In a word: Bug

Being a computer programmer, this word had a particular meaning for me, where a part of the programme did something other than expected.

Like unexpectedly stopping and freezing the screen.  Some very famous programs and operating systems used to have a lot of these ‘bugs’.

More familiarly for all of us, a bug is an unwanted insect pest like a fly, or an ant, though there’s a host of those pesky ‘bugs’.

You could bug someone by hanging around and asking inane questions.

You could also bug someone by surreptitiously planting a microphone on them, or somewhere in their house, car, or office.

A person could have a bug, meaning there’s some germ or bacteria they’ve picked up that makes them very ill, like a cold, or pneumonia.  Or, more than likely, it’s a bug going around.  School children are particularly susceptible.

And if you like reading books you might have caught the reading bug.

You could tell someone to bug off, that is, to go away.

I might want to bug out, as in disappear, especially if there was someone I didn’t want to see.

Searching for locations: Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum, X’ian, China

Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum

A little history, and anecdotal advice first:

In 1974 a 26-year-old farmer, Yang Jide, was drilling a well and found fragments of the terracotta soldiers and bronze weapons.

What was discovered later was one of the biggest attended burial pits of China’s first feudal Emperor, Qin Shi Huang.  In the following years remains had been found in 3 pits, yielding at least 8,000 soldiers and horses, and over 100 chariots.  The soldiers were infantry, cavalry, and others.

Emperor Qin was born in 259 BC and died in 210 BC.  He began building a mausoleum for himself at the foot of Mount Li when he was 13.  Construction took 38 years, from 247 BC to 208 BC.  It was divided into 3 stages and involved 720,000 conscripts.

The pits of pottery figures are 1.5 km east of Emperor Qin’s mausoleum.  Pit 1 has about 6,000 terracotta armored warriors and horses and 40 wooden chariots.  Pit 2 is estimated to have over 900 terracotta warriors and 350 terracotta horses with about 90 wooden chariots.  Pit 3 had so far yielded only 66 pottery figures and one chariot drawn by four horses.

Official records say it was discovered later that it was likely Xiang Yu, a rebel, intentionally damaged the Mausoleum and the soldiers in the pits, by setting fire to the wooden roof rafters, and these fell on and broke the warriors into pieces.

However, we were told that after the terracotta warriors were completed, the Emperor ordered the builders to be killed so that they would not tell anyone about the warriors, and then of those that remained alive deliberately smashed all of the artifacts.

The thing is, all of the terracotta figures that have been found are in pieces, and they need computers to piece them back together again.

The visit:
The first impression is the size of the car park and the number of buses parked in the lot, and a hell of a lot more outside up the road an off on side streets.  Obviously, it costs money to park in the parking lot.

The other first impressions; the numbers waiting to get in were not as many as yesterday outside the forbidden city, in fact, a lot less.

Be warned there’s a long walk from the entrance gate where your bags are scanned and a body scan as well, before admittance.  This walk is through a landscaped area which it is expect might sometime in the future reveal more soldiers, or other artifacts.

At the end of the walk that takes about ten minutes, you can get a one-way ride to the second checkpoint, but we opted not to as no one else in our group did.

That walk is the warm-up exercise to an organized viewing of the exhibits after going through a second ticket checkpoint.  On the other side, we had to hand our tickets back to the tour guide which was disappointing not to end up with a memento of actually having been there.

So, on the other side in the courtyard, the guide told us the most important parts of the exhibition, that we should spend most of the time looking at pit 1, and then spent a little time in 2 which is only there in the first stages of excavation.  Then move onto the museum if only to see the replica chariots.

We do.

The chariots were small but interesting

The horses were better and intricately detailed

These are soldiers, perhaps complete examples of those types found in the end pit.

This is one of the archers.  You can tell by the way he wears his hair.

Pit 2

The excavation of this pit has only just begun, so it is possible to see where they have carefully removed the top cover, and you can see the broken parts of the warriors lying in a heap.

Some parts of the warriors are more discernible closer up

These parts are carefully extracted and taken to the ‘hospital’ where they are digitised and the computer will match each part with the warrior it belongs to.

Pit 1

This has quite a number of standing soldiers that have been glued back together, but not necessarily complete and I notice a number if the statues were incomplete. And if they cannot find the missing pieces, then they are not added to or filled in.

The scale of the pit is enormous, and they have hardly scratched the surface in the restoration process.

What is there is a number of horses as well.

That’s at the front of the pit, a long line of statues, and what is clear is the location of the well where the first fragments were found by a farmer.

There are about eight lines of soldiers, and some lining the sides.

Midway down there is a large area currently under excavation

At the back is the hospital where the soldiers are reassembled.  There’s nearly a hundred in the various stages of rebuilding.  These days the soldiers are rebuilt using computer imaging.

The hospital area is where they are put back together

And these are some of the statues in various stages of reconstruction

Another two views of the size and scale of the reconstruction project

The coffee shop is also a sales centre, but there are too many people waiting for coffee and too few places to sit down.

The cinema of my dreams – I never wanted to go to Africa – Episode 14

It’s still a battle of wits, but our hero knows he’s in serious trouble.

The problem is, there are familiar faces and a question of who is a friend and who is foe made all the more difficult because the enemy if it is the enemy, doesn’t look or sound or act like the enemy.


It was the smell, all hospitals seemed to smell the same.  Antiseptic.

And the first face I saw was Breeman’s.


If  I could speak, which for some reason I knew I couldn’t, the first question would be, ‘Where am I?’

“Welcome back,” Breeman said.  “You gave us a few days of grave concern at the crash.  You’re in the base hospital, and lucky to be alive.”

OK, a few days missing, but lucky to survive?  I got out without a scratch, or did I?

I looked sideways and down.  Nothing but bandages, and, yes, plaster.  Broken bones?

“How you survived being thrown from the wreckage is anyone’s guess.  A search party found you last night, almost dead.  Broken legs, shattered shoulder, ribs, even a skull fracture.  The doctors are astonished.  So am I.”

She was holding my hand, a very unlike commanding officer thing to so, and it looked like a tear in her eye.  Perhaps our so-called casual fling was a little more than that.

“But you rest.  I’ll come back later when you’re better.”

Last I remember, except for some sore ribs, I’d been intact, and unharmed from the jump out of the helicopter.

Now, it appeared, I was the very epitome of a crash victim.  What the hell had happened to me from the time I was in the cell, getting that injection, and now?

Clearly, the people in the other camp didn’t want me to die.  But, surely they realized I would tell Breeman about my experiences at the camp.

Or not.  If anything, what I would have to tell them would be considered the ramblings of someone in very bad condition, mind wandering in the desert while fighting for his life, and then on return, ramblings fuelled by very high doses of painkillers.

And the fact none of it could be corroborated.  It was unlikely any flyover would locate the base if anyone was foolish enough to fly in the no-fly zone.

And, pushing the paranoia limits, I guessed that they would have someone in the base who was feeding them information, that’s how they knew so much about what was going on here.

I would have to lie low and choose my friends carefully.


© Charles Heath 2019

“Anyone can have a bad day” – a short story

It had been one of those days, you know, the sort where you hoped, when you woke up again, it would be a distant memory if not gone altogether. Everything had gone wrong, the handover from my shift to the next, longer than usual, I got home late to find the building’s security system malfunctioning, and after everything that could go wrong had, I was late getting to bed, which meant I was going to be tired and cranky even before my shift started.

But what topped it all off was that the alarm didn’t go off. It was not as if I hadn’t set it, I remembered doing it. There was something else in play.

I rolled over and instantly noticed how dark it was. It was never this dark. It was why I chose an apartment as high up as I could, there would always be light coming from the advertising sign on the roof of the building over the road at night, or direct sunlight not blotted out by surrounding buildings.

I also left the curtains open, deliberately. I liked the notion of being able to see out, sometimes looking at the stars, other times watching the rain, but mostly to see that I was not in a dark place.

Not like now.

I got out of bed and went over to the window. Yes, there were lights, but they were all the way down on the street level. Everywhere else, nothing. It had to be a power blackout. Our first in a long time. I should have noticed the air conditioning was not on, and it was almost silent inside the room.

The apartment had windows that opened, not very far, but enough to allow some airflow, and the room feeling stuffy, I opened one in the bedroom. Instantly, sounds drifted up from street level, and looking down I could see the flashing lights of police cars and fire trucks, as well as the sounds of sirens.

The cold air was refreshing.

It took a few minutes before I realized the elevators would not be working, and I remembered the only pitfall of having a high-up apartment, it was a long way down by the stairs, and even longer going back up.

In the distance, I could see other buildings, about ten blocks away, with their lights on. It had to be a localized blackout, or perhaps a brownout. We had been having problems across the city with power supply caused by an unexplained explosion at several power stations on the grid.

Some were saying it was a terrorist attack, others were saying the antiquated infrastructure had finally given out.

My attention was diverted from the activity below by the vibration of my cell phone on the bedside table. I looked over at the clock and saw it was 3:10 in the morning, not a time I usually got a phone call.

I crossed the room and looked at the screen, just as the vibrating stopped. Louis Bernard. Who was Louis Bernard? It was not a name I was familiar with, so I ignored it. It wasn’t the first wrong number to call me, though I was beginning to think I had been given a recycled phone number when I bought the phone. Perhaps the fact it was a burner may have had something to do with it.

About the go back to the window, the phone started ringing again. The same caller, Louis Bernard.

Curiosity got the better of me.

“Yes?” I wasn’t going to answer with my name.

“Get out of that room now.”

“Who….” It was as far as I got before the phone went dead.

The phone displayed the logo as it powered off, a sign the battery was depleted. I noticed then though I’d plugged the phone in to recharge, I’d forgotten to turn the power on.


Get out of that room now? Who could possibly know firstly who I was, and where I was living, to the point they could know I was in any sort of danger?

It took another minute of internal debate before I threw on some clothes and headed for the door.

Just in case.

As I went to open the door, someone started pounding on it, and my heart almost stopped.

“Who is it?” I yelled out. First thought; don’t open it.

“Floor warden, you need to evacuate. There’s a small fire on one of the floors below.”

“OK. Give me a minute or so and I’ll be right out.”

“Don’t take too long. Take the rear stairs on the left.”

A few seconds later I heard him pounding on the door next to mine. I waited until he’d moved on, and went out into the passage.

It was almost dark, the security lighting just above floor level giving off a strange and eerie orange glow. I thought there was a hint of smoke in the air, but that might have been the power of suggestion taking over my mind.

There were two sets of stairs down, both at the rear, one on the left and one on the right, designed to aid quick evacuation in the event of a calamity like a fire. He had told me to take the left. I deliberately ignored that and went to the right side, passing several other tenants who were going towards where they’d been told. I didn’t recognize them, but, then, I didn’t try to find out who my fellow tenants were.

A quick look back up the passage, noting everyone heading to the left side stairs, I ducked into the right stairwell and stopped for a moment. Was that smoke I could smell. From above I could hear a door slam shut, and voices. Above me, people had entered the stairwell and were coming down.

I started heading down myself.

I was on the 39th floor, and it was going to be a long way down. In a recent fire drill, the building had been evacuated from the top floor down, and it proceeded in an orderly manner. The idea was that starting at the top, there would not be a logjam if the lower floors were spilling into the stairwell and creating a bottleneck. Were those above stragglers?

I descended ten floors and still hadn’t run into anyone, but the smell of smoke was stronger. I stopped for a moment and listened for those who had been above me. Nothing. Not a sound. Surely there had to be someone above me, coming down.

A door slammed, but I couldn’t tell if it was above or below.

Once again, I descended, one floor, two, three, five, all the way down to ten. The smoke was thicker here, and I could see a cloud on the other side of the door leading out of the stairwell into the passage. The door was slightly ajar, odd, I thought, for what was supposed to be a fire door. I could see smoke being sucked into the fire escape through the door opening.

Then I saw several firemen running past, axes in hand. Was the fire on the tenth floor?

Another door slammed shut, and then above me, I could hear voices. Or were they below? I couldn’t tell. My eyes were starting to tear up from the smoke, and it was getting thicker.

I headed down.

I reached the ground floor and tried to open the door leading out of the fire escape. It wouldn’t open. A dozen other people came down the stairs and stopped when they saw me.

One asked, “Can we get out here?”

I tried the door again with the same result. “No. It seems to be jammed.”

Several of the people rushed past me, going down further, yelling out, “there should be a fire door leading out into the underground garage.”

Then, after another door slamming shut, silence. Another person said, “they must have found a way out,” and started running down the stairs, the others following. For some odd reason I couldn’t explain, I didn’t follow, a mental note popping up in my head telling me that there was only an exit into the carport from the other stairs, on this side, the exit led out onto an alley at the back of the building.

If the door would open. It should push outwards, and there should also be a bar on it, so when pushed, it allowed the door to open.

The smoke was worse now, and I could barely see, or breathe, overcome with a coughing fit. I banged on the door, yelling out that I was stuck in the stairwell, but there was no reply, nor could I hear movement on the other side of the door.

Just as I started to lose consciousness, I thought I could hear a banging sound on the door, then a minute later what seemed like wood splintering. A few seconds after that I saw a large black object hovering over me, then nothing.

It was the culmination of a bad night, a bad day, and another bad night. Was it karma trying to tell me something?

When I woke, I was in a hospital, a room to myself which seemed strange since my insurance didn’t really cover such luxuries. I looked around the room and stopped when I reached the window and the person who was standing in front of it, looking out.

“Who are you?” I asked, and realized the moment the words came out, they made me sound angry.

“No one of particular importance. I came to see if you were alright. You were very lucky by the way. Had you not stayed by that door you would have died like all the rest.”

Good to know, but not so good for the others. Did he know that the fire door was jammed? I told him what happened.

“Someone suspected that might be the case which is why you were told to take the other stairs. Why did you not do as you were told?”

“Why did the others also ignore the advice.” It was not a question I would deign to answer.

They didn’t know any better, but you did, and it begs the question, why did you take those stairs.”

Persistent, and beginning to bother me. He sounded like someone else I once knew in another lifetime, one who never asked a question unless he knew the answer.

The man still hadn’t turned around to show me his face, and it was not likely I’d be getting out of bed very soon.

“You tell me?”

He turned slightly and I could see his reflection in the window. I thought, for a moment, that was a familiar face. But I couldn’t remember it from where.

“The simple truth, you suspected the fire was lit to flush you out of the building and you thought taking those stairs would keep you away from trouble. We both know you’ve been hiding here.”

Then he did turn. Hiding, yes. A spot of trouble a year or so before had made leaving Florida a necessity, and I’d only just begun to believe I was finally safe.

I was not.

They had found me.

And it only took a few seconds, to pull the silenced gun out of his coat pocket, point it directly at me, and pull the trigger.

Two stabbing pains in the chest, and for a moment it was as if nothing happened, and then, all of a sudden, I couldn’t breathe.

The last thing I saw and heard, several rounds from at least two guns, voices yelling out on the passage, and people running.

As I lay dying, my last thought was, it had been a good run, but no one can run forever.

© Charles Heath 2021

Betwixt metaphorical houses

It’s like working in two offices, one uptown, and one downtown.

I have two blogs, this one, and another which is purely for writing, and generally, a lot of starts and not a lot of finishes. I get ideas, and it’s a place to store them, and give a few people some amusement at my, sometimes, improbable situations and far-fetched stories.

Here I try to be more serious.

I have the ceiling, the cinema of my dreams. Here anything is possible, like jumping from a helicopter about to explode, and survive, and get out of a sinking ship, like Houdini. Of course, there is always one time when it doesn’t work, and Houdini knows that all too well.

Over there, I have a series which I started here, long ago, where I take a photograph and write a story inspired by it. The interesting thing about that is I could probably use the same photograph over and over, and it would inspire a different tale.

I know, if I was running a writing class, everyone would see that photograph differently.

But what amazes me sometimes is the fact the story is not directly related to the theme. It got me thinking about how we view our experiences, and what triggers memories. I’ve discovered that it doesn’t necessarily happen by correlation, say, for instance, a memory of being in New York might be triggered by a visit to a cafe in Cloncurry.

I try to do one of these every day, but sometimes it’s hard work. Writing itself can be some days, particularly when the words are lurking there, behind that invisible, impenetrable, rock wall.

OK, so I’m stuck in the middle of writing a piece over there, and I’ve come over here to whinge.

But, enough. I’ll let you know what the cinema of my dreams is showing, later.

An excerpt from “Echoes from the Past”

Available on Amazon Kindle here:

With my attention elsewhere, I walked into a man who was hurrying in the opposite direction.  He was a big man with a scar running down the left side of his face from eye socket to mouth, and who was also wearing a black shirt with a red tie.

That was all I remembered as my heart almost stopped.

He apologized as he stepped to one side, the same way I stepped, as I also muttered an apology.

I kept my eyes down.  He was not the sort of man I wanted to recognize later in a lineup.  I stepped to the other side and so did he.  It was one of those situations.  Finally getting out of sync, he kept going in his direction, and I towards the bus, which was now pulling away from the curb.

Getting my breath back, I just stood riveted to the spot watching it join the traffic.  I looked back over my shoulder, but the man I’d run into had gone.  I shrugged and looked at my watch.  It would be a few minutes before the next bus arrived.

Wait, or walk?  I could also go by subway, but it was a long walk to the station.  What the hell, I needed the exercise.

At the first intersection, the ‘Walk’ sign had just flashed to ‘Don’t Walk’.  I thought I’d save a few minutes by not waiting for the next green light.  As I stepped onto the road, I heard the screeching of tires.

A yellow car stopped inches from me.

It was a high powered sports car, perhaps a Lamborghini.  I knew what they looked like because Marcus Bartleby owned one, as did every other junior executive in the city with a rich father.

Everyone stopped to look at me, then the car.  It was that sort of car.  I could see the driver through the windscreen shaking his fist, and I could see he was yelling too, but I couldn’t hear him.  I stepped back onto the sidewalk, and he drove on.  The moment had passed and everyone went back to their business.

My heart rate hadn’t come down from the last encounter.   Now it was approaching cardiac arrest, so I took a few minutes and several sets of lights to regain composure.

At the next intersection, I waited for the green light, and then a few seconds more, just to be sure.  I was no longer in a hurry.

At the next, I heard what sounded like a gunshot.  A few people looked around, worried expressions on their faces, but when it happened again, I saw it was an old car backfiring.  I also saw another yellow car, much the same as the one before, stopped on the side of the road.  I thought nothing of it, other than it was the second yellow car I’d seen.

At the next intersection, I realized I was subconsciously heading towards Harry’s new bar.   It was somewhere on 6th Avenue, so I continued walking in what I thought was the right direction.

I don’t know why I looked behind me at the next intersection, but I did.  There was another yellow car on the side of the road, not far from me.  It, too, looked the same as the original Lamborghini, and I was starting to think it was not a coincidence.

Moments after crossing the road, I heard the roar of a sports car engine and saw the yellow car accelerate past me.  As it passed by, I saw there were two people in it, and the blurry image of the passenger; a large man with a red tie.

Now my imagination was playing tricks.

It could not be the same man.  He was going in a different direction.

In the few minutes I’d been standing on the pavement, it had started to snow; early for this time of year, and marking the start of what could be a long cold winter.  I shuddered, and it was not necessarily because of the temperature.

I looked up and saw a neon light advertising a bar, coincidentally the one Harry had ‘found’ and, looking once in the direction of the departing yellow car, I decided to go in.  I would have a few drinks and then leave by the back door if it had one.

Just in case.

© Charles Heath 2015-2020


Memories of the conversations with my cat – 35

As some may be aware, but many not, Chester, my faithful writing assistant, mice catcher, and general pain in the neck, passed away some months ago.

Recently I was running a series based on his adventures, under the title of Past Conversations with my cat.

For those who have not had the chance to read about all of his exploits I will run the series again from Episode 1

These are the memories of our time together…


Chester and the great escape.

It’s like watching that movie, you know the one, with Steve McQueen and the motorcycle?

I accidentally didn’t close the back screen door properly and Chester, a cat with many talents, managed to prise the door open wide enough for him to squeeze through.

And, then there’s that momentary elation of having escaped.

Out into the wide open space, where the air is fresher, the sky is blue, the sun is warmer.

And he is no longer restricted.


Why is he standing just three feet away from the door, on the concrete path?  Has he seen a creature he can chase, or worse, torment?  Is he savouring that first few moments of freedom, and soaking up the sun’s warm rays on his back?

Or is he waiting to see if I’ll follow, and try to either catch him or bring him back?

He turns, and looks at me, as if to say, well, what are you going to do?

There’s a certain sense of smugness in that look.

I shrug.  “Just remember there’s no one out there who will wait on you hand and foot like we do.”

I’m sure that was not what he was expecting.

I open the door wider, and add, “Make up your mind now, because once the door closes, that’s it.  You’re out.”

He turned to look back at the great outdoors.  I can see the wheels turning.  A life of luxury or a life on the run?

I almost caught his tail in the door as it closed.  Who said cats weren’t smart?

Inspiration, Maybe – Volume Two

50 photographs, 50 stories, of which there is one of the 50 below.

They all start with –

A picture paints … well, as many words as you like.  For instance:

And, the story:

Have you ever watched your hopes and dreams simply just fly away?

Everything I thought I wanted and needed had just left in an aeroplane, and although I said I was not going to, i came to the airport to see the plane leave.  Not the person on it, that would have been far too difficult and emotional, but perhaps it was symbolic, the end of one life and the start of another.

But no matter what I thought or felt, we had both come to the right decision.  She needed the opportunity to spread her wings.  It was probably not the best idea for her to apply for the job without telling me, but I understood her reasons.

She was in a rut.  Though her job was a very good one, it was not as demanding as she had expected, particularly after the last promotion, but with it came resentment from others on her level, that she, the youngest of the group would get the position.

It was something that had been weighing down of her for the last three months, and if noticed it, the late nights, the moodiness, sometimes a flash of temper.  I knew she had one, no one could have such red hair and not, but she had always kept it in check.

And, then there was us, together, and after seven years, it felt like we were going nowhere.  Perhaps that was down to my lack of ambition, and though she never said it, lack of sophistication.  It hadn’t been an issue, well, not until her last promotion, and the fact she had to entertain more, and frankly I felt like an embarrassment to her.

So, there it was, three days ago, the beginning of the weekend, and we had planned to go away for a few days and take stock.  We both acknowledged we needed to talk, but it never seemed the right time.

It was then she said she had quit her job and found a new one.  Starting the following Monday.

Ok, that took me by surprise, not so much that it something I sort of guessed might happen, but that she would just blurt it out.

I think that right then, at that moment, I could feel her frustration with everything around her.

What surprised her was my reaction.  None.

I simply asked where who, and when.

A world-class newspaper, in New York, and she had to be there in a week.

A week.

It was all the time I had left with her.

I remember I just shrugged and asked if the planned weekend away was off.

She stood on the other side of the kitchen counter, hands around a cup of coffee she had just poured, and that one thing I remembered was the lone tear that ran down her cheek.

Is that all you want to know?

I did, yes, but we had lost that intimacy we used to have when she would have told me what was happening, and we would have brainstormed solutions. I might be a cabinet maker but I still had a brain, was what I overheard her tell a friend once.

There’s not much to ask, I said.  You’ve been desperately unhappy and haven’t been able to hide it all that well, you have been under a lot of pressure trying to deal with a group of troglodytes, and you’ve been leaning on Bentley’s shoulder instead of mine, and I get it, he’s got more experience in that place,  and the politics that go with it, and is still an ally.

Her immediate superior and instrumental in her getting the position, but unlike some men in his position he had not taken advantage of a situation like some men would.  And even if she had made a move, which I doubted, that was not the sort of woman she was, he would have politely declined.

One of the very few happily married men in that organisation, so I heard.

So, she said, you’re not just a pretty face.

Par for the course for a cabinet maker whose university degree is in psychology.  It doesn’t take rocket science to see what was happening to you.  I just didn’t think it was my place to jump in unless you asked me, and when you didn’t, well, that told me everything I needed to know.

Yes, our relationship had a use by date, and it was in the next few days.

I was thinking, she said, that you might come with me,  you can make cabinets anywhere.

I could, but I think the real problem wasn’t just the job.  It was everything around her and going with her, that would just be a constant reminder of what had been holding her back. I didn’t want that for her and said so.

Then the only question left was, what do we do now?

Go shopping for suitcases.  Bags to pack, and places to go.

Getting on the roller coaster is easy.  On the beginning, it’s a slow easy ride, followed by the slow climb to the top.  It’s much like some relationships, they start out easy, they require a little work to get to the next level, follows by the adrenaline rush when it all comes together.

What most people forget is that what comes down must go back up, and life is pretty much a roller coaster with highs and lows.

Our roller coaster had just come or of the final turn and we were braking so that it stops at the station.

There was no question of going with her to New York.  Yes, I promised I’d come over and visit her, but that was a promise with crossed fingers behind my back.  After a few months in t the new job the last thing shed want was a reminder of what she left behind.  New friends new life.

We packed her bags, three out everything she didn’t want, a free trips to the op shop with stiff she knew others would like to have, and basically, by the time she was ready to go, there was nothing left of her in the apartment, or anywhere.

Her friends would be seeing her off at the airport, and that’s when I told her I was not coming, that moment the taxi arrived to take her away forever.  I remember standing there, watching the taxi go.  It was going to be, and was, as hard as it was to watch the plane leave.

So, there I was, finally staring at the blank sky, around me a dozen other plane spotters, a rather motley crew of plane enthusiasts.

Already that morning there’s been 6 different types of plane depart, and I could hear another winding up its engines for take-off.

People coming, people going.

Maybe I would go to New York in a couple of months, not to see her, but just see what the attraction was.  Or maybe I would drop in, just to see how she was.

As one of my friends told me when I gave him the news, the future is never written in stone, and it’s about time you broadened your horizons.

Perhaps it was.

© Charles Heath 2020-2021

Coming soon.  Find the above story and 49 others like it in:

Searching for locations: At large in Paris, France

We have been to Paris a number of times over the years.

The last time we visited Paris we brought the two eldest grandchildren.   We took the Eurostar train from St Pancras station direct to Disneyland, then took the free bus from the station to the hotel.  The train station was directly outside Disneyland.

We stayed at the Dream Castle Hotel, rather than Disneyland itself as it was a cheaper option and we had a family room that was quite large and breakfast was included every morning.  Then it was a matter of getting the free bus to Disneyland.

We spent three days, time which seem to pass far too quickly, and we didn’t get to see everything.  They did, however, find the time to buy two princess dresses, and then spent the rest of the time playing dress-ups whenever they could.

In Paris, we stayed at the Crown Plaza at Republique Square.

We took the children to the Eiffel Tower where the fries, and the carousel at the bottom of the tower, seemed to be more memorable than the tower itself.  The day we visited, the third level was closed.  The day was cold and windy so that probably accounted for the less than memorable visit.  To give you some idea of conditions, it was the shortest queue to get in I’ve ever seen.

We traveled on the Metro where it was pointed out to me that the trains actually ran on rubber tires, something I had not noticed before.  It was a first for both children to travel on a double-decker train.

The same day, we went to the Louvre.

Here, it was cold, wet and windy while we waited,  Once inside we took the girls to the Mona Lisa, and after a walk up and down a considerable numkber of stairs, one said, “and we walked all this way to see this small painting”.

It quickly became obvious their idea of paintings were the much larger ones hanging in other galleries.

We also took them to the Arc de Triomphe.

We passed, and for some reason had to go into, the Disney shop, which I’m still wondering why after spending a small fortune at Disneyland itself.

Next on the tour list was the Opera House.

 where one of the children thought she saw the ghost and refused to travel in one of the elevators.  At least it was quite amazing inside with the marble, staircases, and paintings on the roof.

Sadly, I don’t think they were all that interested in architecture, but at the Opera House, they did actually get to see some ballet stars from the Russian Bolshoi ballet company practicing.  As we were leaving the next day we could not go and see a performance.

Last but not least was Notre Dame with its gargoyles and imp[osing architecture.

All in all, traveling with children and experiencing Paris through their eyes made it a more memorable experience.

The first we visited Paris was at the end of a whirlwind bus tour, seven countries in seven days or something like that.  It was a relief to get to Paris and stay two nights if only to catch our breath.

I remember three events from that tour, the visit to the Eiffel Tower, the tour of the night lights, not that we were able to take much in from the inside of the bus, and the farewell dinner in one of the tour guides specially selected restaurants.  The food and atmosphere were incredible.  It was also notable for introducing us to a crepe restaurant in Montmartre, another of the tour guide’s favorite places.

On that trip to Paris, we also spent an afternoon exploring the Palace of Versailles.

The next time we visited Paris we flew in from London.  OK, it was a short flight, but it took all day.  From the hotel to the airport, the wait at the airport, departure, flying through time zones, arrival at Charles De Gaulle airport, now there’s an experience, and waiting for a transfer that never arrived, but that’s another story.

I can’t remember where we stayed the first time, it was somewhere out in the suburbs, but the second time we stayed at the Hilton near both the Eiffel Tower and the Australian Embassy, notable only because the concierge was dating an Australian girl working in the Embassy.  That was our ticket for special treatment, which at times you need to get around in Paris.

It was the year before 2000 and the Eiffel Tower was covered in lights, and every hour or so it looked like a bubbling bottle of champagne.  It was the first time we went to Level 3 of the Tower, and it was well worth it.  The previous tour only included Level 2.  This time we were acquainted with the fries available on the second level, and down below under the tower.

This time we acquainted ourselves with the Metro, the underground railway system, to navigate our way around to the various tourist spots, such as Notre Dame de Paris, The Louvre, Sacre-Coeur Basilica, and Les Invalides, and, of course, the trip to the crepe restaurant.

We also went to the Louvre for the express purpose of seeing the Mona Lisa, and I came away slightly disappointed.  I had thought it to be a much larger painting.  We then went to see the statue of Venus de Milo and spent some time trying to get a photo of it without stray visitors walking in front of us.  Aside from that, we spent the rest of the day looking at the vast number of paintings, and Egyptian artifacts in the Museum.

We also visited the Opera House which was architecturally magnificent.

The third time we visited Paris we took our daughter, who was on her first international holiday.  This time we stayed in a quaint Parisian hotel called Hotel Claude Bernard Saint Germain, (43 Rue Des Ecoles, Paris, 75005, France),  recommended to us by a relation who’d stayed there the year before.  It was small, and the elevator could only fit two people or one person and a suitcase.  Our rooms were on the 4th floor, so climbing the stairs with luggage was out of the question.

It included breakfast and wifi, and it was quite reasonable for the four days we stayed there.

It was close to everything you could want, down the hill to the railway station, and a square where on some days there was a market, and for those days when we were hungry after a day’s exploring, a baguette shop where rolls and salad were very inexpensive and very delicious.

To our daughter we appeared to be experienced travelers, going on the Metro, visiting the Louvre, going, yes once again, to the crepe restaurant and the Basilica at Montmartre, Notre Dame, and this time by boat to the Eiffel Tower.  We were going to do a boat rode on the Seine the last time but ran out of time.

We have some magnificent photos of the Tower from the boat.

Lunch on one of the days was at a restaurant not far from the Arc de Triomphe, where our daughter had a bucket of mussels.  I was not as daring and had a hamburger and fries.  Then we went to the center of the Arch and watched the traffic.

Our first time in Paris the bus driver got into the roundabout just to show us the dangers of driving in an unpredictable situation where drivers seem to take huge risks to get out at their exit.  Needless to say, we survived that experience, though we did make a number of circuits.

“The Things We Do For Love” – Coming soon

Is love the metaphorical equivalent to ‘walking the plank’; a dive into uncharted waters?

For Henry the only romance he was interested in was a life at sea, and when away from it, he strived to find sanctuary from his family and perhaps life itself.  It takes him to a small village by the sea, s place he never expected to find another just like him, Michelle, whom he soon discovers is as mysterious as she is beautiful.

Henry had long since given up the notion of finding romance, and Michelle couldn’t get involved for reasons she could never explain, but in the end both acknowledge that something happened the moment they first met.  

Plans were made, plans were revised, and hopes were shattered.

A chance encounter causes Michelle’s past to catch up with her, and whatever hope she had of having a normal life with Henry, or anyone else, is gone.  To keep him alive she has to destroy her blossoming relationship, an act that breaks her heart and shatters his.

But can love conquer all?

It takes a few words of encouragement from an unlikely source to send Henry and his friend Radly on an odyssey into the darkest corners of the red light district in a race against time to find and rescue the woman he finally realizes is the love of his life.

The cover, at the moment, looks like this: