The Last Days of Thunder Child

The Last Days of Thunder Child
War of the Worlds - spin off adaptation novel.

Monday, 30 April 2018

A Spy by Nature by Charles Cumming (My Goodreads Review)

A Spy by Nature (Alec Milius #1)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read another Charles Cumming story that I enjoyed. That was a Thomas Kell novel. This one, (A Spy by Nature) is about a character called Alec Milius. It is in the first person singular. As much as I enjoyed the other story with Thomas Kell, I found this one to be even more enjoyable. It got down to the nitty gritty more and gave an insight into recruitment and the depths that a spy might go to in order to infiltrate other organisations. This story was clever and involved industrial espionage at a corporate level. I liked the Alec Milius character. He is flawed in many ways but he is also creative and a very good liar. The entire plot is cleverly contrived as Milius presents himself as a disillusioned young man who is bitter and resentful at being unrecognised for his talents. He is bait for foreign CIA operatives - he is prey secretly hunting the hunters. It is not overly complex for the reader. Yet it is wonderfully devious as we see the groundwork laid out. It is also strange because the competitors are the Americans who are our allies in many areas of security. I will definitely read the second Alec Milius story after this one. If you like a good espionage story or John le Carre, then I would highly recommend this spy novel - splendid stuff.

Friday, 27 April 2018

Rapscallion by James McGee (My Goodreads Review)

Rapscallion (Matthew Hawkood, #3)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the third Matthew Hawkwood story that I have read. This one was very exciting too. Our Bow Street Runner is sent, undercover, as an American prisoner of war. He is among French prisoners on a prison hulk that is at anchor in the River Thames close to the Medway and the Isle of Sheppey. Very soon, Hawkwood and an escaped French sailor are caught up in a smuggling ring of dynamic and well organised criminal abilities. The reader is taken on a lavish and nail-biting adventure. Great story and I look forward to the next Matthew Hawkwood story. I would also like to add that these stories would make for a fabulous TV period drama show.

The Watermen by Patrick Easter (My Goodreads Review)

The Watermen (Tom Pascoe, #1)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Absolute peach of a read. Set in London in 1798. A young Captain of a merchant vessel and ex-Royal Navy brings his ship into the port of London. His arrival coincides with the forming of a marine police force. Through a set of twisting circumstances, our hero Tom Pascoe embarks upon a new career as a marine policeman. He comes up against a formidable gang of villains led by a notorious Irishman named Brolin. Lots of twists and turns - friendship, murder, mystery and mayhem all the way. I enjoyed the old picture of the London streets I know well. Especially in the E.C. area where I worked as a postman for twenty years. It is where all the banks and reinsurance companies are today. Yet at this time, there are residential dwellings etc. My childhood districts of Bow and Poplar are mere marsh areas with fields etc. I thought the picture of this old style outer fringe of what is today East London was brilliant. I would highly recommend this story. It is the first book in a saga of Tom Pascoe stories. He is a river policeman in the port of London. Smashing stuff. I will certainly read more of these adventures.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

War of the Worlds Spin-Off. (HMS Thunder Child)

Thunder Child Attacks! 🇺🇸🇬🇧🇩🇪🇫🇷🇨🇦🇦🇺🇳🇿🇯🇵

This was the moment! 

All were pragmatic. 

The plucky little ironclad cruised forward. 

It’s mission, to engage the alien abominations from Mars. 

As the crew steered their old craft through the swell towards the diabolical fighting machines, they trained their guns upon the closest. 

Steady and with patience the guns took aim. 

Steady and with further patience the crew waited for the captain’s command.

The uncanny atrocities looked down through their repugnant eyes. 

The Martians did not know what to make of the strange craft that steamed towards them.

What is it?


Too late!

One of the vile monstrosities was up close and within sight of the wicked sting. 

The Thunder Child's vengeful guns had roared.

The metal projectile smashed into the alien body casing.

A hit! 

A fine one too.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Tales of a Victorian Detective by Jerome Caminada (My Goodreads Review)

Tales of a Victorian Detective

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Biographical memoirs of a police detective of Victorian Manchester and surrounding area from the 1870s, 1880s and 1890s. For historical crime buffs, this is a good read of personal recollections. I enjoyed it, but the most interesting cases seemed to be at the start. Then the following chapters were good and informative, but not as interesting as the first stories. Still, I would recommend this as not everyone will be as fussy as me. It does make one wonder about the crime of the time. People that say things are dreadful today and it never happened years ago; are so very wrong. 

Sunday, 22 April 2018

A Splendid English Sunny Afternoon for a Saint George's Day Fair.

My wife and I took a midday stroll along the river bank towards the town centre. The high road had been closed off and there were hundreds of stools selling all types of things. Everywhere were the English flags of Saint George. All the canal boats were adorned with them and the small town centre was buzzing with activity around the Saint George's Day fair. 

I always like the cheese stools and the bread stool. I bought a caramelised red onion 'Nibble Nose' cheddar. The 'Nibble Nose' was the brand name. Plus an Italian Tomato and Basil cheese. When I got home I was able to eat some with the special bread of melted cheese and pitted olives inside the dough. This was also Italian. After a little wander about the fair attractions, we bought a few other things including some salted caramel fudge. It was a bit too surgery for me, but my wife Carole loves it.  

Back home, we sat in the garden for the sunny afternoon eating our fairground market buys. I had a Guinness to help me wash down my bread and cheese.

Blood on the Cobbles: A Victorian True-Murder Casebook by Grahame Farrell (My Goodreads Review)

Blood on the Cobbles: A Victorian True-Murder Casebook

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an interesting book about some outrageous crimes of the Victorian age. With death sentences hanging over many of these murderers, one might think the deterrent would thwart such crimes. When we remember our grandparents saying, "It would not have happened in my day." You will be able to respond; "What a load of tosh!"

Some of these murders were diabolical beyond extreme. Especially one of a serial killing doctor who used poisons and life insurance. Each chapter is a story of a different murder. Much of this is shocking and certainly opens one's eyes to the way Victorian Britain was. It was not the ordered and proud society many of us like to think of. It was an absolute den of iniquity.

Because each chapter was of a different murder, the cases seemed to be rushed through. Interesting though they all were, one could have devoted a full-length documentary book to each foul act.

I found the book compelling. A collection of articles to make the book. But I wanted to know more detail about each case. Perhaps that is just me. For this reason, I drop the score from four stars to three. I recommend it but some cases could have had more depth.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Wildlife and the Fenland Garden

Wildlife and the Fenland Garden

Away from the smoke of the city. The countryside is ambient and calming.

I Love the Fenlands

The Fenland

The entire area is tranquil. There are a few old market towns but most of the Fenland is like the video below. Much of this is what I see every day. Coming from a big city, I found it hard to adjust at first. Then it gradually grew on me. When I visit my old abode, I can't wait to get back to this tranquil solitude. The way of life is different. No one is in a rush. It looks bleak in the winter but the Fenland is far from this. Things happen all of the time.

The Fenland Garden

An Ambient Little Pond Feature for the Fenland Garden

One of the sad and annoying things about my job is fly-tipping. I live in a very rural and beautiful part of England. Yet still, we have the odd few who spoil the countryside. They drive out into the isolated areas and get rid of their rubbish in a small layby or wooded area. Sometimes I find the odd thing of use. However, the vast amount is garbage.
A short time ago, I found the mould of a small garden pond. It was dumped along with fly-tipping down a country lane. It was brand new. Never used. There were no punctures and I was at a loss as to why it was cast away. I brought it home and left it in the garden before returning to work. When I returned home after work, my wife Carole had dug a hole and placed the pond within. We had a lot of loose stone and rock which she had placed around the pond. Filled with enthusiasm, we went for a drive to the village of Murrow. There is an aquatic pond life centre there. Here we purchased a water pump and waterfall. We also bought some oxygenating plants.
We were like a couple of excited school kids. In no time at all, the filter pump and waterfall were working. The pond plants were put in. Our next trip was to a huge garden centre where we bought rockery alpine plants and peat. We even stopped and picked up bags of horse manure. Carole and I were on a roll. Our garden pond would be a delightful addition to the already developing garden. A couple of days later we acquired some pond fish. Six in all. In no time, we were sitting on the decking and listening to the ambient sound of the water feature and the waterfall. The alpine plants took to the task of enhancing our wonderful pond feature. It all looked and sounded relaxing.

Marsh Harrier

The bird hides of Manea

Everything is wonderful in the Fenland when it is summer. The winter has its appeal too. However, the fields are no longer full of vibrant crops. Everything is back to the ploughed and furrowed earth. The birds of prey are always easier to spot in the leafless trees. Especially the Common Buzzards as they stand sentinel over the bleak rutted fields. Often we go out down the country lanes towards a village called Manea. There are bird hides here. These scattered hides command a view across a Fen that floods and turns into a lake from November to March. The River Delph bursts its banks and the marshy meadows become a natural floodplain. In the distance, and often through marshland mist, we can see the spire of Ely Cathedral.
The appearance of the lake attracts all sorts of waterfowl. They are bobbing about in their hundreds. Various breeds. Carole, and I sit in the hides for a few hours looking at the many birds. I’m just interested in the birds of prey. The marshy fen is a favourite haunt for the many Marsh Harriers that come across the lake. The waterfowl always give us a warning when such graceful predators are gliding by. The game birds all start squawking and scattering. Their wings flapping in panic as they try to make way for the raptor. The spot that is vacated by the flustered multitude is always where the more fearsome bird’s flight path will be. I home in with the camera and hope for the best. Through the melee of confusion comes the unwelcome guest. Usually, the Harrier is too far off to get a good photo shot, but sometimes the odd one comes out fine. There are also other birds of prey to see. We have seen Hobbys, Buzzards, Red Kites, Kestrels and a Short Eared Owl. These raptors are always about the isolated bird hides. Carole and I go here regularly through the year.
During this summer, the lake vanishes and one can see the River Delph. The fields are occupied by grazing cattle again. The whole scene looks fresh and new. The trees are full of lush green leaves when they were bleak and bare a few months earlier. The whole land has come to life. The spring and summer bring swallows and swifts. There is a Kingfisher that comes along the River on the hunting patrol. There are rivers and Kingfishers everywhere. Also Reed Buntings and Reed Warblers.

The Hobby.

Fenland Birds of Prey

Common Buzzards, Red Kites, Marsh Harriers, Sparrow Hawks, Hobbys, Kestrels and many types of Owl. I have seen them all in the bird hides of the Fenland.

The Garden is full of Growing Wildlife.

Carole and I have some fabulous days. Not just at the hides but at our home by the open Fenland. Our bungalow looks out across the meadows. She loves the garden and is always tending the flowers and lawn. We have a grand decking area where we sit. Here, we enjoy the summer evenings when I return home from work. Over a period of time, we have put up bird boxes to try and entice Finches and Sparrows etc. The bird boxes have not been taken yet, though we did have a Jenny Wren look one over. Carole says a Jenny Wren male will make several nests. The female will then inspect the various choices of home and choose where to lay her eggs. Sadly our bird box was rejected by the female Jenny Wren. Perhaps next year she might look more favourably on the bird box.
However, in our ceonosis bush, Carole came upon a small nest. The bush is inside the coop where our ducks are kept. Carole was collecting the morning eggs lay. She saw a small Dunnock (hedge sparrow) leave the bush from the top and over the fence. She peeked into the ceonosis bush and found a nest with tiny blue eggs inside. Also, our magnolia tree had a pair of Goldfinches build a nest close to the top of the tree. I took some photos of the Dunnock eggs and then left the tiny birds to do their thing.
We had bird feeding tables put up and we watched the various small Finches, Sparrows, Robins and a Pied Wagtail. A blackbird was using the pond waterfall as a shower each morning and in the afternoon. The whole garden was a hive of activity. We enjoyed watching the creatures of habit. Carole and I were feeling exceptionally pleased with ourselves. In a short time, we noticed the Goldfinches coming backwards and forwards to their nest. Their eggs had hatched and the male and female were taking it in turns to bring food for the young. The three Dunnock eggs hatched too. I managed to get another photo shot of the young.

The Dunnock's Eggs and Nest.

The Hatched Young of the Dunnock.

The Goldfinch Nest.

Then one morning as I was making a cup of tea, Carole came in from the garden. She was all flustered and said that the Goldfinches were jumping from the nest. One had fallen in front of our Ragdoll Cat, Bob. He is fat and very lazy and will not run after anything. But the helpless Goldfinch was right before him. Food from Heaven. He snatched it up, but Carole managed to get the poor thing from his jaws. I went into the garden and heard a fearful commotion from the top of the magnolia tree. The infant Goldfinches came fluttering down from the top of the nest. They were panicking because a group of sparrows were attacking them. They were just shy of fledging and in a terrible dilemma. Three of them landed on the lawn. I gathered the little creatures up and took them into Carole. The sparrows were still making a racket by the nest as I got my step ladders. As I placed them on the tree, the sparrows flew away. I climbed the ladder to the nest and saw the last baby Goldfinch. Sadly, it was blooded and dead.
The Goldfinch that our cat Bob had picked up died soon after. I think it was traumatised by the ordeal. The other three baby Goldfinches were also huddled and quite. Carole phoned the animal sanctuary and they gave us a number of a rescue centre close by. A lady answered and told us to try and keep them warm and in a dark place. We put them in a small hamster cage with some bedding and then in an airing cupboard. In a short time, a volunteer from the charity came up the drive. The lady was another helper from the rescue centre. She began to feed the chicks with a syringe and the little things responded well. One of them started hopping around the cage. The Volunteer seemed very confident that the birds would soon fledge. The woman took the Goldfinches away to nurse them through the final stages of their growing cycle to fledging successfully.

The Goldfinches were attacked by Sparrows.

The Goldfinches Deserted Their Nest

Of the five Goldfinch chicks, only three survived. I would not have realised sparrows could be so destructive. The parent Goldfinches came back and were stressed that their young were gone. They would not know that three of their chicks had survived. Eventually, they abandoned the nest and flew off.

Dunnock (Hedge Sparrow)

The Sparrow Hawk

Over the next few days, the Dunnock chicks left the nest and began to hop about the garden lawn. They always returned back to the Ceonosis bush where their nest was. One day when I was at work, I got a call on my mobile from Carole. She said she was sitting on the decking doing her Sudoku book. She was alerted by a commotion. A Sparrow Hawk had banged into the passionflower shrub growing up the side of the fence. The bird of prey’s high pitched screech filled the air. It was caught up in the vines, but got lose and flew off. It had one of the fledgeling Dunnocks in its talon. There were three of them. Now there were two. When I came home from work, Carole was telling me all about the Sparrow Hawk. We were sitting on the decking and the camera was on the table. Sometimes a Buzzard flew over and I was chancing for a photo shoot. Low and behold. As though on call. The very Sparrow Hawk, Carole spoke of, landed on the fence. It was looking for small birds that went to our bird table. I managed to take a few shots of the little raptor before it shot off. It was so quick. It dived low and then rose across our garden. Then swooped upwards and shot over the fence. Talons first it hit a huge bush in the garden next door. I don’t think it got anything, but it was an attempted strike at some small hedge bird. Carole or I could not see a catch as the Sparrow Hawk flew off.
This raptor passed by on a daily basis. Our garden was part of its hunting ground. The two remaining Dunnocks fledged and moved on. At least that is what we assumed. Also, the other smaller birds that visited the bird table seemed to continue. We never saw another Sparrow Hawk strike in the garden for the rest of the summer. It probably got results in other gardens.

Suddenly the Sparrow Hawk Appeared.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Resurrectionist by James McGee (My Goodreads Review)

Resurrectionist (Matthew Hawkwood, #2)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read the first Matthew Hawkwood story. Therefore, I decided to give the second Hawkwood a go too. I've managed to read it in two days. The plot is fast paced and there are some rather gruesome and nasty characters in this story. Our hero is Matthew Hawkwood. He is an ex-Green Jacket from the Napoleonic wars in Spain and Portugal. I think the year is about 1813. Hawkwood is now a Bow Street Runner in London. His new found employment is that of the early police militia. This Gothic Tale of grave robbing and wanted murderers borders on horror as well as historical crime.

The Napoleonic wars are still in progress and Hawkwwod has been invalided out of the army around 1808 or 1809, I think. He works for the magistrate who sends him out on an investigative role. This diabolical plot is very intriguing as Hawkwood is hunting grave robbers and a mad doctor who is conducting diabolical experiments. I can't say too much as to how this doctor comes about in, crime invested, London. It would spoil the story. Needless to say, I would recommend this historical/crime/horror tale to any reader of fiction. Great fun, great entertainment even though it is rather grizzly in parts.

View all my reviews

Monday, 16 April 2018

Dalek Empire I - audio story (My Goodreads Review)

Dalek Empire I: Chapter One - Invasion of the Daleks (Doctor Who)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had just finished a book and then noticed I had downloaded this audio from Big Finish on my mobile app. I thought I would give it a go as it was only 71 mins in length. I was very surprised at how well the production was done. The sci-fi drama was very atmospheric with the old Doctor Who bad guys, the Daleks. In this particular story, there is no Doctor Who. Instead, we are taken to a planet called Vegas. There is a human colony there and it is about to be invaded. The dialogue was splendid and I would say this story is rather adult. Although it was only 71 mins long, it is part one of a four-part story. If the other episodes are as good as this, I will be pleased. I shall listen to the others in due course. If you are retro Doctor Who fans looking for something a little more adult and with a bit of a bite; then I would recommend giving this a go.

Single & Single by John le Carre (My Goodreads Review)

Single & Single

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another very exciting read from John le Carre. I read all the Cold War stories and was apprehensive about the post Smiley era tales. This along with 'A Delicate Truth' means my reluctance was unjustified. From the first page, I was hooked. In this story, an entrepreneurial businessman named Tiger Single leads his company on a big business venture with the new Eastern European nations from the post-Soviet Union era. Opportunities from Georgia. The seasoned British businessmen of Single and Single's various enterprises think everything will be a walk in the park. It all turns out to be a little bit more demanding than a park stroll. Dynamic story and I recommend it to any espionage/thriller fan.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

UNIT: The Coup by Colin Brake - Big Finish Production (My Goodreads Review)

Silver Lining / UNIT: The Coup (Bernice Summerfield #25)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I only downloaded UNIT: The Coup. It was a freebie on Big Finish. It is a prequel to a series of UNIT audio adventures. As a taster, it was an enjoyable short story. About 20 mins or a little more. The late Nicholas Courtney (Brigadier from Doctor Who tv series) plays the retired veteran who is now known as Sir Alister Lethbridge Stewart. As a taster it was good. More adult too. On the basis of this appetiser of sci-fi stories, I'll download the next full-length story in the near future.

A Foreign Country by Charles Cumming (My Goodreads Review)

A Foreign Country (Thomas Kell, #1)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fast-paced spy thriller with all the ingredients. It moved quickly and the reader discovers the many intricacies of the plot through Thomas Kell. A disgraced former agent brought in from the cold to investigate something on an ad-hoc basis for British SIS. I don't want to say what it is, but one thing leads to another with further intrigue and then counter intrigue. It all makes for a stunning climatic conclusion. This was a good story with just one flaw in my opinion. The enemy intrigue, that is peddled, would never have got over the first hurdle in today's high tech world. That is my humble opinion. But despite this, it still makes for a grand story. I would have given a five star except for that one BIG plot flaw.

Friday, 13 April 2018

Missing the Company of a Wonderful Dog

A Walk in the Fen is Helpful.

Life and its Beauty.
My workmate and I stopped off by a lake in the village of Manea. It is a small little village in the Fenland of Cambridgeshire, UK. For miles in every direction is fenland. The village houses end abruptly. The fields begin for miles in every direction. There are no suburbs like in cities. It was one of the first delightful things I noticed about the Fens. It was the reason I chose to move here. I have been through much in the past year. The serene stillness of the Fens offers a soothing calm. It does not take the bad things away, but it helps a person to move on. The Fenland on a clear day is kind to the observer.
All my life, I’ve been trying to get away from London. I was born there and I used to remember going on holidays away from London. My Dad would drive out of the city and I could never remember the moment when the urban area vanished and the fields started. I always tried to tell myself I would. I was determined to make a mental note. I told myself, ‘I shall know the point where London finished and the countryside began.’
As the car moved through the traffic and the dirty buildings flitted by, I lost the initial thought. My mind would wander on to other things. I would be talking to my sister. Then to my Mother and Father in the front of our vehicle. Somehow, I would miss the suburbs ending for the fields. I would only realise when the hedgerows and meadows were serenely sailing past. They had been doing so for ages, but I had missed the all-important moment when the ill-favoured city ended and the fields began. I might have sighed with frustration. ‘Oh blast! I did it again.’
I made a mental note never to live in London when I grew up. I would live by the seaside one day. Or in the fields. Well! I have done both. I eventually moved to the seaside. I loved it but decided to move on when I saw the wonderful Fenlands of Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Lincolnshire. Now I work around the small hamlets and travel the Fens daily. I adore it. I’ve been through many trials and dreadful tribulations on my journey through life. I’m sure most of us do. We get through these things and are where we are. Some things I would not mention, but there are some sentiments that I think are appropriate.

Needing a short time to reflect on issues.

When we stopped today at the fishing lake, it was a crisp cold autumn day. Not freezing, but there was a chill in the air. However, the sky was clear and blue. Earlier in the morning, the fields were covered in a light frost. As the morning progressed, the frost evaporated. The lake looked wonderful with the wildfowl swimming about. I used the morning break to walk around the lake and look out over the Fens. I felt relaxed by the serene setting.
I had been thinking about the many lovely walks I had around Manea and its wonderful bird hides. My memory drifted to our little terrier dog. She had been in a few of the blogs I have written. She was known as ‘Dotty dog Dotty.’ She was a wonderful and loving little mutt. She was so full of life. Only a couple of weeks prior, she had been with us. We thought she would live forever. Then about eight days ago, I noticed she was more subdued than normal.
When I came home from work for an evening, Dotty would race out as soon as my wife opened the door. Her little tail wagging as she jumped up, pleased to see me. She would sit in the armchair like a sentinel waiting for my car to come up the drive. She would know roughly when I was due home. I always had to make a fuss of her before I could do anything else. She would roll over for her tummy to be tickled. This I would do dutifully. For years this happened. Then a few days ago, Dotty came out with her tail wagging. She had barked but was a little slower than usual. I tickled her tummy and she was up and walking back in and straight to her little bed.
I thought it was a little out of character, but then she did the same thing on the following day. She was still the happy little dog but there seemed to be something subdued about her. She was always going back to her bed. I mentioned this to my wife and the stepson Graham. He had got Dotty when she was a puppy. Almost eleven years ago. Both my wife and Graham said they would take Dotty to the vets. The very next day when I came home from work, Dotty came out to greet me, but she was walking rather than jumping about. Her tail swished lazily rather than her usual energetic way.

Dotty Dog Dotty in Her Good Days.

The Vet Gives a Dire Warning.

I made a little fuss of her and upon acceptance, she retired to her bed again. My wife, Carole, said the vet had told her and Graham that Dotty was anaemic. She had suffered with her ears for many years. We put the drops in and cleaned them out for her. But this was something we did often. We could not help feeling that there was something else. They booked up a blood test for Dotty and took her back to the vets.
While at work, I decided to phone up and ask how the results went. Carole said that the results would not come back until around four in the afternoon. It was still morning when I enquired. At about three thirty in the afternoon, Carole phoned back crying. She said the vets had rung back and told her and Graham that Dotty was dying and could go on any day. A healthy dog’s blood count is said to be around fifty. I don’t know what type of measurement that is, but it is something to do with blood, obviously. If a dog slips down to twenty blood count, it is very ill. Dotty was at nine. The vet could not believe the poor thing was still alive.
It was with a very heavy heart that I returned home. Dotty did not come out. She was not sitting sentinel by the window. She was in Graham’s room. However, she must have heard something because when I sat down and began to take my work boots off, I heard the patter of her paws on the laminated flooring. She came walking in, her little tail swishing. She lay down on her side and held her front paws up for a tummy tiggle. I responded dutifully. Then Dotty got up and walked back to Graham’s room. Because she was cold, Graham had put a dog’s jumper on her. We expected her to pass away during the night.

Darcy - The Jack Russell Puppy.

Coming Home to Little Darcy.
I went to work the next morning. I did not disturb anyone as I get up very early. Graham was so worried, he had not been to work. During the day, I phoned up to see if Dotty had made it through the night. She always slept in Graham’s room from a pup. She was devoted to him. Every time he went to bed, Dotty followed. When He got up to work early each morning, Dotty would come into my room to wake me. She knew our routine. I would be up and Dotty would snuggle down and wait for Carole to get up. To my surprise, Dotty had got through the night but her breathing was laboured. Graham had been by her side all night. They decided that Dotty was so ill, she needed to go back to the vet. The vet advised that it would be kinder to put her to sleep or euthanized.
With a heavy heart, Graham decided to go through with it. Carole and Graham were with her when the final moment came. It hit Graham exceptionally hard. He was bereaved and in tears as he carried Dotty away from the vets, wrapped in a blanket. She was buried in her favourite bed and a few of her toys. It was a very poignant moment. He said he would never get another dog. Dotty went very quickly. Just eight days prior, we had no idea. Yet Dotty must have been slipping even when we did not notice. Animals suffer in silence.
The place was so empty without her. Dotty was an excitable and bubbly little terrier. She was so full of life and always about. In every way, she was so loved. Suddenly, our house was empty and we asked if Graham would not get another dog. Perhaps he would reconsider? Dotty had left a void. No other dog could replace this emptiness. But we could make another dog happy. Graham said he could not go through it again.
I was telling my work mate of this. He loves dogs and has had dogs all his life. He knows what it is like when they grow old and pass away. He assured me that Graham would change his mind. People always do.
I was thinking of these things as I walked around the beautiful lake. Beyond was the dyke wall that separated the two rivers where we would walk with Dotty along the bridal path. We had been doing so only a few weeks ago. I phoned Carole to see how she and Graham were baring up. She told me Graham was looking for a Jack Russell dog. He would not wish to replace Dotty, but we needed the feel of a lovely dog around the house. Barking by the five bar gate when someone came close to the boundary. I was pleased that Graham made such a decision. I went back to the van and told my work mate. He laughed happily and replied, “I’ve been there and got the T-shirt.”
When I walked in from work, it was dark. The winter nights are here. I was babbling away to Graham and Carole and they were looking at me grinning. Over by the kitchen units, I saw a little tiny puppy hiding from me. It was not sure what to make of this strange person being me. It was a delightful little female Jack Russell pup. She was a little peach. I coaxed her to come to me and gradually she responded. After a little sniff, she seemed fine. Her name is Darcy. She is unique and will never be Dotty because Dotty will always be a unique little dog we will never forget. I had to say to Graham one thing.
“You will see the same thing happen to this beautiful little dog too, one day. But there will be a wealth of very wonderful times between then and now.”
“I know,” he replied.
We all made a great fuss of little Darcy. She is just ten weeks old and lovely.

Jack Russell Puppy Named Darcy.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

A Delicate Truth by John le Carré (My Goodreads Review)

A Delicate Truth

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This story was a total WOW! From the first page to the very last, I was gripped. I usually like John Le Carre's old Cold War stories. But this one was splendid and set during Blair and Brown's time in office. The new post- Cold War espionage stories are coming along a treat. I highly recommend this one to any fan of British espionage. A real page-turner and a little faster paced than the usual John le Carre novels I've been used to reading.

Toby Bell, a young Foreign Office worker finds himself well and truly entwined in a delicate truth. Perhaps that is putting it mildly. The characters throughout this tale are first class and the dialogue is splendid. I can't wait to read my next John Le Carre after this novel. I thought I was stayed old fuddy-duddy afraid to move away from his Cold War era stories. I just decided to dip my toe into the more modern-day themes and was delightfully surprised.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

The Last Hours by Minette Walters (My Goodreads Review)

The Last Hours

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ve read a number of Minette Walters’ novels. I have enjoyed them all. There often seems to be a past theme in a character's history with psychological impacts etc. Such things are understandable because they are set in modern day times. The people or characters that unravel the crimes or conundrums seem to be well educated or equipped with knowledge in some way.

This story is set during The Black Death in Medieval England during the 1340s decade. It is in a small Dorset Hamlet where a lord or landowner has a moated abode with servants and working serfs tending the lands etc.

The Lady of the manor calls all serfs into the confines to sit out the pestilence in the sanctuary of the moated grounds. There seems to be a setting out of circumstances before there is a crime to be solved. I was almost halfway through the book by this time. It was a good mystery with all the varied consequences and set against the backdrop of a dystopian land ravaged by plague.

Despite this, I struggled with the novel because of Lady Anne of the manor. Her character came across as being surreal. I could understand a Lady trying to help the serfs, but I would have expected her to be strictly matriarchal and with a strong sense of Godly duty. Perhaps like a lady of these deeply religious times.

Instead, this Lady Anne’s character came across as some modern-day trendy left-wing liberal. One who might have been recognisable as a tutor in one of today’s inner city polytechnics and then quantum leapt into the body of a middle-aged Lady. The story was good but Lady Anne was a woman of today’s outlook and out-of-character for the time.