twittering for a couple of weeks, 26th Sept to be precise!  As you know from my previous offerings, illness per say, is not something that afflicts me but during the last couple of weeks I have been suffering terribly from the most debilitating headaches, vomiting, dizziness and tiredness.

As usual and with typical stupid male hubris I curled up in the foetal position with a basin for the vomit and a large box of Anadin for the headaches and dizziness, these normally kill any pain I am in, however for the last couple of weeks, nothing would shift this.  So off I went to the doctors and from there; after being asked by the doctor if I could afford to go for private treatment as she wouldn't be able to get me an appointment for at least 4 or 5 weeks, I was sent to Accident and Emergency with a letter!

I spent almost seven hours there, the first two waiting to be assessed including having blood samples taken.  Once that had occurred I waited about another hour  and was then taken to a treatment room where a doctor checked BP, Temperature, Vision, etc. and then I was taken along for a CT scan.  After that I was taken to a ward to go through all the tests and questions that I had just had in the initial treatment room by a doctor on the ward.

After another hour the consultant arrived to review the answers to the questions, look at the scan and then inform me of their findings.

It turns out that although my BP was slightly elevated, it wasn't elevated enough to give them any cause for concern or to otherwise point to what was causing the headaches, vomiting or dizziness.  The CT scan was taken as they felt that the symptoms I was describing could be an indicator of bleeding on the brain (!) but a scan can show up to 98% clear leaving a 2% doubt and the only way to clear the doubt is by the carrying out a lumbar puncture!

Seven hours and regardless of the pain and discomfort I had been experiencing, and to the fact that I wasn't able to concentrate - and so therefore had not taken my Kindle with me to read - my stupidity kicked in again and on the belief that this had been going on for a couple of weeks and with no medical training, I assumed that if I had been bleeding on the brain with all the portents of doom that phrase brings, then it probably would have done for me before then, dumb I know, but hey that's me and men in general I suppose......  I elected to forego that particular  pleasure!

So it has been 10 days since the hospital and I have still been suffering only very slightly with the headache but not enough to make me take any more pills and the odd bout of dizziness and I am beginning to be able to concentrate again.

Unrelated, I think, I hope, to the headaches and vomiting, is the old eyes.  They seem to be straining a bit as I read and work, but this is since and after the headaches developed and I think I need an eye test again so I will be making an appointment at the opticians for that soon.

I picked up A Game of Proof by Tim Vicary on Tuesday and am really enjoying it thus far.  Bitter Harvest the latest from Michael R Hicks and the latest signed hardback in the 'Kydd' series from Julian Stockwin, Betrayal , have been added to the reading list  and I am really looking forward to getting back to some good reading in these books and the other 30 odd books in the TBR list.  Will let you know how I get on with these as I get through them.

So, I'm hoping that this is me going to be rejoining the Blogging and Tweeting world and getting back to re-engaging with all of you and in begging your indulgence for my recent absence.......