‘The Devil you Don’t’ – A beta reader’s view

After escaping from a relationship that could have been ripped from the pages of a celebrity scandal sheet, John decides to do what he always does when everything gets too hard to handle; go stay with his grandmother.

With one minor exception, on the way there he’s agreed to do a favour for a friend while in Rome and it is this one fated nod that sends his world spiralling out of control.

It is also this one fated nod that brings him into contact with a beguiling, and unbeknownst to him, murderous woman, Zoe the assassin.

But she, too, is having problems of her own brought on by a callous and deceptive handler and she is beginning to question his motives and her choices.

In bringing both John and Zoe together you end up with a besotted but wary fool and an assassin who just can’t kill the target. In the end, they both discover they have both become targets in a much larger game.

It has a cast of characters worthy of an Agatha Christie novel, a relationship that sparks but is fated to fail, a friend who is not what he seems, and a grandmother who’s as crusty and explicit as the dowager countess from Downton Abbey.

An immensely readable thriller in the unputdownable category.

Available for $0.99 at Amazon here: https://amzn.to/2Xyh1ow

There are so many things I haven’t done

Does it really matter, you ask?

Perhaps not, but now seems to be an appropriate time, flying past the age of 65, to take stock.

We have achieved a lot in the last 15 or so years once the children had grown up and could look after themselves.

Unlike a lot of more modern couples who are doing the traveling in their 20’s and 30’s then having children, we chose to do it the other way around.

To me, it seemed easier to deal with teenagers when we were in our 40’s rather than our 60’s.  With the benefit of hindsight, I can truthfully say we were right.

We were older and wiser when we traveled and more aware of the dangers around us, sometimes overlooked or ignored by a youthful devil may care attitude.

But, in saying that ….

No, I don’t think I’ll be getting to see Mt Kilimanjaro, observing the wild animals in the Serengeti, climbing Mt Everest, or seeing the ancient pyramids.

Which is a sad state of affairs given the world has changed so much in recent years and has pretty much ruled out going to a lot of places, and in particular, the middle east, and because of COVID 19, just about everywhere else.

But, if it is ever possible before I die, I still want to go to the Greek Islands, and, Santorini is at the top of my travel bucket list.

We’ve been to London.  We’ve been to Paris and Euro Disney.  We’ve been to Rome and seen the ancient ruins.  We’ve been to Vienna, Schonbrunn Palace, and, particularly for us, a visit to Swarovski crystal world, near Innsbruck, we’ve been to Salzburg, and been on the Sound of Music tour.

We’ve been to Florence and loved it, we’ve been to Venice and loved that too, and we’ve spent a few days in the heart of Tuscany, and want to go back for longer, much longer, if time and disease doesn’t defeat us.

In fact, that’s the second item on the travel bucket list.

We’ve also been to Singapore and Hong Kong, at first out of necessity as an airline stopover, but then we went back to see the city and tourist, and non-tourist attractions.

I will not forget staying at the Hong Kong Conrad hotel as a Diamond Hhonors member.  Oh, the memories.

Sadly, I don’t think we as Australians will ever be welcome back in Hong Kong now that China had completely taken it over, and is a sad statement of the relations between the two countries.

We’ve also stayed on the French Riviera, in a timeshare apartment in Antibes where every morning when out back you had a view of the shimmering Mediterranean if the sun was out.

Nice, Cannes, Monte Carlo, the billionaire’s yachts in Antibes harbor, Monte Carlo and ‘that’ casino, taking the same drive along the coast as Grace Kelly did in To Catch a Thief, and feeling like James Bond arriving for a new adventure, minus the half-million-dollar sports car.

But, now, crashing back to earth with a very hard thump ….

Travel in the future is looking difficult for both of us, not only financially but from a health aspect.  We are both not as sprightly as we used to be.

Yet given the restraints and if it is at all possible, aside from the Greek Islands and Tuscany, the next items on the list are:

Germany, visiting both Berlin, from a cold war aspect, the Brandenburg gate springs to mind, and Munich at the time of the Octoberfest.  As a beer drinker that is also high on the bucket list.

Scotland, more so since we’ve started watching Outlander, and besides being a beer drinker, I am also partial to a good Single Malt, and the Whiskey trail.

Ireland, because my wife’s previous name was Murphy and at some point, in the long distant past some relatives emigrated to Australia, and she would like to visit the country of her forebears.

But, again, with the current state of the world, our health issues, and that all-important requisite money, or the lack of it, perhaps it’s time to visit other parts of our own country.

Perhaps it’s time to do a culinary trip, in the Barossa Valley in South Australia, the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, or Rutherglen in Victoria.  It’s practical and achievable and safe.

And it’s a big country.

Memories of the conversations with my cat – 71

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…

This is Chester.

When I come down to the writing room he’s sitting on the table next to the keyboard.

I take this gesture to mean that he’s not trying to be confrontational.

He’d be sitting on the keyboard if that was his intention.

Or, perhaps he’s trying to lull me into a false sense of security.

I try to read his expression, forgetting that cats down have expressions, just a single look.

Contempt.

I sit down and we’re now eye to eye. Could it be that he is doesn’t like the idea of looking up at me? Might that almost suggest that I am the master and he is the cat?

Perhaps I’m just tired and writing too much into it. Maybe he just saw a mouse and wanted to get an overview of where it might have gone.

Plenty of hiding places in this office. Chester knows some off them himself because there are times when I can’t find him.

Then he deigns to speak. “I think it’s time you cleaned this room up.”

It seems it’s a universal request from everyone, grandchildren included.

“Sorry. Not sorry. I’m going for the grumpy grandfather’s study children are forbidden to enter look. Piles of books, shelves overloaded with more books, messy tables, and papers scattered everywhere. And nowhere to sit because seats are places to pile more stuff.”

He looks around.

“Done a good job of it then. How do you find anything?”

“I found you.”

“I wasn’t hiding.”

“Oh, I thought you were.”

I’m sure there was that imperceptible shake of the head in disdain, before he jumps down and leaves.

Dodged a bullet there. I was sure he was going to complain about his food … again!

In a word: Deal

Deal or no deal.  That was a game show on TV once, involving briefcases.

Then, if you win…

It’s a big deal!

Or, of course, it is if you get in on the ground floor, which is to say, you’re one of the original investors, it becomes a great deal; it’s meaning, taking part in a financial transaction.

The word ‘deal’ along with big, great, tremendous, and once in a lifetime, feature prominently, but if you are like me by the time you invest the pyramid is about to collapse!

Then you’re in a great deal of trouble, meaning a lot of trouble — at the time, it feels catastrophic.

Or you’re working impossibly long hours to enrich the others above you, it a good deal of effort on your part for no reward.

Or deal with a problem, which is to say cope with or control, though if it’s a problem child, good luck with that.

But enough of the depressing descriptions,

When you play a card game, the first thing to happen is to deal the cards.

The second is to ask yourself if the dealer is dealing from the bottom of the deck, even if it looks like the top.

My father called these dealers ‘card sharps’.

Then there is a piece of wood commonly called deal, usually thin and square though not always so; it can also be a plank of pine or fir.

‘The Devil you Don’t’ – A beta reader’s view

After escaping from a relationship that could have been ripped from the pages of a celebrity scandal sheet, John decides to do what he always does when everything gets too hard to handle; go stay with his grandmother.

With one minor exception, on the way there he’s agreed to do a favour for a friend while in Rome and it is this one fated nod that sends his world spiralling out of control.

It is also this one fated nod that brings him into contact with a beguiling, and unbeknownst to him, murderous woman, Zoe the assassin.

But she, too, is having problems of her own brought on by a callous and deceptive handler and she is beginning to question his motives and her choices.

In bringing both John and Zoe together you end up with a besotted but wary fool and an assassin who just can’t kill the target. In the end, they both discover they have both become targets in a much larger game.

It has a cast of characters worthy of an Agatha Christie novel, a relationship that sparks but is fated to fail, a friend who is not what he seems, and a grandmother who’s as crusty and explicit as the dowager countess from Downton Abbey.

An immensely readable thriller in the unputdownable category.

Available for $0.99 at Amazon here: https://amzn.to/2Xyh1ow

There are so many things I haven’t done

Does it really matter, you ask?

Perhaps not, but now seems to be an appropriate time, flying past the age of 65, to take stock.

We have achieved a lot in the last 15 or so years once the children had grown up and could look after themselves.

Unlike a lot of more modern couples who are doing the traveling in their 20’s and 30’s then having children, we chose to do it the other way around.

To me, it seemed easier to deal with teenagers when we were in our 40’s rather than our 60’s.  With the benefit of hindsight, I can truthfully say we were right.

We were older and wiser when we traveled and more aware of the dangers around us, sometimes overlooked or ignored by a youthful devil may care attitude.

But, in saying that ….

No, I don’t think I’ll be getting to see Mt Kilimanjaro, observing the wild animals in the Serengeti, climbing Mt Everest, or seeing the ancient pyramids.

Which is a sad state of affairs given the world has changed so much in recent years and has pretty much ruled out going to a lot of places, and in particular, the middle east, and because of COVID 19, just about everywhere else.

But, if it is ever possible before I die, I still want to go to the Greek Islands, and, Santorini is at the top of my travel bucket list.

We’ve been to London.  We’ve been to Paris and Euro Disney.  We’ve been to Rome and seen the ancient ruins.  We’ve been to Vienna, Schonbrunn Palace, and, particularly for us, a visit to Swarovski crystal world, near Innsbruck, we’ve been to Salzburg, and been on the Sound of Music tour.

We’ve been to Florence and loved it, we’ve been to Venice and loved that too, and we’ve spent a few days in the heart of Tuscany, and want to go back for longer, much longer, if time and disease doesn’t defeat us.

In fact, that’s the second item on the travel bucket list.

We’ve also been to Singapore and Hong Kong, at first out of necessity as an airline stopover, but then we went back to see the city and tourist, and non-tourist attractions.

I will not forget staying at the Hong Kong Conrad hotel as a Diamond Hhonors member.  Oh, the memories.

Sadly, I don’t think we as Australians will ever be welcome back in Hong Kong now that China had completely taken it over, and is a sad statement of the relations between the two countries.

We’ve also stayed on the French Riviera, in a timeshare apartment in Antibes where every morning when out back you had a view of the shimmering Mediterranean if the sun was out.

Nice, Cannes, Monte Carlo, the billionaire’s yachts in Antibes harbor, Monte Carlo and ‘that’ casino, taking the same drive along the coast as Grace Kelly did in To Catch a Thief, and feeling like James Bond arriving for a new adventure, minus the half-million-dollar sports car.

But, now, crashing back to earth with a very hard thump ….

Travel in the future is looking difficult for both of us, not only financially but from a health aspect.  We are both not as sprightly as we used to be.

Yet given the restraints and if it is at all possible, aside from the Greek Islands and Tuscany, the next items on the list are:

Germany, visiting both Berlin, from a cold war aspect, the Brandenburg gate springs to mind, and Munich at the time of the Octoberfest.  As a beer drinker that is also high on the bucket list.

Scotland, more so since we’ve started watching Outlander, and besides being a beer drinker, I am also partial to a good Single Malt, and the Whiskey trail.

Ireland, because my wife’s previous name was Murphy and at some point, in the long distant past some relatives emigrated to Australia, and she would like to visit the country of her forebears.

But, again, with the current state of the world, our health issues, and that all-important requisite money, or the lack of it, perhaps it’s time to visit other parts of our own country.

Perhaps it’s time to do a culinary trip, in the Barossa Valley in South Australia, the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, or Rutherglen in Victoria.  It’s practical and achievable and safe.

And it’s a big country.

Memories of the conversations with my cat – 71

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…

This is Chester.

When I come down to the writing room he’s sitting on the table next to the keyboard.

I take this gesture to mean that he’s not trying to be confrontational.

He’d be sitting on the keyboard if that was his intention.

Or, perhaps he’s trying to lull me into a false sense of security.

I try to read his expression, forgetting that cats down have expressions, just a single look.

Contempt.

I sit down and we’re now eye to eye. Could it be that he is doesn’t like the idea of looking up at me? Might that almost suggest that I am the master and he is the cat?

Perhaps I’m just tired and writing too much into it. Maybe he just saw a mouse and wanted to get an overview of where it might have gone.

Plenty of hiding places in this office. Chester knows some off them himself because there are times when I can’t find him.

Then he deigns to speak. “I think it’s time you cleaned this room up.”

It seems it’s a universal request from everyone, grandchildren included.

“Sorry. Not sorry. I’m going for the grumpy grandfather’s study children are forbidden to enter look. Piles of books, shelves overloaded with more books, messy tables, and papers scattered everywhere. And nowhere to sit because seats are places to pile more stuff.”

He looks around.

“Done a good job of it then. How do you find anything?”

“I found you.”

“I wasn’t hiding.”

“Oh, I thought you were.”

I’m sure there was that imperceptible shake of the head in disdain, before he jumps down and leaves.

Dodged a bullet there. I was sure he was going to complain about his food … again!

In a word: Deal

Deal or no deal.  That was a game show on TV once, involving briefcases.

Then, if you win…

It’s a big deal!

Or, of course, it is if you get in on the ground floor, which is to say, you’re one of the original investors, it becomes a great deal; it’s meaning, taking part in a financial transaction.

The word ‘deal’ along with big, great, tremendous, and once in a lifetime, feature prominently, but if you are like me by the time you invest the pyramid is about to collapse!

Then you’re in a great deal of trouble, meaning a lot of trouble — at the time, it feels catastrophic.

Or you’re working impossibly long hours to enrich the others above you, it a good deal of effort on your part for no reward.

Or deal with a problem, which is to say cope with or control, though if it’s a problem child, good luck with that.

But enough of the depressing descriptions,

When you play a card game, the first thing to happen is to deal the cards.

The second is to ask yourself if the dealer is dealing from the bottom of the deck, even if it looks like the top.

My father called these dealers ‘card sharps’.

Then there is a piece of wood commonly called deal, usually thin and square though not always so; it can also be a plank of pine or fir.

Searching for locations: Gollums Pool, New Zealand

Tawhai Falls is a 13-meter high waterfall located in Tongariro National Park.

It is located about 4 km from the Tongariro National Park Visitor Centre, on State Highway 48.

An easy walk takes just 10-15 minutes to reach the waterfall’s lookout.

2013-03-13 14.47.53

The top of the falls.  There was not much water coming down the river to feed the falls when we were there in May

2013-03-13 14.48.18

Tawhai Falls is also the filming location of Gollum’s pool where Faramir and his archers are watching Gollum fish.

2013-03-13 14.51.45

It’s a rocky walk once you are down at ground level, and it may be not possible to walk along the side of the stream if the falls have more water coming down the river from the mountain.

2013-03-13 14.51.37

How much time do we waste simply waiting?

Have you ever wondered how much of your life you have spent

a) waiting for a doctor’s surgery or hospital appointment, and

b) waiting at the end of the phone to reach customer service or a public servant

c) waiting at traffic lights

d) waiting for busses, trains, or ferries that seem to be always running late

In the first instance, I have had a lot of recent experience with injured children and spouse, and, more recently myself.

What bothers me is that they give you a time and place and issue all the threats around the place if you don’t turn up on time, but it seems to be perfectly ok if they are late.

It could be for some perfectly logical reason but most of the time they don’t tell you why they’re running late, and sometimes don’t even apologize.

Then there are the chairs they make you sit in, obviously specially designed so you do not get comfortable, especially in hospitals.

But the most infuriating aspect?  Just how small the waiting room is and how often it is overcrowded with people also waiting to see a doctor.

They ask if we remain respectful but after an hour and a half in those chairs and not treating us with that same respect they ask for, I’m surprised I have only witnessed one case of the angry patient.

In the second instance, there are two circumstances I take issue with.

The first is where you have to select from an automated phone menu and what you want isn’t one of the menu items and there’s no catch-all just disconnection, and

After waiting patiently on the line for up to thirty minutes or more you hear the connection, you think you are about to get to an agent and the call disconnects.

That is only one step removed from being connected … back at the selection menu and then sent to the back of the queue.

I’m sorry, but this technology is no advancement but I doubt if we will get back to the ‘old days’.

Of course, there is that other major advancement in telephone answering technology, voice recognition.  I’ve been on the end of it, and quite frankly, it just doesn’t understand me.

Odd, I Know, because I speak very good English with no accent.  Perhaps that’s the problem.

I can’t wait for the first humanoid robots.  I hope they can understand me better than the inhuman phones do!