Photos from this year

I've been lax on blogging this year, so I thought I'd ease back in with some photos of what I've been up to during 2017.

First off, Tamara and I toured Scotland for 2 weeks in September. Click the photo to see the gallery.

And I did a lot of sailing around San Diego, earning my US Coastguard sailing qualifications…

And I've been doing a lot of writing. More on that in a blog post later this week. ?




In June 2015 we took an incredible trip to Russia. After a few days in Moscow, we sailed north along the Volga-Baltic waterway to some towns deep in the Russian countryside (Uglich, Yaroslavl) and then north to some lakes. After stopping at the remote island of Kizhi, we headed along the River Neva to spend a few days in Saint Petersburg. What an amazing country. Here's just a few of the photos from our trip.



Wonderful thing about Tigger…

TiggerSmallThis is the special story of Tigger. I have shared most of my life with cats, typically 3-6 of them at any time. Though Pippin is my current favourite, Tigger remains the most dear to me. Let me tell you why.

When I was a young teen, living in rural Oxfordshire in England, my parents promised me a new cat. We drove a ways to an animal shelter (we always adopt cats). Naturally, I wanted a kitten and there were hundreds walking around in a huge indoor space. I had my heart set on this tiny, cute silver kitten, but it was yet too young to leave its mother. I kept looking at all the other kittens, but all the while this adorable little orange cat kept following me everywhere I went. He adopted me! Well I had to take him with me then, so that was the cat I chose – Tigger.

He didn't even need a cat carrier. He was so enamoured with me (and I with him) that he just curled up on my lap in the car and went to sleep. Incidentally, the only cat I have ever lived with that didn't mind being in the car.

Tigger was a red tabby, Maine Coon cross and wasn't he handsome? He was the friendliest cat, often too much so. As he grew up, he had a fondness for sitting in the middle of the road. House cats are not a common thing in England as they are in America. Most cats roamed free, coming into the house through their own kitty door. Luckily, the road in our residential area was curvy and no one seemed to speed. It was not uncommon for a driver to have to stop, get out of his car and lift Tigger to the sidewalk. Oh yes, Tigger adored the attention! He was a real character.

His favourite spot to sleep was on the back of our TV, one of those huge CRT kinds from the 70's and 80's. The vent at the back made a toasty spot for him to sprawl out. A common source of amusement was when he relaxed too much and we'd hear this frantic scrabbling sound as he rolled off the back of the TV. It never stopped him, however.

This is where the story turns sad but becomes most special. Tissues at the ready folks. We lived in a two-floor house and as Tigger reached a grand old age (incredible that he never got run over!) he lost interest in climbing the steep stairs to the second-floor. One weekend afternoon, I was sitting on my bedroom floor (I don't remember what I was doing) when in walked Tigger. My mother later told me that it had taken him ages to clamber up one stair after the other, taking several rests. Surprised to see him, I of course made a huge fuss of him. Purring, he curled up in a ball next to me on the floor… and died.

Whenever I feel down, I think of my special Tigger.

Whenever I feel that things are getting tough, I remember that my cat Tigger climbed agonizingly up the stairs to share his final moments with me.

I hope that pet heaven has plenty of warm TV grilles and no stairs.



Photos from Orlando and St. Augustine

Back from a fun vacation in Florida. Here’s a small selection of the hundreds of photos we took:


A gallery of Orlando, including Disney, Universal Studios and Kennedy Space Center:

Epcot flower festival, Disney

Epcot flower festival, Disney

China, Epcot, Disney

Epcot flower festival, Disney

Norway, Epcot, Disney

Norwegian Troll

Two-fitin’ again!

Epcot flower festival, Disney

Tamara enjoying a cider

Lost Continent, Universal Studios

Lost Continent, Universal Studios

Hogsmead, Harry Potter World

Hogsmead, Harry Potter World

Hogwarts, Harry Potter World

Hogsmead, Harry Potter World


Universal Studios

Tree of Life, Animal Kingdom, Disney

Everest Ride, Disney Animal Kingdom

Lost in Tibet somewhere, Disney Animal Kingdom

Parade, Disney Animal Kingdom

Parade, Disney Animal Kingdom

Parade, Disney Animal Kingdom

Parade, Disney Animal Kingdom

T-Rex restaurant

Dinosaur frozen in ice, T-Rex restaurant

Orion crew module


Apollo Crawler

Mobile launch Platform for SpaceX

Pad 39A

Saturn V main stage rockets


A gallery from St. Augustine, the oldest continually occupied city in the USA, dating from 1565, settled by the Spanish:

St. Augustine Distillery

St. Augustine Distillery

Flagler College

St. Augustine

Lightner Museum

Oldest house in the USA

Inside, oldest house in USA

El Galleon, St. Augustine

Flagler College

Oldest schoolhouse

Old Spanish City Gates, St. Augustine

Scarlett O’Hara’s, St. Augustine

Castillo de San Marcos

Castillo de San Marcos

Castillo de San Marcos

Cannon firing demonstration

Castillo de San Marcos

St. Augustine Lighthouse

Lion Bridge

El Galleon

Castillo de San Marcos

Gallows, Old Jail

Old Jail


Australian coffee house in USA’s oldest city?


Fountain of Youth spring

Original landing point 1535

Juan Ponce De Leon




Status Update May 2013 and beta readers wanted

Golden Gate BridgeHello. Hey, it’s me, in case you’re wondering who this stranger is. I haven’t posted for a whole month because May has been an insanely busy month.

My mother came over from England for 3 weeks and we had a great time. Even though I had to work, we still found time to take her to Palm Springs and up to San Francisco. We had tremendous fun up there touring the city, going out into the harbor and driving up to Napa to sample some wines. This photo is me grinning ear to ear because the Golden Gate finally came into view, but not until we sailed through the famous fog almost underneath it.

During May we are also re-financing our house, installing solar panels (the latest in our continuing efforts to become greener), and a bunch of other life changes. And all of this on top of work. I’ll be glad to get into June!

Alas, I haven’t written for 3 weeks and will be back at the keyboard tonight and all through the Memorial Day weekend. Yay! I have about 15,000 words to go to complete the first draft of my 2nd book, which is provisionally entitled Necro. It’s dark fantasy, first person in the head of a Necromancer, but I think it’s quite different to other books you might have read about Necromancers.  Once the first draft is done, I intend to make 2 further drafts between now and August after which I’ll be ready for beta readers.

If you’d like to be a beta reader, please contact me! I don’t expect line edits, just an honest read in 4-6 weeks and a response with your thoughts on what worked and what didn’t, what you liked or hated. In return you’ll get a mention in the book and a free ebook copy.

I’m also furiously scribbling background and plot notes for the first in a series of futuristic paranormal novellas that I’ll start this summer.

Finally, a plea to anyone who has read Ocean of Dust, enjoyed it but is nervous of writing a review on Amazon, B&N, Kobo, or even Goodreads. Please do – you only have to write a few sentences, and every review helps a budding new author like me. :) I appreciate it.



10 things to be thankful for

smileyI know it’s not Thanksgiving, but today I want to give thanks for some things. I have two lists:


  1. My darling wife: She is a wonderful friend, mate and companion in life. We don’t have everything in common (and nor should we) but we share the same opinions on the things that matter most to us, like family, house, work, travel, our pets. We have never argued for more than a few moments. We communicate openly about things that trouble us, whether each other or the world around us. I believe there is nothing we cannot go through together. Thank you, Tamara, for supporting everything that I do, even my crazier ideas. I shall always reciprocate.
  2. Family: Though my father passed on years ago, my mother and sister are my best friends. Being half the world away doesn’t prevent us from having a lot of fun.
  3. Health: I do not have perfect health, but my condition has been stable for almost twenty years, and I cannot complain about the few bumps now and then. Getting old sucks, heh, but I am determined to suffer the aches and pains, failing eyes, etc., with grace. Many in this world do not have the health I have, so who am I to complain.
  4. Freedom: As numerous as the problems with the US government and economy are, (and indeed in most of the world these days), I am thankful to live in a land where I can say what I like (within reason), think what I like, and largely act as I like, without restriction of movement. I think all of us take this for granted. Certainly laws are becoming more restrictive and some are downright unconstitutional, but I am not in jail, not a slave, and not subject to police/army searches and curfews.
  5. Food and Water: Another gift we take for granted. I can eat what I want, when I want, with no more effort than a drive to the grocery store. I do not have to walk 4 hours each way across a desert to get warm, dirty water and a bowl of rice. I never go hungry, quite the opposite, and am shedding pounds as I write this. I have hot food, cold food, pure water from a tap in my house. I am happy to donate food and time to collections of food for the needy.
  6. Power: I have seemingly endless power available to me 99.999% of the time. I can take hot showers, cook my food, watch TV, write on this computer, light my house in the evening. I do not squander power, but am very thankful for the amenities and comforts it affords.
  7. Friends: I prefer quality over quantity and have shared some wonderful, fun times with my friends, in real life and around the world online. They are there for me, and I for them. When my day is down, they cheer me up.
  8. The World: This world, indeed the universe, is an astonishingly wonderful place. Something special, no matter how tiny, happens every minute, and I wish I could savour every single event. Our world is rich in animals, plants, terrain, people and cultures. How spectacular it is that the world and its people are not uniform and dull. Just stepping out of the house, whether into nature or into the city, is an adventure, and we are lucky to have that.
  9. Interesting Times: I adore living in such interesting times. I’m sure that all times are to those that live them, but as a geek, the accelerating pace of science and technology is tremendously exciting. I have seen so many incredible inventions in my life. What more will I live to see? Our migration into space? Endless power? Saving the world from ourselves? Curing disease and hunger? Warp drive? Teleportation? Bring it on!
  10. Life itself: Very easy to take for granted. My parents nurtured me into an adult and I have every reason to hope for a long lifespan. To where we go after our death is between you and your chosen religion, but I for one am excited to continue my journeys and adventures after this life. Perhaps I will have learned sufficient in this life to assist others with theirs.


Since this is ostensibly a writing blog, let’s have a quick look at 10 things to be thankful for in my budding writing career:

  1. Creativity: I have no shortage of ideas and am thankful that I have always possessed an inquiring and imaginative mind. I hope my readers get to share and enjoy some of my wildest ideas, worlds and characters.
  2. Freedom of Publication: So many people have embraced the new opportunities to become an author. I do not have statistics, but I swear there are thousands more authors on the shelves of the bookstores than there were in my youth. And when we step away from Traditional Publishing into Indie publishing, my word what an explosion! Never before in the history of man has it been so easy for creative writers to bring their work before readers in a worldwide marketplace. Do all these books have merit? Perhaps not, but I trust the reader to find what they enjoy.
  3. Readers: I am thankful for those very readers, especially as a new author. I do not take it lightly that complete strangers trust me to deliver entertainment, and buy my book in a world with so much choice. I hope I have not let anyone down, and bless you all for sharing my writing journey. The best is still to come!
  4. Reviewers: Thank you to the review bloggers who, with no financial reward from the author, give up their time to read (which they would do anyway, I’m sure) but more importantly, write lengthy reviews and help promote new authors. That’s got to be a tough job. Thank you also to every reader that takes time out of their day to write a few words or even just rank books online. This helps both the author and fellow readers.
  5. Ebook Publishers: Certainly the publishers are in it for the money, but I still give thanks for the recent and sophisticated tools that these companies build to make it easier for Indie authors to get our books onto the market. In just a few hours, a couple of days at most, we can have well-formatted books on multiple formats around the world. We shouldn’t take that for granted. Not everyone is an HTML-savvy coder. Even though I am, obviously I’d rather be writing my next book. Thank you Amazon, Smashwords, B&N, Apple, Kobo, and others.
  6. Authors: I have met so many wonderful people willing to give free and lengthy advice, tips and knowledge. It is wonderful that we do not think of each other as competitors.
  7. Honest Critiques: I love it! Thank you to friends, critique partners, beta readers and everyone who has read my work in a rough state and taken the time to tell me what works and what doesn’t. My writing is better because of all of you.
  8. Time: All authors want more time to write, but I thank my workplace for not making me work long hours, and my wife (again!) for allowing me quiet time to write. I’m not a fast writer, so I need time, and my mind boggles to think of how moms can write books while running the household and looking after small kids. Wow.
  9. Promoters: Thanks to my family, friends, fellow authors and anyone who has helped promote my first book; with a particular shout out to Kellie Sheridan and my buddies at Untethered Realms. It’s a tough market to get noticed in, and I am truly grateful for your generous promotion and putting your own name and reputation behind my book.
  10. I can write: Ooh, this one sounds a little egotistical, doesn’t it? My writing journey has only just begun and I have much, much to learn, but I can write a good enough story with enough craft that people are enjoying my first book. Can I do better? Absolutely, but I am proud of my debut book. I think it is definitely decent enough for consumption. May readers be free to tell me otherwise. :) But I give thanks that, given the hundreds of ideas that I want to capture into stories, that I have the capability to do so.




Sultana1 Here’s a look at a hobby I picked up a few years ago: Building wooden ships. I’m sure you just imagined all those plastic kits that we boys loved to make as a child, typically of aircraft and spaceships. Although you buy a ship “kit”, it is typically a bundle of wood, cotton and paints with a few manufactured pieces like cannon. The rest of the kit involves laborious use of scalpels, glue, and Dremel tools to actually cut the wood into the right shapes.

In the photo gallery below, you can kick back and look at a slideshow of photos from my first  ship, The Sultana. In this kit, the hull came as a basic shape that needed to be carved and sculpted. Then you can see how I layered up all the details. All the rigging you see was sewn by hand, every little strand of it. I find this hobby wonderfully relaxing.




Ship 003

Picture 005

Picture 009

Picture 012

Picture 016_small





My current build, (which I haven’t touched for a couple of years now), is of The Lady Nelson. This is a more advanced build in which I actually had to plank the hull just as they do in real ships. Boy was that fiddly, especially where the planks meet at the stern.















After this one, I plan to build the HMS Mars and work my way up the crowning achievement of all… HMS Victory, Admiral Nelson’s flagship, which is about 4′ long! I hope you enjoy these pictures.

What unusual hobbies do you have?

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